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Meet the Mentors

10th May 2022

Would you benefit from some support in your leadership role within a Music Education Hub?  Or are you looking for support in progressing your career development? Perhaps you’d value the insights of a critical friend or an open ear, but don’t know who to turn to. The Music Mark Mentoring Scheme was created to help provide this kind of personal and bespoke support to our members, aimed specifically at existing and emerging leaders across the Music Education Hub network.

Find out more about the Music Mark Mentoring Scheme here and how you can sign up to be mentored.

We spoke to four mentors as part of the Music Mark Mentoring Scheme about their experiences, and find out what the key ingredients are to a successful mentoring relationship.  Lindsay Evernden, Mike Summers and Kevin Rivett are from our first mentor cohort and Anita Holford is new to our scheme (although not to mentoring). Below, they shared with us their insights into their experiences of mentoring and being mentored.

Why did you put yourself forward as a Mentor on the Music Mark scheme?

Anita says, “I enjoy helping people and getting to know them at a deeper level.  Having a sounding board and space for reflection can make a massive difference to the impact they can make.”  For Mike, it’s partly about the opportunity to give back, after receiving similar support from music service colleagues and his line manager.

What do you bring to mentoring?

All four mentors highlight their experience in the music education sector, as educators, leaders and practitioners.  For Anita, equity, diversity and inclusion is an important focus in all areas of her work; Kevin says he has vast experience of making both right and wrong decisions and reflecting on these.  Lindsay says she can understand the challenges faced by colleagues working in difficult situations and brings the perspective of someone running her own small business.

What have you enjoyed most about mentoring in the past?

Mike mentions developing his skills in disciplined listening and training himself not to jump in too early.  For Kevin, it’s giving people the space to delve into issues that are specific to their own leadership capabilities.  For all of them, the connection with mentees, hearing them reflect and find new approaches to their challenges is highly rewarding.

What have you learnt as a mentor that you have benefitted from professionally?

Mike reflects that leadership is isolating and leading music education is particularly hard at the moment; nevertheless there are quick fixes that we can all use to improve matters.  Lindsay agrees: once a leader has grasped the core skills, these can be applied in different ways and transformed to cope with new challenges.  Kevin has gained insight into his own methodologies and been prompted to challenge himself not to follow his habitual trails.  And for Anita, it’s the power of active and deep listening, a skill she says is never completely learnt.

What is your experience of being mentored yourself?

Lindsay was mentored by a Music Director of one of the London music colleges, focusing on vision and leading change.  Mike speaks highly of his line manager at Durham and, as a conductor, actively seeks out support from other conductors.  He also started an Arts Council England executive training scheme just before Covid hit.  Kevin was mentored by a former deputy CEO of Tesco, also through an Arts Council scheme, which he said gave a fascinating perspective from outside the music service world: his mentor was compassionate but also insightful, sharp and focused on sustainability.

What is the most important thing in the mentoring relationship?

Three of our four mentors mention trust and connection above anything else.  Kevin also says that it’s about the mentor’s listening ability and sitting alongside the mentee without giving opinions.

How should a mentee prepare for and approach a mentoring session?

Kevin says to “approach it with an open heart”.  Lindsay, Mike and Anita agree that the mentee having a clear sense of what they want to get out of the session is key, although the goals may change during the session.  “Give yourself time to reflect before and after each session,” suggests Anita.

As part of the Hub Support Programme, Music Mark offers mentoring for leaders of English Music Education Hubs and their key partners in England.  The first cohort of mentors were trained and in place last year, with a second group ready to start this month.  All our mentors have attended a levelling-up course, are experienced in their fields and able to offer the support that our members need.

At present, the Music Mark Mentoring Scheme is funded from money provided to Music Mark by the Department for Education.  This means we can offer it free to mentees from Music Education Hubs (lead organisations and key partners) until the end of this academic year.  Thereafter we hope to continue offering the scheme but possibly at cost, depending on the funding that Music Mark is able to secure.

Read about all our mentors here and sign up to be mentored here.