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Making conferences work

In July I attended one of the largest conferences in music, the International Society of Music Education's world conference, this year held in Thessaloniki in Greece. A huge affair, with up to 10 parallel sessions as well as plenaries and numerous concerts to attend, the programme was an exciting and also bewildering Pandora's box. By the end of day two, I started to see wilting faces, and an old student of mine from Thessaloniki (so not someone flummoxed by the heat) said "there's just too much information, I can't deal with it, how can I implement all of this in my teaching?"


This has reminded me again of just how important it is to think carefully about the kinds of learning environments and potential for exchange we enable through conferences and seminars. It doesn't make any sense just to stick to the old formulae of lecture or demonstration, followed by a couple of questions. After a very few of these kinds of session, it becomes almost impossible to take anything in.

Open space formats lie at the opposite end of the spectrum of course, often extremely valuable, and there are all kinds of possibilities in between. This is something that we have focused on a lot with the Innovative Conservatoire, and in particular we have made sure that we include a strong practical element in the work, integrating making music alongside discussion and reading. This is one of its most successful elements.

In a nutshell

So why should you be interested in Learning in and through the Performing Arts?

The collaborative processes of the performing arts open a pandora's box of possibilities for artistic, personal and organizational development. They are subtle and multi-layered, embodied practices that can yield much more than what individuals bring to them, creatively and in terms of human exchange. My work is about continuing to develop these processes for the twenty-first century, so that artists can adapt to their changing contexts and enable their work to take root as creative entrepreneurs, and so that the processes of the arts can be shared and enhanced through exchange with other disciplines and across cultural contexts.