The 'Bounce!' collection of five songs grew out J Edna Mae's Doctoral research for which she worked with a group of beautiful children who were presenting with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Using her belief about the power of music, her Doctoral research aimed to ascertain how great music education could impact on their affective domain, if at all. The results were astonishing! She says,
‘I designed and implemented a multi sensory, varied programme, that incorporated literacy and ICT as well as music, including learning the piano, ukulele, appraising a variety of classical pieces (such as Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries’) whilst painting. They composed music using Garage Band on the iPad, and some of them chose to perform some pieces they had learned in a concert in front of the whole school.’
After one year, the research proved that the power of music had impacted incredibly on the students’ sense of self-esteem and confidence due to feelings of empowerment, and access to a creative outlet through which they could learn and explore the world around them.
‘It’s my firm view,’ says J Edna Mae, ‘that we must believe in our children, but more importantly, we must nurture them to believe in themselves. The power of music cannot be underestimated in making this happen.’
‘The 'Bouce!' project is meant first and foremost to be a great collection of pop, reggae and rap songs for all children to enjoy, on their own or as a sing-along on car journeys with family and friends or in school assemblies. But each song has a strong message that can really help children learn coping strategies and can help them to make sense of the world around them, especially children that are presenting with issues such as anxiety. Music is a creative window that can really engage children in their learning and can promote well-being.’
For example, one of the key findings in J Edna Mae’s research was that one of the children themselves had a eureka moment when she realised that the music had changed her mood, and that therefore she herself could consciously choose to try and change her mood in the future.
‘She realised that she could consciously focus on being happier or more relaxed by using the power of music,’ says J Edna Mae, ‘and this is a huge discovery for young children.’
The song ‘Beautiful Day’ is a high energy song written around this premise, and is meant to promote feelings of happiness, as sung – ‘You can choose to smile, not to cry.’
‘It is fantastic that public figures such as Prince William, Prince Harry and Lady Gaga have been speaking openly this year about mental health issues (BBC, April 18, 2017). It is critical that children who are already presenting with social, emotional and behavioural issues are recognised and taught strategies to help them cope.’
‘The ‘Bounce’ collection is written for children to listen to or sing along to, either on their own or collectively in a small or large group and have fun!' says J Edna Mae. 'Be happy! Rap! Sing! Stand up and move! Clap! Click! Be together! Feel joy! Laugh! Be creative and make up your own accompanying dances or actions! Enjoy!’
J Edna Mae’s creative approaches to learning and music teaching are fully endorsed and supported by Professor Susan Hallam, MBE,
‘J Edna Mae Thomas has extensive experience of working with children in a range of environments and promoting their learning, creativity and well-being. The project that she is currently working on, the Bounce Project, based on her doctoral research, uses songs for children to sing that promote self-belief, confidence and empowerment through music. She has the skills to support creative ways of teaching and learning across the curriculum, especially to children with SEBD and low achievers. Using creativity approaches will develop interest in learning for all children. She has the personal skills to ensure that any project is successful and I have no hesitation supporting her work.’
Professor Susan Hallam MBE, April 2017, Professor of Education and Music Psychology UCL Institute of Education
‘I am absolutely thrilled that it’s been such a family affair recording the songs,' says J Edna Mae, 'My two amazing boys did the vocals and the raps. We are all delighted that this project was awarded a silver medal in the recent Global Music Awards, a top tier music award based in America.'