Music education worker

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Andrew Turner works as a music education and outreach officer for an organisation that promotes respect and understanding between different cultures and traditions using the medium of music.

What is your role?

I work with many different groups of people, from young children to adults, using music from an African tradition to create and develop an awareness of other cultures and backgrounds.

What does your job involve?

I visit community groups of all kinds, including primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, to deliver musical workshops. Increasingly, I am also being asked to deliver musical sessions as a part of company training programmes for staff.

The main instrument I use is my voice, although I also use traditional African instruments including drums and shakers, such as a dry pumpkin.I encourage the people I am working with to use their voices and bodies as an instrument, and to find their own music within themselves.

How do you work with young people?

Within schools, I often deliver musical sessions to encourage the children to deal with various issues that may be affecting them, such as bullying.We usually work towards a performance at the end of the workshop, which everyone participates in and enjoys.

I enjoy going into a school and seeing the children's attitude change during a workshop. At the beginning they look at me as a stranger, but often by the end they don't want me to leave and ask when I can come back again! Children are great fun to work with.

Do you work on your own?

Much of the time I deliver workshops on my own, but I sometimes work alongside other musicians or staff in schools, particularly if I am delivering a workshop to children with special needs.

What skills do you need for this type of work?

Musical ability is obviously important, but people skills are also essential. These can be developed through training and working as part of a team.

How did you get into this type of work?

At school, I started up an African music group which played at parties and community events.

As a musician, I had given many workshops and enjoyed the experience of using my gifts to provide others with an insight into music. The opportunity arose to join the company and concentrate on community work.

What do you like about your job as a music education worker?

I have always been interested in education, and I also enjoy working with the community in choirs, youth centres, as well as art-based training.

Andrew's route

  • Professional musician.
  • MA in Arts Management.
  • Education and outreach officer – community music.

Andrew's tips

  • Learn from those already in the field – find out how they got where they are.
  • If you are working for yourself ensure you have all-important business skills such as how to deal with income tax.

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Salary information

  • Many community musicians are freelance, and are often paid on a daily basis.
  • They may negotiate their pay with the organisation they are working for.
  • Pay can vary tremendously.
  • Some commercial organisations offer a day rate of around £125 for an established community musician.
  • Those employed full time by a community organisation, such as a private company or funded by a local government or Arts Council grant, would expect a starting salary of around £20,000.

Getting in

  • Good musicianship is essential, with the ability to create and play music.
  • Good communication skills are needed for working with all types of people. Voluntary work, work experience and part-time jobs can help to develop these skills.
  • Various universities offer degree and diploma courses in music and community.
  • Art Council-funded projects, local education authorities and various community ventures offer opportunities.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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