What skills and qualities are helpful for working with vulnerable young people? We asked our music tutors

Written by: Anita Holford

18 May, 2020
Music leader skills and qualities - nurture groups

The music tutors who discussed this work with our creative music nurture groups (find out more here) and come from a range of backgrounds. Some are instrumental tutors from the music service, some have community music backgrounds. The aim of the nurture groups is to prevent school exclusion by providing a welcoming, child-led space in school where pupils come together to make music in small groups.

Good communication with the school

Dialogue, checking student learning needs with the SENCO at the start of a project, and reporting back successes/challenges. Ensuring staff supporting the session understand your approach.

Positive relationships with pupils

Facilitation, asking pupils what they’d like to do, rather than telling them.

Collaboration, negotiating a contract with the group about behaviour.

Negotiation, negotiating aims of the group, rather than telling.

Asking, asking pupils what they want to do, and how they feel after they’ve done it.

Flexible, sensitive approach/style

Patience, taking your time to explain things differently to respond to different learning styles and needs.

Differentiation, helping provide an appropriate level of challenge to each pupil.

Flexibility, adapting approach and material as needed, and modelling how to react to difficulties/challenges positively and flexibility.

Recognition, identifying and rewarding when pupils make a good contribution.

Leaving Space, allowing pupils to join in when they feel ready, rather than requiring all to be playing at the same time.

Humour, using humour to create an equal space.

Creative, varied, young people-led session content

Creativity, teaching pupils how to improvise and create music, together, and individually.

Lyric-writing, having strategies for facilitating lyric writing.

Movement, allowing/encouraging pupils to move/dance in response to the music, as appropriate to the space available.

Musical Skills basic skills on a variety of instruments.

Using music-technology,   Keysi, Madpad, Garageband, Soundtrap.

Performance. Working towards performances, and recordings. Reviewing these afterwards.

Regular reflection and learning

Reflection, encouraging pupils to reflect on their music choices and feelings about playing music.

Critical reflection, evaluating andreflecting on sessions afterwards, and adapting as needed.

Dialogue, talking with music tutor colleagues regularly to share successes and challenges, compare approaches, find new ones.

Evaluation writing case studies to capture personal and social outcomes for each student.

Further reading

Hertfordshire Music Service is a founder member of the Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England (AMIE). Its MusicNet East Changing Tunes programme helps music services to become more inclusive by providing a peer network, resources and tools, and funding for action research on the barriers and drivers to inclusion.  Visit the AMIE Musical Inclusion Resource Hub for tools and guidance, blogs, videos, case studies and more, to help you break down barriers to music-making.

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