Music leaders: The challenge of staying fresh and keeping it relevant

Bea Hubble – one of DM’s Musical Inclusion Practitioner & Managers – has put together a really helpful blog post on ways to stay fresh as a music leader.

Keeping up with the latest tech and new ideas for your session and workshop delivery can feel like a huge challenge, when everything changes so quickly and demand on practitioners’ time is high.

Being a workshop practitioner, especially as a freelancer, is a very high input job, so finding ways of keeping your own creativity topped up and new things for you try in sessions is really important.

No one can be endlessly creative by themselves, so as we continue through another academic year set yourself some CPD time (Creative Personal Development!) and try out some of the tips below for staying up to date with new delivery ideas and new tech developments!

1 – Find people and companies to follow

One of the best things to do is find and follow practitioners working in a similar field to yourself on social media platforms. Twitter and Instagram are great platforms. Use the search bars to find people using who use hashtags that relate to your work.

Many practitioners working across education, and in inclusive music making. are very vocal on these platforms, sharing ideas and clips from their work.

Making these connections is useful for developing the scope of your work. Also, sharing clips of your own work is great for advertising your style of delivery as a practitioner.

2 – Personal reflection

I often feel that this is one of the most useful ways of developing your practice.

Set up an iPad in your session (check that you have video permissions for your participants first!) and film your work. Watch sections back later and see if your sessions are working as you thought there were. I often notice really interesting interactions and activity in participants that I hadn’t seen during the session, which can give you a new angle of work to work into your next sessions.

Some people work better when they keep a day to day journal of their work. I do this sometimes, but can find it really difficult not to write down absolutely everything that happened. This means it takes a lot of time, which can be difficult to find. It can also be just as tiring as delivering the session again!

Now I work between film evidence and keeping a strict word count for myself when writing notes, so that I don’t waste time writing too much that isn’t relevant.

3 – Search for apps regularly

It sounds simple, but this can be reveal incredibly useful apps that can change your work instantly! For example, I wanted a really functional app that I could input chords into to accompany songs in my sessions when there was no access to a piano.

A quick trip to the App Store and I found ‘Chordbot’, an incredibly useful and easy to use app for building accompaniments.

Screenshot from Chordbot app described as 'the band in your hand'

4 – Observe your colleagues and be open to share practice with others

Yes, it’s tricky to find some time to do this, but it’s always so helpful and worth it for generating new ideas and putting a new perspective on your own work.

If you haven’t got anyone that you feel would be relevant for you to observe, contact an organisation or individual whose work you admire to see if there are any opportunities to observe them. It might feel a bit terrifying to contact people, or companies, that you don’t have any links with out of the blue but just think – ‘don’t ask, don’t get’! Sure, they might say no to you, but they also might say yes, and you have nothing to lose from someone saying no.

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any of your own please leave a comment below, chat to the DM Think22 team via twitter – @weallmakemusic – or tweet me @beahubble.  We’d love to hear how you keep your practice fresh.