Music with Erin

March 2023

This past academic year I have worked alongside the Harris Trust to develop an 8 week programme introducing songwriting as a therapeutic and positive skill to maintain wellbeing and embrace creativity.

We have completed our first block and seen some positive outcomes. The block consisted of two groupsof second and third year pupils, most of which diagnosed or seeking diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and/or ADHD.

For the initial block I encouraged each pupil to use their imagination to come up with an original idea to base their songs on. The pupils came up with some fantastic ideas including; a new superhero, sirens, disasters impacting our world and films. Over these 8 weeks most pupils completed one song with one pupil completing 4 by the end of the block. Five of these pupils have decided to come back for the second block to further develop their new skill.

We have opened up our current block to pupils also in first year and we have welcomed a group of new pupils to join our returners. For this block I decided to ask pupils to base their song on a certain experience they have been through, whether positive or negative. It has been interesting to see that many pupils have found this more challenging than the previous block but once started work well. I have introduced this topic of experiences to show the pupils a way to express how situations they have been in have affected them.

The end goal of these sessions varies greatly per pupil; the obvious first goal is to write one song in full. I am also looking at whether pupils engagement in sessions improves, their attendance rates and self confidence levels. Sometimes in the early sessions I have found it beneficial to spend some time just talking to some of the pupils, particularly those who keep to themselves. This may not always lead to more lyrics written down but improves rapport and trust which I have then found that have improved productivity as the weeks progress.