This module focuses on the facilitation of groups using music, developing strategies to enable this, as well as exploring the idea of reflection, considering why and how music can affect groups of people.

The module will involve documenting and analysing aspects of group facilitation through music that you are currently undertaking in your own practice. However, the module also hopes to promote and foster a “facilitating and sharing” culture within the MARS group, considering the idea of facilitation and support, not only as something that we ‘do’ to others in practice, but something that we also practice within the groups we are personally part of.

Introduction to the module

Watch introduction video by Alison Hornblower

The module will focus on 4 main areas:

  1. Observing, listening and communicating as a facilitator;
  2. Group facilitation and the music used;
  3. Reflective, safe and responsive practices in supporting a group and developing self-awareness as a facilitator;
  4. Awareness, resilience, healing, enabling and empowering through group musicing.

Exploration and development of these four areas will begin by reflecting on the following 3 themes:

  1. Your relationship with music as facilitating (or not facilitating) an experience;
  2. Your experiences (positive or negative) of being within a group musically which has been facilitated by another person;
  3. Your role facilitating and supporting a group using music.

Webinar on group facilitation

Watch video webinar by Davide Woods


Webinar on resilience and empowerment

Watch video webinar by Simon Procter


Assignment 1 - a game

Jamil is a twenty-one year old from Pakistan. He has joined the musical activity group which is held weekly in a refugee centre in Stuttgard in Germany by a MARS course student.

He enjoys the company but is not really interested in the music making. Since he has good fluency in English he tries to get the members involved in speaking English (which many of the participants speak better then German).

Furthermore he often arrives mid-way through the session and begins talking about the events leading to them being late, engaging others in a verbal dialogue and disrupting the flow of the session.

This is an imaginary 'scenario', typical of MARS music work. We invite you to play with your ideas as to what might happen next, keeping in mind the following questions:

What should/could the group facilitator (Marsian) do?
Then what would happen?
Who are the other members of the group and how might they react?

The aim of this is to experiment with your ability to respond (based on your own experiences) ‘in the moment’, in an imagined development of this scenario, based on the idea of facilitation and support.


Assignment 2

Select and audio or video recording of a situation where you have used music to facilitate and support a particular group experience.

Write about your experiences as part of a reflective report, linking to the four themes. Below are a list of questions that may help you in your reflections and provide a template for your report.

As in module 2 remember that the aim is to be able to document, analyse and comment on the various levels and aspects of the facilitation process and link this to your own personal experiences of group music-making.

  1. Think of an experience where music has been (or could have been) supportive and enabling.
  2. Think of a personal experience where music has been (or could have been) disempowering and reproducing hierarchy or power dynamics.
  3. How can music be a supportive and facilitating experience for people who are not musicians? Could it result in the contrary?
  4. When facilitating, what are we expecting from ourselves and from the group?
  5. What are the aspects you wish the group participants could remember of the session?
  6. Which aspects of a sessions do you imagine you may find most difficult in the role of a facilitator? Why?
  7. Which instead do you feel confident with? Why?
  8. Describe a situation where improvisation could be useful in creating a group feeling.

Four areas of reflection

1) Observing, listening and communicating: Considerations

  • Limits and boundaries of the group.
  • Internal and external setting.
  • Strategies for creating “space” (mental and physical) before  starting a session and after it has ended.
  • Basic elements of non verbal communication

Starting questions for a reflection

  • What is a group?
  • What is this group?
  • Is the group considered as such only within a certain context?
  • Is it an open or closed group?
  • How is the role of the facilitator established?
  • What is your aim as a facilitator?

2) Group facilitation with music

  • Beginnings and endings.
  • Working around and within silence
  • Pulse, intensity and duration.
  • Timbre and identity.
  • Planning and improvising

How does the session begin?
When does a group begin/end? Is it dictated by time boundaries, when musical activity begins, or other determinants?

How does the session end?
How is silence perceived within the session? Can silence be facilitated as a group experience? What is your own relationship with silence?
How are musical elements (pulse, duration, intensity, pitch and timbre) involved in the group process?
How do structure and improvisation relate to the facilitation process?
Does listening to music afford the facilitation of experience within a group?

3) Reflective, safe and responsive practices in supporting a group

  • Supporting and balancing
  • The needs of the facilitator
  • Enthusiasm, expectations and measure.

What are the needs and expectations of the facilitator? How do we manage these with the needs (and possible expectations) of the group?
What are the needs and expectation of the group?

What are the limits and rules of this group?
How do we manage groups to promote sharing, inclusion and awareness?

4) Awareness, resilience, healing, enablement and empowerment.

  • Equality and asymmetry in roles
  • Communicating with other professionals and staff
  • Responsibility, confidentiality and respect.

What are roles in the group?
Are these roles implicit or explicit?
How can a facilitator develop better awareness of dynamics in the group which may not be explicit through using music?
How do we reflect on group experiences as a way of developing our skills and awareness as a facilitator?