When it comes to writing 'something' about music where do I begin? Well, I've actually decided to write about my teaching. So for those of you who don't know, I work with SEN youngsters when I'm not busy being Scarlette Fever.
When I say SEN (special educational needs), I'm talking about young people with a huge variety of different difficulties. Some of these kids are almost completely paralyzed in wheel chairs, some are autistic and some are kids from very troubled backgrounds. Basically, we work with every kind of young person. The main aim of my work is to get the young people to express themselves and to communicate via the medium of music. I work with an amazing team of musicians and artists to the Trinity accredited Arts Award scheme.
Arts Award enables young people to achieve qualifications that may otherwise be unavailable to them. Without a doubt, it's the most rewarding and challenging work that I've ever done and a real privilege. It can be easy to become jaded with music when you do what I do but my kids constantly remind me why I fell in love with music; I wanted to connect and reach people. I've always been into anything 'alternative' and holistic. For me, music is the most incredible therapy hence the name of my last album Medication Time. I suppose that's why I fell into this kind of teaching. This work is inspiring and so special. The youngsters constantly amaze me with their commitment, courage, joy and ability.
So what do we actually do? I basically do with what I do as an artist with these young people. I go in with a colleague and a completely blank sheet of paper. We discuss a theme and start brainstorming ideas for a song then we play around with some beats and some instruments. The aim is for the young people to write their own song with as little input from me as possible. I'm there to support and guide. It's astounding to witness what these young people are capable of, how naturally creating music comes to them.
I suppose that the best way to convey what I'm actually talking about is with a story.
I had the privilege last year of working with an amazing young man. We don't know much about his background, only that he came from somewhere in Africa and was found alone tied up with his family murdered. He has scars in the back of his head that one of my team suspects to be the result of machete blows. We were told that he was thought to be if not completely deaf, almost and that he was mute. His teacher had to argue for him to be on our course, as it was believed to be perhaps a waste of time for a deaf boy to attend a music course. So I played him Holst and had him lay on the floor hugging a speaker whilst I tapped the rhythm on his hand. He SMILED! We worked together for about six weeks and he PLAYED the bass and timpani drums IN TIME! We had unbelievable breakthroughs with this boy that literally brought tears to my eyes. As a result of our work, further tests are being carried out because he has shown that without a doubt he can HEAR!
If you're interested in this work check out Arts Award and The Funky Pie Company
I hope you enjoy what you see of our work with children that society tends to give up on. By giving to them, what they give back to us is truly uplifting and rewarding!