I’m keen to facilitate different types of sessions through YSWN: expert led sessions from experienced tutors; formal teaching delivered by practitioners developing their skills in teaching; informal knowledge sharing and the promotion of spin-off groups that intend to meet regularly, such as improvisation ensembles (synth, laptop, live coding etc. ) or reading groups.
The idea of the YSWN stems from education research that celebrates informal apprenticeships (see Lucy Green‘s work), the notion of communities of practice (see Lave and Wenger) and my personal experience that informal networks offer valid and valuable opportunities for learning through mentoring and access (see the CollabHub). It is also motivated by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s work on cultural capital, and in particular, relationships between cultural knowledge, power and status and there are plenty of online resources about Bourdieu to enjoy such as this simple explanation on Bourdieu’s field theory. I’m not sure about the monster but it’s a great illustration. Did you see it? Did you?
Anyway, it is not difficult to see these types of capital, fields and habitus when thinking about the music industries. Consider who we associate with particular practices, who the gatekeepers are for access to expensive equipment, who establishes normal and accepted behaviours in these fields? It seems fairly critical, to me at least, that there are numerous cultural and practical deterrents for girls and women, especially when treated differently because of gender. Yes I know, #notallmen…, but anyone interested in challenging me on the evidence might first read the increasing range of accounts such as this from Jessica Hopper, or this from Elissa Stolman, read Jessy McCabe’s petition to represent women in the A-Level music syllabus or perhaps read Tara Roger’s book Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound. I’m tempted to offer a reading list about gender and music technology in education too but don’t worry, it can be made available on request, if you’re curious.
So in the end, 2015 is the year I’m taking action. Following interviews with Expatriarch, Ena of Mint Berlin, female:pressure’s Kaltès and 16 women who work with technology for music/sound in Berlin, I invited them to meet each other and we formed the EQ Network. It is starting to attract new members and I am sad that I can’t attend meetings. Expatriarch really showed me the benefit of mentoring, by facilitating the opportunity for Romanian DJ Boru to receive mentoring from, and a set supporting Gudrun Gut. Mentoring is also a key part of what Paula Temple is accomplishing with her Decon Recon work, collaborating with artists at different stages in their career. Note her noise manifesto.
Supported by evidence that we have not yet accomplished genuine inclusivity (in online forums, in artist bookings, balance of reviews, or in attitudes in certain environments), and inspired by the benefit of informal mentoring, I created the Yorkshire Sound Women Network. To create a network offering both mentoring and access. A place for women and girls to engage unself-consciously in the exploration of sound and music practices. To take risks with technology, talk openly and develop a deeper knowledge at whatever level: Nina teaches us soldering and electronics while developing skills in teaching. I mentor and facilitate while Megan (aged 12) monitors my soldering skills carefully and offers tips.