This Friday, it’s my talk at Edinburgh Central Library to celebrate the Bicentenary of the First Edinburgh Musical Festival. The paper is written, the powerpoint prepared, I’m polishing my performance and raring to go!
I’m so excited to have today arranged to go on a guided tour of Parliament Hall, the morning before my talk. That’s where the first festival sacred concerts were performed, and I get to stand inside and see exactly (well, as exactly as 200 years will allow) what the audience and performers saw then. I’m thrilled! It’ll be great to have the venue in my mind’s eye as I give my talk.
A month later, I’ll be back in Edinburgh again, this time for the Scots Fiddle Festival, where I’ll be talking about ‘Fiddle books by the dozen’ – a retrospective look at my part in the Bass Culture project, and telling fiddlers what they can expect when the Historic Music of Scotland website goes live.
I have some more tentative plans for further lectures/seminars in the new year, but nothing finalised yet. I’d better get weaving on responding to a couple of calls for papers. There are barely enough hours in my day!
I’m just back from the Annual Study Weekend of my professional organisation, the International Association of Music Libraries UK and Ireland Branch. And what’s the first thing I do upon my return – after checking emails, of course? I dive for my CILIP Continuing Professional Developmento portfolio – that’s the Chartered Instititute of Library and Information Professionals – and log my attendance at the Annual Study Weekend. Revalidation is in the air. I did a staggering 163 hours of CPD in 2014, and I have lots of professional activity of one kind and another in the offing, so I have to keep up to date. Hopefully I’ll check what I have to do, and get my revalidation submitted fairly soon, if I can just fit it in amongst all the other activities!
The problem is, I am one individual with one full-time job, but much of my spare time is going on all the extra activities associated with being a librarian three days a week, and a researcher the other two. I’m almost drowning in it! Here’s what I’ve just noted in my CPD journal:-
March 2015 – Invited to edit the paper I gave at Musica Scotica last year for inclusion in next Scottish Music Review
March 2015 – Engaged to give talk at Edinburgh Central Library, Autumn 2015, commemorating 200th Anniversary of the first Edinburgh Musical Festival.
March 2015 – Applied for and awaiting to hear if I’ll be awarded funding …for a 6-month part-time research project to follow on from the AHRC-funded postdoctoral research that ends in October 2015.
March 2015 – Submitted article to Emerald peer-reviewed journal
April 2015 – Submitted article to CILIP group magazine
April 2015 – Invited to be on organising committee for 2016 conference being hosted at my workplace.
April 2015 – am on organising committee for Musica Scotica, a 1.5 day conference taking place in Glasgow at the end of this month.
So many opportunities that I feel both energised and overwhelmed. Sadly, decided to cease mentoring activities, and am grateful that my SALCTG convenorship is coming to a natural end next month. There are limits to what the average full-time working parent can achieve in their spare time!
Strange to say, I am struggling with this. Perhaps it’s because so much of my learning has been self-directed as an independent researcher, and I haven’t been in a classroom situation for a while. I’ve twice attempted to learn Gaelic in a class setting, once joining in BA Scottish Music students, and once at local authority evening classes at the Gaelic School – but neither of those experiences would make it into my “top ten” of learning experiences. The first was, unfortunately, just a more conversational approach than I have been used to for learning languages – that, combined with the fact that it meant studying through my lunchbreak once a week, which wasn’t ideal. The second attempt would have been okay if there hadn’t been a succession of teachers, and some very icy weather at night. And in both instances, although I really did want to learn, I think my timing was bad. I should have known that my learning goes in waves, and after I’d just finished the PhD, perhaps it wasn’t the best time to start learning a language. Maybe I’ve learned several lessons from all this, but more about how I don’t learn, than how I do.
On the other hand, a few weeks ago we watched Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, give a televised speech. Despite the fact that I have no interest in the IMF and had never heard of Christine Lagarde before, her public speaking was electrifying. It was her delivery that so impressed me – to be so fluent, and so able to command attention, is a great gift, and I would love to watch some more of her presentations for that alone, quite apart from talking about the IMF! Her timing was incredible. She looked all round her audience. There was no hesitation, and if she had notes, you would never have known. So, it was unintended learning for me, and if I was to think about the learning context, it was probably this: I had the time to listen and pay attention. The speaker was excellent. And probably most importantly, from an educational point of view, she was doing something that I was motivated to learn – I’m very interested in public speaking. Clearly, the best learning is going to take place when the learner has a need to learn. As Phil Race says, two of the five factors underpinning successful learning are wanting and needing to learn.
However, I have to concede that this was probably not the kind of learning experience that I have been asked to reflect upon, and I would need to study her delivery in more detail to learn more from it. Also, Race’s other points of ‘learning from feedback’, and ‘learning by doing’ were not present, though the fifth one, ‘making sense’ was arguably there, because I have attended seminars about public speaking before, and Lagarde did demonstrate many of the best practice principles that I already knew about.
I'm a musicologist disguised as a librarian. I've been writing this blog as part of my PG Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Arts Education, at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.