The BCMG Learning Traineeship has run since 2005 with the aim of providing recent graduates with a supported experience of working in an arts organisation.  In particular, it is a chance for them to learn about music education and outreach in the context of a music ensemble. The trainees work with BCMG for a year and take part in a wide range of practical activity, shadowing different workshop leaders, working alongside BCMG musicians, as well as supporting the projects through helping with their administration. As you can see below, they have all gone onto interesting and varied careers in the arts. The learning however is not all one way! Each year, each new trainee brings their own personality, skills and interests to the role and thus reinvigorates the programme. 

Corinne Bass 2005 - 2006

Senior Partnerships Manager for A New Direction, a London-based non-profit, generating opportunities for children and young people to unlock their creativity.

The traineeship was incredibly impactful for me and has very much shaped what I’ve done since. I had very recently graduated from York when I came to BCMG and the traineeship enabled me to find my feet with help of an incredibly supportive team.

It can be difficult to find out about different roles in the sector I think and the way the traineeship was structured helped me to get an amazingly rounded overview (while I hope providing some support for the programme!). I was able to experience working with young and established artists, be involved with project planning, meetings with partners and worked with many members of the team in the BCMG office. I particularly remember the passion that the team at BCMG had for the work, and how inspiring it is. Since leaving BCMG I’ve continued to work in arts and creative education as you know, and the traineeship was definitely the foundation for that choice.

Eileen Barnett 2006 - 2007

Margaret Anderson 2007 – 2008

Assistant Senior Finance Officer for Culture, Learning and Libraries (Midlands)

After the traineeship Margaret worked with a number of arts organisations in Birmingham including Ex-Cathedra, Woman & Theatre before returning to BCMG as Finance & Administration Manager and then Director of Finance. She is now Assistant Senior Finance Officer for Culture, Learning and Libraries (Midlands).

Michael Betteridge 2009 – 2010

Freelance composer, conductor and workshop leader

Michael is a freelance composer, conductor and workshop leader with a strong emphasis on vocal and collaborative work. As a workshop leader he has worked for Opera North, Garsington Opera, 'Open Academy' at the Royal Academy, Cheltenham Music Festival, London Music Masters, BBC Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)

I was fortunate enough to be given the traineeship at BCMG in a year which was packed with practical experience observing and supporting very different leaders whilst gaining an insight into how a medium sized music organisation works.  I shadowed and supported many exceptional leaders during my time, but two stuck out: Duncan Chapman and Jackie Walduck.  Their work, all those years ago, still inspires me today as a composer and facilitator.  Jackie told me one exceptionally valuable lesson: invest in collaborative composition with young people in the same way you invest in composing your own, private music, and you will reap the rewards, as well as inspiring and challenging your young collaborators.  It was a turning point for me which took me off my pedestal and made me engage in music making in a new and collaborative way.

I still speak fondly of my time at BCMG as it directed me up a path which I didn't even know was there and opened my eyes to music making and composing in a way I could have never possibly imagined.  I can safely say I would not be where I was today without the traineeship. 

The seeds sown by the BCMG traineeship opened up a wealth of opportunity for me as a collaborative artist and facilitator and I wouldn't be having this fantastic and enjoyable career without my time with the organisation.    

Jeremy Clay 2010 – 2011

Teaching Fellow in Professional Development and Outreach at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Project Manager of In Harmony Telford & Stoke 

I found being the BCMG Learning Trainee gave me a fantastic springboard into my current career. I was able to spend the year learning how to run, manage and deliver high quality music workshops. The trainee year gave a really good insight into working for a professional organisation and what that entails. I was able to tailor the traineeship to a certain extent to match my skills and interests but was also pushed to improve at the aspects I found challenging. The breadth of experience I gained was invaluable, and I finished the year knowing a lot more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on with a Learning department of a professional organisation, as well as a great knowledge of pedagogy and delivery skills for education.

After the traineeship I stayed at BCMG as Learning Co-ordinator for a number of years. The skills I learnt through my trainee year at BCMG proved to be an invaluable building block to my current position.

