by Author Ben Sandbrook

Published on

You are here:

Music-based Mentoring: Code of Practice

As professional music educators and community musicians all music-based mentors should be signed up to and actively implementing the Music Education Code of Practice.

This page is part of a resource pack on Music-based mentoring.


The Music Education Code of Practice, originally developed by Sound Sense and MusicLeader, in consultation with hundreds of music education practitioners, is a strong set of principles for anyone practising in and around music education.  Please read this thoroughly and take on the information.

In addition to the advice given on the website above, for music-based mentoring the code may highlight some of the following;

Be well prepared and organized

  • Have appropriate knowledge of the mentee’s background, their challenges and their goals
  • Understand and agree the nature of the work including desired goals/outcomes with both mentee and contractor (probably coordinator)
  • Keep all paperwork up to date including tracking mentee’s progress
  • Behave in a professional manner with regard to turning up, punctuality, behaviour, such as language and smoking, and all related matters
  • Have reviewed the goals and planned for the session
  • Manage the session time well to enable the mentee to get the most out of it
  • See yourself as part of a team, call on support (and give it) whenever necessary

Be safe and responsible

  • Familiarise yourself with your organisation’s child protection policy and follow the guidelines
  • Carry out, and act on, a risk assessment not only of the physical space you are working in but also the emotional risks connected with the material, challenges you are working on
  • Have procedures in place for dealing with difficult situations
  • Seek advice from the project coordinator if you have any concerns
  • Be familiar with the relevant Equal Opportunities, Behaviour Management and Data Protection Policies and carry out your work in an ethical way
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality (see FAQs)
  • Don’t encourage secrets – this is different to confidentiality and could result in harm to the mentee or yourself
  • Keep clear boundaries e.g. don’t give out personal details such as your address
  • Remember that your own safety is crucial and if you feel in any way intimidated or harassed take appropriate steps to end this. In such cases liaise closely with your coordinator

Have appropriate musical skills

  • Undertake mentoring work where the musical challenges are appropriate to your level of knowledge
  • Make sure your knowledge of the mentee’s preferred genres is appropriate to the work you are doing (although detailed knowledge will often be essential, in some cases you may not need to know about their preferred styles. This depends on the context of this particular mentoring relationship and the goals they wish to achieve).
  • Keep upskilling yourself musically, creatively and in how you teach, transmit, facilitate learning
  • Ensure that your resources (instruments, recording equipment and software, handouts and learning aids) are suitable and well maintained
  • Work well with people
  • Treat all mentees (and coworkers) equally and with respect
  • Develop strategies for working inclusively (much community music training has this as its central focus, and there is also good material to be had on sites such as
  • Give off passion and enthusiasm and work in a warm and friendly way
  • Be sensitive to individual’s needs and their inner moods (see Emotional intelligence)
  • Ensure mentees are challenged appropriately
  • Don’t make decisions for the mentee or tell them what to do
  • Feel that you can express your own opinion, including issues of disagreement, as long as it is done in a sensitive manner
  • Learn about how to manage difficult situations calmly and humanely. Much of the modern work on behaviour management is very sensible particularly the excellent books by Bill Rogers.

Evaluate and reflect on my work

  • Build feedback space into every session and allow the feedback to be owned by the mentee (i.e. honest as it can be)
  • Stay on top of monitoring and evaluation data

Commit to professional development

Keep updating your skills, both around music, but also around the range of other areas that music mentoring will open up to you such as group dynamics, personal development, communication skills, psychology etc. The list is endless.

What others say; What I've tried to do, more so than the music, I make what I expect of the group clear ... People listen to each other, I make it quite explicit. Sometimes I'm really shocked at how people don't know how to interact with each other, so I take two, [ask them to] listen, then respond on the basis of what the other says. I talk about how this leads to respecting each other

“This process was subject to what Newburn and Shiner (2005) have identified as ‘firefighting’. The firefighting took place throughout the relationship and the first instance of this was often a turning point. ‘Firefighting’ could involve attempts to resolve problems over attendance, family or other relationships, drug related incidents or wellbeing issues. However it was essentially mentor led and there is less indication of how young people themselves negotiated such ‘turning points’. (Philip and Spratt p45)**”

“Informal educators have to be prepared to teach some of the protocols that underpin the art of conversation. They may do this by example and by sensitively devising opportunities for individuals to learn how to listen and participate in dialogue and conversation. Here we want to highlight being with….being open….going with the flow…moving between different forms of conversation.” (Smith 2002, 2008***)

References: *Rogers.B,(1994) Managing Behaviour : A four-part video/DVD series on Managing Behaviour in Schools Quartus Pty. Ltd.
P.O. Box 2069 , Bundaberg, Qld, 4670, Australia

Rogers.B, (2000) Classroom Behaviour : A practical guide to effective teaching behaviour management and colleague support. London: Sage. **Newburn T and Shiner M (2005) Dealing with Disaffection: young people, mentoring and social inclusion. Devon: Willan Philip, K & Spratt, J (2007). A Synthesis of Published Research on Mentoring and Befriending: University of Aberdeen

***Smith, Mark K. (2002, 2008) 'Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences', The encyclopedia of informal education,