by Author bigmallet

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5 simple ways to get the most out of the Youth Music Network

One of the great advantages of online communities is that often all that stands between you and a wealth of information, resources and contacts is an internet connection.

The music education sector contains a diverse bunch of professionals which - along with a huge melting pot of skills and expertise -  contains freelancers, part timers and permanent employees.  But with the bout of recent cuts, developing skills is becoming increasingly difficult and often the first thing that comes under threat in organisation budgets is CPD. For many, even travelling to an event adds to costs and reduces people’s options to develop themselves professionally.


The fact that people don’t know about your ideas is crazy  

Back in November last year Ben Sandbrook tried to answer the question as to why we should even care about sharing our knowledge in the first place. Ben proposed that every person working in music education is likely to have one idea that would be of value to others. If there was a way of sharing this single idea, no matter how large or small, imagine what impact this might have on the young people you work with? This was one of the reasons why the Youth Music Network was set up – to tap in the wealth of information and know-how that people hold and to make this more widely accessible. Ben thought that it's simply crazy that there's so much amazing practice going on within the music education sector, yet not many people know about it.


5 simple ways to get the most out of the Youth Music Network

We all have busy lives, and taking the time out to increase your knowledge, to network or to improve your skills (particularly if you are not getting paid) can be a challenge. The great thing about the Youth Music Network is that there are a range of ways to improve yourself or to contribute for the benefit of others. Here are five simple ways to get you started.

1. Can you spare 10 minutes each week? Dedicating 10 minutes of your time each week to scan the latest content on the Network could be all it takes to spark one idea. The key here is to make a commitment and set aside regular slot in your calendar. If weekly is too frequent for you then reading the monthly newsletter that is delivered to your inbox (summing up the highlights) would definitely be time well spent.

2. If you like something, share it If you come across a blog post, a piece of media or news story which captures your interest ask yourself whether you know someone who might be interested in it too. Each piece of content has a number of ‘share’ buttons which allow you post on sites like Facebook and Twitter in an instant.

3. Commenting on people’s ideas can lead to even more ideas "Does anyone care?" This a question that many nervous first-time bloggers will be asking when they post something on the Youth Music Network. If you come across a piece of content in which you learnt something then why not reward the author with a word of encouragement, or, if they are onto something good, a contact or piece of information from which they might benefit further?

4. Connect the disconnected The more people who contribute to the Youth Music Network, the more knowledge we will share, and ultimately it's the young people we support who will benefit. It’s still early days for the Network and the recommendations you pass on to others are key to growing the community. Whether it’s expert advice, the latest research, event listings or job vacancies, chances are there’s something that the community provides which will be of benefit. Keep plugging!

5. Use the Network to achieve your career objectives It can be easy to be evangelical about the power of communities, and it is important to not to overlook the needs of No. 1. That’s you. Doing simple things like filling out your profile information make you more accessible to those searching for someone like you. As you contribute more to the Network, your visibility increases online (your contributions are picked up by Google) and then ultimately through word of mouth.  If you are thinking of establishing yourself as a leading authority on a certain area then the Youth Music Network is a great place to make that happen.

I would love to hear from anyone else who is utilising the Youth Music Network as part of their day to day work.  Post your comments below!


Related Links

Research on sharing effective practice - a commissioned report  that answers the following questions - what ways of sharing practice are effective, who are they suited to and why are they effective?

A practical guide to sharing effective practice