When I was fifteen I learnt how to write a song. I did it mostly by listening. I already had a music education as a drummer so rhythm had been instilled in me on top of whatever was there naturally.
But suddenly something happened at the age of fifteen and I desired to get out from behind the kit. It was a natural instinct.
By examining the music of the day and that of my mentors, I quickly put together songs that were personal and competent.
I’ve continued for the last 32 years with great success. Those key skills that I learnt at fifteen still continue. But my writing has developed, matured and I now use many different ways to write. I teach songwriting – at Leeds College of Music and at schools around the UK – and I now teach many different ways to write.
But these skills wouldn’t have matured and grown without placing myself in different contexts with many different types of writers. Intentionally placing yourself outside of your comfort zone will reap massive rewards and that is where well-chosen CPD comes in. When we stop learning, we start to die. Continual development brings with it wisdom.
I place myself in different contexts as often as I can. I try and write with different songwriters of different abilities and I always find there is something to learn in each environment. For me, writing with young people is just as rewarding as writing with seasoned ‘professionals’.
I also look for high-quality networking events such as those provided by BASCA. Sometimes the knowledge we can accumulate from simple conversations can be as valuable as those from a lecture or workshop. The chosen speaker is not always the wisest person in the room!
So, finding great CPD (and networking) is vital for us – particularly as music teachers.
Next week the MMA – National Association of Music Teachers have their national conference at Eton College. There are over 26 sessions covering all angles of music teaching for both primary and secondary and the reviews of the conference are always glowing. The quality and depth of the sessions is always impressive. I’ve spoken at the MMA Conference twice and it remains one of the essential resources for music teachers in the UK. I would very much recommend you to look at it, to enhance your knowledge and experience of teaching, to discover new methods and rediscover the tried and trusted methods that still produce effective results.
But in addition why not look to coordinate a CPD session your own? The MMA are always looking for regional ways to reach teachers with CPD that they value. If there is a subject that you need wisdom on, or you have a venue/school that would make a good base, please get in touch with the MMA to inspire those around you.
on twitter @keithayling