Jamarl Billy has been working at Brighton & Hove Music & Arts (BHMA) since December 2018. Here he gives us an insight into his role and the Music Leader Internship programme.
When I began my Music Leader Internship with BHMA, I had no idea what to expect; especially as it was a completely new role as part of the 4-year funding awarded by Youth Music through the ‘Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England’. Although I thoroughly enjoy playing instruments and utilising artistic creativity in my own time, I was coming into this role as a Law graduate who hadn’t ever had a taste of working full time in a music capacity. Music had always taken a back seat to academia and, in turn, work. But I began to realise that my passion for music wasn’t going to disappear and so I decided to explore the possibility of a career in music. What really drew me to this role was the chance to get a detailed insight into a plethora of music ventures and the opportunity to shape the role, using my own unique skillset to provide value to the team excited me. With my internship now coming to an end after 8 months, it’s safe to say that I’ve had an amazing time, filled with new experiences, new training and clearer direction in where I want my career to go.
On only my third day I attended one of our flagship evening drop-in sessions for young people that runs every Thursday night. This gave me an insight into what working on a project for ‘targeted groups’ would actually looked like in practice and further reinforced my motives behind my decision to take this job in the first place: to impact young people who otherwise would not get these opportunities. I spent the evening engaging and interacting with the young people, whilst also observing the Music Leaders and filling out the evaluation report of the session. This session, along with the Tuesday night sessions we also run, became a main part of my job role. Over the course of my internship I’ve been able to build some really good relationships with the young people and made some amazing memories of young people being positively impacted by engaging in music.
One such memory I will take forward was seeing one particular young person grow in confidence to record some original music. Joe is a good rapper and had been earmarked by members of staff close to him as one to watch, but his lack of confidence performing in front of his peers meant he was reluctant to record music. I was able to observe, and be a part of, his increase in confidence over the course of my internship, and it was incredibly rewarding to see him eventually perform and record two original songs. Feeling the energy in the room rise and the elation on his face as he spat bars with all his friends encouraging him is a memory I’ll hold dear for a long time. In a similar case on the Tuesday night sessions, another young person went from being too shy to have a conversation to performing an original song he’d written and produced in the session live at the Our Place Community Takeover Event during the Brighton Festival 2019.
One of the struggles I faced at the sessions however was the feeling that I had nothing to offer the young people. The AudioActive music leaders had their skillset to offer and the youth workers had their pastoral care to offer, but as I was just observing and gaining experience as an intern, I didn’t bring anything new to the dynamic. This began to change when I started bringing the guitars to the sessions. Most of the young people had never even held a guitar before, let alone had the chance to be taught how to play it. Gradually, they began to show interest in the guitars and how to play them. This gave me an opportunity to offer them something of value that was different to any experience they’d had at the sessions previously. I was able to teach them some basic chords and some riffs that a few of them even recorded and put it onto a beat they were making. Before long, young people were regularly approaching me and asking if they could play the guitar and if I could show them something. Being able to add value to the session and add value to the lives of the young people was really rewarding. However, over and above this, it was the bridge the guitars created socially that really helped me build relationships with the young people. Through the teaching of guitar, I have been able to interact more effectively with the young people and get to know them on a deeper level. I know them better now and am able to strike up conversation regularly.
Overall, I found my internship to be a highly rewarding and insightful experience that has given me invaluable experience in what it’s like to work in a music setting. It has given me clarity and a desire to pursue a career in music. Off the back of this experience, I have applied and been accepted onto a music production course in Los Angeles. I’m thoroughly looking forward to the possibility of spending more time honing my music skills and enjoying the lovely weather in LA!
Brighton & Hove Music & Arts are continuing to offer paid internships for Music Leaders. For more information please contact Bec Britain on firstname.lastname@example.org.