Ellie’s story

Ellie Kirtley is 22, and a musician from the sea town, Lyme Regis. She is working as a trainee music leader as part of Daisi’s mentoring programme.  This is one element of our larger inclusive music programme supported by Youth Music. We are building a skilled workforce and creative partnerships to break down barriers that prevent young people from engaging with and fulfilling their musical potential. 

Ellie is working for an organisation called BSharp, which is a music and enterprise charity based in Lyme Regis, East Devon. To combat the huge amount of young people who are unable to access musical opportunities through the traditional routes, we are giving trainee music leaders the opportunity to help shape content for and with young people, and to learn from experienced mentors how to deliver music inclusively across rural, and often isolated communities.   

“The main types of employment are in the services industry which accounts for 86% of the employment in East Devon with a large section of this being in the retail, hospitality and health sectors all of which are predominantly lower paid sectors.”  

– A Place and People Profile by East Devon District Council 
Video created by BSharp about Ellie’s journey

Ellie was first introduced to BSharp when she was in her final year of primary school, and from then on, she continued to participant in their music sessions throughout her secondary education. 

“For seven years I was a member of the youth music group B sharp and I realised how enjoyable and valuable it was to have that opportunity and I now want to help others have that same experience.” 

Ellie Kirtley, Trainee music leader

She recently finished her degree at Falmouth University, studying music. Ellie explained that, “As part of my degree, I studied the psychology of music and how music can benefit us and have a positive impact on our moods and behaviour. I have seen this in practice which has increased my interest in using music as a key to enhance well-being.”  

That’s when she found out about Daisi’s trainee music leader opportunity. Ellie reflected on the opportunity saying, “In a way it was the perfect opportunity to come out of uni, like I can’t think of a better thing I could have done with this year…”  

Jacques Verhearen is an experienced BSharp music leader and has been Ellie’s mentor for the past year. Together they plan and support each other with regular reflective practise, this is key part of the process, being able to analyse one’s own creative practise and change and adapt to suit the needs of the young people. They have had the opportunity to work with a variety of settings and age groups, to enable Ellie to grow her skills and confidence in music leadership and delivery. Ellie said that, 

“This year has helped me to build my skills set in a variety of different settings, working with various age groups and abilities. I found the mentoring process very beneficial and it helped improve my confidence greatly.” 

Ellie Kirtley – Trainiee music leader

This has been so important to Ellie’s growth and confidence with leading with a range of groups and young people and learning to be adaptable and turn her hand to a range of situations, which ultimately arise when working in this sort of role.   

“I found that regular reflection has enabled me to see what has worked and what could be improved. I have learnt that sessions won’t all go to plan and this is not down to bad leadership.

At the start of this year, I thought that the most important part of being a music leader was having a fixed plan for how you would run a session but I have learnt that it is more important to read the room and adapt the plan to fit the situation. In our reflective meetings, we would discuss if groups were working well together and whether any changes needed to be made to keep content inspiring.” 

Ellie Kirtley, Trainee music leader

Ellie would have been leading and running sessions over the last few months however due to the COVID –19 pandemic, she and Jacques have had to adapt. They have had to find alternative ways to engage with young people, so they have set up a Facebook group for early years called little Bs. Ellie is planning, leading and filming videos as part of BSharps musical programme and delivery. 

She is currently working a on research development project for Daisi collaborating with Jacques to investigate the barriers that young people face in participating in digital music making sessions.  They have been contacting organisations, parents and practitioners to ask about their experiences throughout lockdown and how COVID-19 has affected them.   

” I know that I want to keep working with young people and music. I am keen to work more in Early Years settings as I find this age group challenging but rewarding. For the future, I am looking at doing a Masters course in Music psychology, studying the impact music has on social and personal development.” 

– Ellie Kirtley, Trainee music leader