UK Sample Project - Make Music, Make a Change

UK Sample Project: Make Music at Northam Lodge Sample session plan

This session plan includes the following sections:

  1. Running an example session - with notes for leaders - songs and tunes are attached as part of this document
  2. Supporting and involving volunteers - with ideas of skills to look for and how to get the best out of your volunteers
  3. Safeguarding, health and safety and professional conduct


This session plan is a general guide for experienced leaders and for people who have never led a session before. However, you should have some musical confidence either with voice or on an instrument to get the most out of the plan. If you don’t play an instrument, you can ask someone else to join you for the session, but it’s probably worth having a rehearsal with them first.

There isn’t space to explain everything about the sessions (e.g. to list all the relevant signs etc.) so the best way of understanding the plan is to attend a Wren session and maybe take some notes. Please feel free to adjust to taste! You don’t have to run things in this order, apart from hellos and goodbyes, and feel free to bring something new to the session, even if it’s you performing a song you know. Not everything has to be “interactive” and listening to something really good can be just as much fun for participants.

Session runs for one hour - Numbers in brackets refer to the attached PDFs of the music

  1. Hello:
    1. Say hello to everyone and sing the “Hello Song” (1) - You don’t need to include staff and volunteers in this unless the group is very small, otherwise it will take 10 mins!
  2. Working Again:
    1. Ask people about their week, and what they’ve been doing. Ask them what they’d like to do today. Run them through signs for “Working Again” (2) - “What kind of day is it outside?” “How about giving me the sign for Sunny Day” etc. When they have tried the signs, you can go round some of the group (all if a small group as above) and ask what they would like to add to the song. Each person will need to contribute 2 things to fit the song - An activity, and some more detail, or 2 separate activities. E.g. “Go out to lunch, have fish and chips” or “Go for a swim, visit my mum”. If you’re going to struggle to remember everything, either write it down, or vamp on a chord and ask each person as you get to them (this can be hard if someone freezes and you have to vamp for 10 mins while they think of an answer!)
  3. Warm-ups:
    1. Ask people to give their fingers a wiggle. Then try wiggling toes. Do some stretching up to the sky and down to the floor. Maybe sing “Mister Tree” (3) and get people to do actions.
    2. Think about playing instruments, and ask people to mime playing “The biggest violin you’ve ever seen” or “The smallest piano”.
    3. Or think about being different animals and think about how they move. Maybe try to imitate an elephant or a monkey!
    4. Try some breathing. Ask people to breathe very slowly and calmly, then maybe to imagine “blowing out some candles”. If you have a more able group, you might want to try counting breaths in and out, or looking at breathing down into your tummy (relaxed breath).
    5. Now make some sounds. Imagine eating an apple, and saying “mmmmmm” without opening your mouth. Try to change the sound you are making. Imagine a pot boiling over and practice the sound “blblblblblblblblbl” as if you are bubbling!
    6. Move on to some more definite vocal sounds by using a simple song of your choice e.g. “If you’re happy and you know it” or use “Whoah - Chocolate” which can be found in general warm-ups (see below) if you’re looking for more ideas (4)
  4. Something familiar or something new?:
    1. Now you can choose what you’d like to do depending on the group, how well you know them, and how confident you are feeling!
    2. You could sing something you’ve brought in, a new song you’ve written, something you’d like people to get involved in, or you could do something really familiar like “Roll the Old Chariot Along” (5)
  5. Instruments or movement?
    1. It should feel like time to change the energy now, so you could get some instruments out if you’ve got them and try “Join the Band” (6) or you could do something that involves movement like “The Hokey Cokey” (7) or maybe make up a dance or use a folk dance if you know one (you might need to play a melody for this, or get someone else to do it - There are a couple of melodies in the pack (8,9,10)
  6. A song for everyone to join in
    1. Now try something quite familiar, maybe involving choices like “Do the Mashed Potato” (11) or “On Holiday” (12)
  7. Goodbye
    1. If you haven’t done instruments yet “Join the Band” (6) can be a great uplifting way to finish, or you can sing a “Goodbye Song” which uses the Hello song melody (1) but says: “Goodbye, goodbye, it was nice to see you here” Think of different ways of saying goodbye e.g. waving, foreign languages, English slang (see ya!) etc.
  8. Pack up and have a cup of tea!
    1. If you’re providing this session regularly, it might be an idea to talk to other staff about how it went, what was good, any progress anyone made, and ways to make it better. Write down what you think so you can come back to it before planning the next one.


