By Ellen Sinclair - Covid has had a devastating impact across a multitude of industries in New Zealand over the past two years. The Kiwi music industry has suffered with a lack of both domestic and international acts being able to tour the country and musicians and technicians out of work, as well as in-person programmes and projects being put on hold.
MusicHelps is a countrywide charity that supports music-based projects that change lives from community groups supporting disadvantaged children and people in hospice care to providing emergency grants to out-of-work musicians.
We spoke to Sally O’Brien from MusicHelps about what they do and why, and how your donations through The Good Registry can help.
What is MusicHelps?
The charity was set up by people who work in the music industry or have a strong affinity to it, and have experienced first-hand what music can do to help people move through difficult times in their lives.
I think anyone who spends time around music understands how it can be such a beneficial influence on your life, whether you are playing or listening. MusicHelps recognises this and provides funding to communities who can facilitate this.
Who does MusicHelps work with?
Kiwis who use music, work in music, rely on music. This is a pretty broad group but in effect, that is what music can do. From young children dealing with a variety of physical, emotional or psychological barriers, to people who are dealing with brain injury, to aged care and hospice. These are just some of the examples of community groups that MusicHelps are involved in. Music plays such an important role in connecting people and helping them no matter what path they are on.
What are some success stories out of your work with MusicHelps?
There are really so many, but one that I was made aware of recently was using music to help kids dealing with severe physical and emotional issues. These kids have time working with incredible and highly qualified Musical Therapists, playing with musical instruments, and getting them used to noise, rhythm and working with others.
Equally important is parents and caregivers seeing their children engaged, invested and interacting with people confidently outside of their family unit. This time allows extended family to take time out and just enjoy watching the children use music to communicate. It’s pure magic!
What does the money given through The Good Registry go towards?
The money can be used in different ways – anything from purchasing music instruments to counselling sessions via our 24hr Wellbeing Service, which is a world first!
We operate grant funding rounds and groups or individuals can apply depending on the need.
Do you have any future plans for MusicHelps you would love to develop?
MusicHelps was set up by the music industry as a way to give back, and so within those circles it is well known and loved. It would be great to see other businesses get involved in a variety of ways – via sponsorship or fundraising activities, like NZ Music T-shirt day.
What's one current project you feel really excited about?
NZ T-shirt Music day, which falls at the end of NZ Music Month. Lots of us have wonderful memories and present-day (notwithstanding Covid) memorable moments based around listening to NZ music. A great way to celebrate it on the day, whether you can go into the office or work from home, is to wear your favourite NZ T-shirt, take a picture and upload to the official site (being worked on as we speak) and donate to MusicHelps. There are leaderboards set up for teams to get involved or to challenge your friends. It’s a great way for businesses to get involved and for teams and individuals to reflect their personal music style. New Zealand has so many great bands and artists now!
How has Covid impacted MusicHelps?
In a massive way - no gigs, no gatherings.
The music community is really hurting out there, including crew and venue operators. Of course the impact also includes hospices getting no choirs, music therapy holding no classes, and other musical events. It’s been heartbreaking bearing witness to the sadness out there.
Of course, the music industry is not alone in this. I feel for all of our not-for-profits over this stressful period. In past events like natural disasters, many in our music community have stepped up to bring a bit of joy or respite to those desperate periods, so it's really tough for them to not be able to play to the NZ crowds, let alone overseas.
Why do you love being a part of MusicHelps?
I, like many other people, love my NZ music and have always liked working in the NFP space, as it fits with my personal values. Really, it's my dream job.