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The project’s called women’s musical leadership online network. And it connects with lots of other pilot projects and a book also entitled women’s musical leadership. 

We started it out as an online project funded by open which is where Laura works. And then we put in an Arts and Humanities Research Council proposal for a network.

And actually, what do we need to do to make representation more fair, more equitable, for women, and as soon as you think about women, you also have to think about other forms of identity, which is why we’ve got sections in the book that there’s chapters that actively engage with certain faiths, certain races, certain notions of identity, whether that is faith, race, sexuality, gender, etc. They’re all important. 

If you talk about women’s leadership, you then have to also acknowledge all the other barriers and other aspects of identity, because it isn’t just one issue. What you what we definitely don’t want to do is to privilege one issue at the negative impact of the others.And during my career, as a teacher and a musician, I’ve constantly been aware of these different barriers and these different conversations. And once you raise one question, it throws up many, many others. And I thought, the only way to enaction that is to say that all these issues are important, and to bring together the voices to say, Well, if that’s helped you, will it help us? Will it help them, and to look at how different strategies can be shared across all these different, I suppose what I’m saying is, when we’ve got an identity, however we identify ourselves, we need to think about breaking down barriers to help others in whatever situation we’re in. And I really think that’s a strong opportunity, possibility and something we should be morally and ethically doing, particularly as educators

This project is going to launch in January 2022. And then it’s going to run for 23 months, so anyone can engage with the events. And probably the best thing to do is to go to the website or to the Twitter handle. So the website is if you just typed into Google women’s musical leadership online project, it would come up, you’d be able to find it.

But actually, the Twitter account has a handle of w m l o n. So women’s musical leadership online network, and you can find us on there as well. So anyone can engage, anyone can participate. All the events are free, we’re not charging for them. We’re just trying to bring as many people together as possible to have the conversation to have that thought process to then launch the mentorship program, which will be forthcoming in 2022. But also if people are having this conversation, and it sparks research and activity, then we can support as well with the demonstrate the dissemination of a publication at the end of the network. And I think one thing we’re really keen to do is bring together voices in collaborative dissemination of ideas. 

It’s fascinating because I’m a trumpeter. So when I started lessons, nearly everyone was male. In fact, to this day, I’ve never actually seen a female trumpet teacher, they were always male. And they, it was a compliment. And they didn’t mean this negative, but I was complimented by teacher that I played like a bloke. And that was their way of saying, I mean, I remember during my degree, and I had an excellent opportunity to lots of support lots of mentors, but it became my mission to be the best because you had to be better, to be accepted, to be in those positions to play. And, you know, rather than seeing it as a barrier, I sought it. So it’s sort of a mental and physical, personal fight to do it. But that’s something about probably about my personality. Whereas actually, if I didn’t have the confidence to do that, I hadn’t already felt successful before, I wouldn’t know how to do that, that says I’d already had some position of privilege with support from family to feel I could do that. You know, you have to feel enabled, that your voice is gonna be heard, or you can achieve something, you’ve got to, you know, success, propagates success, people, buy people, etc, etc

So I want to facilitate change. And I really feel like this is an urgent need for change. I’m less than involved if that’s going to impact me at this stage. I’m more involved in the fact that it’s got to change more broadly. I think that’s just because I’ve realized I’ve had opportunities with mentor support and guidance that I think has to be shared more equitably. Anyway, it just reminds me I’ve been there lucky enough love what I’ve done. But it does make me therefore think well, how do I enable somebody else to do that? And with the cuts to education in music school level as well. Rather than seeing the barriers drop, I’m seeing the various Co Op I worry for instrumental tuition of any type, not genre specific. Just because that does have a cost implication if schools can’t cover the cost, then pupils don’t necessarily have access without free instrument. tuition I would never be in the position I’m in now. It’s purely because the instrumentalists was ran school, you had the opportunity for free lessons. So that access was paid for the ensembles, I went to were run by the council they were paid for, they were free, lots of additional support in place, you know, and then grants for universities, when I went were in place to help as well as if you’re buying your book, you know, you go because you had the grant, the money was there. So I’m very conscious that there is a generational divide many different divides, about what has been given for free and opportunities that kids and teenagers can take. Because it’s provided, as opposed to a battle of how are we going to do this as a family, when if you’ve got the family support, you know,

So, such a huge subject, it just never stops on. Now, it drove for us, we kind of trying to start from the ground up sort of doing the Early Years thing. And that’s free to access. Because all those baby groups, they’re also very expensive, if you know, they can be. But it’s just getting that that level of that preschool level, to just touch real instruments, okay, you don’t have to touch her crappy little plastic toy that you get out of Argos, you know, you can actually touch these real things. And then hopefully, that grows something, you know, obviously, it’s not just touching stuff with playing.

 I’m really find it quite difficult that the government’s not realize or doesn’t want to realize that if you invest in nursery primary education and music, you’re making people better communicators, better empaths, they’re going to be better at maths, they’re going to understand their own bodies and their muscles and that coordination is going to impact everything else is not going to detract from anything is money well invested. So I find I find it completely illogical that that hasn’t happened, I find it illogical that things are being cooked. So therefore I’m that’s where I’ve got pregnant. Okay, there’s a barrier. I am struggling to see the perspective from the other side, if you want to meet change, you need to think well, this is the side of the coin I’m on what’s the perspective of the other side? I’m still struggling to see that perspective from the other side.

We got an Arts Council grant to do accessible performances we did the same piece holds the planets three times to make sure it was there was a relaxed performance that it was signed, you know that it was different. There was Breakout Rooms outside the doors were left out that people weren’t all dressed in black and lucky smartbook just dressed normally she was the students and kids and nursery kids might have you felt comfortable coming in and joining in and sitting around the the hall. So there’s different initiatives and ways to do things, I think but all that activity of performing going to an event setting up performance, collaborate, all that’s part of a research activity, because it’s lived experience.

I believe, think, a network that is not just about being female, not just about class, but it’s also about race and faith, it has to be co chaired, you have to have more than one voice at the top. And the equity of that enables change, we just said about the same people sharing the power. I’m a huge believer in CO leadership that you don’t have to have one person at the top, you have two or three or four. You know, there’s examples of it happening in companies and they’ll be more than democratized because of it. I just think that’s really important.

I’m so excited about this project that we’ve got for women’s musical leadership online project, because it means we can engage with other voices, we can check in collectively, to see what how to make these changes. How do we set up a mentorship scheme, then run it? But not just run it and leave it, run it and look at the data from it? What does that tell us? What do we learn? So what do we do better next time? And how do we keep aspiring for better? It does mean you’ve got to have not just the end goal, but the continual assessment and reflection as you go through. So you’ve got to hold yourself up to the same questions, you’re asking everybody else, and actually be confident enough to admit when you’ve not achieved because they’re still learning as long as you recognize it, and then make the change was not good as if you’d recognize it and did nothing with it. Just what it feels like at the moment with the slow change. 

he project is really supporting grassroots change as the book what the final part of the book is about advocates advocate their advocacy and activism, I can say it. And all the examples of grassroots networks and collectives and collaborative groups, trying to make meaningful change and reflecting on what has happened and what needs to happen next. So however small they’ve all achieved something huge. 

The whole thing’s about opening access, doing our best to open access because if I can make those little changes, working with friends and colleagues, then it’s it’s it’s small steps, but I’m proving it can be done.