Our Music Leaders regularly find that participants inspire them as much as they hope to inspire the children and young people. Here we focus on the two way inspiration felt by Charlotte White at Woodlands Meed Special School in West Sussex.
We have been working at Woodlands Meed College for a number of years and it is a special school for children and young people with a wide range of special needs and disabilities.
Music session give young people a chance to enjoy themselves, express themselves and be part of a group. Music sessions are all about the magic moments that happen when children and young people’s creativity is unleashed.
The teachers at Woodlands Meed love having Charlotte at the school and over her time at the school we have been able to build positive relationships with the staff.
‘’It’s working really well with Charlotte and the students are thoroughly enjoying it.’’ Sue Walker, Teacher
Charlotte spent time working across two different groups with the aim of building the young people's music making, social skills, and confidence. The music sessions give children and young people the confidence to engage in music making, and a voice through which to express themselves. Over the course of the project we have seen children and young people who were initially reticent about getting involved in music making become the heart and soul of sessions.
‘’When we sang Nanuma, Keiran* was singing out like his life depended on it It was actually incredible, even though he didn’t sing quite in the right places, especially as last term, I could barely get him to sing at all.’’ Charlotte
‘’We spoke again about pulse and I got them trying to play on the first beat of every bar, which around 75% of them got. When I tried the same thing with the second group, I started off by getting them to clap 4 then 3 etc before moving onto instruments and that worked well. My aim with that is to get them to the point where they’re able to play on different beats of the bar. Seeing them start to get it, and to progress with their musicality is wonderful.’’ Charlotte
‘’My confidence has grown.’’ Ellie*
Many young people who we work with are non-verbal. Rhythmix sessions can provide a space in which young people feel safe and confident, and are given the opportunity to communicate. Sandra* is a young person with special needs who is mostly nonverbal. She was often quiet during sessions.
‘’Sandra*, who is mostly nonverbal said “Good Morning Charlotte”. It was the most, and the most clearly, I have ever heard her speak.’’ Charlotte
Long term relationships
Sometimes it’s about the changes you see over the time you get to know the young people.
“Then, Steph*, who’d been off having physio at the beginning of the session, WALKED into our room with the physio. I have never seen her out of her wheelchair before and I have to say, it was incredible to see. I nearly cried. She is always so enthusiastic in the group, and never fails to thank me at the end of sessions. When I first met her, she’d get so excited that I sometimes worried she would rock herself out of her chair!” Charlotte
Robbie had been participating in the sessions for a number of years and always brought fun and energy to the group. He has since finished year 11 and is moving on.
‘’Seeing Robbie’s smile after every time he made a noise on the trombone was really wonderful, especially as they were all feeling somewhat sad (it was Robbie’s last day). ’’ Charlotte
All of the sessions built up to a concert at the end of term in which the young people could perform to their peers and teachers.
‘’The concert went really well. The young people were slightly nervous, and it came out slightly rough around the edges, but they did brilliantly, as ever.’’’ Charlotte
‘’I liked conducting.’' Georgina*
Delivering music making sessions in the same school over the long term can give children and young people the opportunity to take control of their own lives, and give them a sense of ownership over the music that they create. It also gives us the opportunity to build positive relationships with staff at the school, developing mutual respect and support between teachers and music leaders.
‘Accessible Music Making’ is a Youth Music Fund B funded programme
It is a West Sussex wide programme of music making in every special school in the county delivered in partnership between West Sussex Music Trust and Rhythmix.