10th March 2019

Teaching Practice - writing

“Every human being is an artist, a freedom being, called to participate in transforming and reshaping the conditions, thinking and structures that shape and inform our lives.”  Joseph Beuys

I see my role as teacher within the shifting dynamic between people, place, social beliefs, cultural practices and creative processes.  This is both an environment and a process: a positive and curious state of enquiry which is characterised by collaboration, listening, negotiation, seeking/creating shared meanings, rapport, respect, rigour, reflexivity, sensitivity, and fluidity. 

  • ‘Music’ only ever exists as social practice, situated within, or mediating, wider social contexts, structures, values and processes.  In other words, music only exists when people are ‘doing’ music – and this will be happening in a certain place, for certain reasons and with specific cultural reference points or values:  Aesthetic practices are inherently social and political.
  • In order to engage with the world dynamically, openly and with relevance, our role as creative artists requires us to be critically aware of those social and cultural practices, values and contexts, and to continually question our assumptions about them.  Accessing plural perspectives across artistic disciplines and academic discourses allows for a rich dynamic of critical frameworks and avoids the pitfalls of parochialism.
  • Music and the arts have the capacity to suggest other possible worlds, and so to re-imagine our shared or personal experiences.  Artists are in a position to question or reveal aspects of our everyday world in different ways and through a range of forms.
  • Ongoing critical enquiry at personal, inter-personal, artistic and social levels is a vital response to today’s fast-evolving world, heightening people’s capacity for awareness, empathy, responsibility and change.

My teaching focuses on the development of a student’s independent artistic practice, combining their personal interests, concerns and methodologies; an awareness of the social and political resonance of their work; and an understanding of the artistic and aesthetic context of their work.

My practice has developed alongside my colleagues on the MA I have co-led for the past 10 years at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

The teaching environment I aim to create invites the student to enquire and experiment through interaction – with people, the properties of specific sound/music, materials, location, and/or often in response to a provocation or theme that typically has a social, political or philosophical basis. 

Rather beginning from an existing and defined body of knowledge or repertoire which the student must master or learn, we work with an assemblage of different processes, questions and methodologies through which new and personally located knowledge and understanding is revealed, developed, and reflected upon.

The resulting knowledge, materials or ideas are communicated through presentations, participative processes or new works.

The thinking behind this is supported through critical and reflective discussion in individual tutorials and groups.


Areas for exploration include:

sound as a metaphor for contemporary social phenomena; sound as a medium - properties, qualities, context; collaboration or interaction with people, found materials, instruments everyday practices/objects as sources, assemblages; located sound and field recording practices; autoethnography; improvisation; composition; performance

The kinds of themes or concerns that tend to emerge:

power (silence, voice, vulnerability, privilege, political); identity (inter-cultural, national, gender, class); environment, human and more-than-human relations; embodiment, embodied practice, phenomenology; accessibility of knowledge, ideas, skills, resources; technology - effects, adopting or assimilating or re-purposing; notions of community, togetherness, sharing, equality

Areas for critical reflection include:

Ethical practices; Methodology and how this complements or challenges ideas; Communication of ideas both through and about the work; Relationship between theory and practice; What is the work doing, what do you want it to do?; Management of resources – people, materials, space, time, etc; Production

…and the relationship between all of these.