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Bridget’s Blog: All Change!

7th May 2024

CEO of Music Mark, Bridget Whyte

We can all be creatures of habit, can’t we? I have to admit that even though the Music Mark staff team have new (refurbished) laptops which are light and easy to transport I still use my iPad when I head out and about to meetings. Swapping over to use my laptop should be as easy as unplugging it as I walk out of my office, but I still pop my iPad in my bag instead. Another habit that I do need to break though is remembering that there is a larger team at Music Mark! I don’t have to be involved in everything as was the case when there were just three staff! Fortunately, the team are great at telling me to leave well alone and I am getting better at adapting to this significant change.

Music Mark is fortunate to have been able to develop a new staff structure and make new appointments. It is a change we have controlled and managed on our terms. However, often change is imposed on individuals and organisations, whether that’s changes to how we do things because of new operating systems or software, or, more significantly, changes to business models, staffing structures or delivery plans due to a change in local or national government policy.

For many of those working in music education across the UK, change is a constant. New pupils, new schools, new repertoire, new teaching or performing spaces, new instruments and resources and of course new teaching methodologies. Fortunately though, I don’t think it is overstating to say that our music education workforce is good at change and good at improvising (pun intended!). You only have to think back to the 2020/21 pandemic to reflect how resilient and resourceful teachers were!

However, there have been changes more recently that have also been quite seismic. A number of significant changes are going on across the UK which have a direct or indirect impact on music education, from national policy change to changes in local communities and in education more generally.

Looking for a definition of ‘change’ in the context of organisational change or ‘change management’ I found a few useful ones:

  • Organisational change refers to the actions in which a company or business alters a major component of its organisation (Harvard Business School).
  • Change management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change – how to prepare, support and equip individuals to drive change success. It is the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome (
  • Change management is a structured approach to move an organisation from a current state to a future desired state (Association for Project Management).

The second of these I think is the most useful as it talks about people. Organisations are made up of people of course, but recognising that change is about preparing, supporting and equipping the people within it must surely be at the heart of an organisational change.

At Music Mark we have three words which sit alongside our logo. When I started as CEO they were Influencing, Supporting and Connecting. We decided to change the order of these words in 2018/19 and now we Support, Connect and Influence. Supporting is at the heart of the role of a membership association and in times of change we work hard to identify needs and support people through it.

In England currently there are many organisations and individuals who are looking at how to restructure the management of music education across a geographic area – in most cases a larger, more complex one. Music Mark is keen to look at how to support its members to navigate that change and we are already discussing what we can do, and what resources and training we can provide.

We hope our new leadership development programme and our set of fundamentals courses in Marketing and Fundraising (and soon Finance and Evaluation too) will help, as will our existing resources such as the ‘Heads of Terms’ guide from Bates Wells, and the template Data Sharing agreement we have just commissioned which we hope will be available later this month.

However, as I said earlier, people will ‘drive change success’. With that in mind, we are aware that our support also needs to extend to how we help people to be resilient and able to ‘drive change success’. One of the ways we hope we can do that is by being a listening ear, we want to hear from you how we can help and support you. Of course, there are times when identifying what help you need is hard. If that’s the case, do take a look at our mentoring opportunities and our peer groups.

Change may be a constant, but how we navigate change doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Music Mark is here to help – what can we do?