Life as a Trainee Music Leader: Leanne Sedin

The Trainee Music Leaders scheme is a 12-month training programme delivered in partnership with other arts organisations including Garsington Opera, LSO Discovery and Welsh National Opera. Through hands-on experience delivering projects, mentoring and guidance from experienced workshop leaders and practical training sessions, this programme provides a valuable platform for music leaders at the start of their careers.

We heard from Leanne Sedin about her experience as a Trainee Music Leader (TML), from 2017–18.

What did you do over the 12 months as a Trainee Music Leader?

I took part in some great projects on my TML year! My first project was Schumann Street Reimagined as part of the Spitalfields Music 2017 Festival, working with composers and a Year 5 class at Osmani Primary School to write and sing songs responding to Schumann’s Dichterliebe (like most of the children on this project, this was my first time working with classical music!). I also worked on the Soundbox project, which brought together disabled and non-disabled musicians at the THAMES Saturday Music Centre to create music together. I loved seeing how this project brought together the expertise of several organisations (Drake Music, THAMES, the LSO, Spitalfields Music) in partnership, and really enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on the importance of true inclusion and accessibility in music making. Throughout the scheme, and perhaps most invaluably, I received mentoring which helped me reflect on my goals, challenges, progress and my development. It was a challenging, stretching, eye-opening and exciting year!

What were the most valued lessons you learnt along the way?

I learnt that you can be the musician you are as a music practitioner, bringing the particular skills and passions and musicality you have rather than having to fit into a particular mould. Coming into the programme I’d felt quite intimidated by what I perceived to be ‘proper musicians’ – those who’d been through conservatoires or had classical training. The experience and mentoring I had throughout the programme was invaluable in helping me own the identity of ‘proper musician’ for myself!

I learnt to be more at home with the idea of “feel the fear and do it anyway” around composition, having spent most of the year outside my comfort zone. The scheme was invaluable in giving us opportunities to immediately put into practice what we were learning about creative community music projects. As scary as that sometimes was, I found in doing so that I was able to lead on creating original music with others, both by drawing upon training and guidance in composition and song writing, but also in trusting my creativity and musical instincts with the encouragement of mentors and fellow musicians. This was a huge area of growth for me throughout the TML scheme. I would go as far to say now that having learnt to be a little more comfortable in that vulnerable space of not knowing quite what’s going to happen, that it’s pretty much essential for an exciting creative process, and it’s something that I’m now keen to press more into both in my personal creativity and as a music practitioner!

How, if at all, has this programme affected your career? 

Doing the Spitalfields TML programme opened up several opportunities I wouldn’t have had without it, both in terms of contacts I made through the scheme, and the creative and professional confidence I’d gained to take them on: working as a composer and music leader on a youth theatre summer school with The Space in August 2018, and as an Assistant Musical Director on the ENO Baylis’s half term Porgy and Bess youth project in October 2018. Having had the opportunity to observe the work of ENO Baylis whilst on the TML scheme, I was incredibly keen to get more involved in work with music, theatre and young people, so it was amazing to be able to take on both of these opportunities straight out of the programme.

I would also say that the Spits programme has affected my career in sparking in me the desire to create work of my own, which was quite unexpected! In many ways I feel that I’ve grown as a music leader in quite a topsy-turvy way – having had a lot of experience in community settings prior to the programme but no formal music training, perhaps the greatest development for me was in my own musicianship, with many of the projects ending up being really equipping and freeing for my personal creativity. What this looks like in practice is still a work in progress, but it’s definitely the case that my musical goals going forward are on a bit of a different trajectory than they had been, and I’m really excited about that.

Leanne (left) and Rosanna (right) with the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Schumann Street