Supporting Youth Leadership in Musical Activity

Youth leadership in this context is peer led musical play, and can have a strong impact on areas within the Early Years curriculum, particularly self- confidence, understanding and relationship building.  It is also a great way of increasing children’s ownership of and engagement in the music activities.

Sometimes this will develop naturally in the nursery setting, but can also be actively encouraged both in sessions and in the wider setting.  You can do this in a number of ways, including inviting children to lead call and response action songs, suggesting actions for a movement song, or conducting percussion activities.  It’s important to share these responsibilities amongst the group, so that all the children who want to be involved in leadership regularly get a chance to do this.

You can also let the child leading take an active role in organising the sessions, such as supporting the group to behave appropriately, and other jobs like taking the lycra out of the bag and ensuring everyone holds it correctly, and sharing out the instruments during percussion work, etc.

Youth leadership can also help the children to manage their personalities in a constructive way. For example, a dominant child may become overbearing to others if left unsupported, but if offered responsibilities and a role, can perhaps learn to channel this energy positively.

It’s important not to assume you know which children will wish to be young leaders, as different personality types bring out a variety of strengths.  Although the dominant children may wish to take a strong role in directly leading activities, more nurturing group members may veer towards the pastoral side of leading, such as supporting the less confident or able members of the group by encouraging them to model instructions and behaviours, and supporting them in partnership work.

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