Trainee Music Leader Diary: Raph Clarkson

We’ve just rounded off our final project with out 2014-15 Trainee Music Leaders. Before they head off for good we’ve been asking them about their time at Spitalfields Music and what they’ve gained from their placements. In the hot seat today Raph Clarkson talks about his year with us:

“My year as a Spitalfields Music Trainee Music Leader has been absolutely brilliant – I am incredibly glad that I found out about the scheme in the first place, and secondly, that I then applied for it and threw myself into it.

The most enjoyable aspect of this year for me has been the opportunity to work with and learn from professional creative leaders who are absolutely at the top of their game. Observing these people is inspiring in itself, but being able to get fully stuck into a project, working alongside them creatively is a particularly special and formative experience. I could feel the quality of my practice and understanding of workshop leading progressing in real time!

Cherry Trees School. Friday 27 March 2015.

Takeover Spring Festival: Cherry Trees School

Also incredibly useful was receiving feedback and guidance from these leaders and musicians – I’ve absorbed various tools, activities, approaches, ideas and even physical movements or speaking styles that I like from various leaders, and find myself using them in sessions, in combination with each other and with the way that I like to work.

In a wider career sense the year has been brilliant – the excellent team at Spitalfields Music have helped me to get in touch with other organisations and creative leaders whose work I admire, and this help has given me the opportunity to observe and even take part in a wide range of work and projects with them. Spitalfields Music has been crucial in helping me to build up a network of contacts in the world of creative music education and community work.

Cherry Trees School. Friday 27 March 2015.

Takeover Spring Festival: Cherry Trees School

This wonderful year is coming to a close for me, but after a relatively restful summer I’ll be getting stuck in to some exciting creative projects – I’m recording a third album with WorldService Project, a prog-punk-jazz ensemble with whom I’ve played for over five years. We’ll be touring China in late October, appearing at Shanghai and Shenzhen jazz festivals as well as delivering creative workshops at local schools. I’m also developing my own ensemble The Dissolute Society – we have a performance at the London Jazz Festival in November with the legendary jazz pianist John Taylor as a guest, with a view to recording a debut album in spring 2016. Alongside these projects I’m excited to continue my journey as a creative music leader, observing and learning from leaders I haven’t yet met, as well as continuing to work with Be Creative Music workshops which I co-run, as well as other organisations.

My tips for anyone applying to the scheme are:

  • Be yourself! I think being open and honest about who you are as a leader (to your participants, as well as the people you’re working with) is the best way to deliver your best work. Being uniquely yourself and embracing the way that you like to work is also going to help you to stand out.
  • Never be afraid to ask to observe leaders and projects, and to ask for advice. People are really open to this in my experience – the world of creative music education has a strong sense of generosity and community I think; people want to help you!
  •  Remember why you’re getting involved in this type of work – you’re probably doing so because you’re good at it, because you enjoy it, and because you’re interested in helping and inspiring people. Keep those last two in mind – especially how you can best help and inspire.

Applications for next year’s Trainee Music Leaders scheme are now open. Find our more information about how to apply on our website.


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