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Musicians of Change: Teacher Training With a Difference

19th May 2022

Who are the Musicians of Change?
Launched in 2019, the Musicians of Change (PGCEi) provided by Music Masters is a unique year-long programme for musicians committed to transforming music education. Applications are now open until 6 June. Apply here.

We caught up with Katrina Damigos, Course Leader for Musicians of Change (PGCEi) and Head of Teacher Training Programmes to find out more.

Who is the Musicians of Change (PGCEi) for?
The Musicians of Change (PGCEi) is for any musician passionate about teaching and making change so that any child can find a way to thrive and enjoy music.

What does it mean to be a Musician of Change?
We wanted to draw on the idea that musicians are often great communicators who can bring people together. These skills can be used to tackle some of the deep issues that exist around equality and music education.

To be a Musician of Change is about more than enhancing your career options; it means understanding your role within society and having a broader mission to make change.

How do the values of EDI inform the PGCEi course?
We were thinking about how we could harness the potential for group-teaching in the classroom not only to improve access to learning instruments for more children, but to create a more equitable and inclusive experience of music making. Learning music is a social activity and creating environments where learning an instrument such as the violin or cello isn’t accompanied by elitist value systems or baggage is a process we interrogate everyday in the group teaching within our own Schools Programme, set up 15 years ago in five Flagship London state primary schools. Looking at what learning an instrument meant for different people inspired us to create a course that looked at the inherent biases that music teachers can have and drove us to consider the ways of mitigating against those biases. You can’t eliminate biases completely, but you can disrupt the narrative of how a lot of musicians learn.  We think a lot about how we can ensure as many young people as possible can see themselves as musical and we believe effective group teaching enables this.

What makes the PGCEi different to other routes into becoming a Music Teacher?
It takes the musician’s musical identity as a starting point, with a lot of self-reflection built in to the course. Rather than beginning with one pedagogy or advocating for a specific approach, the course aims to provide a broader critical view of all the pedagogies, resources and curriculums that are out there. By starting with the musician first, it helps teachers to develop their own teaching philosophy and empowers them to develop an approach that’s meaningful within their setting.

Every student also has an individual mentor who supports them using coaching to identify what gaps they want to develop, bespoke to them, with opportunites to observe mentors teaching and be observed themselves. All the mentors are practitioners themselves.

What previous experience do applicants need? What are the entry requirements?
It’s a Level 7 qualification which means it’s masters level. Applicants will require some kind of equivalent Level 6 qualification, like an undergraduate degree or the LRAM, and Grade 8 or equivalent from a performance perspective.

Why did you think the PGCEi is needed now in particular? 
We always knew it was needed to address the general lack of emphasis on teaching practice many musicians experience whilst they’re training, but it’s particularly needed now coming out of the pandemic. With lots of musicians either turning to teaching who haven’t before, or leaving teaching due to decreased work opportunities, we want to galvanise the workforce and meet the demands of the sector so that learning an instrument doesn’t become a privilege for the few.

Typically, there haven’t been many progression routes for music teachers and what’s unique about this course is how our organisation is connected to many areas of the music sector, so students who come on the course can see all the different aspects of music education that they can get involved with. I think being able to spend time with a living, breathing organisation is what makes this course so exciting and has enabled graduates of the course to see the possibilities and be ambitious within their existing role and potential in their own leadership. Recent examples include graduates taking on EDI leadership, curriculum and programming redesign, board and advisory positions, consultancy, mentoring and coaching within their organisiations.

Can you tell us any more about the pedagogical approach taken on the course?
We hear from specialists who do come from a certain pedagogical approach e.g. Suzuki, Kodaly, Dalcroze… but it’s never with a view that you must go into the course and come out as a Kodaly teacher. It’s more thinking about how it fits into the concept of what musical learning is and what it means to facilitate musical learning. With a D&I lense on all aspects of music education and thinking about bias, decolonisation, SEND, youth and child voice …how do those pedagogies help us reach children from different backgrounds, and are they fit for purpose? The message is: here it all is, but what do we need to be doing as educators, who do we need to be reaching and is that going to work.

What are your ambitions for the PGCEi course?
We would like to have a Musician of Change in every music service in the UK so they can spread their enthusiasm for inclusive teaching practices more broadly, and use the course as a year- long mechanism to grow aspects of their practice tailored to their teaching context which will engage as many children as possible and show schools and stakeholders that music education is for them.  It’s about developing that awareness and giving them the vocabulary to inspire others and rally that shift in thinking

 “The PGCEi presents a unique opportunity to undertake a recognised qualification with a programme of study specific to music teaching. The affordability and content of the course make it accessible to a wide range of music educators and they are able to continue in their role whilst completing the course. Music Masters, together with their extended network and their partners, offer extensive learning and training opportunities with many of the leading lights in music education, such as Gary Spruce and Jimmy Rotherham. The course content is extensive but manageable, whilst much attention has been given to expected topics such as teaching standards and pedagogical approaches, the team at Music Masters have ensured that other important subject matter is given plenty of attention such as bias awareness, inclusion practices and an emphasis on engaging with youth voice.”

Kate Campbell-Green, Tameside Music Service
Tameside Music Service have three teachers on the course currently

How do you apply and what more should prospective applicants know?
Applications close on 6 June. There is a written application, but you can also use audio to apply. We are looking for musicians who demonstrate a commitment to their own learning, to making change in the sector, with a focus on inclusion.

A full guide to making your application is downloadable on our website, where you can also watch back Q&A’s with past and present students and employers who’ve put staff through the course.

Beyond the course, there is a network that all the graduates automatically join. They’re able to identify what they’d like more support with through bespoke coaching and an action learning sets community. We’re developing a TED conference style forum to share practice once a year. It can be hard to share what you’re doing when you’re so busy, so we’re interested in how we can support educators with a platform to communicate all the inspiring work that they do.

Find out more and apply for the course here.