Reflection notes after second session working with children in care.
- Location: South Bristol
- Date: 17/01/2016
- Number of Attendees: 4 young musicians (1male, 3 female), 1 trainee(female), 2 music leaders (1 female, 1male).
- Ages of Young Musicians – 7-18
The ratio of music leaders/trainees seemed ideal this week as we needed to break off later on in the session. It is also really great to have a male music leader to balance out and also to have a positive adult male role within the group. The community space we use is lovely, the children clearly feel comfortable in the centre that we are using. There is a kitchen, with a table and chairs and plenty of space, and a room where we normally run most of the sessions. However, it did become apparent later on that we could ideally do with another break out space as we felt the need to split the group but we did make do in the kitchen, around the table and chairs. There is secure access to the building, which is extremely necessary as we are working with vulnerable children. There was a member of staff from the community centre on the premises who was not known to the music leaders and not expected. This is obviously not ideal – we can not have people unknown to us in the secure building. To remedy this we have asked the centre to give us names of all people who could possibly be there over a weekend and supply them with ID. This has been added to the risk assessment.
There is natural light in the centre and within the room where we workshop, we make a space in the centre of the room. There were plenty of recourses, materials and equipment available. In fact, maybe too much so - The children wanted to look up lyrics/videos on laptop. It was great to see them coming up with lots of ideas with lots of enthusiasm, but there is a risk of the laptop taking away from some of the potential for the young musicians to create their own arrangements of tracks etc. To combat this the music leaders asked the children for a list of songs they would like to work on from next time – a set list, so to speak. Lyrics and music/tracks will then be supplied in a different format so Youtube can not take over the session!
Music Leader Practice & Session Content.
This could have been seen as quite a tricky session as the age gaps between the young musicians was pretty broad, which meant they had different interests and wanted to get different things out of the session. The younger two of the young musicians wanted to have fun and explore music with movement whereas the older young musicians wanted to focus on technique and progressing their musical skills. The music leaders demonstrated appropriate musical competence by attending to each young musicians needs by breaking the group and working on appropriate material for each member and supporting the progression of, especially the older ones, musical skills, which also demonstrated how the music leaders reflected on their practice during the session and adapted over the course of the session, which the young musicians responded well to.
There was also a clear power struggle between the young musicians, the younger two of the four are siblings and there was a clear power struggle between the younger two and the older two. After the session, I did speak to the younger one’s carer about the situation so I could get hopefully get a better understanding. I find trying to build relationships with carers a crucial part to developing the best sessions possible for the young musicians. The carer told me that the older sibling (9 yrs of age) was left to look after and fend for her younger siblings before she was taken into care, which completely explains why she would feel the need to lead groups and get frustrated when this doesn’t happen. However, it would be good to get a balance within the group. It will not just help this young musician within this session environment but also in other outside social and working situations. We have always tried to encourage the young musicians to help lead warm ups and songs etc (young person led), in order to build confidence, leadership, musician and creative skills. However, upon reflection, within this group, to help create an atmosphere of collective learning, it would be best for music leaders to lead warm ups and songs at the beginning of sessions in order to encourage all of the young musicians to work together without the feelings of needing to take over. We will do a couple of songs together as a group and then break off so that the older young musicians can get the opportunity to work on technique and fast progression, whereas the younger ones can spend more time exploring instruments, movement, voice and working together, building those important social skills.
We did break the group off in the second half of this session which did work well, so we will continue with that but remember upon reflection, to start the sessions slightly differently in future with this group.
It is all a learning curve and it is important to look back, reflect and see how to improve each session. It has also become very apparent that it is a good idea to build relationships with carers to try and establish any individual needs, or to become aware and learn why a young musician may be behaving in certain ways so that we can insure that these vulnerable, young musicians can get the best out of sessions.