When children are carrying stress from difficulties in their lives at home or at school, they struggle to access the school curriculum, and typically get into trouble on a frequent basis. Mood Music offers a way out of this downward cycle.
Children work in pairs or threes and sometimes individually, for sessions of 30-40 minutes, on a weekly basis. The room is set up with a wide variety of instruments, with puppets, soft toys, fabric and other props; and with paper and felt pens. Class teachers are asked to complete an assessment at the start of the work, and again at the conclusion, to quantify changes.
Mood Music provides a safe space to explore emotional issues, and guidance about appropriate behaviours:
Through using instruments, puppets, drawing and play, children can pursue their own interests and explore at their own pace. This allows them to work through issues and to find themselves, in a way that isn’t possible in the framework of the classroom.
Mood Music also provides guidance and information about managing emotions. Emotions are an internal experience and are all ok, and although some may be uncomfortable it can be helpful to accept and express them. In contrast, behaviours arising from feelings need to be limited, in socially appropriate ways. Songs are used to help convey these messages.
Interpersonal issues, such as dominance, aggression or difficulty in sharing, are addressed when they arise, in a firm but sympathetic way, and children often develop their social skills within the group through this guidance.
Measuring change: here are the changes that one 10 year old made over a period of 8 months, as assessed by their class teacher. Criteria are scored from 1 to 10, where 10 represents optimum ability:
Appears happy and content most of the time 2 7
Controls emotions when frustrated, thwarted of criticised 1 8
Show consideration to others’ feelings 2 7
Will risk failure 1 7
Is confident in group situations 1 8
Self-esteem: can say something good about what s/he has done 3 7
Is able to share concerns and worries 3 7
Is confident in new situations 4 9
Can accept public praise 3 8
Is able to wait for gratification or recognition 2 8
Bill Roberts is a former psychotherapist with 30 years experience of working with children through music. He has enhanced DBS clearance and public liability insurance, and is in professional supervision for this work.