I’m just coming to the end of a busy term. It feels a bit like when the roundabout starts to slow down – do I feel dizzier now than when we were going full pelt, or more lucid? I’m not sure yet, but perhaps we will know by the end of this blog post, because it’s time for part two.
The project at CEDA has finished for the year. Feedback was very good, from both partcipants and trainees. However when pressed, one trainee did say that she thought she would have benefitted from more training time without any participants present. And this, for me is the crux of the issue – the balance between participant focussed session time and trainee focussed tuition. When I’m delivering music lessons or workshops, the participants are always the focus. When training is happening in one of these sessions it tends to play second fiddle. The amount of attention that the trainee can expect from me is not insubstantial, but ultimately the experience of the participants is my proiority. This just seems natural to me, and I when I reflect on it, I believe that it is how it should be. With this in mind, ‘out of session’ tuition for trainees is vital. Without enough ‘non-session’ training, trainees are unlikely to feel that they have had the space to ask questions and get familiar with the resources and techniques that they are learning about, free from the time pressures of a participatory session. The flipside of this is that a training program which aimed to prepare people for leading partcipatory music sessions but which involved no contact time with participants would be unlikely to leave a trainee feeling ‘ready’ at the end! The balancing act therefore is between giving trainees valuable time ‘at the coal face’ – seeing the work in action and getting involved in it – and having out of session time to reflect on what happened – to go over the techniques and technologies that were used and any issues that arose.
Getting feedback is also vital. The nature of this work is that there are lots of variables in a session, and lots of factors vying for the lead musician’s attention, especially when we are talking about group music making. Keeping communication two way with both trainees and particpants is so important. Apart from anything else, their perspective on how a session went can be very enlightening.
Hopefully my artfully scribbled diagram illustrates the point that there is no right answer about where this balance lies in any given project – this will depend on the trainees’ needs, the type of learners that they are etc. as well as logistics you encounter in the setting, for example the numbers of participants and whether can you actually expect to have any time with the TAs away from the children at all?!
Where is the equilibrium in your project? YOU decide.