Volunteers are an incredibly valuable resource when supported to allow them to best use the skills they have. In the first instance, it’s OK to be choosy about the volunteers who help you. For the Make Music project and similar events, we work with vulnerable adults with a range of disabilities, so our volunteers needed to be sensitive to this. They also need the right skills for the job. In the case of Make Music, we needed the volunteers to have some instrumental skills they could share with others. As they were all drawn from our adult orchestras, this was not an issue for this group of volunteers, but it is worth reminding people that they are there to benefit others musically, and not always to work at the very top of their own level. There are a few simple ways to support volunteers:

  • Create a briefing sheet - This should detail the venue, the roles you’d like them to undertake, any health and safety/safeguarding (see section C) and any other things to note about the sessions. A briefing sheet for the Make Music project can be found in appendix B at the end of this document.
  • Regular meetings - Talk to your volunteers and find out what they think about what you do. If you can, try to be non-confrontational if they have queries or issues about the way you do things, but explain that the time to discuss this is after the session or in a separate meeting, not in front of others! Ask them for ideas and try to develop these with them if possible. If not, ask them to bring something in to work on, but do check it with them before the session to make sure it is appropriate.
  • Training - training can happen ad hoc at the sessions or can be held on specific days. For the Make Music project, we held various training days to learn about instruments, tuning, signing and lots more. An example of a training session can be found in appendix B.
  • Feedback - Get and give regular feedback with volunteers to find out how what they think and to give them ideas for their own improvement. Feedback could take the form of video interviews or could be in written for at the end of an agreed period. For some feedback examples, please see appendix B.



When working with vulnerable adults, it is important to be extremely vigilant regarding their safety. People often have limited capacity for explaining when something is wrong so it is up to you, your volunteers and the setting staff to be responsible at all times for safeguarding individuals. You should know who the safeguarding officer is at the setting, and if you work for an organisation, who your safeguarding lead is too. If you have any worries, you should report them to these individuals in the first instance.

Ideally, you should have a Level 2 or higher Safeguarding qualification (see Appendix C) Your volunteers should be briefed on safeguarding and should all hold up-to-date DBS checks where appropriate You should ask to see the safeguarding policy at the setting in which you are working, and if you are working for an organisation, you should read and understand your own policy! In general, we all have a duty to safeguard those around us, so don’t be afraid of raising concerns.

Health and Safety:

Broadly you should take similar steps as for safeguarding, regarding you, your volunteers and other setting staff. Know your health and safety lead, and the lead at any settings. Be aware of policies that relate to this, and generally have an eye for potential problems.

Specifically when working in adult disability settings, you should be aware of people’s restricted movements, and the possibility of unexpected reactions to e.g. loud noise or other stimulus. Also, bear in mind that people may not have good co-ordination in e.g. avoiding you when you are carrying a hot cup of tea!!

Professional conduct:

As well as the items above, it’s useful to be generally “aware of yourself” in all aspects of work, whether you represent an organisation, or work on your own. The way that you speak to, and interact with people should be sensitive but assertive when necessary, but not rude! Be prepared for the work you are going to do, but be responsive to changes in the mood of others and don’t be afraid of throwing away the plan if it’s not working. Be aware of the needs of the setting in which you are working and communicate that to those working with you (e.g. the residential setting at Northam Lodge is the home of the people who live there, and you should treat it as such)

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Last modified: Thursday, 11 October 2018, 6:17 AM