At the end of November, Paolo, Dom and I were very privileged to be given the opportunity to run a music workshop at Amwell View School in Stanstead Abotts. The school specialises in education for young people with severe learning difficulties.
One of our young adult students, Joe Huntley, called me and asked if we would be interested in helping a friend of his who was Head of Music at Amwell View School. Joe gave me a brief description of the school and the frustration that his friend had experienced in sourcing a local music tuition specialist who would be willing to help her. I was very interested in this because I was keen to put all of the experience we have gained of the process of learning and encouragement to the test in this environment and I believe that the processes we have developed would work in a very similar way, whatever the student's age, ability level or expectation. I was also really keen to pursue an avenue that others thought not worthwhile, not profitable enough or too challenging.
After meeting Rachel at the school and discussing amongst other things, one of her ambitions that some of her students might be able to experience the feeling and excitement of working together in a band environment, I left with my mind "ticking away". I came back and sat down with Dom and Paolo and asked them for their ideas on how we could best approach this. Paolo and Dom both had some brilliant ideas as to how we could structure the session and adjust our approach to teaching, along with some excellent suggestions about how to simplify what would be required to play the instruments themselves. With the help of the superb staff at Amwell view, we achieved our goal of getting the students to begin playing together, starting and stopping at the same time and beginning to understand the idea of communicating with other musicians via music rather than spoken or visual prompts.
We started and finished the workshop with a mini set, with Paolo, Dom and I switching between drums, guitar and bass and the reception we got was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and very pleasing and rewarding for us. I was very proud of Musiclab tutors Paolo and Dom who took the challenge in their stride and did a fantastic job.
We didn't really know what to expect or how far we would be able to progress before we started, but after running this first session, we are really looking forward to going back in January on a regular basis to see how far we can help the students progress and tap into their fantastic enthusiasm and potential.
Well done everyone!
The images in this blog are scanned from a card that we received a few days after the workshop.