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IPIA Roundtable Feature Series (Part 2): Anjana Rinne, Paul Whittaker and Roger Wilson

Ahead of our annual ‘Inclusive Practice In Action’ conference (IPIA), we are sitting down to hear from each of our inspirational speakers, learning more about who they are, what they do, and their hopes and intentions for our all-day event on 7 April!

In Part 2 of this exciting ongoing series, we speak to; early years music practitioner, Anjana Rinne; founder of the charity “Music and the Deaf”, Paul Whittaker; and co-founder of Black Lives in Music, Roger Wilson.


Anjana Rinne

I’m Anjana. I have lived in London for 10 years now. I was born in a small town on the island of Sicily and moved with my mum to Germany when I was 4 years old. I moved to England, by myself, when I was 19. I lived with families and in return cleaned their houses and looked after their children. I decided to look for a long term job and started working at a nursery. I fell in love with my now fiancée and ended up working there for 7 years.
In 2019 I became the first person in London to hold the new certificate in early years music education (CME:EC) and it opened up a whole new world.

My partner and I started our own business, months before the pandemic hit. We experienced a lot of inequalities, discrimination, manipulation and Injustices during our time at the nursery which gave us the motivation and drive needed to create a better situation for us. All our work is based around developing music education for children that is diverse, equal and inclusive. We got rid of gender stereotypes, traditional nursery rhymes within our practice and made sure at least half of our musical repertoire was not English. My partner added a wonderful aspect into our sessions by introducing relaxation and breathing techniques. We then realized how important mindfulness was to families and ourselves and this wove into the whole session. Families commented on how different our approach was to the usual music sessions because we were authentic, calm and present. The need for being mindful is within all of us. We are all fighting our own wars within ourselves. By slowing down and allowing ourselves to take a breath, we demonstrate self love which is so valuable, not just for ourselves but our children.

My early childhood was wonderful. Filled with music, imagination, natural play and wonder. It was just my mum and me and other strong females, such as my godmother and grandma. After we had to flee from a traumatic situation when I was 4 years old, they always kept me safe and healthy.
I had a different experience at school. Many years of bullying and feeling stuck, like I didn’t belong, because I wasn’t like them. Bringing people together, exposing families to differences, looking at what makes us unique and celebrating our individuality is what came from this pain. Healing those mental wounds with self care, self love, self acceptance and acceptance of others.


Paul Whittaker

I’m Paul Whittaker, a Deaf musician form West Yorkshire. I was born Deaf yet am passionate about music and for 27 years ran a charity focusing on music and deafness. Since 2015 I’ve been working freelance, leading workshops, doing BSL (British Sign Language) concert and theatre performances, running Sign Language choirs and providing BSL Signed Song resources and support.

I’m also gay and have mental health issues. All of this does create difficulties as I don’t seem to fit the boxes that society wants me to fit into. But individuality is good, and we all need to find our own identities, celebrate what we have and who we are, and if we can change perceptions in the process, great!

I guess my drive comes from being creative, being with people, and encouraging and inspiring others to be the best they can be. It’s not always easy, of course, but the only person who’ll ever stop you from achieving things is yourself, so go for it.

 


Roger Wilson

I have spent all of my career working in music – as a musician, tour manager and educator. I was lucky enough to be a child of free music education. Since those days, I’ve worked right across the industry in different roles and in different genres. My experience helped me to recognise the issues of barriers to progression and discrimination. This led me to cofound Black Lives in Music with friend and colleague, Charisse Beaumont.

I’m passionate about music but also about issues of social justice – how people treat the people around them is crucial to our own wellbeing and sense of self value. Our report last year informed on the existing racial injustice that prevails in the UK music industry. Our organisation focuses on working with partner organisations to help make change and achieve a representative music community in the UK. We gather and work with data such as our report Report » Black Lives in Music (blim.org.uk) [and] we work throughout the UK. We give talks and lead sessions with organisations to improve their understanding and help change their culture in the interests of exemplary inclusive practice. We support and champion developing talent and more generally evangelise for the change that we should all want to see. I’m driven by the itch of discrimination that I have to constantly scratch!


What are your hopes for IPIA?

Anjana:

I’m hoping to be able to share this passion, bring people together and talk about the importance of listening to each other, especially small children. If we listen we can not only hear but see so much.

Paul:

Hopefully people will leave the April 7th event as different people to when they arrived. It’s an opportunity to share, explore, be challenged and get a boost of positivity. See you there!

Roger:

IPIA is important in connecting people and providing a platform for us to share our experiences and learn form each other. I hope that sharing my experiences and thoughts will provide helpful insights for those attending.


A provocation for people to think about ahead of the event?

Anjana:

If we listen we can not only hear but see so much. When was the last time you truly listened to yourself? What do you need? How might taking care of ourselves affect the way we are as a community? And what can we do to take care of each other?

Roger:

Bringing change supports us all, it improves our wellbeing and brings us together as one community – believing that statement is more important than saying it. We’re now all aware of the need to make change. How do we, as individuals translate that to actions?


Find out more about IPIA and each of our inspirational guest speakers here.

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