Identifying Talent

Identifying Musical Talent and Potential (ITP) exists to make music education fairer and tackles one of the biggest obstacles to talented young people’s musical progress: many teachers have limited experience of how to identify musical potential in the first place. 

Funded by Arts Council England through their Hub Support Programme, this new initial phase will see AYM reach over 1000 teachers across England, exploring the skills they need to spot the next generation of musical talent. 

Copy of Programme area 1
Photo by snaprockandpop
Photo by snaprockandpop

In detail

Identifying Musical Talent and Potential (ITP) exists to make music education fairer. 

We don’t think it’s right that young people with musical potential should be denied the chance to explore and fulfil that potential because they’re from a low income family. ITP is one of AYM’s four programmes, all of which are designed to address this fundamental inequity. If England is to have a truly diverse cultural sector, talent needs to be spotted early, and everywhere.


ITP tackles one of the biggest obstacles to talented young people’s musical progress: many teachers have limited experience of how to identify musical potential in the first place. Primary school class teachers generally have very little musical training, so their limited confidence can be a stumbling block; this inevitably affects their ability to identify young people’s musical potential in their classes. Alongside this, instrumental teachers working as part of the wider Music Education Hub partnerships can focus too much on instrumental proficiency, which can get in the way of them spotting early potential in a child who has never had the opportunity to play an instrument.    

ITP has developed into two strands: face-to-face or online training and a series of online film resources, used within the training and also available online.  The film resources highlight key facets of musical potential: the facilitators use creative musical activities to help teachers identify potential in young people, in a wide range of formal and informal educational contexts. They show how some commonly used group musical activities can challenge what teachers believe they are learning about their group from doing them. 

Photo by snaprockandpop
Photo by snaprockandpop

This initial new phase of ITP expands the programme further, reaching over 1000 teachers by March 2023 and exploring the skills they need to spot the next generation of musical talent. This training will be offered to all Music Education Hubs in England and be delivered by Lead Facilitator Hugh Nankivell, AYM Furthering Talent Programme Manager Neil Phillips and 10 Associate Facilitators. 

For more information about how we developed this programme click here. 

AYM’s Identifying Talent was a perfect start to Lewisham Music’s journey on the Furthering Talent Programme. Hugh delivered a thought-provoking, engaging and inspirational session that was extremely well received by our tutors. It explored exactly what ‘talent’ is, and what music professionals can do to ensure we are spotting talented young people who could benefit from additional support. The analysis of the videos which were shared were particular fascinating.

For a service that does lots of whole class and group teaching, the focus on being able to differentiate between different types of learners will prove useful to our tutors across their work. I would highly recommend the Identifying Talent training session. One of the best training mornings we have had for years.  

Charly Richardson, CEO, Lewisham Music


Updates and resources

Meet our ITP Facilitators (Part 1)

Earlier this spring, we relaunched our acclaimed Identifying Musical Talent and Potential (ITP) training, offering free training to Music Education…

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Awards for Young Musicians receives Arts Council funding to support thousands of teachers in England

We’re excited to announce that Awards for Young Musicians (AYM) has received substantial funding from Arts Council England to expand…

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CPD Questionnaire

Are you a music leader or music manager, working in the UK? Please take a few moments to complete our…

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A teacher’s perspective: Identifying Talent training

My trainer, Hugh Nankivell, was such an inspirational and motivational character. I’ve really enjoyed trying to incorporate his enthusiasm and…

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Spotting facets of musical potential

This resource was developed in partnership with Youth Music. The full resource can also be found on the Youth Music…

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Working with Youth Music to develop ‘Identifying Talent’

In 2008, with support from Youth Music we initiated an action research programme looking at how you could spot musical…

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Our other programmes