Diversifying musical progression routes – Task and Finish Group, week one 

Hand hovering over a map. Photo by José Martín Ramírez Carrasco on Unsplash

The first Changing Tracks Task and Finish group on music services Diversifying Progression Routes ran on Tuesday 12th October. Delegates from Bristol, Camden, Leicestershire and Hertfordshire began by exploring the different ways progression can be defined: 

  • by outcomes – musical, personal and social 
  • by accreditation – grades, Arts Award, or curriculum examinations 
  • by progression pathways – e.g formally organised performing activities, such as orchestras, windbands, choirs or informal self-organised groups or creative progression routes (from creating to performing music of different genres) 
  • by location – in schools, music centres, youth and community centres, folk clubs, music studios, churches, hospitals, professional venues, festivals or people’s own homes  
  • by role – performers (in all genres), composers/songwriters and music leaders, producers, dancers, engineers, promoters 
  • by destination – conservatoires, FE/HE, music industry, community groups 
  • into careers– performing, composition/songwriting, teaching/leadership, music therapy, backstage skills, production, journalism, academia 

Our experiences of learning music are varied – and continue to inform our teaching 

Describing their personal progression into and through music, delegates discussed how young people value music differently depending on personal circumstances and context.

What works for some may not engage others: some had enjoyed improvisation and playing by ear rather than reading music, others felt the opposite. 

Personal and social outcomes are inextricably linked with musical outcomes. For all of us, the social experience of music making was key to continuation, and progression needed to support this. The musical communities also offered opportunities to perform and provided independence, and progression into adulthood. 

Each delegates’ positive and negative experiences of learning music continues to inform their teaching and development practice. 

Progression needs to be responsive 

Areas may have geographical and socio-economic barriers to engagement. Even short distances can be a problem, and the offer needs to be accessible to those with less resources to practice as well as financially. Progression needs to be responsive to people’s needs and interests and needs to do more than simply offer an opportunity for ‘joining in’ with existing provision. 

Initial inclusion work sometimes focuses on engagement through workshops or short projects. These participants need progression routes to become more effectively embedded within music services. Ije Amaechi described her experience of progression through song-writing to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, into ethnomusicology at university, before returning to work for a music service as a workshop leader/instrumental teacher. Diversifying progression routes can help diversify the workforce, either through recruitment or in developing skills! 

A previous Task and Finish group had developed a word document which people may find helpful: https://changingtracks.org.uk/resource-inclusive-instrumental-music-tutor-job-description/ 

Questions raised for the next three sessions included: 

  • What is the relationship between instrumental teaching pedagogy and progression routes? 
  • How can we develop more opportunities for young music leadership to help grow future music leaders? 
  • How can progression routes best link to curriculum music? 
  • What can diversifying progression with music services support diversification of conservatoires? 
  • How can we ensure inclusive opportunities are taken up? 
  • What’s the best location for inclusive progression routes? 
  • What is the best output for the group? Must serve purposes of each participant, and wider services 

Would you like to attend the next session?

There will be three further sessions of this Task & Finish group: October 19th and November 9th and 16th, all online, from 15.30-17.00 – If you are interested to join the group, please email Michael.davidson@hertfordshire.gov.uk (Eventbrite bookings are now closed).

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