On Tuesday 28 July the HarrisonParrott Foundation hosted its first Virtual Career Seminar as part of the newly created Summer Music School Online by the Tri-borough Music Hub. In a time of social distancing, we switched the classroom for a virtual Zoom room welcoming twelve young people aged between 11 and 16 and their families to join a discussion panel with conductors Stephanie Childress and Christian Schumann, Music Partnerships Manager Toyin Mustapha, and HarrisonParrott director Lydia Connolly as chair of the session.
As the students logged into the session, Lydia Connolly introduced the first panellist, Stephanie Childress who joined from Helsinki, where, in line with the new reality we are facing, she was quarantining in preparation for an engagement in the Finnish capital. Stephanie’s musical journey may not be the typical one as she shares with the students her decision of leaving school at the age of 16. Her story is one guided by determination and perseverance and as she shared with us some anecdotes of her journey to becoming a conductor, Stephanie stressed the importance of not being afraid to ask for help and support along the way, and to be inspired by those around you.
Our second panellist, Toyin Mustapha, balanced his studies at Law School with a rising career as a DJ. After starting his own label, he searched for new paths in the music industry that fitted his lifestyle which led to working for one of the leading video social media app as a Music Partnerships Manager. Reflecting on his personal musical journey, Toyin stressed how music can take you on different paths and the importance to trust your instinct in your way.
Finally, conductor Christian echoed Stephanie’s message of determination and the importance of practice, emphasising also how in this commitment and hard work, we must ensure children have fun with music. In his personal account, Christian shared with us his endless hours in front of the piano as a child and talked about the freeing ability exploring different types of music can have. He also shared his experience studying and working with Peter Eötvös stressing the shared feeling among all the panellist of not being afraid of asking for what you want.
The session concluded with a Q&A which covered practicing and the need for having a back-up plan. Parents were keen to learn how to motivate the students to keep up their practice, to which Christian reiterated the importance of exploring new music and to allow students the freedom to practise in new ways. The discussion led on to the idea of having a ‘Plan B’ career and if music is a viable option. All panellists spoke of how music can get you anywhere and that there are so many different career paths you can take.
Inspiration is a powerful engine, especially in these strange times we are living, so when we put together this session as part of our Artist for Inclusivity Programme with the Tri-borough Music Hub, we thought that a Career Seminar would be a good setting to allow a conversation between artists as experts in the industry, and students to reflect on the endless paths available and the key skills and experiences that have been crucial for the panellists to build their career.
During the past challenging few months since the lockdown, the Tri-Borough Music Hub has made a great effort in finding ways of working with young people and to continue delivering music education by creating a new Virtual Music School. As long-term partners, The HarrisonParrott Foundation wanted to be part of this incredible initiative that has allowed many young people, families and neighbours from the Tri-Borough area to continue their music education and stay connected through music learning.
This collaboration has included the organization of online sessions of our Artist for Inclusivity programme where artists have had the opportunity to create a video tutorial for the Tri-Borough Hub students as part of the Online Music School. As part of this initiative violist Timothy Ridout prepared for the students a Violist Bach Tutorial with some ideas on music and technique.