Routes into a Music Career and the New Era of Inclusivity

  • by CEDAKelly

    Monday, 7 December, 2015 - 14:00

My name is Kelly Young. I'm 27, a trained singer / musician / performer and I recently turned my hand to teaching music when I moved from London to Devon.

One of the first things I would like to discuss is that I never knew that the field I work in now was a career path. I graduated in 2010 and loved my Music degree at Oxford Brookes. I then went to Drama School and studied Musical Theatre. I was fully set on being a performer and eventually, a secondary school music teacher. PGCE, performance, composition and arts administration was highly encouraged at university,and I think the closest thing to inclusive practice mentioned was Music Therapy.

Working with children and adults labelled with a disability or 'special needs' can be challenging, but can't we all? I really feel that universities in particular have a responsibility to encourage music making within contrasting settings. Reflecting back on my practice and education, I never knew that I could use my musical skills in so many different ways to help people gain confidence and bring happiness to peoples lives.

Here is a quick breakdown of the work I do:

I am the Music Practitioner at CEDA

I am the Band Coach at the OCRA Music Project

I run my own choir, the Okehampton Singers

I run a choir for Okehampton College as part of the Okehampton Music Centre

I am starting to work for Turning Tides as a part of the Jam Buddies Project: 

I have a range of private students and I am also in a function band

 

I've always loved music. I loved being involved in the music department at school, recording in studios, working with other creatives - but I was never sure that it was a 'valid' way to live, to gain career satisfaction, to make a difference to peoples lives. To me it felt like a safe place. But I couldn't see a path past university - there was so much I wanted to do (I still feel that way!) and I didn't want to just choose one! I wanted to be creative, but to still have my academic capabilities recognised. I wanted to sing, but also wanted to be producing. The list goes on!

What a lot of budding musicians don't know is that you are often 'jobbing', and you'll make your living from several avenues.This requires you to be practical, motivated and to be a bit tech savvy too. I have to say that I learned a lot of my practical skills at drama college post university. The statistic of '90 percent of actors are out of work 90 percent of the time' came in to play. We were encouraged to assess our own skills and to look at ourselves as a business. Can you use photoshop or design posters? Do you know how to invoice? Do you know your worth and how to negotiate salary? Do you have basic recording / mixing skills? Do you have any musical or drama warm up games up your sleeve? Are you specialised enough in your instrument / voice and do you keep on top of your practise? Are you confident at networking? Are you brave enough to make mistakes?

Most of the above - I learned through jobbing - teaching singing, going on tour, working abroad as a singer. It took me a while. It also took me a while to realise that I had a talent for helping and understanding others in a musical setting to inspire and build confidence. I do this by being inclusive - for me, this means that everybody has a fundamental right to access music. 

I'd love for more universities to include an 'Inclusive Practise' module and introduce more musicians and practitioners to this highly rewarding field, and also for undergraduates to be pushed further in terms of their practical skills and business acumen.

I've searched very hard recently for CPD in the South West (there doesn't seem to be a great deal of inclusivity CPD out here in the sticks!) and have been lucky enough to travel up to Bristol for the amazing Inclusive Practitioner Training with the inspiring Phil Mullen. You can read about the outcomes of the first session here. It was exactly what I needed - a jump into practical training. I used what I had learned the following Friday in CEDA's FUMP (Friday Urban Music Project) which went down an absolute storm.

I think more partnerships need to be built between universities and music charities. Internships, work experience and general exposure to the 'industry' if I can call it that. I have spoken with several inclusive providers who have remarked that a great deal of music graduates do not have the practical skills needed to be thrown into uncertain situations.

It was refreshing to meet musicians and producers on the Inclusive Practitioner Training that seem to have gone down the same route as me. Despite our differences in instruments and musical taste, we all felt strongly about inclusivity and that we need to overcome the barriers that we face.

I titled part of this blog post 'The New Era of Inclusivity' because it feels to me like a change is coming. Perhaps in my naivety it feels this way because I am only just breaking into the field. Maybe it's a new era just to me. But, I see change happening. I facilitate it, I learn about it, and I stick with it. I can see others doing the same. I want to - pardon the dire term - 'raise awareness' of this field, and how much we need more inclusive practitioners in the field. I find that the majority of practitioners / teachers I have met seem to specialise in one field - educating highly talented young musicians / going down the 'traditional' musical routes. Then there are others who work in SEN settings only. For me, inclusivity also means that you have the skills to educate and facilitate in both settings -often at the same time. It is fostering a caring approach between human beings. If music is allowed to be a part of that process, then you're on to a winner.

I'm going to leave you with some fun songs we've written at CEDA. So many kids have had a hand in this - choosing chords, sounds, textures, creating melodies, choosing rhythms and recording percussion. Some of the young people have multiple complex physical disabilities, and some have a mild learning disability. Each person is completely different in their own positive and unique way - this definitely comes across in our music making at CEDA.

One last question for you all - how do you make your practice inclusive?

Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.

