Reflective Practice – Some ideas I found useful to help develop my music leading skills.

What is Reflective Practice?

It is a way in which we can work, look back on and learn from the work that we do. It helps to build self awareness and develop a better understanding of others. It is a way to continuingly learn and develop skills. It is a continuing cycle that feeds from one point to the next.

There are many ways throughout our everyday life where people reflect on themselves, others or surroundings: it could be after you’ve had an argument and you take apart everything that you said and try and work out whether you said or did the right thing and learn from it. It could be where you have given a wedding speech and think back or watch it back and notice whether you could have done anything better and notice what went well. It could be after going to watch a film and you talk about it after to your friends. Or you write a review. You could also be on holiday and noticing the difference between your holiday location and home – so many do it all the time!! At least, I know I do without even being aware of it.

So, something that is so common for many can used be as a really useful tool in most work scenarios.

I am going to talk about how we use it for our work with children in care. We run creative, musical workshops with them. We usually know before roughly how many will be attending but things can change last minute.


Before the sessions.

The music leaders involved in the sessions chat via email. I will usually let them know who we are expecting to arrive to the sessions. We normally talk about any material which was being worked on previously and any that had been requested by participants – I also look at past post reflection notes (explained later) in order to track and add as a reminder of learning and carry on any developments from previous sessions and put that onto the email. The other music leaders come back with ideas for session. There are many ways to put together pre, session reflections – however you feel you communicate well. Skype? Phone? Face to face? However you feel comfortable.


During Session

The group of music leaders I work with are very intuitive which is great considering the children we are working with. Things can change quickly – moods can change quickly. We can go from absolute glee to the world falling apart in a very short space of time. We would have had a rough plan at the beginning of the session (as discussed above) but sometimes things don’t go according to plan. The music leaders will look at the situation, notice what is changing and use learning from past experience to try different angles to make the best of a situation. If something doesn’t work, they will try something else. It is constantly looking and adapting. The music leaders will also communicate to each other in sessions too – not always verbally on how to work or who to work with.


Directly after Session

As soon as we finish a session we get together and talk about what we noticed had happened from our own perspectives – it’s always great to see other angles. I usually do an audio recording of this – usually because I find that the music leaders are still buzzing from something they have seen or worked on or any struggles are recorded in a way that is direct and sincere. Though there is more than one way to get this information, I just find this easiest. We nearly always cover: What Happened? What changed? What does this show? Which is a really good way to look at our own practice and try and see that the young musicians develop as much as they can whilst being aware of their emotional and social development at the same time. These recordings then get added to a shared drop box so that we can all use the notes as and when we like. 


Post Reflective Practice

The music leaders all decide on musical elements to monitor and we always look at social development. The choose a young person they had been working with and decide 4 musical elements to write about. Within these elements they write about What happened? What Changed? and What does this show? It’s a great time for the music leaders to spend time on their own thinking about their own practice. It is also a great way to build ongoing reports for the young people we are working with.


So after the post reflection, we can then feed that back into the pre reflection/planning and it starts all over again! We are developing the way we work all of the time but find that this is really working well so far  it’s gteat for us as music leaders to look at things together to see different perspectives and to look at things by ourselves too to develop our skills further– it’s good to hand progression notes to social workers and carers too!


What do you find works within your practice?





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