by Author Lucinda Bristow

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Music workshops with Children in Care - Dec session 2016.


Music Leaders: 3

Young Musicians: 4

We had ages ranging from 8-15, three girls and one boy. The boy is on the autistic spectrum so would ideally require a lot of attention. Considering the age ranges and requirements the ratio did work this time, though we would have been able to manage with more young musicians too. Music leaders got involved at different times with music making with each of the children and also used iPads to record the session at different times.

The sessions are set in a large hall with a stage at the far end. Consideration was given to the space with a circle set up in the middle of the room with chairs with a variety of musical instruments placed on each chair to encourage group warm ups. There were also sections of the room set for different instruments. The room was set out in this manor so that we could come together as a group when we wanted, yet break out so we could work on individual pieces without interrupting each other if we wanted.

We had some percussion (jingle bells included as it is nearly Christmas after all!), guitar, piano, mic with amp and iPads. All of which got used throughout the session so I would say that there were sufficient materials. Pen and paper was also available for song writing.

We did work together as a group at the beginning then broke out. When the young musicians seemed as though they were happy and confident in what they were doing, they would work for a short period on a piece by themselves. They did this well, including the boy who had remembered how to use music apps on the iPad. There was always support there when needed. Music leaders did appear to be reflecting at all times to make sure that the young musicians were happy in what they were doing. It was great to see them happy to do some self -learning too.

We always have snack time, which the young musicians love getting involved in. It is a time for us all to cone together, make food and drinks (with some preparing and taking food drink/orders) and just chatting and getting to know each other. This seems a really important part of every session as there are lots of jokes and talk which seems to enable the young musicians to build confidence around each other and, in my opinion, a feeling of belonging.


Young Person Centered:

There was a great sense of equality of engagement. The young musicians were treated as equals and were really respectful towards eachothers  needs through both group work at the beginning and the performance at the end and when they broke out too.

We use iPads to record, monitor and enable them to reflect on their own performance and for feedback to be given sensitively by music leaders. These young musicians can be very sensitive so music leaders are delicate in their approach to any feedback At the end of the session they did a performance to carers which was celebrated and enjoyed by all involved. Each young musician was rewarded and were aware of their own personal progress, either by self recognition or being supported and told by both music leaders, carers and peers.


Session Content:

The young musicians were each supported throughout to progress their musical skills, some of it ongoing from previous sessions. The boy loved singing on the mic this week. It was the first time he used the mic and really did sing his own creation very well. The older girl who had only ever sung with us once before and who was quite reluctant to do so, got stuck in straight away and ended up leading a song with a music leader playing guitar and another doing BV’s for her. She was reluctant to perform, especially with the mic at first but by the end of the session she took centre stage and sang her heart out. She was so pleased with herself she asked for evidence to be sent to her carer, who in turn said she couldn’t believe that she had done it! One of the younger girls picked up from where she left off before with the piano and writing a song. She also went on for the first time ever to perform a piece singing on stage – she is normally reluctant to sing in front of people so this was a real achievement. The other young person stayed focused on one piece and practiced hard until she performed at the end (she can often flit from one thing to the next, so this was a great achievement). They all turned lots of corners that day which the young musicians, music leaders and carers all recognized and were all very happy about.

The intent of the session was clear from the off set with each young musician. A message is normally sent out to carers before each session asking if there is anything in particular the young musicians are wanting to work on with the view to perform (if confident to do so) at the end.

There was a sense of collective learning between music leaders and young musicians. If the young musicians weren’t sure on something they were supported and they are always teaching music leaders a thing or two too! Be it through technology or how they are wanting a song to sound. 


Music Leader Practice.

All music leaders involved in this session showed competence on their instruments and were able to support the young musicians with true professionalism without over shadowing at any point. The young musicians seemed really happy to work with the music leaders.

As stated previously, the young musicians in this group were very varied in age and ability and the music leaders had a full understanding of this, able to work at different levels and on different material depending on the child without making it obvious to others that they were working at different levels in case it would make other young musicians feel inadequate.

Before each session, a music leader contacts carers to see if there is anything in particular there is anything a young musicians would like to work on. The music leaders then communicate via email before each session to discuss anything to work on from previous sessions to progress, any new material suggested and to discuss any warm ups which may be suitable. Music leaders then meet after each session to evaluate and reflect, discussing what worked well and how we can constantly improve. Carers are also messaged for any feedback.


Over all it was a great session all round. The young musicians were so respectful towards each other and understood each others needs and considered them throughout. There was lots of progress made and everybody left feeling happy and proud.