Written by Marianne Barraclough, Education Manager at Sinfonia Viva and Sarah Gelsthorpe, Senior Leader at St. Clare’s SEN Secondary School.
We are thrilled to be part of Derby Opportunity Area’s ‘This Is Derby’ Essential Life Skills partnership project and particularly delighted to be coordinating the cultural and sports offer in the SEND schools in the city.
Since October 2018 we have been working creatively with Ivy House, Royal School for the Deaf Derby, St Andrew’s, St Clare’s, St Giles and St Martins schools, as well as Royal Derby Hospital.
Sessions have ranged from one off drop in sessions on the wards at the hospital, initial launch sessions in some of the schools, to longer projects involving young people creating and performing their own new music, and has seen the establishment of NoteMade – an afterschool band at St Martins school. To date we have been working in individual schools and over the next few months we will start bringing groups from the different SEND settings together to make a massed ensemble.
Already we have seen young people working really effectively together to make new music, and in some cases to overcome significant nerves to perform their own new songs to an audience. One young person we worked with barely spoke at all in the first session we had but over time she built the confidence to share her ideas, and in our final session of the Autumn term, she sang a solo, supported by her peers, to the rest of her school.
Schools have noted new reactions from young people and have shared case studies of the impact of the work on their young people.
“Student A has grown in confidence and shown improved self-esteem and belief in herself. Student A felt special and talented and thus gained a sense of pride from working with Sinfonia Viva that she will carry forward throughout the remaining part of her school experience.” – Ruth Webber, St Clare’s School
Students have had the opportunity to express themselves creatively in a variety of ways, with artists and coaches alike truly taking their lead from the young people.
“I have had an overwhelming response from staff saying how fantastic it was for the children and how much they got from it! It was pitched perfectly and in response to this their motivation and interaction levels were high!” – Kelly Webster, St Giles School
We have worked with young people who are natural leaders, and will encourage them to develop and utilise these skills as we continue working with them.
As well as developing work and relationships with the young people, This is Derby is bringing together staff from each of the schools to share, plan and reflect together, meaning we can incorporate their thoughts and ideas, and those of the young people, into the development of a collaborative plan for future work in the hub. This has led to the development of some hugely exciting plans, to bring students from each of the schools together to share some large scale experiences. The young people will be working with Hubbub Theatre Company, QUAD and Sinfonia Viva over the next few months to create exciting new music, movement and visuals which they can share with each other and come together to perform.
The young people from the SEND schools in Derby consistently inspire us to do more and we are delighted to be working with them, and to be able to showcase their incredible creativity with the rest of the city.
Sinfonia Viva at St Clares
When year 10 were told that they would be participating in a music workshop over several weeks with Sinfonia Viva there were the expected mixed responses. Some pupils were anxious about working with new people, others were concerned about using their own voices in front of others, some pupils were simply disinterested in the ‘type’ of music that Sinfonia Viva appeared to be about. “But Miss, I don’t like classical music” was a response that resounded throughout the classroom. My words cannot do justice to the changes that I witnessed in these children over the weeks that followed.
The music sessions were engaging and fun and very quickly even the most reluctant pupils were joining in. The musical instruments that were played were a delight to listen to, with children talking about ‘feeling’ the music in later conversations. This is significant; at St. Clare’s we place great emphasis on developing our students’ ability to recognise and express their feelings and emotions.
The staff from Sinfonia Viva were not only talented musicians but were also patient, kind and empathetic people who were able to support and encourage our pupils with a real belief that they were absolutely capable of the tasks presented to them. The biggest reward for the children was the pleasure that they had in creating their own music. With professional musicians by their side they were able to create the most wonderful songs which they were proud to be part of. Being able to perform in front of others is, perhaps, one of the most difficult things that we ask of our pupils. Many adults would shy away from such a task. And yet, our year 10 pupils stood on the stage with their heads held high and performed for the entire school and they enjoyed it and were proud of their achievement.
The same previously reluctant children were disappointed that the sessions were over. Many now have a new-found respect for music, musical instruments and for musicians as well as a confidence in their own abilities to take part in something different. We are looking forward to working with Sinfonia Viva in the future and embedding these sessions in our curriculum.