mon 13/07/2020

Waiving the fees: Rob Adediran on how London Music Masters’ Team Teach is responding to a crisis | reviews, news & interviews

Waiving the fees: Rob Adediran on how London Music Masters’ Team Teach is responding to a crisis

Waiving the fees: Rob Adediran on how London Music Masters’ Team Teach is responding to a crisis

LMM’s Executive Director on a generous venture to help teaching in schools

Team Teach in actionAll images by Benjamin Ealovega

Our brains are hardwired to respond to crisis by fleeing or fighting. Crisis creates fear and fear demands action so we protect ourselves by running from danger or battling against it. You can see these instinctive responses in the language of the moment where the coronavirus is described as an invisible enemy that must be defeated, and in our actions as we move away from one another to maintain a crucial social distance to protect ourselves and others.

In the arts, too, organisations are shoring up their defences to reduce risk and attempting to outrun disaster. These are understandable and necessary responses of a society experiencing extreme stress, but it is worth reminding ourselves that we do have other options in a crisis if only we can be brave enough in the panic to pause and adapt our response. Musicians and arts organisations can rise to this challenge.

I first saw this brave approach from violinist Elena Urioste and pianist Tom Poster posting daily concerts on instagram to inspire and connect an unseen and disparate audience. I saw another brave response when days before any of the government’s economic packages were announced, the funder Youth Music took an early lead in supporting the self-employed by committing to pay freelance musicians and creators even if their work had been cancelled due to the Coronavirus. I saw another brave and joyful response when the Kanneh-Mason siblings invited us into their home via Facebook Live, providing a glimpse into the happy chaos which incubated the most musically gifted family of their generation. They and many others are responding bravely to fear with generosity, creativity, imagination, hope and humour. LMM in actionLondon Music Masters is responding bravely by waiving the fees for our flagship professional development programme Team Teach for the 2020/21 cohort. Like all charities we will experience significant loss of income this year and next and whilst instinct might be to cut costs in all areas as an act of defence, in this area we are making a different choice.

When Team Teach launched in September 2019 it was the first post-graduate qualification of its kind designed for musicians teaching children in group settings. Most children in the UK who learn to play a musical instrument learn in a group so it is essential that their teachers are equipped and supported to succeed. Many musicians come into the teaching profession as highly skilled performers, but lacking pedagogical skill and knowledge. Ill equipped to work with the groups of up to 30 children that they will face in state primary schools, they experience low self-esteem, low job satisfaction and fail to achieve consistent or significant outcomes for their students. In a bid to reverse this trend, Team Teach provides tuition from leading academics and practitioners, observations in schools and mentoring from experienced teachers in a year-long course run in partnership with Birmingham City University. Getting the teaching of our teachers right will have a significant impact on the cultural landscape of Great Britain and we are proud to be contributing to that. LMM in actionIt is right that a course with this level of rigour is costed appropriately for students. Our charitable status and the generosity of our funders means that we can subsidise this course but at £2,750 it is a commitment for any music teacher - and in today’s climate it is a commitment that many will be unable to afford.

Musicians who work as teachers are essential contributors to our cultural ecosystem, but they are often self-employed and financially vulnerable. The loss of work which happened overnight as schools were given notice to close will be a financial catastrophe for most of them. Even those who are eligible for the government’s support will struggle and many will be forced to rely on Universal Credit.

Whilst we cannot replace their work or their lost income we can help prepare these teachers for their professional lives on the other side of the crisis. It is our hope that by accessing this course, and others we will announce in September, they will return to work stronger and better equipped, more able to support our nation’s children recover their creative voices. We are waiving the fees because that is what we can do to help our musicians become the teachers that our schools and children need.


Brilliant; a very brave and thoughtful move.

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