This is the second in a series of posts introducing our readers to Music SLEs (Specialist Leaders of Education). Today, we’re speaking to Gemma Martino of Farlingaye High School in Suffolk.
To your mind, what does an SLE for Music do?
The role of an SLE is really to support professionals, helping to ensure that we are collaboratively offering the best educative opportunities to the students we deal with. It may be to support, model, suggest or encourage based on experience and good practice. The focus must be the students and how best to deliver an exciting and engaging curriculum in the classroom and beyond.
Describe your typical week during term time
A typical week during term time is busy! As a head of department with a full timetable, my job includes all responsibilities involved as a HoD in a large, vibrant and busy school. I have a tutor group and all the usual commitments to extra curricular music. Parents evenings, open evenings, planning for events such as music tours and concerts too. I also run five clubs and am involved as a performer in another two of our large instrumental ensembles. My extra curricular interests include boy’s singing and brass, and I run junior boys, senior boys and a barbershop choir.
What are the biggest challenges faced by music teachers today?
In my opinion, challenges faced by music teachers include trying to keep music relevant for all. Keeping up with music technology is really important given the speed of change in the industry beyond school and university. This is an industry where many students then go on to work in. Financial cutbacks need to be managed carefully and their impact kept to a minimum.
Music teachers also have to work very hard to maintain the standard and traditions of the musical extra curricular life of the school as demands on teachers’ time increases. We know the value of these activities and the support of the senior leadership team is vital in this respect. I have heard many ex-students say that their greatest memories of school were the concerts and shows they were in. That is the wonderful thing about music – it is always worth staying in touch with students who to work in the music industry, since this allows you to make it relevant for the next cohort. In my experience, it also helps you to be able to evaluate the arts using real evidence!
What excites you about music education today?
The diversity of music careers is exciting for students entering the industry. The opportunities in music technology are ever-evolving and this includes software for schools too.
I love the way that music goes way beyond the classroom to reach the community we live in. Informal concerts, creative arts days, music to support launches and events, A-Level recitals in a local church, playing to the elderly and music tours to Europe. Performances to, and with the local community including feeder primary schools. Music is about team work, confidence, developing the individual, celebrating success and setting goals and standards and who wouldn’t want that offered to their children? Music has the potential to enhance and shape lives for the better.