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The Willow Wood

Since 2011 I have giving early years music workshops in preschools throughout Clare and Limerick. It is joyful work, and I have learnt much during my time working with young children and experts in early childhood education. When I began in the area every minute was accounted for, I knew exactly what the sessions would look like and feel like. Full of songs, movement, perscussive instruments and fun, for sure. But, even though everyone was having a ‘nice’ time, that time was not creatively lead by the children in the room, this being a cornerstone of my engagement with any other group that I worked with. So why do things differently for the under 5s? For my own safety and control, in many ways, and this did not sit well with me. Where was my passion for Safety with Safety gone? In an attempt to let go of that safety I set about reading and chatting to others working the area, coming up with strands of working and engaging with young children. The ultimate goal being , that the facilitator creates rich and well informed parameters  for the children to place their expressive selves in, and once I let go and trusted the children in the room things changed , for the better. Sessions are now full of possibilities, listening to silences and breath is liberating, and in doing so the children take the lead finding a creative and critical voice.

Being excited about this ‘new’ way of engagement, at least for me, I organised a 3-day CPD with Music Generation Clare. This exciting opportunity focused on music for the under 5s offering both practical pedadgogical approaches as well as some philosophical underpinnings, allowing each tutor to identify their musical selves in the process. Indeed it was hoped that this ‘shot in the arm’ of learning would inform attendees practice not only for EY‘s but elsewhere too.Said tutors included myself, Fiona Kelleher and Paula Phelan, all of us bring  different approaches and massive combined experiences, but at the heart of all of our practices being a strong desire to listen to young creatives in a gentle and supporting way.

For me, Fiona Kelleher shifted my perspective even further than before. Chats over tea about how to approach creating a new piece for young audiences were enthralling and I revisited an interactive piece I had been working on, but had become stuck. My good friend Tembre, and I spend a few hours chatting and developing music for the piece and eventually 4 months later emerged, ‘The Willow Wood’ performed by Emer O’Flaherty and I for the end of year EY minimaster MGC programming, in Glor. A pleasure to work with the gifted and ever supporting, Emer. I look forward to pushing my boundaries in every area of my work.

Never too late to learn more….


Passing through the willow tunnel, many thanks to Rhonwen Hayes for the photo 

Categories: Community Music
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