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  • Writer's pictureNat Whitney

Rethinking my connection to movement and music

Hello I’m Nat and I’m an audio-visual participatory artist and between September 2023 and March 2024 I was a trainee early years music facilitator with Magic Acorns. This involved co-delivering a weekly sensory session for 0-3 year olds and their families called Music Garden, as well as taking part in training play days and during this time, I also took part in The Nest residency.




When I began the traineeship, I was completely new to working with early years. My interest in taking part in the opportunity arose from my fascination with designing participatory, sensory spaces with unusual, creative ways to make and share music, alongside my excitement for working with a whole new age group!



Within my practice, I am not used to creating improvised movements and vocalisations in a space with others and I am much more familiar with placing objects I’ve created in a space for others to interact with, with me viewing from the sidelines. As someone who would not describe themselves as a musician or dance artist, I wasn’t initially sure if working in this way was something that I would be able to do. From the very first playday, however, I felt at home within the spaces created by Magic Acorns and I began to discover a wondrous world of silliness and develop a new relationship with movement and music. 




At the start of the traineeship, I naturally found a selection of objects and instruments to form the base set up of each space and I fairly consistently used these. I was initially hesitant to venture into altering the consistent set up of the space too noticeably. I found comfort in objects and in forming busy multi-sensory spaces filled with various instruments, colours, and textures to spark play. Reflecting on this, it makes sense to me that I sought comfort in the multi-layered vibrant spaces, opting to avoid exploring a more minimalist setup that would leave more room for uncertainty and improvisation, as this initially felt very daunting to me.




As the weeks progressed, however, I gained confidence in experimenting with different, more minimal setups, with guidance from my mentor and co-facilitator, Natalie. Together, we explored creating spaces focused around new sound palettes, themes and textures. This inspired me to rethink how I felt about less layered spaces and injected a renewed sense of excitement into the process midway through the traineeship.



I feel I was able to notice and develop the way I was working through the multiple opportunities for reflection that were built into the traineeship. Following each Music Garden, Natalie and I would enjoy a cup of tea together and share our thoughts on the session. Alongside this, I would also write my personal reflections about what had happened after each Music Garden. I found having this time to reflect being built into the traineeship an extremely rare to find and valuable aspect of the experience and something I am going to take forward in my ways of working with other people and when planning future projects.




I have gained so much from my time in the traineeship, not just in how it has developed my practice but also in the surprising way it has also reshaped my personal connection to movement and music creation. It has taught me a lot about care in practice and how I would like to work, alongside giving me the confidence and excitement to create participatory sensory experiences for young children and their families in future.


 

Collaborating with and learning from very young children has been an extraordinary and invaluable opportunity. Observing their creativity as they have invented games, engaged in musical play together and grown more confident in the space over the Music Garden sessions Natalie and I created together has been such an incredibly joyful and treasured experience.


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