Had a very positive day working for the Pass it On programme with Gawain Hewitt in a pupil referral unit in Morden yesterday, teaching a fantastic young drummer how to play different metres; and another boy to play in time, quieter, and without being anxious.
The group sizes are not large, but the issues some of these young people are dealing with can be. It had started with both lads taking one look at the vibes and saying "F**k that, I'm not doing that!" Mallets were thrown. But it was turned around: things calmed down and we made some good music, talked, and they left the room happier.
It's very demanding mentally. Each time is with a different set of young people, all with their own issues. It is impossible to know what has happened to them during the day or week [or longer] so it requires a great deal of flexibility and openness. Sometimes just being there in the room as an adult is the most positive thing to do.
You do have to be able to take a lot of things on the chin, and remain focused enough to make some music. It's difficult to gauge how long these positive effects will stay with them through a day; and it would be arrogant to say their lives had changed. But for a small moment they were listened to and respected, and it seemed to make all the difference for that time. Who knows what effect a sustained period of that could bring?