I’ll start by stating the obvious: who knows for sure where they’ll be in 10 years time? Music funding in the community might have grown, diminished or be roughly what it is now. Life goes in unexpected directions. However, for now let’s assume ten years down the line funding for music projects is still in a good place and I haven’t moved the other side of the world (I don’t currently have plans to move: I love the Midlands!).
Before we skip ahead a decade, let’s talk about what I am doing now, alongside working as a shadow musician on Wavelength. I am currently working in a school as a ‘Specialist in music and emotional wellbeing’, teaching one to one singing, teaching singing for a musical theatre company, running singing sessions for retired adults in a day centre, running acapella choir projects for young adults with disabilities and to top it off, doing the odd singing gig, either solo or in small ensembles.
I really enjoy the mixed variety of work I do. The school job allows me to work on a one to one and small group basis, teaching ukulele, piano, songwriting, music composition etc. I work along side an Educational Psychologist with young adults who have behavioural issues, often on the verge of exclusion, and see a completely different side -often talented and capable - to the behaviour they exhibit in classes. I am also provided with the opportunity to learn on the job. For example, learning to play the guitar in order to teach the basics to individuals. All my other work is currently more singing focused as that is my specialism. However, it is very varied in terms of the age ranges I’m working with, the ability levels, the preparation required and the form sessions take.
Wavelength has helped me with all of these areas. Obviously my degree in singing from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has played a big part in leading me to where I am now, but the past three years with Wavelength have given me a whole host of skills that I was missing from my community music arsenal before. Wavelength has taught me a massive range of valuable skills, such as songwriting, using Logic, how to use instruments to accompany, and the ability to generally support young creative minds in their experimentation. Alongside this, Quench Arts offered me the opportunity to complete Mental Health First Aid training, which opened my eyes in so many ways to how people can struggle, how to spot they’re struggling and how to help them.
These skills have been beyond valuable in helping me acquire work. This is particularly apparent in the school work I do, but plays into the singing side too, as there are several talented singers at Wavelength who all share warm up and vocal technique tips, keeping ideas fresh in my mind for both teaching and personal use. Without all these skills, I wouldn’t be anywhere near as confident as I am to pick up a new challenge. Indeed I thrive on new challenges in music, which brings us back to looking at the future.
There are several places I could end up in ten years’ time. I could end up doing my current ‘Specialist in music and emotional wellbeing’ role full time in one school or spread across a number of schools. I would enjoy this due to the variety of characters I work with and type of sessions I do. It’s equally possible the skills and confidence Wavelength has given me inspires me to set up my own music organisation. This could be anything from general music outreach sessions for people with disabilities, through to singing classes for mental health and wellbeing. I have lots of ideas swimming around my head inspired by my time at Wavelength.
I started work on Wavelength fresh out of Conservatoire with no real idea where my music degree would take me. Wavelength has certainly sent me firmly down the community music path and given me the skill-set to do many of the jobs I currently do. In a decade’s time, I imagine I will still be utilising the skills and contacts I have been lucky enough to gain through this incredible project.