Empowering the kids through choice – Daniel Miles

Introduction

In this piece of writing, I hope to shed light from my perspective on the experience I have had with Fairbeats. For some context, assuming someone who may read this won’t know who I am, I would like to briefly introduce myself. 

My name is Daniel and i am a singer/songwriter and producer. I started producing music during the birth of Grime when I was 13 and since then have been nominated for awards and had top 20 success in the UK Official Charts and executively produced an album earning national critical acclaim. I came across Fairbeats in an ad that my mum had sent to me, I had mentioned to her beforehand that I wanted to work with the youth because I genuinely love to transfer knowledge to the next generation, so I jumped at the opportunity.

I joined the team as a guest artist with the view of creating a song with the children from top to bottom, and eventually shooting an audio visual accompanied with a performance at the end of the year.

Choice

Fairbeats decision of giving choice to the kids solidified the authentic spirit of the charity for me. The last stage of the interview required me to record a video explaining who I was and what I did, it was to be shown to the children for them to choose who they wanted to collaborate with. I noticed the powerful effect that this had when I arrived for my first session. As soon as one of the kids saw me in the playground, they ran into the school hall screaming “Daniel’s here! Daniel’s here!”. The children were excited to see me and anticipated my arrival which gave me and them a warm start. 

Empowering the kids through choice has an immeasurable impact because I have learned through working with these amazing children, that they are so intelligent. When we allow them to exercise choice, it empowers them further and makes them feel included in something that is meant for their benefit.

The Planning

All the workshops and activities created at Fairbeats are tools to invoke deeper things intrinsic to our human nature, such as community, inclusion and self-worth. This set the prerequisite when planning for the session as a guest artist with the Fairbeats team. The process in planning the sessions out with the team was incredible: I felt that I could throw anything at the wall, and we could work it out and see if there was a capacity to facilitate the ideas. The Fairbeats team continued with the ethos of inclusion and choice which gave me freedom. I Believe the core values of Fairbeats are woven into the fabric of the team which brings out the best in everything Fairbeats does and helps align with their goals. 

The Lessons

Before we made any music, we asked the children to write down their favourite songs so as to get a feel for what music they would really like to make. We listened to a snippet of everyone’s song in the class and asked them how it made them feel and what they liked about the song. I then went home and made three beats tailored roughly to the main musical choices. The next session was about selecting the beat we were going to write to, which presented some issues. One of the issues was that there were different classes and age groups, James the creative workshop leader’s experience was extremely helpful in troubleshooting solutions. The aim was to take everything stage by stage and work with one class and take what progress we had made and continue it with another group. Initially we thought opinions and choices would clash, but we soon came to find out that if the progress made was good, they would love it and enjoy adding to it. Kaia’s role in the lessons is vital, and without her support, things would not move as smoothly as they do. Kaia drifts between lessons and deals with children in the class that may feel upset because of a previous altercation, or children that are disruptive (which they hardly are). In a training session facilitated by Fairbeats, Kaia had mentioned that one of the effective ways she handles situations with the children is to put an arm around them and ask them what is wrong. This was insightful for me because my approach had been to raise my voice and be authoritative, but showing you care and are concerned suffice and really comfort the children, which is oftentimes all they need.

Debrief Meetings

At the end of every day, we have a meeting and discuss what happened in each lesson and notify the team of anything that might be of concern or anything positive. This helps to get a holistic view of what is happening and allows me to pick up any tips. It’s nice to sit down and simmer on what happened in the day, I found that a lot happens quickly when interacting with the children and when time is allocated to reflect, revelations on how things might be handled differently or what went well arise. This is especially true in the presence of the team who are amiable, warm and experienced.

The Beautiful Children

The children at Fairbeats amaze me all the time, as mentioned before, they are fascinatingly intelligent. In one of the sessions we had been discussing what the song would be about. Elizabeth had suggested that we talk about nature because everything is nature, and then went on to mention our human nature! I also noticed innate musical talent in some of the children as well, possessing a keen musical ear and incredible rhythm. We decided to write about our differences with the children and collectively came to realise that the one thing we all have in common funnily enough, is that we are all different. To end this post, I’ve taken an extract of the lyrics written by the children which beautifully encompasses the sentiment of the song.

The Lyrics

Different races beautiful faces

So many colours and places

Styles you see from miles away

Something different everyday

We eat food in our own way

Sweet potato or plantain

Some are short and some are tall

But our size don’t matter at all