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Reflections from the 2017/18 Early Years Music Apprentice Programme

We’ve had a fantastic year of learning, sharing and more with our 2017-2018 London Early Years Music Network apprentice cohort. These brilliant women have brought their passion to the Sound Connections family and continued to develop their own practices. Below, one of the apprentices, and founder of Little Opera UK, Claire Shaw, reflects on her year with us:

In April 2018 I applied for the Sound Connections LEYMN Apprenticeship because I’d reached a plateau in my career. Almost a year later, I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in the last five years.

I applied because I wanted to expand my knowledge of early years child development and observe a broad range of music practitioners in a variety of settings. I didn’t feel confident enough about early years development to “teach” music to this age group, and thought the apprenticeship would help. I use the word teach in inverted commas because I’ve learnt that you don’t teach music to children of this age. Music in the early years is so much more diverse and interesting! It’s play, movement, story, song, puppetry, parents bonding with their children, children exploring and discovering. In short, it’s awesome and inspiring and I’m so glad I decided to apply.

When starting the apprenticeship, I wanted to explore what the process of opera co-creation might look like with very young children. Eight months on and this continues to be the lens through which I look, but I now have so many tools and a great deal more knowledge at my fingertips. I know more about the music programmes and practices on offer throughout the UK, and this awareness has helped me better understand my niche.

For me, the most important take-away to date has been the realization that there isn’t one right way to make music with little humans. There are hundreds of ways, all rich and valuable in their own right. This ah-ha moment came quite a few months into the programme, but it’s been the most liberating. I’m beginning to discover who I am as an early years music practitioner and I’ve started to find my voice. As such, I have begun to lay the foundations for Little Opera Littles and Opera Baby!

Next up for me is the application of all the months of watching, reflection and reading. I’m about to launch off and begin to apply some of this learning in the classroom. It’s terrifying and exciting all at once.

For those considering the apprenticeship this year, my advice to you is . . . apply! The experience has connected me to a vibrant and thoughtful community of musicians and early years professionals. It has given me permission to dedicate time to explore new concepts and ideas, opened doors, and pointed me towards articles and research I would otherwise not have discovered.

Thank you LEYMN, Sound Connections and Linda Bance for your support!

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