Developing skills and confidence in mentors

In the third of this series of posts to accompany AYM’s new Talent to Talent film resources, we explore how we trained our older mentors and how they were supported during the programme to develop their confidence and skills as both music leaders and mentors.

As part of the Talent to Talent programme, before each series of creative music-making workshops, we brought our older mentors together for a day of bespoke mentor training lead by facilitators Ben Sandbrook of World Pencil and double bassist Paul Sherman. This training covered aspects of mentoring, music leading and safeguarding, however its important to note that 

It’s a process of learning that mentors did with each other, with mentees and with us from the training right through the project.

Ben Sandbrook, Facilitator

The training began with what mentoring is – the exchange of ideas, advice or guidance between two people, one of whom usually has more experience in or knowledge of a specific topic than the other – before going on to compare it with other approaches to supporting teaching and learning such as codesign, facilitation, teaching, in the case of music, what a conductor does. The unique process of music-based mentoring was then set out, running through the types of activities the participants would be doing, asking mentors to take the part of both the mentor and mentee to experience them from both perspectives.

At various points during both the training and the project we asked the older mentors to lead activities – sometimes with notice so they could plan, sometimes putting them on the spot which they found very useful in looking at ways that they could take these skills into their future work.

I have learnt numerous skills such as managing and steering open-ended discussions and creative sessions, confidently leading activities and workshops, and tailoring guidance and help to the specific needs of different children. 

Ella, Alumni (Leicestershire project)

The older mentors were supported throughout the programme to develop their confidence and skills as both music leaders and mentors, and they were given the opportunity to put into practice what they’d learnt. They were pushed out of their comfort zones but within a safe environment, and encouraged to experiment, take risks and learn through reflection.

I think I’ve developed my confidence in terms of doing more of it really. So having something like this Talent to Talent programme has enabled me to work really closely with people like Paul and Ben, and learn from them. And doing it more and more just helps me to get better and to have that practice. But I think it is a work in progress, I really do have to try really hard to think about why I say how I say it, and also just be a voice outside of being a parent or a teacher. And developing that, especially with me being a young person myself. It is a challenge. But I think the more and more I do it, the more confident I become.

Mahaliah Edwards, Alumna 

 I felt encouraged and supported to take a more proactive stance in the work, helping me to develop my skills as a mentor in an encouraging environment. Just as we told the participants, ‘there are no mistakes here’, I felt this applied to us as well! It was as much an opportunity for us to learn and grow as it was for the young people taking part. 

Oliver, Alumni (Leicestershire project)

Talent to Talent films

Many of our older mentors have taken the skills, experience and confidence they gained through Talent to Talent on to other AYM mentoring programmes, or other parts of their working lives. To find out more about how we supported our mentors to develop their skills and confidence, watch the third in our Talent to Talent series of films. 

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