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An invitation to Chile this month to talk about child development and the beneficial effects of music to children’s social, emotional and cognitive progress was the result of our report on Children and Music prepared for Unilever. Supporting Unilever’s CSR initiative with Unicef, children from a poor area of Santiago played in a superbly produced ‘swing band’ at the launch of the report. Questions from the audience that included representatives of children’s organisations, business, politicians and press centred on the way in which music can be made accessible to all. Clearly a challenge when both instruments and lessons are expensive, but as Gareth Malone, the charismatic leader of several choirs in the UK including the highly successful Military Wives choir argues, many people can be inspired to sing. The social benefits of joining in, having a common purpose, being supportive to peers and experiencing the uplifting effects of making a sound that can be enjoyed and appreciated by an audience can help children to feel engaged and can improve their self-esteem. Chile is a beautiful country, and the snow-capped mountains surrounding Santiago in August where it is early Spring are magnificent. The warmth and hospitality of the country was clear and it was inspiring to see the work that Unicef and Unilever are doing to help children in Chile.

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