by Author Ayvin Rogers

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A Testimony about how Young Leadership builds confidence and leads to work

This is the second blog in a series of 3, sharing testimonies describing how B Sharp’s pedagogy helps Children and Young People (CYP) in different ways. This blog reflects the outcomes of B Sharp’s Young Leadership programme.

Jake Perrett’s testimony, in his own words, “describes my involvement in B Sharp, how it helped me then, how the skills that I learnt have transferred to everything else and helped me achieve my current position, and how the skills still inform me today.”

B Sharp develops music and personal leadership in CYP through a progression continuum, enabled by a skill cascade led by professional Music Leaders and Learning and Participation Support Workers (youth work), peer mentoring, reflective practice, CPD sessions and practice based learning.

CYP can enter B Sharp’s Young Music Leadership programme at various levels, depending upon experience. The programme trains young musicians to lead in various settings, giving a broad repertoire and experience, expanding options within a music career.

Early on in a music career, it is difficult to have a full time specialism. Most musicians do ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’. B Sharp’s training prepares for that. Jakes testimony evidences this, with his successful ‘Pick and Mix’ start.

Jake wrote to B Sharp and said, “I’m working full time as a self employed musician doing various things to do with music and drumming. I do a lot of gigs with various different acts, some musical theatre and teaching. I got my degree from ACM, 1st class, then just starting working. It’s been building really nicely over the last 2 years. Everything seems to be going really well.

“I first joined B Sharp back in 2007 when they were doing the percussion workshops. From there I was involved in almost everything that B Sharp did, included the Hear Here projects, Generation Freedom, Busking, Dead and Alive at the Eden Project, various percussion workshops, Hub Jams and Coastal Voices (for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad). In 2011 I became a trainee music leader until 2013 when I left to go to university. B Sharp provided me with some of the most valuable time performing music I could have had when I was younger.

“Musically, I learnt a lot and advanced my skills performing with other musicians and increasing my vocabulary to express myself more clearly through music. I believe B Sharp’s value to young musicians rests on the fact that it does more than just teach you how to play a musical instrument. With todays technology it’s very easy to go on YouTube and sit at home learning your instrument, this is beneficial and practice is essential to learning an instrument but it doesn’t give you any real experience of what it is like to perform in front of an audience with other musicians. B Sharp actively encourages young people to perform with others which is a skill in itself and very hard to teach. Quite simply, live performance is something that can only be learnt by doing it. There is no substitute or shortcut. B Sharp provides an amazing outlet that young musicians can use to their advantage to hone these skills while expressing themselves.

I feel that these skills have made me a very well rounded musician and set me in really good stead when I left for university and later when becoming a full time musician. I went to the Academy of Contemporary Music, Guildford, where I studied for a degree in Professional Music Performance on drum kit, achieving a 1st class BMus (Hons). When I arrived I went from being a big fish in Lyme Regis to just another guy who plays drums and I was definitely not the best there, although I probably wasn’t the worst either. I was solidly average! As my time there developed I further realised that I wasn’t great with any technical aspect of the drums but due to my hunger to learn, stimulated by my time as a young musician performing weekly at B Sharp, I was able to get my playing up to scratch.

“Where I really excelled, however, was in the live performance workshops. Due to my wealth of experience attained by performing weekly at B Sharp with so many other musicians I did very well when continuing that skill. I was assessed performing in bands in front my peers and tutors, some of which are the best in Britain which at times was incredibly nerve wracking.

“Following my time at ACM I have been working as a full time freelance musician being entirely supported by my work in music. I perform many gigs a year with a number of different acts, lots of which can be one offs through recommendations with musicians I have never met before until the day, others are with more full time bands and artists. I have also performed in several musical theatre productions in and out of London and I have several students I teach on a regular basis. Some highlights include performing at the Brighton Centre, covering a few dates on the Blues Brothers Xmas Special in London’s West End, and playing on a entire run of Anything Goes in London, I have been booked to perform for another musical for the same company later this year. All of this simply wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for my time in B Sharp. I wouldn’t have had the confidence in my own ability to put myself out there or even the ability to be able to make a success of a performance and get rehired.

“The music business is so heavily based on networking and knowing the right people. All my bookings (with a couple of small exceptions from online adverts although this is very rare) have come from people I am really good friends with or at the very least, an acquaintance who I am able to have a laugh with. When I was in B Sharp I wasn’t the most confident of people, often shying away. As my involvement increased and I became a trainee music leader, I had more responsibility and I became more confident in my ability to perform, give and receive instructions, and generally communicate with the other musicians, both in conversation and while performing music. Communicating with so many musicians was a great skill I learnt from my time at B Sharp and has helped me greatly in forging a career by making friends and contacts who want to work with me. Of course, great networking only gets me through the door. I also have to be able to perform to my best and this is where B Sharp holds me up again. All those times spent performing with other musicians regularly, often in concert settings in front of an audience made of up of my peers, teachers and leaders who I respect greatly, and the general public, comes into fruition and has helped me greatly.

“Had I chosen not to go into music and follow a different career path, I believe B Sharp would have been equally beneficial. Whether this was in interviews, phone calls, meetings or conversing with clients, it would have helped me succeed in whatever I chose to do. Simply put, the confidence boosting nature of B Sharp helped me come out of my shell.

“My time spent at B Sharp was incredibly valuable and I will never forget the influence it had on my ability and confidence to play my instrument and make what was once my hobby (in fact it still is) into a full time living from music. I will forever be grateful to everyone that helped me through my journey with B Sharp and helped me continue growing to achieve my goal of making music my living."

It is great to hear Jake is doing well, with something he clearly loves. B Sharp is very happy to have helped with his journey. It’s also a two way street. Being with the organisation since it started, his participation and feedback over the years has helped shape B Sharp into what it is today. You can follow Jake’s progress through his website: www.jakeperrett.com