On 30 January over 170 professionals from across the music, arts and education sectors came together for the sixth annual Joint Practice Development Day, held this year at Portslade Aldridge Community Academy. Having such a big group of people created a real buzz at the event and on a personal level, it was great to have different parts of my work life coming together – with colleagues from BHMA, schools, SoundCity partner organisations and Our Future City (the Local Cultural Education Partnership) in attendance.
The keynote speech by Paul Roberts OBE reflected on how we are all involved in ‘building the creative generation’, focusing on five characteristics we should encourage in our students. They were to be:
Perhaps because I spend a large part of my time working in partnership with different organisations (or perhaps because I like to consider myself a particularly sociable person), it was collaboration that really stuck with me. Collaboration is a key ingredient of creativity – a skill that we know is highly valued and increasingly demanded by employers in a vast range of industries.
I may be biased but in my opinion, musicians are pretty sociable people and the need for musicians to work together in bands, ensembles, choirs and orchestras is self-evident. This ability to collaborate and work with others is a crucial skill that all young people need and whatever challenges society may face in the future – we know that teams of people with a diversity of skills and experiences will be called upon to work together to find solutions.
And where better than in music can young people learn to collaborate and (as Paul suggested) cooperate appropriately, give and receive feedback and share the ‘product’?
The Joint Practice Development Day was a fantastic example of how when collaborating as adults, as educators and as artists, we can all work together to improve our practice and find better solutions. The day was not without challenge or unanswered questions, neither should it be. We know the arts and the place of creativity feels as though it is under threat in the school curriculum. But do we really understand the pressures and demands made on our colleagues working in different settings and what can we do together to mitigate some of these?
We work in one of the most creative cities in the UK with the creative industries being a major source of employment in the city. What we do here is valued and together we have the potential to do even more. Our local existing and emerging creative collaborations are also getting noticed…
Later this week the Music Education Council Major Award will be awarded to one Music Education Hub in the UK. SoundCity has been shortlisted and is in a final group of 7 hubs under consideration. Of course we may not win – but for the work that each and every one of our teachers, colleagues working ‘behind the scenes’ and partner organisations does everyday; it is important to receive and to note this recognition.
SoundCity is a demonstration of creative collaboration in action and how together we can achieve more, for the young musicians and families with which we work. So regardless of the outcome of the Awards, I’d like to thank you all for your role in making our creative community a place where collaboration is valued and actively demonstrated. Meaningful collaboration is also about positive challenge and supporting each other to do better. Though not always the easiest route, I know better outcomes can be achieved through collaborative working. So this term I’m focusing on ways that I can develop and improve creative collaboration skills – not only for my students but for me too.
Resources from the Joint Practice Development Day (including Paul’s presentation) can be found on the Our Future City website: http://www.ourfuturecity.org.uk/resources-page