Music is a language we all understand, we feel it. It’s ability to convey emotion and energy allows it to reach deeply into those for who cognitive understanding doesn’t come as easily. We believe in active music making, allowing everyone, through the use of appropriate technology and modifications to acoustic instruments to create meaningful music and contribute a beautiful and harmonious sound as a valued member of a group ensemble.
Jess rarely speaks in daily situations and when asked a question responds with one word answers such as “happy”, “yes” and “no”. After about a year of working with Jess’ group we introduced a microphone into our regular sessions. Over the next 3 or 4 months her understanding of what to do increased until the point where she said “yes” to having a go at singing our “Hello” song. It turned out that she knew every single word and could sing the whole thing from start to finish! We were all open mouthed and emotional to see how much she had taken in and could contribute in the session. She’s now one of the first to ask for the microphone in the session.
Communication, turn taking, self esteem, the opportunity to perform and be listened to, fine and gross motor skills, concentration, non verbal communication, facial communication, feeling part of a group, memory, helping those less able or experienced, encouraging and supporting each other, sensory and auditory stimulation.
Our sessions are always participant led and our extensive knowledge and experience with music tech means that we can scaffold the activities for every ability and experience level. Numbers usually range from 6-12 but we can accommodate larger groups when required with adjustment of the activities.
Sessions will be tailored to the individuals in the group taking into account the abilities of the participant. Support worker participation is essential and we pride ourselves in being able to get everybody in the room feeling comfortable, involved and thoroughly enjoying our music sessions.
Typically our music sessions last for an hour. We always start with our “Hello” song as it helps set the scene and remind everyone where we are and what is coming next. We often pass round the microphone and encourage everyone to sing the song with us or make whatever sounds they can be it breathing, gurgling or a signature noise.
We might then go in to several songs with actions. Memory songs are a favourite amongst staff and participants alike. After our songs we might use iPads with music apps to explore a particular scale and improvise with an instrument sound we’ve been focussing on over a backing chord sequence.
iPads and our other assistive technology are fantastic for being able to give the player as many or as few notes to play – in effect limiting the amount of “wrong notes” that can be sounded and allowing everyone to concentrate on expressing themselves musically…while staying in harmony with the rest of the group!
After our music tech session we might empty a big bag of percussion on to the floor and ask staff and participants to choose what they’d like to play. This tends to be a big favourite with the staff as they really get to groove as part of a large group. Participants join in to whatever level they can and many respond powefully to the energy created by the group rhythm jam session.
In the same way we started with the “Hello” song we always end with a “Goodbye” song. It’s a chance to wind down and relax as we look forward to the next part of the day.