We had some great sessions this month - my personal views on what helps to make things run smoothly with a link at the bottom to young musician progression/creative session report this month.
The number of children attending is growing and we appear to have the same core children attending too which is really reassuring! There has been so much work from everybody to get it to this point and lots of lessons learned along the way.
Some things which I believe help to build and run things smoothly:
- Good support and communication between management management team and the staff working with the young musicians: Nearly everything we do, every decision we make needs to be looked at in great detail and thought out, from space to use, how to recruit, opportunities to offer the young musicians, snacks to take in, safeguarding, session plans - everything! To know that there is good communication, gives confidence that questions can be answered and so that there is no confusion when working with these vulnerable children, so they then have confidence in what you are doing with them.
- A safe environment: Familiar and safe so the young musicians can feel safe.
- Good communication and relations with carers: Carers are texted before sessions as a reminder and "we hope to see you there" along with ideas from the young musicians of what they would like to work on (so can be prepared before the sessions) and then normally a quick message after the sessions to give some supportive feedback. It really helps us to learn more about the young musicians and gives the carers opportunity to give any feedback.
- A core, consistent team of music leaders: The young musicians are now really familiar with us and we are getting to know them well and it is great to see how they are opening up and growing in confidence around us, even beginning to trust us.
- Listening to and valuing what the young musicians have to say: It never ceases to amaze me the ideas that these young people can come up with. We learn from them as much as they do from us! It also gives them to explore themselves as young musicians even more.
- Be prepared but be prepared to go off track! We take in material which has been requested by the young musicians and also have material ourselves but we rarely tend to stick to a minute by minute structured plan. How can we predict and dictate what a young musician should create?
- Showing respect to others within group: They were power struggles to begin with so we would then make sure that people took turns in showing, performing, choosing songs, made things fair for everybody and to listen when others are performing etc.
- Notice and let the young musicians know that you have noticed that they remembered a piece from last session or that they are progressing, that they are really helping to support a younger group member etc. From what I can see, these kids (in fact nearly everybody) are just longing for reassurance and to know that someone is looking out for them or noticing them.
- Humanize yourself: Be confident in the knowledge of what you specialise in but If you make a mistake, let them know. Afterall we are all human and it is ok to make mistakes.
and most importantly..........
- SNACKS!! This sounds like a joke, but actually it isn't. There is a big chance that these children in care have suffered neglect so we try to bring along different fruits, biscuits and fresh that they will enjoy or may not have really had much of before (watermelon was a hit!). They do love snack time, it's a real treat and fun time for them!
For young musician progression/creative session report this month please go to: http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/posts/young-musician-progressioncreativ...