During 2015-2016, I have been devising and delivering creative music making workshops for four small groups of children learning in four different schools within Glasgow. The Nurture Group Music Making project has been funded by Creative Scotland’s Access to Music Making fund and has been a very special opportunity for everyone involved.
Throughout the Nurture Group Music Making project, the young people involved developed a wide variety of music making skills through engagement and participation in creative group music making activity. Through my personal observations, weekly note taking and reflective journaling, I observed how engagement in participatory music making can provide nurturing opportunities for enhancement of musical and life long learning skills.
Singing played an important role within workshops. The children engaged with traditional children’s songs, from a variety of musical cultures, composed thematic songs and improvised singing during musical play which supported the development of their young singing voices. Furthermore, the children explored their speaking voices through engagement with rhymes and rhythmic language. Musical play with an emphasis on nurturing each child’s creativity and imagination was an important aspect of this project which I observed throughout. I provided opportunity for young people to engage in dancing and creative movement and to work with hand held percussion instruments (tuned and untuned).
I observed how musical activities enhanced the development of pulse and rhythmic skills, the singing voice and the speaking voice, musical memory, pitch and dynamic awareness, the ability to recognise different timbres and listening skills. Furthermore, young people acquired ensemble skills, especially when playing percussion instruments together. Young people discovered new sounds, dynamic range and articulations and learned how to be musical leaders, successful group participants, musical storytellers and performers.
The music making skills of each young person developed as the project nurtured the holistic development of each young person. Musical activities were carefully devised and sensitively delivered to enhance social, emotional, linguistic, kinaesthetic and cognitive skills. Young people had the opportunity to engage in working positively together, learning to respect one another through the acquisition of patience, tolerance and empathy. Turn taking, sharing and being aware and mindful of the needs and feelings of others were interwoven within all aspects of each workshop. Developing positive behaviours, learning to trust others and oneself, the development of self-esteem, having the courage to volunteer an idea or take a turn as a leader and feeling at ease as a group member were all core behaviours that developed throughout the project and had the immediate effect of enhancing collaborative and individual music making and musicality. Linguistic and cognitive development, for example, young people being able to memorise and internalise words, age appropriate concepts (numbers, colours, shapes, sequential patterns, vocabulary), recall musical repertoire and the progression of musical activities encouraged successful learning. Feeling empowered and successful in learning led to enthusiasm and willingness to participate which naturally nurtured music making skills. Furthermore large and fine motor skills also developed as young people engaged with dance and movement work, instruments and other musical resources. I tried to ensure that I always allowed enough time and space for the young people to find their own personal success, personal identity and feeling of belonging throughout the project.
I measured progress through careful observation work, noticing the different forms of communication, verbal and non-verbal, offered by the young people. In addition to my personal observations and weekly note taking, I also gathered evidence from participants, teachers and through photographic journaling of workshops. Participants offered verbal feedback which I transcribed and teachers offered both weekly, on-going verbal feedback and also written feedback.