Speed Sessions

Producers' tool to talk about YAM productions qualified and effectively
1. The Speed Session

As a part of the Blackboard Music Project, the Speed Session model has been developed. The overall idea has been to create a model that can be used as a general tool for producers to talk about YAM productions in an effective and qualified way. Below you can read the thoughts and ideas extracted from the Blackboard patners during the project.

The sessions allow a smaller group of producers at a YAM showcase, festival or session to get together, meet new people and exchange ideas, knowledge and inspiration.

The general aim is to qualify the way producers watch and discuss concert productions; to be process oriented and go more in depth with the productions and what works in the productions; to dig deeper than just “what was good/bad", and in that way extract the joint knowledge of the group. 

Additionally, the speed sessions work as a great starting point for more informal discussions across organisations and nationalities taking place at - for instance - a YAMsession.

A speed session group consists of five to six people including a moderator and a note taker.

2. The Moderator

The moderator role is important and challenging, especially in the longer sessions, and it takes both practice and preparation to become a good moderator.

The moderator has several functions. He/she directs the session and needs to be aware of a range of things along the way. It is the responsibility of the the moderator to

  • keep the time frame set for the session
  • ask the relevant questions related to the given topic
  • make sure that everybody is heard and contributes 
  • get the discussion back on track if it wanders from the point.

In that context, it is important to underline that the speed session is not about establishing a common understanding or consensus of a given concert program. It is also not a forum for debate, but actually quite the opposite, a wide variety of conflicting viewpoints help the participants to better understand the complexities of the concert program. The moderator needs to help the group see these differing viewpoints in a larger context.

Therefore you should consider the following when preparing a session

  • Encourage the use of precise and descriptive language, not vague statements or assertions
  • Start by discussing the strengths of the program, not the weaknesses
  • Drive the discussion forward with questions instead of answers.
  • Sum up the discussion every couple of minutes to create renewed focus on the main topic
  • Focus the discussion on the concert as experienced by the group, not the concert they wish it should or could have been
  • Challenge all participants to explain their assertions (it is not enough to make a statement based on your personal experience or knowledge, everybody must be able to explain what, why or how)
  • Accept different points of view.

- And remember as a general rule: it is the job of the moderator overall to ask the questions, direct the discussion, listen to the group and summarize the topics.

3. The Note Taker

A note taker other than the moderator should be appointed for each group.

The role of the note taker is to make notes that transfer the essence of the discussions properly. 

The notes are compiled and sent to the group afterwards for future reference. The notes can also be posted in the closed YAMspace forum for further discussion/comments in a larger group of producers. 

In that manner, if several groups experience and discuss the same concerts, the notes can benefit all participating producers.

4. The Short Session

The short session is meant as a quick "get viewpoints/aspects out in the open", while the concert experience is still fresh in mind. The session can last 10-15 minutes and therefore easily be adapted to a tight showcase program.

The idea is to select one specific theme or aspect of the concert/s for each short session. The theme should be chosen beforehand allowing the involved producers to be aware of that particular focus point when watching the concerts selected for the session.

The moderator will take one round letting each person in the group get a moment to comment on the chosen theme. 

Focus here should be on being as efficient and quality-oriented as possible in order to extract the knowledge of the group.

Below you can find some themes for inspiration:

  • concert opening
  • concert endings
  • musical interaction with the audience (involving the children actively in the concert - dancing, clapping etc)
  • interplay with the audience (how does the musicians communicate their music, actions, words etc.)
  • the physical setting of the concert and how the musicians use it.
  • magic moments
  • the role of the music in the concert 

If there is enough time, the moderator could take a second round to elaborate further on the theme, or on what has come up during the first round of comments. E.g what would an ideal opening be for you? or what is good interaction with a young audience?

5. The Longer Session

The longer session will usually be 30 minutes or more, which gives the group time to go more into depth with a specific theme, or to talk about one or more concerts using the IAN model as a point of departure.

Here the moderator has a more challenging job in keeping the discussion in place. 

The moderator should prepare for the session in terms of relevant questions for the group.

The following points/questions could be addressed (some of them are already mentioned in the short session):

  • IAN-model intention: what was the artistic intent of the concert, and did the musicians manage to communicate it to the audience?
  • IAN-model ability: the musical and technical ability of the musicians and their ability to communicate this ability.
  • IAN-model necessity: why is this concert important to young audiences (musically, thematically etc), and did the musicians manage to communicate the importance?
  • What was the role of the music in the concert? The role of other things? 
  • International potential - what works across countries and cultures?
  • Was there a clear form in the concert? (intro/outro, dramatic curve etc.) Was it relevant and effective?
  • If you had a couple of hours with the artist/s: what would you do?

Read more about the background for the IAN model here

6. How to get started?

We recommend that a speed session group consists of no more than five to six people. It is better to have two smaller groups than one large. This allows everyone to join in and give their input. The larger the group, the more challenging it will be for the moderator to keep the discussion focused.

As a general rule, it is recommended to meet after 2-3 concerts. In that way different angles and perspectives on the chosen focal point can arise in the session. 

Depending on the time frame available, the session can be short or long. Meet beforehand to choose a moderator and a note taker, to agree on the themes and aspects of the discussion and find a suitable - reasonably quiet - location for the session.

Want to get started? Find sheets for download to print and bring along below.

Grab-and-go short Speed Session
Grab-and-go long Speed Session

Good luck and have fun!

7. Summary

This toolkit article was brought to you by the Blackboard Music Project. The aim is to share and strengthen our joint knowledge around concerts for young audiences. We hope that you have found it interesting and please feel free to drop us a comment to let us know what you think.

Leave a Comment