National Centre for Early Music

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Training for Music Practitioners

In Autumn 2014, as part of a commitment to the training and development of music practitioners in the York and Humber Region, the National Centre for Early Music worked with internationally-renowned trainer, Phil Mullen, to develop and deliver a series of CPD days, targeted at experienced community musicians. Ten music leaders and two educational administrators took part in the training, which was divided into two core topics: (1) Leaving a Legacy and (2) Supporting Emerging Practitioners.

Leaving a Legacy focused on identifying a broad and holistic understanding of what a youth-focused education project legacy can involve, how it should be planned for and how it can be achieved. Legacy in learning and participation projects was seen to be relevant for a wide range of stakeholders, including participants, community musicians, teachers and senior management in schools (including SEN and PRU teachers), students, youth workers, health workers, social workers, care home staff, sensory support services, Music Education Hubs, Ofsted, funding bodies, families and the wider community. Legacy was seen to include, but not be limited to:
  • The continuation of the musical work beyond the initial project;
  • The continued use of the musical skills gained by participants through the initial project;
  • The continued use of transferrable skills gained by participants through the initial project;
  • Positive changes in perception amongst generalist staff (of themselves, the young people and of musical activity)
  • Positive changes in musical skills of generalist or specialist staff
The training group agreed that legacy is most likely to be achieved in situations where: all those involved in young people's musical education are given a sense of ownership over the work being done; music is valued and respected; high-quality music leaders are involved; projects are ambitious and seek a high standard of work (as relevant to the setting and participants); all those involved in young people's education know where to look for further support; young people are encouraged to think for themselves about their own 'next steps'. Dedicated CPD sessions, mentoring, physical and online resources, the development of networks, informal discussion and observation are all key aspects of ensuring and maintaining a strong project legacy.

Supporting Emerging Practitioners explored how and why more experienced music leaders should provide learning opportunities to early career community musicians. The training group discussed the skills and information that should be passed on, which included: musical skills; workshop/project planning and administration; delivery and teaching skills; group dynamics and behaviour management; professional etiquette and ethics; safeguarding and child protection; reflexivity and a committment to ongoing CPD; resilience and flexibility. A number of elements were deemed central to any good practice sharing relationship between an experienced and an emerging practitioner:
  • The lead musician on a project should have a strong understanding of their own practice and pathway, in order to be able to support someone else's professional development journey;
  • A lead musician should work closely with an emerging practitioner to ensure that the right level of information is passed on at the right moment (not keeping a trainee in too basic a role for too long and, contrastingly, not 'scaring them off' with unrealistic expectations);
  • Ongoing development is key and, wherever possible, longer term partnerships and training opportunities should be favoured;
  • Experiential learning is vital, although should be underpinned by a sound theoretical knowledge;
  • Debriefing and reflection opportunities are vital to ensure that mentoring and training is meeting needs;
  • A strong ethical agreement should be reached between emerging practitioner and lead musician to ensure that a nurturing environment is achieved for the trainee, while also respecting the experienced professional.

The practitioners who undertook this CPD commented that:

  • "It was an excellent and valuable opportunity to reflect and take stock"
  • "I will be able to use this across all that I do - really helpful, thank you!"
  • "This has ironed out a lot of issues that have been coming up for me lately. I've appreciated this opportunity ever so much"
  • "Always good to keep up-to-date with best practice and to share with others in the field"
This training was delivered as part of the Music4U project, funded by Youth Music and delivered in partnership with local authorities in York, East Riding, North and North East Lincolnshire and Hull.