During Spring 2022, we have been engaging with our young SEND musicians through a series of online sessions. Travelling to different locations in the world through singing and instrumental playing, we have come together weekly to share our geographical and musical journey with an average of 70 young people on screen.
Although restrictive in some ways, this online platform has allowed us to reach out to more young people and to include them in our musical community on a regular basis. We even invented the ‘glock cam’ to demonstrate how to play instruments to our young musicians. Because the content of what we were delivering was a little more complicated than previously, our creative team delivered online training for the staff who would be working with the young musicians, to familiarise them with the singing and instruments, how we would be using them and how they could support the young people to get the very best singing, playing and enjoyment out of themselves and the instruments.
There was so much visual evidence of the positive impact our online sessions were having on the young people’s musical progress, but more importantly the joy everyone was experiencing as a result of being part of a larger musical community. Exploring different genres of music from different cultures and developing a wide range of musical and social skills, our young people developed online relationships with peers from other schools, giving them a real sense of connectedness. The young people were respectful towards each other, taking turns and listening attentively whilst others contributed. When people celebrated what others did, self-efficacy and self-esteem increased, which then led to motivation to do more and get better!
When we delivered face to face roadshows for young musicians from these different settings towards the end of the unit of work, they were delighted to see the familiar faces of our leaders and their peers in person. The young people displayed empathy and warmth towards other musicians they hadn’t met before and were keen to forge relationships and work together during the sessions.
Feedback informed us that young musicians enjoy working with their immediate and familiar peers in their own settings, but that what they enjoy even more is being part of a bigger thing – a musical community that brings people from different places together to continue their musical journey side by side.