Jane Cook and Chris Brannick

Jane Cook, professional coach, and Chris Brannick, percussion professor at the Guildhall School, reflect on the power of coaching models as an addition to our toolbox in conservatoire teaching. Please add your comments in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

The teacher as coach; finding inspiration and resilience in a conversation

‘She’s a talented musician, but we just don’t seem to see eye to eye…’

‘I can’t understand how someone so gifted can have so little confidence…’

‘It’s as if his motivation has stalled… he’s so easily distracted…’

Do any of these seem familiar to you as a teacher or mentor? What about,

‘She just seems to want me to tell her what to do. Why can’t she make decisions for herself?

jane cook blog 1Coaching is a tremendously exciting and rewarding approach to teaching that has brought new creativity, energy and focus to a wide range of problems we face every day in our teaching and mentoring roles. The Guildhall School of Music & Drama is now in the third year of a project to embed coaching into the learning and teaching process.

Currently 44 professors from across the conservatoire are involved, including 6 now studying for a post-graduate diploma in coaching and mentoring.

Coaching is deceptively simple – it’s basically just having a conversation – but surprisingly nuanced, with a wide variety of systems and procedures that can unlock most of the obstructions to development of our ‘best possible selves’.

So what does coaching do? Essentially it is about bridging the gap between potential and performance.

  • it encompasses a series of strategies and techniques used to develop the resourcefulness within the student or client;
  • it stimulates creative thinking and open mindedness;
  • the client takes part fully in resolving issues and making changes in behaviour or attitudes;
  • he or she develops long term resilience and self-sufficiency.

Light bulb moments and behavioural change come from carefully chosen questions, while self-limiting beliefs can be tackled at source, freeing students (and ourselves) to make better use of the skills and talents we already have.

The teaching on the coaching project is very practical. We learn skills and techniques by working on genuine problems and always leave the workshops energised and with new ideas to use.

The following are examples of where a coaching technique has helped us work more effectively with our students (all names have been changed):

Case study 1

Case study 2

Case study 3
At the Guildhall we are seeing some real differences in the outcomes for our students and are continuing to embed coaching within our teaching structure and mentoring practice. The project is continuing into 2015-16 and next year we are hoping to be able to invite colleagues from other conservatoires to join us.

Chris Brannick and Jane Cook from the Guildhall Coaching Project.

Jane Cook: jane.cook@lindenlearning.org

Previously a headteacher and an Assistant Director in the Department for Education, Jane is now a full time coach and trainer of coaches.


Chris Brannick: cbrannick@me.com

A percussionist and writer, Chris has focussed his performing energies on chamber and contemporary music. As a coach he has been trained by Jane.


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