Hear us Loud & Clear: Meet Deb
Adoptive parents, foster carers and their families feel the benefits of music making in Loud & Clear: an inclusive programme at Sage Gateshead, running since 2011.
Care experienced children between 0-7 years come along to weekly classes with professional musicians, then take resources home to carry on with the fun.
The sessions — foster group, adoptive group and Moving Up for adopted 5-7 year-olds — are a place for children to learn music at their own pace.
“His speech and listening skills have improved immensely,” a carer says. “He now sings along and makes up songs most days. He did not show any interest or seem familiar with music at all in the early days.”
It’s a place where friendships bond in a non-judgemental space. People chat freely about their experiences and share advice. Often it reduces isolation on their path as parents and carers.
“Coming to music group every Tuesday was one of the things that kept me going,” a parent says. “It was so friendly, the music was wonderful and I met other adoptive mothers,”
Children’s social skills can grow. Another parent says,
“As my son is autistic the group helps him with his social skills and confidence building. It’s an environment where he is not judged, and neither am I. I don’t have to explain his behaviour or how I manage his behaviour.”
During the pandemic in 2020, 21 families logged on to 27 online sessions. It had a positive impact on relationships between the grown up and child. Many were happy to see their child’s musical skills improving.
Loud & Clear partners with Newcastle and Gateshead Local Authority Fostering Teams, Adoption North East and Adoption Tees Valley.
Newcastle Local Authority Fostering team says:
“The use of songs and movement between parent and child is the type of attachment promoting interaction we talk to our adopters about.”
“Some of the children’s early experiences have been very difficult, and they haven’t had the opportunity to play spontaneously,” they say. “Some will need to learn to play; this is also a learning time for adopters as many are new to parenting.”
Deb is a carer and Loud & Clear enthusiast, who tries to never to miss a session. She says the inclusive atmosphere is great for herself and the children in her care.
“Over the years, I’ve been to the sessions with 15 different children ranging from 4 days old to my daughter, who’s now eight and still tries to find excuses to come along when she can,” says Deb.
“All of the children get something different from the sessions,” she says. They all have favourite songs they choose to sing from when they were young.”
The sessions help with communication. A moment that stands out for Deb is teaching children vocabulary through naming body parts; it also brings lots of giggles. Where people are a little nervous, songs about everyday tasks break the ice. It’s not long before everyone is singing along.
“I promote Loud & Clear at every fostering event and course I attend, and I’ll continue to do so,” says Deb. “It’s an amazing little group with lovely staff, amazing resources and lots of variety in the songs and the activities we do.”
- Illustrations by Lily Mae Kroese