A Brave New World

Matt Griffiths from Youth Music shares his thoughts on being the 'new guy' in town.

I’ve been in post almost two months now and loving every minute of it. You know what it’s like when you’re in a new job – lots to find out, you feel you don’t know anything. But actually, that can also be useful – you can ask lots of simple, possibly silly, questions and get some great insightful answers! But being the new boy I reckon only lasts three months before I need to know what I’m talking about – the honeymoon period has one month to go in my book….

I’m managing to balance getting to know the Youth Music team and meeting up with an array of external friends, colleagues and stakeholders. Many people have asked me “so Matt, what are you going to do, what’s the next big idea?”, which can imply that it’s all down to the heroic individual to make things happen. That’s a bit old school for me. It doesn’t though at all diminish the need for leadership but that’s leadership of a new kind – collaborative, flexible, fast, clear and focused. What we all know is that it’s all down to teams of people working well together with a shared purpose in life that achieves the best results.

It’s a really interesting and challenging time in music education at the moment. Tell me something I don’t know I hear you say! There are new initiatives in development, which mean new processes and structures – Hubs, Bridges, In Harmony, QME, Catalyst to name but a few. What I’m really into is to absolutely ensure that these initiatives are a means to an end and not the end in itself. So what’s the end in itself? Well for me it’s all about keeping at the forefront of our collective music education minds our vision and purpose. We’re all doing this because I think we believe in transforming the lives of children and young people and, in Youth Music’s and many other organisations case, particularly those with least opportunity. This purpose should inform all that we do rather than be skewed by administrative process, structures and dogma. That’s a potential danger, which at best creates disconnected new initiatives working in splendid isolation and at worst, reinforces the silo culture evident in music education for many years. As a colleague reminded me the other day, one of my ‘Mattisms’ is ‘we’re in a brave new world’ and I genuinely believe and know that to be true. Shared vision, collective purpose, innovative, entrepreneurial thinking is for me the order of the day to punch above our collective weight for the children and young people that we serve. Let’s make it so!

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Kate_MB's picture

Excellent blog. Are you the new boss? Refreshing leadership indeed. Good to be open and appreciative about the strengths in your team. In my experience the Youth Music team down there are all such competent, dynamic, committed and hard working individuals who all pull together with a clear shared focus. I feel very lucky to be working on projects which are funded by Youth Music. Hooray for shared vision, collective purpose, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking. I run my own business in music education, so that is the only way for me. I am pleased to finally see it cascading out into the wider sector. It is the only way forward at the moment. Those who don't embrace those values will struggle to thrive in the current environment. We all need to embrace new opportunity and celebrate the great privilege which is paid work in music education with the opportunity to have a positive impact on a young person's life through music-making. :)

Matt Griffiths's picture

Many thanks for your kind words Kate - I am indeed the new boss! Started at Youth Music on 6 June. Onwards and upwards! Matt