This pilot project was exploring alternative ways to offer creative music making opportunities for children not accessing music in mainstream settings. MAC Makes Music leader, Ann Jones, visited the school weekly over a term and delivered child centred creative music making in small groups and 1:1, depending on the needs of the children who were present on the day. Annie Rees-Jones from SIPS Education supported the sessions as part of her Inclusive Music Training Programme placement.
What did the music sessions involve?
Lyric & Melody writing
Performing & Sharing
Composing & Improvising
Child led conducting
Genres and themes explored
St Patrick’s Day
Chinese pentatonic music
Feedback from School Staff
“My child has been a lot more confident since the music sessions.” - Parent
“I feel good. I feel good about myself.” - Pupil
“I really like music and I really like creative things.” - Pupil
“X has not stammered at all in the past few sessions – he seems confident and relaxed and sang a verse of Million Dreams in front of his peers today, really well. Great change in body language and self-esteem.” - Music Leader
Participant Case Study
H was introduced to Ann as a pupil who had difficulty managing behaviour, a pupil who got in “trouble” in class a lot, and who found it hard to speak at appropriate times. H visited Ann with a small group of year 5 pupils. This was due to H’s constant need for attention and approval from peers and staff.
He was very excited during his first session, and very dominant, finding it hard to allow space for others. At the same time H was also eager, excited and motivated at the thought of ten weeks of creative music making. He was highly articulate and full of ideas for creating a band, The Frozen Legends, repertoire to sing (he loves Queen). He was keen to arrange performance opportunities and to write new material. Ann encouraged his enthusiasm and noted all his ideas down, but was careful to encourage him to listen to others, and allow space for others. He found this challenging but was motivated through the first few sessions, as he is so passionate about music.
He played a key role in coming up with lyrics for the song “People Listen Up to Our Message”, and created the initial call and response section. He found melody creation more difficult, which was actually a positive as it made him respect and give creative space to others in the group who excelled at this. He gradually started to recognise that we all have different skills in music, which can be used together. As one of his primary needs was to foster an appreciation of teamwork, this really helped to challenge his need to dominate as he saw the value of others talents.
By week five or six, H had started to actively give what Ann calls ‘musical compliments’ to other children; praising good work, and encouraging and supporting others. This included phrases like “you can do it” and “that was great!”. H has great musical leadership skills; he is motivating and has great performance presence. He is expressive and sings from the heart, with great communication of emotion. He has a great singing voice which has improved with gentle direction from Ann, in both intonation and articulation. He has great rhythm and has improved in coordination and ensemble playing as the term progressed. His vocal tuning has also improved with greater confidence. Although H presents as confident, he actually needs a lot of reassurance and support, as the confident bravado is a mask to hide insecurities. He also beat boxed in the performance, something he initially said he couldn’t do. After the performance H commented;
“I loved that – I was nervous, but I could do it”
Following the performance H’s mother commented;
“A massive congratulation to all of the children, they’ve done fantastic! It was brilliant to see how much confidence my son had ‘rocking out’ and enjoying himself. Well done.”
The sessions have given him an opportunity to be supported in developing his passion for music, and the reassurance and encouragement have helped to develop as a more confident performer. As a direct result of the sessions, H’s mother has noticed a real difference in him since the music sessions started and now takes him to guitar lessons. Great outcome.
At the end of our time at the school, H reflected that the sessions had helped him to be positive and that;
“This has been one of the best things that I’ve ever done because I’m with my friends and our new band Frozen Legends. Without that band I would still be getting into trouble and I wouldn’t be meeting new people or having fun with music.”
The school have also been inspired to support H’s continuation with music;
“he has got so much out of this and we will try to find ways he can continue.”
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