Tuneful Chatter: An Artist’s Insight
Dance artist Alex Mettam shares her favourite moments of Tuneful Chatter
Tuneful Chatter is a joyful, vibrant programme of movement, music and play for Doncaster 0-5-year-olds and their parents/carers. It is designed to develop the social, emotional and communication skills that provide the foundation for children to learn, grow and thrive in and beyond school.
Alex’s Insight as a Tuneful Chatter Artist
We sat down with dance artist Alex Mettam to hear more about her experience delivering Tuneful Chatter sessions, and what it means to be a darts artist.
Can you share a favourite moment from delivering Tuneful Chatter?
We have lots of wins and big moments in Tuneful Chatter, but my favourite is a huge development that the nursery staff and myself, saw in a child at one of partner nurseries. Max was hearing impaired and had some additional needs. In the first session he stayed close to a staff member, clutching tightly on to his hand. He needed lots of encouragement to engage with the activities, so overall joined in very little. A couple of weeks later he was one of the most confident ones! One staff member fed back that “he was straight in there, joining in laughing and having the time of his life. It was so heartwarming to see!”. Max had also started being more vocal in and out of the sessions too! This was such a big win, and it filled me with such joy that Tuneful Chatter could be that platform to allow him space to do that!
What impacts have you noticed on children and parents/carers?
Tuneful Chatter is a supportive and safe space for parents with children on the autistic spectrum. Numerous times I have had parents express their gratitude for our sessions, as they feel it is a space free of judgement, where their child can play, explore, and engage in their own way.
Allowing this creative freedom, while exploring falling in and out of structure, allows for any child to develop at their own pace. I have seen children with autism grow in confidence and seen developments in communication and social skills. The positive impact this has on parents and carers in invaluable!
What impacts have you noticed on Early Years staff in Doncaster?
I’ve experienced a huge development in some early years staff! Having them on board for Tuneful Chatter has made the programme even stronger. For example, myself and a Family Hub staff member have been building a great relationship. Every week she’ll read my plan in advance, input any ideas and suggest any extra props they have at the centre to be utilised within the session. She’s more vocal, creative and explorative in sessions and takes a more active role than when she initially started. It’s great to work and develop together using both our expertise.
How has delivering Tuneful Chatter informed your practice, and what have you learnt from delivering the programme?
Working collaboratively and creatively across artforms has deeply developed my practise. I’ve been inspired to write poems, create songs, and use musical instruments. All of which I wanted to try but didn’t have the confidence or skill to do before.
By donating just £5 per month, you can support children like Max to continue attending Tuneful Chatter sessions and build the confidence, communication and social skills that they need to grow and thrive in school and beyond. Become a monthly donor, or speak to your boss about corporate partnerships with darts.
To find out how to get involved with Tuneful Chatter as a parent/carer of a young child, find out more here, or contact Sophie on Sophie@wearedarts.org.uk.