Tileyard Education Harry Leckstein

Tileyard Education MD Harry Leckstein on building a unique learning hub: ‘The industry connectivity and the live briefs is what everyone comes for’

Harry Leckstein, Managing Director at Tileyard Education speaks to Audio Media International about the company’s unique learning opportunities and what’s coming next…

Can you tell us what Tileyard Education does and how it all started?
Tileyard Education is a postgraduate and professional training company that sits within the Tileyard group of companies. I first met the Tileyard guys in 2015, set up the company up in 2016, and then took on our first students in 2017. 

I previously ran a National Youth Music social enterprise called Urban Collective and I’d also written modules and degrees for music colleges before. I’d written the outline for a Master’s in Music Business that’s like a MBA for the music and entertainment industry, and I was very keen for it to be taught in a place where the industry were, as opposed to an institution. A friend pointed me towards Tileyard and they suggested running multiple courses, rather than just one. I was brought on board as MD and we’ve been going ever since.

What courses does Tileyard Education offer?
We have two university validating partners – Nottingham Trent University and University of Wales Trinity St David and our courses include five full-time one-year Master’s degrees. People don’t always realise that you can actually do a Master’s if you have three or more years experience in any of the creative industries. And those three years don’t need to be consecutive. 

We also run short courses and we’re also planning a hybrid between 10 weeks of online learning followed by a writing camp in Singapore and Bangkok aimed at the Southeast Asian market. The students can study with the UK people online but then we actually fly out and meet them all and do a camp out there.

What makes Tileyard Education unique?
The industry connectivity and the live briefs is what everyone comes for. It’s a great Master’s and we’ve got some amazing tutors, a lot of whom are professional practitioners based at Tileyard. Being in and around the industry gives you a natural flavour for how things are running, so you stay at the forefront of it and also connect with people in the industry.

What is the biggest challenge in music education at the moment?
Dealing with the fallout of Brexit – it’s a lot more challenging for the European students and international students to try and come here. Most of our students come from within the UK just because we’re a young company but for lots of large music education organisations, students from outside the UK make up around 30 to 35% of their student base, so that’s a massive dent. 

And if those companies don’t make it, that’s a problem because it’s a symbiotic relationship – they recommend us, and we recommend students to them if they’re not quite ready for the MA.

Do you have any initiatives that promote diversity and support people from underrepresented backgrounds?
Absolutely. We work really closely with a lot of the agencies on that front, from Help Musicians and the MOBOs to Shesaidso and Creative UK. We’re constantly running programmes in this area – we actually just put in a collaborative bid to the Wakefield community regeneration fund with the Hepworth Gallery for a collaborative arts project.

We have a scholarship and bursary scheme – Spitfire Audio provides a full-fee scholarship to a student every year. And we have seven bursaries worth either £3000 in cash or equipment – thanks to Autonomy, Key Productions, Tileyard Music, Aston microphones,  Focusrite, Yamaha Arturia and Adam Audio.

Was Tileyard Education already set up for online learning before the pandemic?
Yes, in fact, we’d just launched. We’d spent about nine months prior to the pandemic building out our online learning platform Beebop. We’d fully tested it and had our first cohort on it when the pandemic started and then suddenly we had to get everybody on it.

What I love about bebop is that we have just one student login for one hub where everything happens. Previous students had to work across four or five external platforms which meant quite a bit of dropout and people not arriving on time. As we’d done all this work on Beebop prior to the pandemic, we got everyone online quickly and we’ve had very, very little dropout

Do you think that live-streamed gigs are here to stay?
Not for me – I do about 13 Zooms a day so the last thing I want after the day’s finished is to stay on Zoom! I hope we’ll come back to dancing around at live gigs as soon as possible.

What albums or artists are you listening to at the moment?
A whole range of stuff – Cory Wong – he’s amazing, The Saints, Linda Lewis, Greta Van Fleet…a bit of The Stooges and The Guess Who. The new Tiggs Da Author album is incredible – and he’s on Tileyard Music. I also just got a really good David Crosby original on Atlantic.

What’s next on the agenda for Tileyard Education?
We’re launching a new Tileyard Education centre in Wakefield [in West Yorkshire in the north of England] which is an incredibly creative place that has been largely overlooked in favour of places like Manchester and Leeds. We’re partnered with Creative England for a series of free webinars and we’re also doing our first writing camp up there in August.

We’re also making our first footing into what’s called BA Entry which is basically the last year of a degree. If you’ve done two years at university or private college then you might want to transfer to us to get the best out of that career path stuff that you do in your final year. We’re starting that in September for Production, and they’ll be the equivalent for each of our Master subjects at some point in the future as well.

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