support networks for music teachers - teacher and musician

When trawling through the analytics of this blog, I noticed that lots of people are searching for support from other teachers.  The internet already has a huge number of support networks available for music teachers, so I thought that I would compile the best of them in this blog post.  I’ve covered the following networks:

  • Peer to Peer Network
  • Twitter
  • MufuChat
  • Teach Through Music
  • TeachTalk: Music
  • The Facebook Groups
If you feel that I’ve left out an important network, then please just let me know.  

Peer to Peer Network

In the interests of full disclosure, I should highlight that one of my roles is Network Manager for the Peer to Peer Network.  


The Peer to Peer Network was created by Music Mark to support the Peer to Peer CPD Programme, which is part of the London Schools Excellence Fund.  Since then, the network has grown from its original function to become a discussion forum for all areas of the music education community.  The Peer to Peer Network allows members to blog, send each other friend requests and form their own working groups.

The centre of the network has to be the discussion forum, which allows for extended debates including the MufuChat pre/post-chat (more on this later).  I’ve always loved discussion forums and there have been some great questions asked on PtPN.

Twitter

While Twitter may not be a dedicated teacher support network, it deserves an early mention due to the huge number of teachers on there who form a supportive community.  Music education is well represented as can be found by looking at hashtags such as #musiced, #ukmusiced, #musiceducation and #MufuChat (more on this one in a moment).  I consider Twitter to be the best professional development tool available to me.  It keeps me up to date with the latest education news and it frequently forces me to evaluate my own thinking.  It’s, quite simply, invaluable.  

MufuChat

In the interests of full disclosure, I should highlight that one of my roles is MufuChat Coordinator on behalf of Musical Futures.  
MufuChat got going in 2013 as part of the support mechanism designed by Musical Futures for teachers involved in the Find Your Voice pilot and co-pilot.  It quickly grew beyond that focus and now features discussions on pretty much every conceivable topic within music education.  The chat takes place on Twitter every Wednesday at 8.30pm and lasts for one hour.  Volunteers host the chat each week, which centres on a specific question.  
The Twitter chat has recently been augmented with pre/post-chat on the aforementioned Peer to Peer Network, which allows people to contribute at a time that suits them and, importantly, to provide more detailed explanations of points that may be difficult to condense into 140 characters.  

Teach Through Music

Like the Peer to Peer CPD Programme, Teach Through Music is a CPD initiative funded through the London Schools Excellence Fund.  Although not strictly a support network, Teach Through Music hosts blogs written by participants.  I often enjoy having a read through these blog posts as it provides a great insight into the wider world of music teaching and the specific challenges faced by teachers.  Well worth a read.

TeachTalk: Music

In the interests of full disclosure, I should highlight that I am a member of TeachTalk: Music.  

TeachTalk: Music is another blogging platform for music education but this time with a very specific focus.  An editorial is published at the start of each month by a member of TeachTalk: Music, which is then opened up for comment, discussion and debate.  The one-post-per-month approach ensures that discussion has the opportunity to delve deep into the subject and allows for the conversations to be very topical.  
The blog posts themselves are written by members of the group (contact David Ashworth for more information) but comment is invited from all members of the music education community.  

Facebook Groups

Facebook has long had ‘group features’ that allow people to create their own sub-networks on the world’s largest social network.  It didn’t take long for music teachers to realise that this could be a really convenient way for teachers to share ideas and resources and there’s now a variety of different ‘working groups’ that are well established.  Membership is ‘closed’ but the huge number of contributors for each group ensures that you will have your request to join approved quickly.

Posts to the group tend to get a quick response from a number of different respondents, so you’re likely to get a few different perspectives on any question you ask.  I would urge some degree of caution when posting specific queries – it’s quite common to see people asking about advice for interview lessons and I can’t help but wonder what the observer would think if (s)he’d seen the post on Facebook beforehand.  On other fronts, however, the Facebook groups can be a great source of support in times of need.

Here’s a hyperlinked listing of all the music teacher Facebook groups that I’m aware of.  If I’ve missed any, then please send me a tweet and I’ll update the list.

London Early Years Music Network
KS3 Music – Hints and Tips
KS2 Music – Hints and Tips
AQA GCSE Music Teachers
AQA A-Level Music Teachers
Edexcel GCSE Music Teachers working group
Edexcel Music A-Level teachers
OCR GCSE Music Teachers
OCR A-Level Music Teachers’ Working Group
WJEC GCSE Music
RSL Music Practitioner Teachers
BTEC Music Level 2 teachers
BTEC Music Teachers Working Group