Setting the scene is important in any music session and in the classroom or rehearsal space this usually begins non-verbally with the arrangement of the furniture that greets participants when they enter the ‘music space’. If the session is taking place in the general living area, there may be limited scope for rearranging the physical setup but it’s vital that the the music leader should be able to get close to each participant and make eye contact. The best arrangement is to seat them in a semi-circle around the leader and/ or accompanist. Anyone who needs a wheelchair tray or small table to support an instrument or switch should have this in position, ready to receive an instrument at the appropriate time.
When sessions take place in the living space, televisions, music-players, etc., should be switched off well before the session. In this ‘quiet time’, attention will be engaged by watching the leader set up for the session. When the moment to begin finally arrives, the air of expectancy may be further enhanced by the leader playing a very quiet and simple tune on melody instrument, whilst endeavouring to make eye contact, or singing a song such as “Something Is Going To Happen”, written by Clive Robbins and Paul Nordoff, expressly for this purpose.
‘Gathering’ songs further secure the engagement and will pay dividends later in the session by focusing attention. This is particularly true of those which elicit both a verbal response and physical activity, such as tapping an instrument, clapping hands or raising arms.
Update 23/9/2914: (The music of the latter song is the same as for “Come on, Everybody, Let’s Sing God’s Praise! which is a free pdf download on the Sacred Music page)