Music Speaks For Itself


I have been working with Zainab on a weekly basis for two years at Belvue School in Ealing as part of the Youth Music funded ‘Exchanging Notes’ music project.

I hope this video can demonstrate how music lessons and sessions can be made more accessible for young musicians who are pre-verbal, or who maybe communicate by using a few words or without talking at all.

This example shows a call and echo/response model, building on the musical material offered by Zainab during a single thirty minute music session.

The starting point in making a music lesson or session more accessible and inclusive, is where we accept that everyone has the right to play music in their own way and to accept that people will communicate (through music) in many different ways.

Non-verbal communication
One of the things I like about this short video is how it captures Zainab’s musical interest and engagement, through non-verbal communication. We take turns at leading different parts of the session, without talking about what we are doing. I also like how it captures some of Zainab’s wonderful musical expressions and her strong ear for music, which is very evident!

I think it’s important for us to remember that it can sometimes take a long time to develop and build a communicative musical relationship. We should always have high expectations for the young people we work with and not fall into the trap of assuming that nothing musical is happening!

Be Observant
There is always something happening and we need to work out what it is. In my own experiences a post-session reflection of watching back some video footage can be very powerful. You will most likely observe something you missed during the delivery!

Sounds of Intent
I use the Sounds of Intent framework in my work. It supports me in identifying and questioning where Zainab (and other young musicians I work with) is currently at in terms of her musical development. It also helps in making and recording musical assessments. It’s a fantastic free resource for anyone to use:

Digital tuner with needle slightly sharp of 440

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