by Author Keith.Sykes

Published on

You are here:

The Power of Music When Helping Young People Own Their Identity

Last year’s creative music project for looked after children worked in partnership with a Virtual School for Looked After Children in South London. The project ran over a full week and culminated in a performance at a nearby centre. We worked with a group of around 15 young people aged 14-18.   

*Please note the names given in these case studies have been changed for data protection reasons.

Chris’ story

"Just before the young people arrived, we were told by one of the social workers that Katie identified as male rather than female, and preferred to be called Chris. The other young people were very accepting, but at first we often needed to correct each other when addressing Chris in the spur of the moment, especially the younger members of the group.

The theme for the project was 'identity'. We had a written a song with a chorus for the young people to learn, about being proud of who they are. Chris participated in activities but at one point had to leave the room because he found it very emotional.

As part of the project, we encouraged some of the young people to write raps. Chris wanted to do this but was struggling with the theme.

What is unique about ArtsTrain projects is the environment and process is equally, if not more important than the outcome. We gently encouraged Chris to sing and to write if he wanted to but also made him aware that he didn't have to, and that there were other ways in which he could get involved, for instance with instruments or music production.

He ended up singing the chorus and writing a rap about his personal struggle with gender identity. What was really nice to see was how proud he was of it and how he turned it into something positive and affirming. He was able to record it, and it also gave him the confidence to help the younger members of the group and write lyrics to a further section at the end. When we performed the piece, he delivered his rap with confidence and conviction.

We were amazed at how maturely he had embraced the challenge. It was clear that writing something personal, meaningful and of a high quality had enabled a secureness in self that had not been there when we met him at the start of the project."