12th ICON Seminar at Dartington Hall, UK. The Innovative Conservatoire is an international collaboration to stimulate knowledge exchange, innovation and reflective practice in Conservatoires. This short film explains our approach.

Practising is central to our development as musicians, and takes up large portions of our time. Finding positive approaches and sustainable rhythms in this work is essential to success. We are also increasingly becoming aware that the concept of personal practice may not be confined to time spent directly with our instrument. There is enormous potential in practising away from the instrument: working with scores, listening, developing aural imagination and so on. In addition, increasing numbers of musicians are focusing on aspects of health and well-being, on practices such as Mindfulness, yoga and Tai Chi, and/or may be engaging in wider creative exploration/expression as a foundation to their work in their own musical discipline.

Beyond this set of issues comes questions about how “practising” is meaningful even if we are not playing an instrument so much? For example, when our professional practice evolves over time and we take on new roles as teachers, researchers, administrators, we are challenged to keep connected to and to go on developing our fundamental artistic identity. What do we take with us into these new roles from our experiences in practising? How do we continue to develop our connection with our fundamental artistic identity? Equally, in what ways do I “practise” if I am an actor or dancer, particularly if I spend little time working alone? What fundamental principles, values, and practices can usefully be shared between the disciplines in relation to discovering and nurturing our artistic identity and craft?

So practising is something that is multi-layered. We must each find our way, combining work on our repertoire, craft development, creative expression, well-being and long-term motivation. In this seminar, we will consider these diverse elements that go into practising, the insights that come from research in this area, how we have developed our own approaches as musicians, and what we may be able to learn from and exchange with other artistic disciplines. We will also consider effective ways in which we may be able to support students in developing their own approaches to practising. This will include exploring:

* The relationship between practising and one-to-one lessons. How can we use one-to-one lessons to help students develop constructive approaches to practising? What helps students to take ownership of, shape and reflect on their practice?

* What support beyond one-to-one lessons may help students to enhance their approaches: group workshops dedicated to practicing techniques, improvisation as a part of daily practice, video recording practising sessions and reflecting on them, peer mentoring, reflective exercises…..?
A particular feature of this ICON session will be that we will ask participants to make video recordings of their own practising and possibly of their students’ practising which can be shared in the seminar and provide material for reflective discussion.

The seminar will be particularly appropriate for any instrumental/vocal teachers interested in enhancing approaches to practising, as musicians themselves, through one-to-one teaching, and/or through leading workshops/courses on practising more generally.