Kelly Young

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Lucinda Bristow's picture

Hi Kelly

I met you at the inclusive practitioner training in Bristol the other day...great blog and good to see such positivity and eagerness in raising the awareness of musical inclusivity. I totally agree with you, it's great to meet and learn from others who are also keen to promote this. Good luck in Exeter and I'm sure we'll meet again!

mollyrosebrace's picture

Hello Kelly,

'Since the mid-80s Actiontrack has established a proven and wide-reaching track record in the delivery of arts projects. Alongside education, leisure and community development, all projects combine the skills and experience of expert participatory artists with the ideas and creativity of participants to produce original performances, recordings and events.' - Actiontrackperformance.co.uk

Actiontrack pride ourselves on inclusivity through music, and all art forms. We create productions with participants that are a range of ages and abilities, and the skills that are shown never fail to impress us. We've worked with mutes that have discovered their voice, children who just can't stay in class all the way through the spectrum to those who just need to be kept busy to stay out of prison. The magic of music (and all art forms) is infinite. It's heart warming to hear that others believe this too.

It would be great to hear more about your work, and possibly discuss potential project collaborations. Please visit out website (www.actiontrackperformance.co.uk) and Facebook to find out more about us. Here is a link to our video: https://vimeo.com/132110177

The Turning Tides Project's picture

Hi Kelly, thank you ! - you've raised so many things i'd like to tlak about that i'm not sure where to start.
Kelly and I know each other : I'm the Director of The Turning Tides Project and the Music lead for The Jam Buddies Project that Kelly mentions, amongst other things - I'm currently flat out with the demands for music that Christmas brings but I will start posting Blogs on the new Year - and in the meantime here's our web site : www.theturningtidesproject.org.uk

I'm an Occupational Therapist and a musician and have had the same experience as you Kelly - that when you mention 'music' in the world of 'disability' it tends to be assumed that you mean 'Music Therapy' . I published a book a couple of years ago, partly in reaction to that experience. It's called Music and The Social Model - The Social Model approach is , i'm convinced the way forward. If we start from a beliefs that everyone is able , given an enabling environment and that 'disability' is created by the way society fails to do that then we are all responsible for making a difference. Human beings are intrinsically creative and musical . I agree completely with Kelly that access to music is a fundamental right. Music is such a powerful way of giving a voice - and yet the opportunity to create music is often not afforded to those who struggle to be heard or who have little or no conventional speech. I've yet to meet or work with anyone who doesn't seek to communicate or who isn't creative.

The Turning Tides Project aims to make equal access to music, the arts and life a reality for people with 'learning disability' or 'autism' labels . Everything we do seeks to demonstrate a Social Model Approach. We're a Community Interest Company : If you believe, and we do, that everyone adds value to society then you have to believe creating a environment where people are supported to make their contribution can be the basis for a sustainable business. Seems to be working very well so far!

The other comment i'd like to make is about the nature of 'inclusivity' . It might be a necessary step along the way but it troubles me that 'inclusivity' is so often seen as a separate strand of activity. It's not only paradoxical but it means that the information and experience shared tends to be shared between those who are already and already have ideas . My experience of musicians is largely that they don't actively seek to exclude - they just might not think about how they could include. I'm sure the way forward is to be as high profile as possible.

Very much looking forward to our Jam Buddies Adventure Kelly, best wishes Jane

The Turning Tides Project's picture

Hi Kelly, thank you ! - you've raised so many things i'd like to tlak about that i'm not sure where to start.
Kelly and I know each other : I'm the Director of The Turning Tides Project and the Music lead for The Jam Buddies Project that Kelly mentions, amongst other things - I'm currently flat out with the demands for music that Christmas brings but I will start posting Blogs on the new Year - and in the meantime here's our web site : www.theturningtidesproject.org.uk

I'm an Occupational Therapist and a musician and have had the same experience as you Kelly - that when you mention 'music' in the world of 'disability' it tends to be assumed that you mean 'Music Therapy' . I published a book a couple of years ago, partly in reaction to that experience. It's called Music and The Social Model - The Social Model approach is , i'm convinced the way forward. If we start from a beliefs that everyone is able , given an enabling environment and that 'disability' is created by the way society fails to do that then we are all responsible for making a difference. Human beings are intrinsically creative and musical . I agree completely with Kelly that access to music is a fundamental right. Music is such a powerful way of giving a voice - and yet the opportunity to create music is often not afforded to those who struggle to be heard or who have little or no conventional speech. I've yet to meet or work with anyone who doesn't seek to communicate or who isn't creative.

The Turning Tides Project aims to make equal access to music, the arts and life a reality for people with 'learning disability' or 'autism' labels . Everything we do seeks to demonstrate a Social Model Approach. We're a Community Interest Company : If you believe, and we do, that everyone adds value to society then you have to believe creating a environment where people are supported to make their contribution can be the basis for a sustainable business. Seems to be working very well so far!

The other comment i'd like to make is about the nature of 'inclusivity' . It might be a necessary step along the way but it troubles me that 'inclusivity' is so often seen as a separate strand of activity. It's not only paradoxical but it means that the information and experience shared tends to be shared between those who are already and already have ideas . My experience of musicians is largely that they don't actively seek to exclude - they just might not think about how they could include. I'm sure the way forward is to be as high profile as possible.

Very much looking forward to our Jam Buddies Adventure Kelly, best wishes Jane

CEDAKelly's picture

Hi all

 

Nice new update! I am currently working for the turning tides project - please read the post and comments, and comment yourself!

http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/posts/jam-buddies-equal-access-music#co...

 

Kelly