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Building for the future

On Saturday 24 April 2021, we held a free online conference for music professionals, examining key topics including touring, teaching, diversity and working online, and providing future-focused tips and tools to help your professional development.

As the UK navigates its way beyond COVID-19 and Brexit, we examined the future challenges and opportunities for our sector, and explored how music professionals can succeed and thrive in their careers. The day featured fascinating interviews and discussions with fellow artists and industry experts, as well as exceptional musical performances. The day was free to all, and open to both ISM members and non-members.

You can now watch the videos on-demand.

Introduction and opening words

Deborah Annetts, ISM Chief Executive and Professor Chris Collins, ISM President 2020-21

In conversation with Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE

Double bass player, Founder of the Chineke! Foundation, academic and broadcaster Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE explores her career development from performer to entrepreneur, plus her thoughts on the future of the music sector in terms of diversity and inclusion, programming, auditioning and live performance. Chi-chi is interviewed by Programmer, Curator, Producer & Head of Classical Music at Southbank Centre Toks Dada.

Working internationally post-Brexit

Chair: Deborah Annetts (ISM Chief Executive)
Panellists: Andy Corrigan (Founder and Director of Viva la Visa), Ben Papworth (Musical Director, Coach and Piano Vocalist), Ed Lyon (Tenor) and Anna Patalong (Soprano)

Following the UK’s exit from the EU, artists are facing new complexities when travelling to and from the UK. In this session, we provide an update on the latest Brexit developments and what they mean for music professionals, covering visas and work permits, carnets, musical instruments and CITES, cabotage and healthcare.

Teaching music in a post-COVID world

Chair: Pauline Black (Music Education Lecturer, University of Aberdeen)
Panellists: John Robinson (ISM Head of Compliance & Legal), Sharon Mark-Teggart (Co-Founder and Director of The Curious Piano Teachers), Steph Power (Examiner, Composer, Writer, Critic and Chair of Tŷ Cerdd), James Owen Lewis (Risk Adviser, Deloitte LLP)

How has COVID-19 impacted music teachers, and what do they need to consider in order to protect themselves and their pupils? This session, aimed at private and peripatetic music teachers, considered the future of instrumental and vocal teaching in light of the pandemic. It explored health and safety and risk assessment, online teaching and exams, teaching fees, employment status and legal rights.

Incorporating online work into your portfolio career

Chair: Sarah Osborn (ISM Head of Business Development)
Panellists: Hannah Fiddy (Creative Entrepreneur, Consultant and Co-Founder of Alternative Classical), Mike Burgess (Creative, Industry Exec, Educator and Legal Advisor), Laura Bettinson (Producer, DJ and Vocalist), Magnus Mehta (Producer, Composer and Multi-instrumentalist)

COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have forced us all to spend more time online. Our expert panel offered practical advice and tips for performers and composers and songwriters on successful remote working, both during the pandemic and beyond. Find out how to maximise the tech you have available, how to make money in the digital space, and discover new and improved ways of working online.

Closing words and handing over of the Presidential Medal

Final words from the ISM's Presidential Trio: Dr Jeremy Huw Williams (President 2019/20), Professor Chris Collins (President 2020/21) and Deborah Keyser (President 2021/22).

Useful resources


Advice for musicians on COVID-19 regulations in England


Advice for musicians on COVID-19 regulations in Scotland


Advice for musicians on COVID-19 regulations in Wales


Advice for musicians on COVID-19 regulations in Northern Ireland

How to make online real-time music

Bassist John J. Williamson offers an intro to online real-time music (ORM) software. Updated with practical guide for experienced tech users.