En Enero me llegó el informe de final de curso de Florence, la Music Councelor que ahora está trabajando para Music For Peaceful Minds (MPM). Lo cierto es que hasta hoy no he podido leerlo ni contestarlo…me reconforta bastante saber que allí ahora es la época seca y que están de vacaciones…el hecho de haber podido dedicar el día de San Valentín a re-pensarlos y re-sentirlos me re-vuelve y re-mueve…
Ha sido bastante difícil entender lo que Florence escribía, pero me la he imaginado explicándomelo y creo haber captado sus inquietudes. Aquí os dejo mi respuesta….
Hello, Florence and Vincent! I am so sorry I have taken long to respond to your report, but I have been so busy I didn’t have the chance to take some time for Music for Peaceful Minds. I have now read your report! First of all I would like to give you my congratulations for all the hard work you are doing! I have remembered all the challenges of the rainy season and I recall how hard it was! Thank you for being there for the children!
Here I have attached a few chapters of two books that I have recently discovered and that I think might be very useful for Music for Peaceful Minds. The first book is called “Music, health and wellbeing” and focuses on music as an important tool to improve health and wellbeing. The second one is called “Developments in Music Therapy Practice». They are case studies carried out under a cultural perspective.
1- Laroo-deaf children.
I understand from the report that one of the challenges here is that sometimes children are not patient with the instruments and that they stroke them strongly. I also understand that they sometimes have uncontrolled and strong movements.
My recommendation here is that in the beginning of the session, after the welcome song, you propose a lot of movement activities so that they can unload their anxiety. I think it is important to give them a structured activity that can include strong movements (jumping, skipping, waving legs and arms, sitting down and standing up very fast…) and then soft ones (sitting down slowly, walking around like you’re sick or tired, pretending it’s very hot and you can’t move…). This way you might be able to contain their need to move strongly. You can first make them copy you and then ask them to invent their own “strong” movements and “soft” movements. Be sure when you model this activity to make very energetic strong movements that are precise, clear and short! If the strong movements last too long they might get tired!!!
After you have explored different movements you can pick the ones you like best and create a dance or choreography. This means agreeing on a structure and repeating it several times with a musical intention.
Another activity that might be useful is body percussion. You can tap all parts of the body and then create rhythms (patterns that repeat themselves) that are challenging for them. This way they are tapping themselves (so they can control the stroking because otherwise they might hurt themselves!), concentrating on a pattern, on a movement and on a rhythm.
You can also play rhythms with sticks, stones, cups or some other material that can vibrate but that won’t break. This way you can try and see if they are ready to play an instrument.
Maybe after some of these activities they can be ready to take an instrument and play. Be sure to let them know that if they are not able to take care of the instruments you will take them away. We need to be able to take care of them, otherwise they break. As music therapists we cannot aloud the children to break instruments in our sessions, and they need to understand that! It’s important for them to learn to take care of them! You might want to congratulate those children that are able to play without hurting the instruments and ask them to give advise to the other children: how do you play to have fun but not hurt the instrument? How can you play loud without breaking the instrument? Can you show us how you do it?
Check out the following chapters
Chapter 10 . Dance and Health: Exploring Interactions and Implications, Cynthia Quiroga Murcia and Gunter Kreutz
Chapter 11. Embodied Musical Communication Across Cultures: Singing and Dancing for Quality of Life and Wellbeing Benefit, Jane Davidson and Andrea Emberly
2- Prison Primary
I understand that this is a very difficult place because there are many children with so many different needs and abilities!
I think that all songs you introduce here are very important (acholi songs with number concepts, songs that make a reference to body parts, religious songs, self esteem songs, songs that are just fun to sing…). Even though all of them might not sing, the children that don’t sing can feel and hear the pleasure of the other children singing. I think that is always nice!
My recommendation here is to just make the sessions fun and musical. I would try to avoid all the verbal explanation as possible and try to introduce all the games in a musical way: with gestures, singing the orders, modeling the activities with the children that are able to follow (like, for example, clapping games…) and “using” the more advanced learners to help the others follow. I think that there are a few children there that can be your “helpers”. So just try to make everything a musical game and have fun.
I am sorry that I can’t say much more here! I have attached an article that might inspire you: FROM VIOLENT RAP TO LOVELY BLUES: THE TRANSFORMATION OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR THROUGH VOCAL MUSIC THERAPY, Sylka Uhlig
3- Remand Home.
For the Remand Home I can suggest you to read the following attached article:
CROSSING THE DIVIDE: EXPLORING IDENTITIES WITHIN COMMUNITIES
FRAGMENTED BY GANG VIOLENCE, Sunelle Fouche and Kerryn Torrance
I think you are doing a wonderful job here talking and drawing about anger and responsibility. It’s so nice to offer them a space to talk about these themes in a creative way! My recommendation here would be:
1- Do a lot of movement and body-percussion activities in the beginning of the session so they can unload the aggressiveness and the anger. Creating strange vocal sounds might also help them unload.
3- After some games and musical activities, try to have them write songs (rap?) about the different themes you talk about. You can divide them in groups of 5 or 6 so they can create their own songs and then perform them in front of the others. Try to include in each group boys that you know are less reserved and that you think might be able to have a positive experience of the activity. This way they can help other boys that might not be so motivated. A good technique to create songs is writing down on the blackboard some words related to the theme so they have some starting point.
Here I understand that the most difficult issue is the big number of children and trying to keep a positive atmosphere. My recommendation is very similar to Prison Primary: try to have fun with expressive musical games. A big group can be hard to handle. Again I think that body percussion, clapping- hands games, songs and dances are the best tool you have in order to focus their attention and to provide a positive and playing atmosphere. Maybe you can organize a performance at the end of the term and sing/play the songs/dances with those students who enjoy the music sessions!! Do you think that might be a positive idea for the children?
I have no other suggestion, just to keep on with the good work!
I hope that these suggestions are helpful. I also hope that the following articles can inspire you to create new activities!
Thank you so much for your work!
El cuerpo…ese gran aliado que todavía tienen los niños/as…aquí un ejemplo bien claro. Mirad la soltura de esas pelvis!!