Music as a tool to talk about evaluation in groups

Last month I wrote about how I use music to ‘gear up’ for facilitating. This month, I want to talk a bit about how I am exploring using music to talk about evaluation in groups. You’re probably thinking “Jara...What?” But hear me out - this is what I am up to: 

I am trying to remind us that evaluative practice is about people. It is not about numbers, words, data (big or small), or information; it is about lives, families, communities, schools. IT IS HUMAN. It is not a decontextualized, neutral, non-political process of value or worth.

With that in mind (and because we all know I need a little help), I have been playing around with using music as a mood maker. Here is what I have observed:

  • People sing along, smile, or laugh.

  • The energy in the room shifts - there seems to be a collective lowering of the shoulders.

  • People breathe.

  • People move their bodies.

  • There is a curiosity… what is going to happen next? Minds are open as the music takes  them off guard.

The music I choose is intentional. It is the music of my life and my experiences, and it usually falls into at least one of three camps:

  1. speaks to the world in which I want to live

  2. names the systems and policies we should interrogate and change/destroy

  3. highlights the experiences and conditions which our collective efforts should address. 

I am intentionally trying to reposition evaluative practice as a strategy for equity and justice - music at the onset is just the beginning of that recalibration.