Bidding Farewell to Help Musicians UK
Mayuko Tanno
Communications Assistant
7th March 2014
Bidding Farewell to Help Musicians UK

My journey at Help Musicians UK actually began aged 17, when I was offered funding by the Musicians Benevolent Fund (as we were then) to attend a music course. Little did I know that 5 years later, I would be applying for a job there! Communications was a strong interest, and with a background as a musician and music student, it was ideal.

Selling merchandise at the launch of our Christmas cards, September 12 2013Our Christmas card launch, September 2013

Many people wonder what Communications is. Unlike my colleagues who offer funding and support to musicians - whether it’s young artists, professionals or retired people-, what exactly do we do? The answer is that we tell people about it, so that all of this help can happen. Over the last year I‘ve found myself organising events, writing newsletters, running advertising campaigns and, of course, helping to create our new image of Help Musicians UK. Without communications, we would only be helping the odd musician who happened to walk past our front door.

There are many highlights. In the sweltering July heat, I remember editing, re-editing, and re-re-editing our former Notes magazine. And then cradling the finished magazine like a newborn baby. Another highlight was the colossal Festival of Saint Cecilia Service (see below - can you spot me?), our annual celebration of music which had a special Britten focus last year. I remember many months of planning, and many a hysterical afternoon of processing over 1,000 bookings. But it all paid off. The feeling of sitting in Westminster Abbey with 2,000 other people, all joining together to celebrate musicians, is one I won’t forget for a long time. As was the feeling of stepping outside our King’s Cross office and seeing the new logo ‘Help Musicians UK’.

Festival of Saint Cecilia 2013In this line of work, it’s easy to get caught up with nitty-gritty things like numbers, technology and databases. After promoting our Christmas cards through the autumn, it was fantastic to see an increase in sales. But of course, more sales means more money, which means we can help more musicians. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some incredible people. 80-year old trombonist and occasional pilot Jack Brear was one. Hearing Jack’s stories of working as a car-park attendant while playing in shows by night showed me that music isn’t about the Lady Gagas of this world. It’s about very normal, hard-working people trying to get by in an unforgiving profession.

While my journey is now at an end, I leave safe in the knowledge that musicians across the UK can continue their journey thanks to Help Musicians UK. Our work is complex; we help many different kinds of musicians at different stages in their lives. But what is Help Musicians UK to me? It’s just a bunch of lovely people in King’s Cross, helping a much larger bunch of people who play music.