Reflections on the Little Folk Green Man Courtyard 2017

Matthew Smitheman writes…

Volunteering with Mindful Music has been a wonderful opportunity to meet similar minded people and develop my own ideas around pedagogy and learning in different settings.

My background is in youth development and teaching. Working in education I take a keen interest in innovative ways that encourage learning. When I came across Mindful Music I was instantly struck by the relevance to the challenges faced by children and young people. As hobbies I take part in a community Afro-Brazilian Samba band and practice mindfulness. I felt a real understanding how percussion can bring yourself into the moment; improving self-control. Something so important for children to succeed in life.

At the Little Folk Green Man Courtyard festival I joined a team of three to deliver some drumming workshops for children. Setting up in front of a marquee on some grass we welcomed a range of children from the ages of 3 – 11 from all different backgrounds. Working with my fellow practitioners I discovered how focusing the children on communication and listening skills in a fun and engaging way is absolutely key.

It was clear from the outset I was part of a team of teachers and therapists who are passionate about supporting children using innovative pedagogy. We prepared for the session by speaking and listening with one another to plan the session. While delivering the session there was a real freedom for the children to play and experiment with the drums. The games were fun and collaborative. There was an overarching emphasis on encouraging the children to listen to each other and bring their attention to what and who is around them.

After the drumming workshop session we reflected and discussed how it went. I was inspired by the values driven discussion and thinking about what really makes a difference. We considered the challenge around keeping all the children on task and agreed allowing freedom to play was important in their learning and development. The main emphasis needed to be around focussing their attention and awareness subtly to help increase self-control.

If I was to sum up my experience of volunteering with Mindful Music in the Little Folk area at the Green Man Courtyard I would say it is was fun, supportive and collaborative. It really felt we were practicing what we were preaching to the children. In taking part I felt a real sense of making a difference and realised I gained as much in my own self-awareness and reflection as a facilitator as I did supporting the children.

Volunteer with Mindful Music...

We're looking for friendly and enthusiastic volunteers for Mindful Music workshops at festivals. To find out more go to our get involved page here and look under current opportunities.

Matt is content manager at SSAT, the Schools, Students, and Teachers network, where he produces, curates and commissions written, video and audio content to be used as part of an offering to member school leaders and teachers. His background is in managing projects and relationship building in the schools sector in England. As a former teacher and youth worker on NCS: The Challenge, Matt is passionate about making a difference for young people. Hobbies and interests include afro-brazilian percussion and mindfulness which has sparked an affinity with the mission of Mindful Music.

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