In this series of blogs, the writers of our Teaching for Creativity resources explain more about their chosen curriculum and topic areas, and how this works together with teaching creative habits.
The wellbeing playlist is a resource created by The Roundhouse connected to the Key Stage 3 PSHE, Drama and Music curriculums. The resource focuses on the creative habit of being imaginative, and uses music and movement to help students explore their emotions by creating a musical 'prescription playlist'.
Why did you choose to focus on this topic?
Our resource focuses on music and wellbeing; we aimed to explore the power that music has upon our minds and bodies. Music has the power to heal, to offer catharsis and to aid the wellbeing of us all.
Myself and drama practitioner Dom McHale created a short programme of study to encourage the young people to create their own ‘Wellbeing Playlist’ – something which they would collaborate on with their peers, as well as creating their own individual playlists. We designed activities for them to explore moods and emotions and to help them create an order for their playlists – essentially getting them to curate their own mixtape whilst tapping into their feelings and shared experiences with one another.
I was inspired to explore this topic as I don’t think it is commonly given space within the usual school curriculum, and I felt that in the current climate having this space to connect and get creative with music was extremely important.
I am a vocalist, producer, songwriter and DJ. I often work as a lead music tutor at The Roundhouse, a world-renowned music venue which provides artistic opportunities and courses for young people between the ages of 11 to 25. I have a deep understanding of the importance of music, the power of creating our own worlds through sounds and music, and the positive effects this can have on the wellbeing of people of any age or ability.
I am interested in ‘having a voice’ and expressing what we have to say, whether this is by speaking/singing or using art to tell our stories. A lot of the work I personally make – sound installations, records or compositions – are often about very personal experiences. I use music and sound to tell my story and to explore human relationships. I think now more than ever it is so important for us to speak our truths and to tell our stories.
Why it is important that students learn about this topic?
As a musician, this topic is extremely important to me. Personal experiences of DJing, club culture and radio hosting, amongst other things, have taught me how transformative music can be and how we tell stories through music. Letting the students explore creating their own ‘mix’ is a great way for them to explore the creative possibilities of mood curation through music and playlisting.
I think this is an essential PSHE and wellbeing learning series which could significantly help a lot of students who may be struggling with their feelings or be experiencing stress with exams, changes in their routine, etc. – particularlt at this time of crisis, where students have been separated from one another for quite a while and experienced disruption to their usual lives.
The use of music and physical movement in the resource could be incredibly powerful and useful for students to come out of what they would usually do, release tension, and create an important and special space for them to express themselves and work through feelings they might have. Creating the playlist creates a lasting legacy for this project too as they will always have it to revisit and it’s something that could benefit them long term.
Learning how to be imaginative
Our creative habit focus was being imaginative. All of the sessions hinge on imagining narratives and journeys emotionally and soundtracking them to music. A lot of the physical activities are prompted by colours or numbers and require students’ to use their imaginations to react according to how they perceived/imagined each prompt.
The writing exercises in the resouce push students to explore the multi-sensory aspects of emotions, to imagine worlds they could move through, and the 3D elements of our emotions and feelings. The physical nature of the activities (games, rhythmic patterns, movement, frozen images etc.) all lend themselves to a very creative approach, and the creation of the final playlist requires an imaginative head space.
I think teaching for creativity is extremely important as it is a skill that needs to be practiced. I think that often as we get older, we don’t give ourselves the permission to be creative anymore, and we can sometimes feel that we need to ‘knuckle down’ and ‘get more serious’. But there is room. And, moreover, a need for us to stay creative as we get older. I hope that activities like these can help sustain this and create a habit for the future.
Thinking of the future
I hope that after these sessions, students will come away feeling empowered by music and more connected to their peers and to themselves. I hope that it will create a lifelong habit of solace in music, something they can use as a tool to help them during light or dark times and all the times in between. I hope that it will help them feel looser, lighter, and more able to express themselves. I hope they start to understand their feelings as part of a longer narrative, and don’t get too stuck in the present should they be suffering or going through a hard time. I hope that it will also help them create a deeper connection with their peers and community.
More resources & further reading
- A New Direction’s Reset Recovery Curriculum resources
- Every Mind Matters teaching resources from the PSHE Association
- Coping with adversity: Memories of 9/11 – a resource from the Imperial War Museum
- Eastside Video Workshops – Creative Wellbeing and Black Lives Matter