MusicNet East works in an area with few informal music organisations, Youth Music grant-holders are also few and far between. We have noticed is that it is difficult to find project managers for schemes of work who understand both the musical context of the work but also how this relates to the personal and social outcomes for young participants.
Our first crop of MINC mini projects highlighted this problem-we had projects where the project manager really ‘got’ the informal music element but failed to track the personal and social aspects of development and others which were very social but little musical progress was taking place.
So in our third year of running our musical Inclusion network we decided to try to do something about this.
The Professional Mentoring Scheme
We have recruited 6 individuals as professional mentees from across our part of the East region who have taken part in a three day training process and we are now beginning to organise ‘go sees’ and some paid activity for them as they seek to develop themselves and their work.
Our mentees come from all sorts of backgrounds and are at different stages in their careers, all are musicians in their own right. They are all keen to go further and do more in informal music education- but as there is no defined progression route, they are faced with making their own opportunities-which can be quite daunting!
In joining the scheme the deal was that individuals would get the training free of charge and that we would pay their travel but that they would attend on a voluntary basis. Luckily our group has proved to be very conscientious-they have attended every single event and participated with real enthusiasm.
We intended the training to give them an overview of project management-so we started off with a visit to Hertfordshire Music Education Hub’s annual conference, so that they could experience the working of a hub from the inside, we attended a model informal session, run by one of our key informal practitioners and then the group took on a planning and programming exercise.
On day two the group attended Youth Music Outcomes Training, which bring together the three elements: musical, personal and social development and the idea of a progression journey during the course of a project.
On day three we covered the legal context for project management: from employment law to data protection. Delegates were also offered the chance to complete the NSPCC’s online safeguarding course-which is directed towards entrants to the children’s workforce.
We were joined by Sonia Cakebread from Zinc Arts who is project managing a Youth Music funded project for a warts and all account of the life of a project manager.
Finally, the group took part in a music workshop and by unpicking some of the techniques used we began conversations about quality in music leading and looked at the Youth Music Quality Framework.
MusicNet East is committed to working with its mentees on a 1:1 basis, some already have a project in mind and have been busily networking. Other are still looking to discover what the possibilities are in their locality and may need further research and development time.
Our role now is to support each person, by putting them in touch with people and organisations that can help them or offer new ideas, by supporting them to find money and local partners.
Several of the group have already made an impression- a Hub lead officer mentioned one of the group to me in very positive terms just recently.
The flow of opportunity is not one way either, as our mentees make contacts in their local communities and areas of interest they are also introducing MusicNet East to a new set of contacts in the region.