Practical Tips for Music Facilitators

There are many thousands of songs and games that you can use in workshops with youth or adult groups in order to introduce elements of creativity. Over the last month, we’ve been talking to our diverse network of facilitators and educators on Facebook and Twitter to ask them for their top tips and techniques. Here’s what they shared with us:

The Hip Hop Empowerment Mode

Adia “Dr. Dia” Winfrey, Psy.D.

The Hip Hop Empowerment Model (H-HEM) can be implemented by most individuals who teach concepts to youth. This includes educators, mental health professionals, and youth advocates. By incorporating H-HEM elements in their work, facilitators can increase youth engagement, motivation, and achievement.

  1. Presentation of traditional lesson material: This is the main subject, lesson, concept, or topic being covered.
  2. Hip Hop element(s): Youth complete an activity combining lesson material and an element of Hip Hop Culture (Emceeing, Street Fashion, Street Language, Graffiti, Breaking, Deejaying, Beatboxing, Street Entrepreneurialism, and Street Knowledge).
  3. Process questions: After the activity is completed, the facilitator poses questions that address: the completion of the activity, relate to a professional debate, and draw on the youth’s personal perspectives.

H-HEM Example

~ To explore the issues of bullying and peer pressure with adolescents, the

facilitator will first define the terms and ask group members to identify times

when they’ve witnessed them first hand.

~ Next, the group listens to the song “If My Homies Call” by Tupac Shakur

while reading the printed lyrics.

~ The facilitator will pose the following questions to the group:

  • What surprised you most about Tupac’s experiences with his friends? (The completion of the activity)
  • Many professionals recognize a connection between being bullied and later becoming a bully. Do you agree or disagree? What examples have you seen that support your opinion? (Professional debates)
  • Please share a time when you were bullied or bullied someone else. How have you shown your friends you support them? What role can you play in reducing bullying at your school? (Personal perspectives)

Facilitation Tips

  1. Encourage dialogue by asking the group their opinions of other members’ comments.
  2. Offer positive reinforcement after group members make comments or share their opinions (e.g. “Well said,” “Thank you for sharing that,” “Very good point,” “Wow I hadn’t thought of that before,” “Excellent dialogue,” etc.).
  3. If youth are apprehensive about responding to questions, don’t give up on getting them to respond. If long pauses persist, go around the room in order giving everyone a chance to respond.
  4. Respond to process questions you posed after all group members have spoken.


Circle Dances

Bruno Matinata

Bruno is a Brail-based facilitator who got in touch to tell us about circular dances which encountered while working with a company called Warriors Without Weapons. These dances involve gathering participants in a circle to repeat a simple set of dance moves together. Here is a video of one of these dances in action:


Top 5 Tips

Simon Stillman

We met Simon at the Creative Facilitation 2 training in London earlier this month. Although he does not use music as the main component in his work, he is used to incorporating melodies and rhythms into his workshops. Here are his top tips for success:

1) Think about the age of your audience. When working with younger students (eg in primary schools, age 9-11) it’s especially important to check the suitability of the lyrics in the music. Many songs that we hear every day will not be suitable so be careful how you select.

2) Ask yourself what do you want to achieve. Is it an energiser or is it intended to calm everyone down? Is it background or do you want them to be inspired by lyrics? I love the song Hall of Fame by The Script as it’s great for goal setting activities!

3) Once I needed to “speed up” an activity as it was going on too long. One simple way to do this was to put fast music on!  It worked perfectly much to my surprise actually), so the tempo is important.

4) Have awareness at all times on the effect of music. Once I had to change a song because it had a particularly unhappy memory for one pupil.  I was happy to change it and this experience has made me be more sensitive to how music affects us all differently.

5) Before you start the workshop, put some music on that you love and dance your socks off. This really helps you to get some energy flowing.


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