Connecting young people with sound opportunities


In conversation: Annie Wilkins and Becky Lund tell us all about AMP Generators

AMP Generators is our new project, in partnership with Brass Bands England and Shepherd Group Brass Band.

This new placement for young women conductors will see Annie Wilkins and Becky Lund mentored as conductors over the next six months by leading baritone horn soloist and conductor Katrina Marzella. We thought Annie and Becky would be the best people to tell us all about this new project, so they have interviewed each other to discuss why the project is so important.

Becky Lund: What do you think the barriers are to being a female conductor and how do you think this program might change that?

Annie Wilkins: I think the challenge to be a female conductor is a lot about what people’s perception of a conductor is. So many people just imagine a man as a conductor, there is a bit of a surprise to see a female conductor and that kind of passive barrier makes it really difficult. I’m dealing with that surprise every time. I think this programme is just going to open people’s eyes so other young women who want to get into conducting can see the opportunities that are available, and that it is something that they can do. And also for people who are already in banding, just getting a little bit more used to seeing a woman conducting the band.

Annie: How did you first get into conducting?

Becky: I first got into it actually, I was at a university brass band camp and they decided one year to run a conducting workshop. So I decided to sign up for the smaller group one which was led by Brett Baker. We basically each just got a few minutes to take a piece and he gave us a little bit of feedback on what we did. I think that’s what really got me into it, then I went back to uni with a bit more confidence to actually try it out and I started conducting the uni band last year.

Becky: What do you enjoy most about conducting?

Annie: I really enjoy being able to influence all the parts of the music because when you’re playing in a band, you can only really have control over what you’re doing or maybe some influence in your section. But, as the conductor, you get to really interact with the whole band and influence all the aspects of the music. That’s a lot of fun, to be able to get that connection with everyone in the band.

Becky: Yeah!

Annie: Why do you think opportunities like this are important for women in banding?

Becky: I think there’s a real lack of diversity in banding. And I think, a really basic thing, but exposure. It’s quite a lot of exposure, this. And just as you said earlier, other people seeing that this is happening might give them the confidence to go, yeah, I can do that. I can be a female conductor or whatever. Or just even pick up an instrument in a band, which can be quite daunting sometimes. I think also, if more of these sorts of programmes happen, then maybe more female role models can come out of them, and again, encourage the younger generation to go into it.

Annie: Yeah, definitely.

Becky: What are your ambitions following this programme?

Annie: I’m hoping to really improve my technical skills as a conductor over the programme and to be able to take those back with me to the band I conduct at the moment. And all my skills in rehearsal, management and things, to improve those. In the long term, I would like to work with some high level bands at some point in my career. And I’m excited to kind of see what other opportunities and connections that I’m able to make during the programme, with all the different people that we’re going to meet.

Annie: And what are you most looking forward to in the programme?

Becky: The obvious thing is being mentored by Katrina. It’s a massive thing, and I think that’s going to be great. Not just for my conducting, but also leadership generally standing in front of the band, how you carry yourself. But the thing I’m looking forward to most is actually the range of ensembles and musicians that we’re going to get to work with. Because I think we’ve now got what four different bands booked in. And I just think that that’ll be really valuable, getting that experience of different standards and exploring different repertoire with the different groups.

Thanks to Becky and Annie! We’re looking forward to bringing you more news of their progress in AMP Generators.

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