Trainee Music Leaders: End of Year Reflection

As this year’s Trainee Music Leaders scheme comes to a close we caught up with this year’s graduates, Patrick Barrett, Rosie Bergonzi and Joe Steele, to see how they got on and what they gained from the programme.

Patrick Barrett

How have you found your year as a Trainee Music Leader?
I have loved being a Trainee Music Leader with Spitalfields Music. It brilliantly helped to bridge the gap between education and the working world. It provided opportunity for learning in a supportive environment whilst also giving me the opportunity to assert myself as a working professional. The wide range of settings that Spitalfields Music works in allowed me to explore unique areas of music making that I never imagined I could work in.

What have you learnt from the experience?
I learned so much through the process, from how to be more flexible as a leader, to how to go about a recording process in a school setting. But what stands out to me most are the ways in which I can personally be more creative in my practice and also how to facilitate more creative environments in the settings we work in as a workshop leader.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to future trainees, what would it be?
Do as much as you possibly can – the year flies by so grab every opportunity whilst you can!

If you could sum up your experience in three words what would they be?
Encouraging, Challenging and Brilliant.

Rosie Bergonzi

How have you found your year as a Trainee Music Leader?
I’ve really enjoyed working with so many different inspiring people. I tell everyone I meet about the scheme and how fantastic it’s been. Having the opportunity to reflect on my practice has led to me being a more confident leader with more tools up my sleeve. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing right now if I’d not been on it, but I’m sure my future wouldn’t be looking so colourful and varied. This year has been phenomenal and I hope it’s the stepping-stone to an exciting career – already the links I’ve made have led to professional work from various arts organisations.

What have you learnt from the experience? Were there any surprises along the way?
I don’t know where to begin! Seeing the whole spectrum of workshops has been amazing. I’ve seen people working in areas I didn’t know existed.

This year has been fantastic for me to understand what sort of a leader I want to be. I’ve been able to develop a leadership style where I feel confident and comfortable to be myself while still guiding the group. I’ve been exposed to so many fantastic leaders, I’ve been able to borrow/steal a few of their tricks and ways of working.

It’s been so useful to have a team of people behind me as I begin my journey into freelancing. It’s a constant challenge to balance different commitments, but having a mentor to talk through difficult decisions has been fantastic. I’ve learned that I definitely want my future to involve workshop leading. I love performing, I love creating music and I love working with different people and this job ties them all together. I’m certain my life will use the skills I’ve gained this year.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to future trainees, what would they be?
Take every opportunity out there – if you think of an area you’d like to explore it can probably be arranged for you. And take good notes! If you like the way someone does something don’t be afraid to steal it!’

If you could sum up your experience in three words, what would they be?
So Amazingly Inspiring!

Joe Steele

How have you found your year as a trainee music leader?
I have had a brilliant time on the trainee scheme. The Spitalfields Music team is incredibly welcoming and caring, and this set a positive atmosphere in which to learn, from our very first meeting (actually, right from the audition days!) to the end.

It has been great to do so many different projects this year in several different types of settings, and with varying focuses. This variety has, I believe, made me a much more rounded music leader. The leaders on the projects I helped on were all very inspiring and – crucially – all different, giving me a sense of how different leadership styles can all be effective in their own way; this is a great source of reassurance. The mentoring has been really helpful, and we have been communicated with clearly and regularly by the Spitalfields Music team; I was never unsure of what I was supposed to be doing!

What have you learnt from the experience? Were there any surprises along the way?
I have learnt many things from the year: how to structure projects and individual sessions better; how to approach working with different demographics; to be as alert and present as possible in sessions at all times; to think outside the box in terms of how to structure sessions; to repeat things more than I think I need to; to be myself in sessions but not to get stuck in one way of leading; to listen, always; to try to empower participants as much as possible; to be aware of the range of outcomes that my words and actions could lead to; to always be as clear as possible in my communication.

I think the biggest surprise of the year was seeing how seemingly small things can have huge knock-on effects in project planning.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to future trainees, what would it be?
To throw yourself into projects as much as possible and to always think critically about them; if a session went well, why did it go well? If not, why not?

If you could sum up your experience in three words what would they be?
Challenging, rewarding, fun.


Spitalfields Music’s Trainee Music Leaders scheme is a 12-month training programme for music leaders at the start of their careers, offering an opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience, reflect on practice, and observe and learn from experienced music leaders in a supportive environment.

In addition, we also offer 20 additional places to attend 3 Skills Lab training days. Applications are now open for Skills Lab 2017/18. For more information and how to apply click here

The Trainee Music Leaders scheme 2016-17 was supported by the Thistle Trust.

We will shortly be announcing our 2017/18 cohort of Trainee Music Leaders.