by Author nicbriggs

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My first year on the Wavelength project by Meldra Guza (Quench Arts' Wavelength project Lead Artist)

A review of my first year as Lead Artist on the Wavelength project.

The first year of the Wavelength project has been successful and has reached a lot of young people in need of music and creative activities. It has worked for those that love classical music, pop music, rock and country, reggae, hip hop and grime to name a few. We have worked with young people that have been referred to us from various mental health support workers as well as engaging with hospitals and delivering sessions in secure units across Birmingham.

No matter where we have been, the young people have felt inspired to take part and share their ideas, even if they have felt unsure about themselves, and they eventually they have gained confidence to take part. It has been received with great enthusiasm from the hospital staff, care workers, parents and carers.

The way that the project has been designed has had a very positive influence on the development of the young people as they have had a chance to have individual sessions as well as the chance to engage with other participants in group sessions, so they have had their own individual journeys as well as joint journey over the past year.

The 1-2-1 sessions have worked very well to encourage young people to express their ideas, work with their existing emotions, such as sadness, anger and desperation, and learn to move on based upon growing their emotional strength and increase their confidence levels.  It has been very important to give much needed individual time each participant to explore their ideas, aspirations and make decisions on what they might like to improve on in both the short and long term. Also, giving the attention and care has prepared the young people to be confident in more social situations- knowing that their ideas will be listened to and that their opinion matters created a more positive attitude towards group sessions.

Group, songwriting and recording sessions have also been a great success as, whilst addressing individual needs (musical, emotional, personal) in 1-2-1 sessions, the young people were also rapidly developing their communication skills in a more social environment. Group sessions would often include group discussion on various subject matters (dreams, the world, joy, harmony etc.) and it was good for the young people to learn that there are a lot of different opinions and whilst all opinions are important, it is also important to be respectful to other people's ideas. During these sessions the young people also developed compassion and were often encouraging each other instead of concentrating on their own worries. They were able to empathise with others and offer their support which is fantastic social development.

Wavelength provided the participants with variation of activities, led by different music leaders, so overall it all helped their social development as at no point would they get used to a set situation. As a result, this helped the young people to deal with meeting new people and feel comfortable in new surroundings.

The culmination of the project was the final performance at the Midlands Arts Centre which worked so nicely as all the participants were coping well with anxiety and fears to socialise and perform. Most of them performed in front of an audience for the very first time and after the concert there were a lot of positive words exchanged. The encouragement through taking small steps had created belief and strength that each and every person was also able to perform on stage alongside their new friends.

As with all projects, we also learned valuable lessons, such as the importance of a great team where every link works and where everyone communicates swiftly and no detail is minute enough to be forgotten about. We have also learned the benefits of giving participants their individual time as well as easing them into working in groups with other people. We are committed to adapting and learning together as we embark on the second year of the project.

It has been an inspiring journey that has had a lot of wonderful stories that for sure have kept the enthusiasm in all of us to continue to give our best to this project in the years to come!