The place of mentoring within NAIP

A central aim of mentoring is to enable the student to be strategic in making choices within the programme. Mentoring particularly aims to support the students in creating a safe learning environment and encourages their ownership and self-direction of learning.

The European Master of Music in New Audiences and Innovative Practice (NAIP) aims to prepare students for a diverse range of career opportunities and an individual career pathway that embraces composition, performance and leadership.

The NAIP modules support the student in developing various skills that are useful for realising a versatile carrier and developing practices crossing traditional boundaries.

Many of the student projects within the programme are socially engaged and cross-disciplinary. The variety of pathways and emphasis of NAIP students is enormous. Projects may include composition, instrumental and vocal performance, project-leading for orchestras, schools and other cultural organisations.

For a student entering the NAIP programme, there is no predefined outcome. It is based on the student’s needs, ambitions, values and aspirations. It is because of this nature of the course, with its stronger focus on socialisation than specialisation, that the question of identity becomes a central issue. Having mentoring as a module and key component of the course provides space and time to share. The students are able to have a dialogue about issues that they feel are important as they are entering into their professional field of practice, in a world of complex relationships, instant communication and constant change.

Many of the ideas behind the mentoring practice within the NAIP programme come from Rineke Smilde’s thoughts on life-long learning and ‘The place of mentoring in Music education’ by Peter Renshaw.


The first questions we can ask ourselves are: Why does a music student need a mentor? Why is it important to move away from the dominant paradigm which defines being a specialist as the most important role? Why does the portfolio career bring in a complex intertwined pallet of professional roles for the modern artist? The legitimising narrative is that our world has changed and is still transforming rapidly due to technology, demographic changes, changes in economic and political domains and social transformation. We find ourselves in complex and ambiguous settings with high degrees of unpredictability and persistent uncertainties. We can no longer take for granted that a strong focus on getting more knowledge and developing skills will lead naturally to a successful career. The new normative professional skill and attitude is to learn to apply obtained knowledge and skill and connect it to a social context. The dominant focus on specialisation and categorisation starts to make room for a network based focus on interconnection and socialisation. New professional roles for the artists emerge. To be successful as an artists begins to demand a skill in connecting to undefined contexts and connecting to others who are in search for meaning, purpose and their own sense of identity. Society inspires artists to step out of the safe, isolated and romantic space of the stage and step into the complex intertwined communities where people find themselves,  and connect professionally to the places where there is an actual need for arts based intervention and arts based inspiration. Mentoring in the higher arts education environment is therefore embedded in this deeper social story. This way, higher arts education institutions respond to the social context by develop curriculum in which the student can find training and inspiration, to deal with the new emerging professional roles wisely and effectively. Curriculum such as the NAIP programme, is developed to provide training for professional musicians in the process of socialisation, moving away from the dominant focus on specialisation.

Mentoring as a module within curriculum

In the NAIP programme, mentoring is a compulsory module, and during the two years of study the NAIP student has a key mentor.

The form of mentoring  is constantly in development. Some institutions emphasise co-mentoring students and group mentoring, while others are focused around a deep connection and relationship with one mentor. This depends on the number of students and faculty, as well as on the outlines, emphasis and learning policies of each institution.

The 10 days of the two-year programme is an Introductory Course where all the students meet in one place, hosted each by the different collaborating institutions.It is a kick-off to the programme, a dive in at the deep end. At the course the students develop projects connected to the local community, and. project based learning takes place. It is during these first days that mentoring is first introduced. The mentoring takes place in groups and individually. During this course, students are often dealing with the turmoil of questioning their identity as musicians and the challenges of collaborations, and therefore the mentoring aspect has proved to be vital. It is a space to reflect and think together.

As mentoring is designed as a module, it has defined learning outcomes and ECTS units attached to it. This requires a careful consideration about how assessment is constructed and about the role of the mentor.