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Anna Hughes Grows in Confidence After a Successful Sage Gateshead Traineeship

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The Trainee Music Leader role is a six-month paid placement based at Sage Gateshead, funded by Youth Music. Musician Anna Hughes completed the programme in the Spring and now uses her new learning in all areas of her work.

“You improve as a music leader, specifically related to inclusive practice and diversity in music education,” she says.

The trainees met on Fridays for informal sessions with workshops and guest speakers. In the beginning, they observed classes across the breadth of Sage Gateshead’s Young People’s Programme. She reflected on how tutors adapt to work alongside young people from different communities across many styles of music.

“We discussed topics like why people teach classes in a particular style,” says Anna. “We then decided where we wanted to be and eventually started leading sessions.”

Before this programme, Anna had no formal teacher training, although she had taught privately.

“The main reason I applied is that I teach one-to-one lessons,” she says. “I have to communicate with parents about progress and excellence.”

She enjoys this role; her students become confident with music, and many achieve certificates. She knew there were other pproaches and methods that she wanted to explore in her teaching.

“I wanted to know about music-making in the moment and what that does for social development through a more holistic approach,” Anna says.

“I found observing others beneficial, seeing the practitioners in their field and seeing what works and doesn’t,” she says. “You soak it all in.”

Anna was also observed by her mentor Ryan when she led sessions.

“It was a little weird to be on that side, especially with nursery age, because Ryan does it so well,” she says. “But he was encouraging, and I learned masses.”

The course helped Anna to think about her identity as a leader. Conversations with mentors and peers inspired her to feel comfortable.

“It made me consider what parts of me I want to share with participants,” Anna says. “With private lessons, I am more formal; there was space to be authentically me here. It was an awakening.”

Reflection is a key part of Sage Gateshead’s social pedagogy [a relationship-centred approach to learning] framework, and the reflection diaries that Anna kept as part of the training are something she is taking forward in her work.

“I use them when writing music and leading music sessions. If I reflect after the session, I know how to move on and progress.”

Anna is now leading East by North East, one of the groups she observed at the start of her traineeship. It’s a community music project in North Benwell, led by GemArts in partnership with Sage Gateshead.

“It’s different every week. We sing, write, play the ukulele and use the PA system.”

Ideally, she’d like to bring together music performance production and a community-based project in the future.

“Working-class women find it hard to experience producing,” says Anna. “There are so many ways to be creative apart from singing, and I would like to lead that.”

Anna is an Artist in Residence for 2022/2023 and is a strings teacher on the Young Musician’s Programme.