casX 2016 was a huge success facilitating 42 children for six days. The title for the conference was ‘Called & Chosen’. Throughout the conference we unpacked the significance of understanding how special each of the children are beyond their ability to play, sing, write a song, etc.
To date, this is probably the most significant conference where the lives of many children have been impacted.
As I teach at London School of Theology (LST), we invited some of our LST students to come and assist us with some of the classes. They were part of our 2016 casX Team. As part of our report, we thought it would be good for two of them to share their experience.
In the summer of 2016 I volunteered at the children’s music and worship school called ‘CASX: Called and Chosen.’ It was an incredible experience and I would love to do it again. I taught singing to a number of children aged 7 to 17. I also shadowed Carl and Diana Stanbridge (Regular teachers for casX) whilst they taught in a band clinic where the children would be placed into bands and we would help them learn and play a few worship songs for the final showcase at the end of the week. I also helped to disciple the children in the daily activities in the week at CASX which was very special, for example teaching some of the girls to use table manners at all the mealtimes, it seems like a simple task but it was a very encouraging experience.
There was a team of around 10 of us who volunteered on the course and it was incredible to be able to work with such supportive, spiritually mature and encouraging people. We worked well together as a team and there was great communication between each team member.
It was such a privilege to partake in a small part of each of the children’s lives for that week, many of the girls would ask questions and really show their interest in a certain subject and were very well behaved.
One particular story of development springs to mind where one young girl had to sing a song that her song writing group had written but as the group
stood up to perform she began to get tearful and afraid at the thought of going up to the stage and singing alone so I asked if she’d like me to sing with her and she agreed so we held hands and sung the song together. She was so afraid at the beginning but after a while she was glad she had stepped out her comfort zone, this also enabled her to sing a solo in the showcase at the end of the week and it was so special to journey with her at that time. Overall, the children grew so much in musicality, spiritual maturity, friendship and care towards one another, it was incredible to see these transformations take place.
There certainly was a plethora of classes for the children to attend, from singing lessons to art in worship! I felt that the children had an opportunity to push themselves and learn new instruments and experience God in new and exciting ways which enabled their character to grow throughout the week. The lecturers were all so incredibly gifted and really invested in the lives of the children. They were all really interesting to chat to and gain experience from as I would be really interested in going into some of the pathways that they have taken in life with jobs and opportunities.
Finally, I learnt a lot throughout the week, one instance was teaching singing for the first time which was incredible and very amusing, it also pushed me as a leader! I would like to teach children singing in the future after I graduate from my studies. I also learnt from the children to really let loose in worship, in one of the evening sessions one child started a conga and all the adults joined in which was great fun! I also learnt a lot about the older girls and how self-conscious they felt sometimes in worship and performing which took me back to when I was their age, this taught me to really invest in them and encourage them. I think I could have invested a little more in the older girls but one night there were some ‘boy’ issues so I had the opportunity to chat through some issues one young girl was experience and tell her a little of my story. I also learnt that God wants us to be children before Him, He loves it when we approach Him with open arms, expectancy, honesty and holding nothing back. I feel that God equipped me to act as a young role model for the girls which was an incredible opportunity of encouragement and blessing.
James Beattie writes:
I attended the CasX music summer school in August 2016 and it was the highlight of my year. It incorporated all the things that are really special to me, teaching and playing good music, having times of worship and devotion, building friendships with children and youth, seeing them develop and grow, and also having an incredibly fun time!
I gave tuition to children and youth aged 7-17 on bass and guitar, led seminars on music sequencing and arranging on Logic, helped a group of boys write a song, supported the running of a band clinic, set up class rooms and equipment, and ensured the boys got to bed on time! I really enjoyed seeing the children enjoy playing and learning music, be encouraged when they picked up an instrument for the first time and could play it, and also have times when we could pray for them, and see them encounter God.
I also worked with a fantastic team of people who were so patient, kind, loving, and wanted to support and help the children during the week. They were quick and responsive, and ensured that every child was okay and were enjoying their time at the summer school. They were amazing examples to me and have inspired me to continue to pursue God and music. The highlight of the week for me was on the last day, when the children and youth performed different pieces and songs they had either performed or written earlier in the week, for their friends and family.
There was huge talent from a 7 year old on drums, a trumpet player aged 11, and many youth who wrote amazing songs! It was also really amazing seeing them breaking out in confidence, and not letting negative things said to them in the past hold them back from playing, singing and performing. I felt the week was a big stepping-stone for the children and youth to continue to step out in confidence, and not be afraid to play music, try out new things, and not be held back by fear or doubt.
This week was also life changing and encouraging for me. It reignited passions I had for playing and teaching music, being involved in children’s and youth work, and serving God through it all.
This is a report from just two of the many volunteers. Velveta and I feel very honoured to run our Creative Arts School of Excellence Residential Worship & Music conference knowing that so many children’s lives will be changed for ever. Hopefully not just the children but the very families we send them back to.
Thank to all our supporters, as you can see, your contribution has gone towards changing and impacting children’s lives. These children will go on to lead Worship teams and also pioneer the sound of worship coming out of the UK.