There isn’t a neat formula that can be applied to all the variables involved in a music workshop to calculate the perfect ratio. It is useful to consider significant variables:
- How large is the group and how old are they?
- What is the setting/location and where is it (e.g. school, youth centre, Pupil Referral Unit, festival site)?
- What else is known about the setting/location (e.g. access, accessibility, power, musical resources, sole use or shared)?
- What spaces are available for the workshop (e.g. upstairs/ground floor, is it going to be suitable? are enough separate spaces available?)?
- Is the setting providing staff to support the workshop?
- What is known about the participants (e.g. looked after children, children with physical disabilities, informal youth group)?
- What is known about the group-dynamics and experience levels of the participants (e.g. they are enthusiastic musicians, they have never met each other, they can be boisterous)? • What is known about the workshop (e.g. single taster session, regular weekend session, holiday project, 12-week school project, links to a festival, culminates in a performance)?
- What is known about the session content (e.g. Rock School, gospel choir, singing and songwriting, Samba drumming, music production)?
Managers and music leaders should be aware of any statutory requirement for ratios relevant for the group they are working with (such as within early years or with childminders). Ideally the music leader will not be included within this ratio, as the relevant settings have a responsibility to provide appropriate staffing levels at all times. Managers and music leaders should always try to find out if any formal or informal ratio guidelines exist for the setting that is hosting the workshop.
Two examples of projects help to illustrate how variables inform decisions about ratio:
Download is a 12-week music technology project working with whole classes for one-hour sessions in primary schools. It makes use of any and all technology resources that are available in the school. A named teacher is committed to attend and support every session. Additional training sessions are available to the teacher to improve their music technology confidence, skills and knowledge. The project was led in each school by a single music leader and supported by the named teacher. Class sizes were typical for a primary school, ranging from 22 to 28.
soundBOOST is a project working with looked after children. One strand worked with a small group of around six to eight care leavers for two-hour sessions weekly, over 24 weeks. The sessions focussed on singing, rapping, songwriting, music technology, recording, and playing instruments. The group were supported by a Leaving Care worker. Participants, particularly in the early stages, needed short focused activities to retain engagement. The project contracted two music leaders.
It can be seen from these two examples that the ratio of music leaders and project staff to young musicians varies considerably. For Download the ratio is around 1:14. For soundBOOST it is around 1:3. However, having considered all the influencing variables, we are confident these are the most appropriate ratios.
Taken from SoundLINCS