by Author Lucinda Bristow

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Hope creative - Working with Looked After Children - Session 1

We will be working in two different centres in Bristol on a monthly basis and I will be blogging reflective notes after these sessions with an aim to improve the quality of our work through reflective practice. Our first session was in North Bristol. One young musician attended this session, though others were signed up to do it but there were many factors which could have effected attendance: bad weather, traffic etc. Despite their being one attendee, it is imperitive to make sure that we welcome that one person with the same enthusiasm as we would 20 young musicians!

  • Date: Nov 2015
  • Location: North Bristol
  • Number of attendees:  1 young musician, 1 trainee, 3 music leaders.               
  • Music Leader: Lu Bristow

Reflective Notes:

Young People Centered

Recognition of the young musician’s existing musical identity was adhered to throughout the session as we produced a song that was based around a musical that the young musician is writing called “The Thunder Girls”.

I would say the young musician experienced quality of engagement within the group and experienced full inclusion through self expression and collaboration when leading the group and working on solidifying the structure of the song. As there were no other young musicians, she had a lot of attention. As other young musicians attend we will need to, as music leaders constantly look back and remind ourselves of musical inclusion for all participants, even if some have stronger characters or more confidence than others. I think for this session it was to insure the young musician felt included and felt confident enough to voice ideas to professional musicians/music leaders. I am confident to say that this was done.

Session Content

After the welcome the music session started with the young musician improving musical skills by learning how to tune her guitar. The session clearly proved inspiring as the young musician took the lead and became really creative by showing great writing and improvisation skills. Her views were integral to the session where she led the music leaders, which then led to us all coming together and writing a song around her ideas of a musical, which she is writing. There was a great sense of collective learning, the music leaders, trainees and young musician all worked together to produce the original track.

With regards to improving on session content it could be a good idea to incorporate other music’s as well as making her own. This would be especially beneficial as more people join the group. Throughout this session the young musician showed development of leadership skills through music by leading and directing the group.



Ratio 4:1. We would not normally require this ratio. We were expecting a slightly larger group of mixed ages of looked after children. Despite expecting a larger group, it was important to have same enthusiasm welcoming just one young musician. It can take a lot of effort and they may have to over come many barriers to get to this point of attending.

Consideration was given to the physical space; with available recourses being best used (in my opinion) to make it appropriate and comfortable for the target group – we were expecting a small group in a very large room, so we sectioned it off with chairs and tables which seemed to work well. This would be advisable for future sessions.

There were, on the whole, appropriate and sufficient materials and equipment to support the activities; Keyboard, Stereo, Lyric Sheets, Wifi, Laptop, though it was brought to our attention that we would need to take an extension lead to the next session. This is the first time we had used the keyboard and it worked well, as the young musician used it to write/create music along with her guitar.

Before the session we had put together warm ups, ice breaker games, simple short world songs, MT song and a pop song to try and appeal to all young musicians and engage them all on a level. However, as there was only one young musician on this session we adapted and built it around her, which led on to writing, playing multiple instruments and performing an original song at the end of the session which to me proved to be a successful session. In reflection It will always be wise to have plenty of material “just in case” but to be prepared to adapt if needs be.


Music Leader Practice

As mentioned previously, the music leaders had prepared material for the session but had to demonstrate appropriate musical competence by adapting quickly during session to the different demand of working with just one musician instead of a group. The music leaders supported the young musician by using their expertise to create chord sequences to coincide with the young persons own melody without taking over or belittling them. There was great sense of “team” which was great.

The young musicians starting point was discovered quickly by a music leader as they discovered that they did not know how to tune the guitar so that was addressed right away. From there, the music leaders started to work with the young musician on original material. I was very aware as one of the music leaders that the young musician comes up with an amazing amount of ideas which can snowball, it is hard for us to keep up or try and build a song with any structure because of this and this could become problematic if we were to work with this particular young musician and other young musicians at the same time, due to other young musicians possibly loosing focus or interest. One way to try over come this is to record and write down any part of the songs that work to try and build structure… This will no doubt be something to think about and evaluate during future sessions. Also try and encourage all young musicians to have collaborative input on a single piece. 


Over all I was extremely happy with the session. I feel as though the young musician gained a lot from the session, not just as a musician but by developing other importnat life skills. I am looking forward to the next session, to building on the last session and developing the song further whilst fully including new members and bringing on board new dieas from them.