I have been reflecting on this particular group a lot as I am pleased and inspired with recent progress, and also found some of the interactions with the young people and observations of different ways they engage in learning very interesting. Here are a few thoughts on this.
Some groups take time –
I have worked with a particular group of young people (age 18 to 25) all of whom are living in challenging circumstances and have a range of personal and social challenges to deal with in their day-to-day lives. It has taken me till the 3rd workshop to really start to find effective ways into working with them that enable me to provide them with a musical experience they are interested in and that is a progressive and purposeful framework. I am glad to say that I felt I had some sort of breakthrough with them in the last session.
I have found that some of the methods that have helped include:
1. Having a ‘palette’ of activities ready so that we have a range of suitable options to go with
2. This group need a strong framework for activities that keep them moving and motivated
3. They need to eat first! Providing some food before the session helped a lot
4. Including some ‘theory’ or ‘academic’ work in the session works well for this group, but only in really short, interesting bursts. Overall the group responded well to having a short activity break the practical sessions, e.g. a fun quiz, a mini challenge, or an analysing task. Even the students who stated they ‘couldn’t do that sort of thing’ got involved and were pleased with their achievements
5. It is important that these students get direct support from one of the team or staff
6. Tailoring the ‘theory’ activities to the musical interests of the young people helps, e.g. analysing a piece of music of your choice, and applying learning from this to your own music - 1 male student who had previously declared ‘he knew everything about music already’ actually found this very useful
7. Sharing my own background and playing tracks I have written, showing videos etc. helps the students to understand my experience as a musician and to relate to me
8. Spending some ‘downtime’ listening to music chosen by them was great fun and really helped us to get to know each other and our musical interests, it also provided an opportunity for quieter members of the group to interact confidently with more outgoing members