Congratulations to our Trainee Music Leaders!

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Since 2003, our Trainee Music Leader (TML) scheme has been supporting emerging musicians to develop their musicianship and music leading skills. Across the year, trainees access mentoring and training, observe the work of highly experienced practitioners as well as develop their own leadership style, and gain hands-on experience designing and delivering music workshops with a range of community groups, working in schools, care homes and with disabled and non-disabled young people.

This year’s cohort have had a very different experience than what we (and they!) had imagined – they started the programme as they usually would, working in schools and care homes, and ended up on Zoom!


The trainees have shown incredible creativity and resilience in their practice, having to change their plans multiple times and gain new skills to be able to deliver the work online. They’ve demonstrated agility in overcoming challenges thrown their way, and have clearly shown their talent, enthusiasm and drive to keep working with and in communities during such challenging times.

At the end of their traineeship, we asked the group about the experiences and learnings they’ve taken away from this year as TMLs…

…Your journey on the scheme in three sentences?

– “Tasting the smorgasbord of participatory music-making. Learning from others: participants, staff, leaders and trainees. I am a music leader.”

– “It has opened a door on my career that I didn’t know existed. I have seen what I want to aim to become in the next 5 years as a music leader. The whole experience was an absolute blast.”

– “I took the opportunity to work on a number of varied projects and was able to observe high quality music leading from the leaders in this field. The supportive atmosphere generated by Spitalfields created an environment where I was able to reflect and discuss experiences and learnings. Finishing my final project, I realized that my experiences during the scheme had not only grown my confidence, but had also developed my creative thinking and music leading.”

What were your personal victories, successes and challenges on the scheme?

– “I’ve become more confident in my own abilities as a music leader and leading alongside other musicians. I feel more in-tune with my own leadership style and qualities. I am better-equipped in leading compositional projects in a diverse mix of community settings and am particularly proud of the school workshops I designed and delivered.”

– I have identified some qualities I want to bring to my music leader persona: adaptable, amenable but also assertive when necessary. I’ve learnt to trust my instincts more in sessions, enabling me to go off-plan and be more spontaneous and participant-led in my delivery. I’ve learnt that I am, in fact, a composer. Before this traineeship I never would have identified as such!”

– “Every experience is good experience, so I sought to be efficient with my time management to ensure I got the most out of each project I was shadowing, assisting or leading. I actively participated in all the projects I was shadowing or assisting to encourage greater involvement from the participants and learn from the music leaders.”

What opportunities has the scheme given you?

– “The scheme has allowed me to improve my music leadership skills in differentiation, exploring what it is to be a musician, expanding my workshop toolkit, my own musicianship, inclusive practice, reflective practice and building my network. I have expanded my portfolio of workshop settings and developed my confidence through all these new experiences.”

– “I felt that the mentorship enabled me to organise my thinking and work out what the next steps were in order for me to progress.” 

– “The opportunity to take time to really reflect on your music leadership is something I’ve never been asked to do. This is something that I will continue to actively do, as I can now see how beneficial it is. The opportunity to learn from outstanding music leaders has been very valuable as well as the opportunity to work in a variety of settings. I think this will continue to shape my practice.”

– “I really appreciated that opportunities could be found to fit in with my job. In the time that I had available, I felt that I was able to gain lots of different experiences and to also work in different settings.” 

 -“I felt like my mentor had a vested interest in seeing me grow and succeed on the programme. He had a very human approach to mentoring, viewing the areas of development in a very holistic, well-rounded way. He created an environment of trust and openness, allowing for vulnerability, which helped me self-reflect and find the best routes forward.” 


Our Trainee Music Leader scheme has been generously supported by Help Musicians UK.

Recruitment for our 2022 TML scheme will open in October 2021, please contact Gail to register your interest.