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Supporting quieter members of a group – my techniques for ensuring everyone is involved from a shadow artist point of view by Jake Cross (Quench Arts’ Wavelength Shadow Artist)

Supporting quieter members of a group – my techniques for ensuring everyone is involved from a shadow artist point of view.

When starting exciting activities with any group, for instance writing a new song or trying out different warm ups, you never know how it is going to be perceived by the participants until you are actually in the room trying it out. It can also be difficult to perceive and support a whole room as a music leader, some of the less confident or quieter members can feel intimidated if you have a fair sized group and some of the more confident members are throwing ideas around or the leader has to focus on getting individuals parts practised/recorded which can be time consuming. That is where my role comes into as a shadow artist. It can take pressure off the music leader by leading a specific activity or supporting and encouraging an individual to take part without the pressure of the whole group watching.


My main techniques are:

Keeping an awareness of the group

While showing I have an active part in the main tasks of the session, and a positive attitude that the whole group can achieve what is being asked of them, simply this can invite members of the group to join in and get rid of any start of session jitters. However, I remain aware to try and gauge the group to see those who may have less confidence and need more support.


Having the intuition to act

After recognising through body language and perception someone who may be struggling to connect with the group and feeling they may lack the self-esteem to join in with the group or put forward ideas, I take it upon myself to reassure them that they can have a voice, that everyone’s opinions and ideas are equal and valued no matter how big or little the impact they might think it would have.


Show understanding and compassion

Gaining someone’s trust to know that you can support them and help them feel part of the group can be a major confidence boost and it can be as simple as while the activities are taking place and the pressure is off to take the time to sit next to them, listen to anything they want to say and asking them something like ‘how do you feel about the way we are doing this?’  They may have a great idea but feel unable to speak out to the group so I would say to them, ‘Your idea is brilliant, we should put it to the group, yeah?’


These techniques I have described I know are simple but you don’t need always need a grand gesture or to think of something big to push someone into contributing as this may only scare them or push them further away.  To support someone who may remain quiet during group sessions, it can simply be the act of treating them as a person who feels respected which could light the fire to them becoming a confident and active member of the group over time.