Kathryn Hopkins 2011 – 2012

Associate Producer at d3t

After the BCMG learning traineeship Kathryn worked for many years with acta community theatre in Bristol in a variety of roles and is now chair of their board. Currently, she is an Associate Producer at d3t, a video game development company.

Chandra Chapman 2012 – 2013

Music Therapist with Suffolk Music Therapy Services specializing in working in special schools, hospice and care homes. 

The traineeship gave me hands on experience of working with a huge range of young people, it allowed me to practice leading skills in a safe, supportive environment. BCMG allowed me to observe and learn from the planning processes involved in creating learning experiences for young people. This gave me a lot of confidence in working musically with people and some of the skills I use now come directly from BCMG workshops that I helped run during the traineeship. 

The administrative side of the role honed my office working skills and helped to develop on previous experience in arts administration. I also met a huge number of composers and musicians through the traineeship who were always there to listen to the latest ideas I would have about what I was going to do in my career, it also allowed me to become comfortable with the idea that my 'career' could be fluid and include a wide variety of things. 

Ruta Vitkauskaite 2013 – 2014

Award-winning composer with a particular focus on working collaboratively. During 2020 and 2021, Ruta will be one of seven composers on the RPS Composer Programme with commission for Music in the Round, Sheffield.

The traineeship at BCMG had and still has very big impact on my creative practice, and especially on my understanding how contemporary music, and music in general, is perceived by various audiences: musicians, non-musicians, amateur musicians, children, young people, etc... At the time of traineeship, and later on, the most important learning for me was my participation in designing the workshop and delivering it. Music workshops, in general, were quite a new experience in my practice at the start of the traineeship. I use the models of collaborating I learned. They diminish composer's ego and the role of controller, and create much more natural, although thoroughly thought through, environment of music unfolding.’

Jenny Muirhead 2014 – 2015

BCMG Learning Coordinator, teacher, workshop leader, oboist and florist

The traineeship gave me invaluable practical and administrative experience in an environment filled with highly supportive staff who were keen to help me develop my own skills and personal practice. I had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from talented team members, professional animateurs and word class musicians in a setting I was keen to progress into. Working as part of BCMG’s fantastic team gave me the chance to see how an arts organization works both individually and as part of larger cultural community.  

The practical work paired with frequent opportunities to share personal reflections and receive constructive feedback helped me to develop a deeper understanding of project planning, development, management and evaluation. I learnt how to use databases and booking systems, develop spreadsheets, manage budgets and edit website content. These transferrable skills have been extremely useful going forwards.

Sarah Farmer 2015 – 2016

Freelance composer, performer and workshop leader

Sarah describes herself as ‘a poor woman's scientist and crafts person, taking an interest in questions of science and technology and exploring them through hands on endeavours of making and sharing through a medium of sound, D.I.Y, found materials, wood and strings and the odd bit of electronics’.

Nick Brown 2016 – 2017

Programme Manager for the National Youth Jazz Collective and freelance musician and composer

Stepping fresh outside the doors of music college, the BCMG learning traineeship acted as the gateway to the professional arts world. BCMG perfected the balance between understanding how an arts organisation functions at the same time as working alongside a team of expert educators, delivering world-class creative music-making workshops. I’m incredibly grateful for the insight and time BCMG gave me so early in my career.

Since leaving BCMG, I’ve worked on a number of city-wide projects across Birmingham and have continued to deliver workshops in educational settings, confident with the skillset cultivated during my time as Learning Trainee. Most recently, I’ve taken on the role as Programme Manager with the National Youth Jazz Collective where I continue to support the creative and educational needs of aspiring young musicians.

Gina Baker 2017 – 2018

Vocalist, Teacher & Community Musician with a particular interest in working in prisons. Musical Director for Beating Time.

Whilst working for BCMG I had the opportunity to be a part of many different projects and events that were great experiences. I gained so many skills which helped me grow in confidence and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Some highlights were: working alongside composers such as Michael Betteridge and Duncan Chapman and observing their workshops in schools; being part of such a supportive and welcoming team; sitting in on BCMG rehearsals and observing the process of putting on an event; the family concert with professional sheng player Wu Wei.

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