by Author Marc Balkham

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MuiscNet East Professional Mentoring Scheme.

I have nothing but positive points to make about this scheme for new and developing music practitioners.

I have nothing but positive points to make about this scheme for new and developing music practitioners. Offered this opportunity by Lyndall Rosewarne of MusicNet East who delivered it with Michael Davidson of Hertfordshire Music Services, I was pleased to attend for 3 days packed with guidance, direction, workshops and tasks, along with excellent networking opportunities. 

Day 1  consisted of an introduction to the work of Hertfordshire Music Hub and we followed this with a fantastic junk percussion workshop given by the very inspiring Mark Howe. We explored informal music sessions and how they can be an inclusive and inspiring activity, along with picking up some excellent tips on informal music making practice. All really useful stuff.

We then went on to disect the role of MusicNet East and the key elements of informal music-making. This led to exercises on the planning and management of projects and the evaluation of outcomes. Coming from a background of project & programme management, I found this extremely useful in transferring my skills to the arena of informal music making. Day 1 verdict? A big thumbs up!

Day 2 was given by Nick Wilsdon, Youth Music's Senior Grants & Learning Officer and dealt with the structured requirements of creating a funding bid and how the setting and evaluating of outcomes relates to driving informal music projects and fund-raising. Day 2 verdict? Nick's knowledge, encouragement and style were great and the resources he signposted really helpful. 

Day 3 took place at Zinc Arts in Ongar, a fantastic, inclusive facility where all kinds of excellent stuff takes place. If you are not familiar with Zinc, I urge you to check it out 

The morning session dealt with the important topics of safeguarding, insurance and liability, data protection and licences when running activities and events. A few chuckles were squeezed out of this dry subject and a lot was learnt. We then went on to discuss the management of projects and relationship building with Sonia Cakebread, Project Manager at Zinc Arts and were takne on a tour of the entire Zinc site.

In the afternoon, Michael Davidson treated us to a ukelele workshop and this was definitely a highlight. Apart from the fun to be had from our involvement it was inspiring to see how the workshop had been designed to travel from the very basics right through to individual playing and improvisation. A masterclass in session planning. Day 3 verdict? An excellent finish to the three days with us all swapping contacts and looking forward to further activities under the guidance of Lyndall and Michael.

This has been a pleasure and an inspiration to be involved in and invaluable in my professional development. I am hoping there may be other oppportunities out there. Any suggestions?