In my role as Development Manager for Drake Music, my primary function is to generate new funds from new sources. Critical to me being able to do that, I have to understand what needs and gaps are preventing disabled people from opportunities of making music. One of the ways that I can learn is to listen to what teachers and musicians who are working in SEN/D settings are saying, so I joined the private Facebook page set up and moderated by the team here at Drake Music.
The Facebook page in question is SEN/D Music Teachers & Leaders UK and it is where all kinds of discussion and sharing takes place between practitioners. If you are, or know, a musician or teacher who wants to join our growing network (on the day of writing this, we are a membership of 259 people), I’d really urge you to do so as it’s an active, growing and thriving community. People who do not use Facebook can join the discussion too via an email invitation by one of the group’s members.
So what did I find out about what people are talking about in the group?
There were two over-aching themes I noticed from the Facebook page, namely – advice seeking and reaching out to others in the field.
A fair few group members seek advice. Questions such as ‘can you recommend progression routes for over 25s?’ or ‘I’m looking for inspiration but don’t have much experience of technology’ were typical. With this kind of application, the responses are swift, and people are happy to help.
I also discovered that there are a number of ways and reasons as to why practitioners want to connect, such as to –
- make new contacts, and re-engage with ones they may have lost touch with
- share their experience and findings
- make recommendations on technology
- promote training, events and gigs
- advertise jobs and sell services
Lastly, one of the discussions I came across was a very recent posting, and it was a respectful debate. The discussion was around how practitioners involve participants – lessons that are surely useful in any formal or informal music making setting – and the focus was a TV news feature about a project working with autistic children that the conversing practitioners felt could improve the methods of pupil engagement. A Drake Music colleague and I agreed that it’s a sign of a healthy and active group when honest conversations like that can take place, and also an indication of trust between the group’s members about an issue central to the work in this field. We hope to see many more stimulating discussions over the coming months.
Spending some time in the Facebook page community has been a really useful exercise for me. I found out, for example, that two teachers in the North East feel there is a lack of provision in the region. When Drake Music is planning strategy for the coming years and that is something I will investigate further so we can consider what we can practically do about that.
So. I hope I’ve sold this to you – please sign up as a member and join in the conversation!