Kheeima Stewart, Early Years Community Coordinator at Quaggy Children’s Centre, took part in the Interactive Music-Making Course back in 2017.  Quaggy is one of six children’s centres within the Quaggy Development Trust: Between January and March 2020 they saw 1490 families across Greenwich West. With high numbers of EAL, and children with additional needs/learning difficulties, Interactive Music Making is a key part of their offer.  

Since her training, Kheeima has been using IMM to support children and families from this local community. During the pandemic, Quaggy was open for key workers and children of key workers. Kheeima, self-isolating herself, downloaded our Under Fives Activity Book and Covid Guidance, and applied for the Musical Instrument Fund. She said, ‘We want to keep the momentum up for our children and keep them engaged with the love of music and thought it would be a good time to invest in some different resources.’

Kheeima’s aim for her IMM sessions has always been to build the children’s confidence and language development. She believes this is important for children’s families, too, and her sessions always emphasise the importance of music for parental bonding and mental health. By building up communication and language capability, the children have new ways to engage meaningfully with others, which helps them regulate their emotions. Self-regulation of emotions is something Kheeima prioritises – without words to express themselves she sees the children can get frustrated and angry.

Since I trained, I think I’ve been able to use IMM to help about 250 children & their families.

Kheeima Stewart

Because of Kheeima’s commitment, dedication  and enthusiasm, she has been able to support families who were struggling, and she has helped most importantly the child to become a happier, confident, autonomous learner… having her as one of our Interactive Music-Making practitioners has certainly enabled us to deliver outstanding sessions for our families.

Lis Day, Children’s Centre Lead, Quaggy Development Trust

Kheeima writes up her observations in case studies, such as after recently providing a block of sessions for a group of 6 children for whom English was an additional language. This included, Ellis* who has gradually learnt to separate from his creche worker and share with others, and whose confidence and choice making visibly increased. And Denzel*, who has developed confidence and learnt to moderate his behaviour. Unable to express emotions he used to lash out at peers, but he’s ‘loved IMM’, and now listens and responds to adults, using musical concepts like soft/loud to express his emotional state.

‘If you’re happy and you know it’ was a great song for Denzel as it allowed us to talk about how he was feeling. IMM allowed us to create a baseline of observation about Denzel and we went on to run small 1-to-1 sessions with him, which gave me an opportunity to focus more on his feelings and emotions with him.

Kheeima Stewart

So, applying to the Musical Instrument Fund in 2020 was in response to the main challenge for delivering this kind of meaningful music at Quaggy: that the one set of instruments was being shared between 6 centres.

We do have a large number of families wanting to access Interactive Music-Making, however, due to lack of resources, we are only able to offer a waiting list. Additional musical instruments will make such an impact for us. We are requesting instruments so can provide these vital services across all of our Children’s Centres.

Kheeima’s request for more instruments has prevented the risk of cross-contamination and allowed IMM groups to continue through Covid, for the children of key workers. And, beyond the pandemic, it means that many more children can access IMM sessions in multiple centres (Kheeima is not the only trained Interactive Music-Maker in the Quaggy network). And of course, the variety of instruments allows them ‘to teach the children about the different cultures that surround them.’