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Young Carers of Sheffield - hear them ROAR

I spent last weekend in the gob-smackingly beautiful Peak District, visiting good friends who live there. We spent the weekend hiking through the most stunning countryside. My friend, Lou, works for Sheffield Young Carers and she had asked me if I could run a music workshop for the kids during the summer, so we combined a visit and some hiking and I ran the SoundMakers Workshop with the kids on the Monday.

I'd never worked with young carers before. Wow - what a bunch of very energetic and creative young people they were! There were 10 young people in the 3 hour workshop and we kicked things off with some fun ice-breaker games including the Rhythm Rain Storm, Name-o-phone and Rocket Round (See this blog post for more info on these). I find these warm-ups work great with young people and especially the rhythm rain storm and name-o-phone as they provide easy, tangible and non-daunting avenue into sound making through body percussion and playing around with our name (everyone has a name!).

The young people quickly got into these games, especially the name-o-phone and there were some very creative sounds coming from the group which also got everyone laughing and loosened up. The name-o-phone was particularly good for me as a way of learning everyone's name in the group too - so a big facilitator's favourite!

Once all warmed up and feeling a bit more relaxed in each other's company, we played a rhythm game where everyone chose a percussion instrument from the table; maracas, tambourine, hand drums, djembe, bongos, clave and percussive frogs. We played some call & response games including tapping out the rhythm of your favourite food, pet name, and your full name.

After a well-earned lunch break, we spent the final hour of the workshop getting all Katy Perry'd up by singing 'Roar' together, with me accompanying on acoustic guitar. This song went down an absolute storm! I'm very careful with the songs I select with all of the groups I work with, especially young people. Making sure the lyrical content is appropriate and carries a positive message, and this Katy Perry song does fit the bill nicely. About being confident in who you are and standing up for what you believe in. Plus, it has an immensely catchy chorus!

I've got the eye of the tiger the fighter

Dancing through the fire

'cos I am a champion

And your gonna hear me ROAR!

Louder, louder than a lion

'cos I am a champion

And you're gonna hear my ROAR!

We played around with the song, and aded some percussive elements using our bodies- hand clapping, thigh tapping, clicking, foot stomping and some drumming. Following our raucous live rendition of Roar, it was requested that we play....Let It Go from the film (like we don't know?!) Frozen! I played through the song on guitar and the group took it away with heartfelt vocals and very dramatic theatrical hand/arm/leg gestures. There were 9 girls in the group and 1 I needed to be very aware of this throughout the session and to ensure he didn't feel excluded at all and that there was enough going on in the workshop that he felt comfortable to take part in. My possibly unfair assumption was that he wouldn't really like Roar...but I was wrong; he took on a solo part in it and really got into it, proving that assumptions really do need to be left at the door. However when Let It Go was sung there was some eye-rolling, so I engaged him in some djembe playing which seemed to appease him enough to make it through the 3 minutes of Letting It Go :)

These young carers have a huge amount of responsibility at home and in many ways take on an adult role more than that of the child. It was wonderful to see them 'letting themselves go' and being kids. Music is such a great way to express emotions, be them good or bad. Having the safe and supported space to be creative allows us to show who we are and what we are all about. It allows us to be free. I have such respect for these young people and admiration for the care they give their family member(s) and I'm so happy I could hang out with them and make some fun music together for the day.


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