Holly Phelps (aka IORA) is a music facilitator and electronic-folk-pop artist from Manchester.
She recently completed a traineeship with us to develop her skills in leading music workshops for young people. Since then she’s gone on to facilitate various projects with us, and other music and arts organisations.
Here, Holly shares some of what she’s learnt about making music sessions for young people relevant and inclusive.
Tailored session plans
This means that the music making truly reflects the young people’s interests, with recognition of their already existing musical identities. By finding out specifically what they want to develop, we’re able to cater to everyone’s needs. As music facilitators, we are then able to pick up on areas the young people are passionate about, which they might have struggled to communicate in another setting.
Safe, creative spaces
Everyone needs to feel able to share and contribute their opinions. By making this clear, the young people will experience a higher quality of engagement, and no participant is discriminated against. This ensures that the sessions are really respecting every young person’s opinions and interests. It works really well at encouraging those who are less confident, making sure that their voices can be heard too.
Throw curriculums out the window
Being outside of a formal, hierarchical education system supports the young people’s creativity as they are more motivated as a group. We’re able to have open discussions which are led by the young people’s passions. For example, one group might want to learn more about a particular genre. Once you know that, you can bring that to the forefront of the session.
Don’t plan too far in advance. That way you’re able to stay connected to the young people’s interests. It’s very much planned in the present. Week to week skills that they would like to learn. I’ve learned that within one group, the young people can be at very different stages. From someone very well trained in instrumental-specific techniques, to others at a beginner level. Being flexible in your delivery ensures every person is encouraged, supported and appropriately challenged.
"It’s very much planned in the present. Week to week skills that they would like to learn. Being flexible in your delivery ensures every person is encouraged, supported and appropriately challenged."