AYM hosts mentor training weekend for young music leaders

On the last weekend of September 2023, we ran a three-day training weekend hosted by our friends and partners at Lewisham Music at their wonderful centre. We invited 15 young music leaders to take part. Topics explored ranged from musical based mentoring, to capturing young people’s voices, as well as taking an in depth look at what we mean by musically inclusive practice.

The music leaders were a mix of experienced Alumni mentors who’ve been working with us for a while, new mentors who’ll be taking up roles in some of our partner Hubs, and recent Award winners who were joining us as part of their broader professional development. The group came from all over the UK, with some travelling from as far away as Edinburgh and North Wales.

Introduction to music based mentoring

Day one was facilitated by AYM associates Ben Sandbrook and Paul Sherman, who’ve worked with us for many years in developing our approach to musical based mentoring. They led discussions around different types of mentoring and looked at some of the unique benefits and challenges that each approach brings. Participants also had an opportunity to make some music together in small groups and explored ways to artistically present their own musical journeys to the rest of the group.

After the session one of the young music leaders told us ‘For me the most useful thing was learning the basic understanding of what a mentor is: as I had never done anything like it before I was unsure of what to expect. I feel like I have gained knowledge on what my role is.’

Another told us ‘ I learned how our job was not to teach, but to guide the young person and support others. This was great to hear from AYM, because many organisations have different definitions of this, and so it was great to have it so clearly defined!’

Monitoring and Evaluation

The focus of day two was around authentically capturing the voices of young people, as well as discussing what we mean by evaluation and exploring different approaches to it. The session was co-facilitated by Phyllida Shaw, who has been working with us to evaluate our Furthering Talent programme for several years, and Liz Coomb who is a Programme Manager at Sound Connections. The music leaders took part in some role-play interviews and learned how to adapt their approach for different people and settings. They also discussed why evaluation is so important in helping organisations become better at what they do.

One of the attendees said:

‘I found it really useful to learn other people’s experiences and see what it’s like for young people apart from myself in the musical world. Also as a young person, it really gave me food for thought on how to approach these kinds of situations.’

Another said:

‘I found the ideas about how to be present in the room and to assess without intimidating the young people or undermining the facilitator really useful. I also found the chart showing different types/degrees of working with young people to instigate project very helpful.’

Identifying Musical Talent and Potential

The final day was co-facilitated by community musician and long-time AYM collaborator Hugh Nankivell alongside AYM’s Furthering Talent Programme Manager Neil Phillips. The session began with a broader look at AYM’s approach to musically inclusive practice which included learning about our personalised learning approach via the Online-Individual Learning Plan, how to offer diverse musical experiences to young people and the importance of creating a community of support around a young musician. Hugh then led our acclaimed Identifying Musical Talent and Potential training: this is designed to offer music leaders a different lens through which to view the concept of musical potential, using a series of musical games, discussions and film resources.  

Once again we asked some of those who attended for their thoughts:

‘I found it interesting to learn about how talent doesn’t necessarily equate to skill. Other things such as engagement and interest and determination are important’

‘I found it useful to try to find words to describe how a musical young person might respond to sound in a way that might otherwise go unnoticed’

Mentoring is now central to AYM’s Furthering Talent programme and we’ll continue to invest in the music leaders of tomorrow. The participating mentors will be joining annual training, where we will explore a wide range of skills in working with young people.

Our Identifying Musical Talent and Potential Training is free thanks to support from Arts Council England and is available to schools, MATs, Music Hubs and other organisations working with young people and training music leaders and teachers. 

Our music-based mentoring programme, Talent to Talent, combined peer mentoring opportunities with creative music making for young musicians at different stages of their musical journeys. Funded by two projects grant from Arts Council England, Talent to Talent was delivered in partnership with Music Hubs on our Furthering Talent programme and included the production of a series of films to share the value of this type of mentoring model as widely as possible. 

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