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Music Students Shadowing Their Role Models at Work

The job shadowing project gives the students at the Norwegian Academy of Music an opportunity to visit a former student in her or his current job. The goal is for students to gain insight into the work situation of one of their role models and to strengthen contact between the professional field and the education community.

The job shadowing project is inspired by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) alumni work and got started when NOKUT offered the Centers for Excellence in Higher Education NOK 50,000 as grants for student-run projects. The goal of the grants is to get the students invested in their own learning and education. The job shadowing project at the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH) is therefore student-run, and is funded by NOKUT and CEMPE.

– The call for proposals encouraged us to develop a project in cooperation with the Student Committee, says Jon Helge Sætre, Centre Director of CEMPE. He underlines that CEMPE adds extra money to the pot to give the students enough space.

Contact between the professional field and the education community

The white paper on quality in higher education (Quality Culture in Higher Education), emphasises the importance of students receiving an education that is relevant to working life and that trains them to be flexible, reflective, critical and socially aware professionals. Job shadowing can give students valuable experience of what is required in their field in today's society, but can also contribute to important experience from working life being brought back to NMH as an educational institution.

– The project is a good contribution to CEMPE’s work on giving the students an education that prepares them for a labour market that is continuously changing, precisely because it is about meeting the real world out there. Job shadowing complements our work on strengthening and expanding the students’ practical training opportunities, but will to a larger extend focus on the informal meeting with a professional, says Sætre.

Guro Utne Salvesen, Master's student in Voice and Vocal Studies at NMH and former Vice President of the Student Committee, is responsible for the job shadowing project.

Shadowing a freelance singer with Europe as her workplace

Guro Utne Salvesen is a master’s student in Voice and Vocal Studies at NMH, Vice President of the Student Committee, and has chief responsibility for the project. She will be the first to test job shadowing in practice.

– I look forward to seeing how someone handles life as a freelancer after a few years' experience. I hope to have inspiring conversations and hear about how the former student worked during her studies and in the following years to get ahead and make a name for herself – and get a job. I think this will trigger a thought process that can help me to study in a more targeted manner, says Salvesen.

Salvesen will be shadowing singer and former NMH student Tora Augestad, who has studied in both Oslo and Germany. For the past ten years, she has been working 40–70% of a full-time position outside Norway, and calls herself a freelancer with all of Europe as her workplace.

Excited about visits from students

Augestad takes a positive view of students being given a chance to gain some insight into workplaces that are unfamiliar to them, for example musical theatre, which is something she herself has worked a lot with. Augestad also points out that very few people work as full-time freelance singers in Norway, and that it can be a good idea for students to familiarize themselves with professional life.

– I think I can contribute, among other things, by deglamourising professional life. I make a living as a soloist, which not many people do. So I think that this project is partly about portraying the real picture. At the same time, I think I can contribute by showing that there are many ways of being a musician. This is not just one profession, it is multifaceted. Augestad is excited about receiving visits from current students.

–Perhaps I can learn to appreciate things about the profession that I’ve become blind to. By being asked questions that might seem banal, I can reflect on issues I’ve started taking for granted, she says.

Expanding their horizon

One important part of the project is to give the students a sense of ownership of their own education and, not least, the possibility to exert more influence over the educational institution by providing input on how the content of the study programmes tally with the needs of the professional field. Salvesen believes that the project can expand students’ horizons and inform them about the possibilities in the labour market.

– Many students have clear ideas about where they want to go, but I think that the music industry has lots more to offer than many students are aware of. I also believe this will make it easier for students to come into contact with working life both during and after their studies, because it will seem less scary to reach out. It’s very important that there are close ties between NMH and the music industry, and I think this project is a big step in the right direction!

Education that prepares students for the real world

Augestad looks forward to having someone shadow her in her job and thinks that NMH alumni can make important contributions.

– I think that modern music life depends on an education hat prepares students for the real world. Life as a musician today requires enormous flexibility. Having students shadow performers who demonstrate great flexibility in their work can compensate for a lack of flexibility in music education, Augestad concludes.

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