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Bridget’s blog: What we gain from taking time to connect and learn from each other

5th October 2022

Music Mark CEO Bridget Whyte

Having recently attended an international Music Education Policy Group symposium in Portugal, Music Mark CEO Bridget Whyte considers how networking with music education colleagues from across the globe widens our outlook and vastly benefits our own practice. And now, with virtual and hybrid events on the rise, we can continue to discuss and share ideas without the barrier of distance…

Some of you may remember me talking about work I was involved in to create a ‘Global Compact for Music Education.  Last week I was honoured to be invited to join some of the others who helped in the writing of it as well as members of the wider Music Education Policy Group for a symposium in Portugal.  I gave a presentation on the English National Plan (as well as touching on the Welsh one too), but the highlight of the two days was finding out about music education policy and practice in a number of other countries – including Sweden, Norway, Finland, Brazil and of course Portugal.

What struck me listening to my international colleagues was how we are all facing similar challenges, but are all seeing the same impacts music education can have on children and young people. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion was a regular topic of presentations and discussion, and linked to this there was a consensus that we all need to find ways to reach all children and young people and provide musical learning which reflects the many cultures of each country.  However, everyone agreed that to achieve this we need to do more to train and keep a specialised workforce of music teachers in and out of the classroom.

At the end of the symposium we all agreed that the chance to network and to learn from each other was so very valuable and I unashamedly encouraged everyone to join Music Mark at our 2022 Annual Conference series, the theme of which is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.  I’m hopeful that a few may make the journey to the UK and perhaps join us for a day in Bristol, London or Derby or the two days in Newcastle – certainly I have high hopes that those who were with us from Scotland will make the short journey across the border to Newcastle – but it was also great to be able to offer those who many not be able to travel the chance to join us online.

Developing digital elements of our conference has been a key-way for us to make our conference more accessible over the last two years, and it was important to us that people are able to join in from wherever they are based – be it from a desk, sofa, Southampton, Sweden, or anywhere else in the world.  So, as well as creating a conference microsite platform with a library of digital resources, our series includes plenty of sessions which are either hybrid (available to watch in-person and online) or fully online if you can’t join us in Bristol, Derby, London, or Newcastle.

On 17th November we’ll broadcast a full day of sessions from our studio in Birmingham, which every delegate is invited to watch and get involved with through Q&As and interactive sessions. Some of our sessions at our two-day Newcastle event will also be streamed, so again, all delegates will either be able to watch these live or catch up on the recordings afterwards. All streamed content will also be available to watch again as recordings for 4 months, to give people much-needed space to catch up and reflect on sessions in their own time.

Coming back to the face-to-face opportunities of this conference – I am really hopeful that we will see colleagues from across the UK (and perhaps overseas) joining us in person this year.  Although we know there will still be colleagues who will have to travel some distance to join us, we are hopeful that by spreading our regional conference days across England, it will be easier to be there.  The richness of the symposium I was at last week was from the discussions with new contacts both in the formal sessions but also in the networking over coffee, lunch and so on.  Technology can bring us together more easily, but the chance to ‘natter’ as you stand in the line for lunch cannot be underestimated!

Can I therefore encourage everyone who wants to see meaningful action for an equitable, diverse and inclusive music education to join us in November?  Come to learn, to network and to turn the talks you hear and the talking you do in to action!

Tickets for the Talk into Action conference series are available to book at discounted Early Bird rate until 31 October. Book your tickets here.