PRIhME Exercises

PRIhME Exercises
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This collection of exercises was created and used at the 4 assemblies of the AEC’s Power Relations in Higher Music Education project. 

Exercises were created and performed by the team of facilitators from 6 higher music education institutions.

We encourage you to use them together with the resources provided on the PRIhME website. These include expert papers, videos, and additional literature.

These exercises can be used in the classroom, at meetings or events. 

When doing so, it is important to mix participants from different departments, be they staff, teachers, or students, though at times, this may be challenging.


Assembly 1

GETTING STARTED - Exercise to make people comfortable about discussing the topic of Power relations

 (10 min)


  • Split the participants into small groups, and ask everyone to say their name and institution (if applicable). 
  • Ask each participant to share a story that is related to power relations. This can be a direct experience or an experience that they have heard from somebody else.

This exercise is a good introduction to building trust among participants. The goal is to help everyone become more comfortable with speaking within the group. It also allows the group to see differences and similarities among shared experiences.

3-2-1 exercise: What is your personal experience with power?

 (7 min)


  • Split the participants into duos and ask them to answer the question What is your personal experience with power?
  • The first participant shares the answer for 3 min, while their partner listens and then repeats for 2 min what (s)he/they has heard. Then the pair can discuss it for 1 minute. Then they change roles.



To make the group more comfortable with sharing experiences and listening to each other. You can use the 3-2-1 exercise for multiple situations.

Robert Chambers Power videos – 2 exercises

(15 min)


  • This exercise draws on the Robert Chamber’s video about different forms of power Power – the elephant in the room.  Link: (access: 15.3.2023.)
  • Show the group the video until 3.56 minutes in.
  • Ask the group to call out words associated with the video and write these words on a white board.
  • Show the rest of the video. 
  • Ask the group to write down their thoughts about the video.
  • Split the participants into small groups and start a discussion using the following questions:

What did Robert Chambers talk about?

What words/phrases caught your attention? Why?

What was your mood at the end of the video?

Did your understanding of power change in any way? If so, in what way?

  • Repeat 3-2-1 exercise and ask the following question:

What is your personal experience with power, and how has this information changed it?


This video will make the participants aware of different types of power. It will enlighten them as to how power can be used both positively and negatively.


Robert Chambers video on types of power – exercise 2 (70 min)

Introduction (5 min)

In further discussion on the video, moderator(s) remind participants of the different types of power distinguished by Robert Chambers in his video Power: the elephant in the room. It might be helpful to have a visual reminder, for example:

Deliberative World Cafe (45 min)

Moderator introduces participants to the democratic deliberation and deliberative world cafe method (7 min).

After that, the moderator indicates that participants will be divided into 4 breakout rooms/tables (depending on the offline or online context): 1. power over; 2. power to; 3. power with; and 4. power within. It is important to give all the rooms/tables correct names before the meeting and enable participants to move by themselves between breakout rooms.

Prior to the meeting, participants have already been put into 4 groups according to their institutional role: a) students; b) teachers; c) leadership team; d) administrative staff. 

The task for all participants in breakout room/tables is to answer the common question from the position of the specific type of power attributed to their breakout room/table. They have 5 minutes to do this, after which they switch to another breakout room/table. The question always remains the same, but the group changes to another room. NOTE: Rotation of groups on Zoom happens in logical order: group from the breakout room 1 goes to the breakout room 2, group from the breakout room 2 goes to 3, 3 to 4, 4 to 1. 

The question/instruction is: Think about the situations at HMEI when you experience/feel this type of power.

For example, in the first round we have a group of students in the breakout room 1 ‘power to’. They are focusing on the ‘power to’ only when answering the question: „As a student, I experience/feel this type of power when…“.

Each breakout room/table has one moderator who writes and summarises the group’s answers and then briefly introduces them to the next group. After each of the four groups has explored the different types of power, all participants return to the main room. Breakout group moderators share the insights into each type of power, focusing on the bigger picture by pinpointing collective discoveries (similarities and differences).


Collaborative Writing and Review (15-20 min)

After summarising insights in the big group, participants return to the first breakout rooms/tables where they began the world cafe method. Together with the moderator, they explore how they might transform the examples of power shared into a form of ‘power to empower.’ Simply put, they are looking to answer this question: What idea(s) from the list can you use to transform/ facilitate empowerment in your HMEI and/or local community? 

For example, the teachers’ group could transform ‘power to’ decide which repertoire/literature is used in the classroom to ‘power to empower’ by asking students to co-create the curriculum by sharing their own resources. 

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to dive deeper into different types of power, to understand their impact, and to connect these with real life institutional contexts and roles.


Collaborative Writing and Review (15-20 min)

After summarising insights in the big group, participants return to the first breakout rooms/tables where they began the world cafe method. Together with the moderator, they explore how they might transform the examples of power shared into a form of ‘power to empower.’ Simply put, they are looking to answer this question: What idea(s) from the list can you use to transform/ facilitate empowerment in your HMEI and/or local community? 

For example, the teachers’ group could transform ‘power to’ decide which repertoire/literature is used in the classroom to ‘power to empower’ by asking students to co-create the curriculum by sharing their own resources. 


AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to dive deeper into different types of power, to understand their impact, and to connect these with real life institutional contexts and roles.

Partners in Crime

(15 min)


  • How can we make the HMEI environment as toxic as possible?
  • Split the participants into groups of 4 and ask them to make a list of all the things one can do to make an environment as toxic/destructive as possible.
  • Ask the group to discuss the examples and compare them to the environment in their current HMEI – are there examples of such behaviors within their own HMEI?
  • Ask each group to give their most toxic example.



This will allow participants to use their imagination and have fun imagining the worst possible scenarios. However, this exercise will also demonstrate how some of the most toxic situations are actually present/occurring in Higher Music Education institutions.

Power Versus Empowerment

(15 min)


  • Show the group the AEC video Power Relations in Higher Music Education  (access: 15.3.2023.) until 6.30 min.
  • Ask each participant to write down one personal experience of empowerment, and what steps they might take to affect change in their institution.

This short exercise will empower participants to think of how they can affect change. This is a warm-up for the next exercise which will involve thinking about ways in which power can be used.
When we watch a video, interview or read something we often use the ORID method to ask questions.


How might we cultivate more empowerment?

(15 min)


  • Speaking from a utopian future, in the year 2050 for example, what are your wildest ideas as to how to shake things up? Split participants into small groups for this exercise. 

  • What can we take from these wild ideas? Is there anything that we can apply today?


This exercise allows the participant to imagine the best case scenario, where anything is possible. This involves a more positive mindset, and some  examples might prove useful in beginning to facilitate change in HMEI.


Feedback session

(15 min)

  • Split the participants into groups and ask the following questions:

What has changed for you in your understanding of power relations?

What would you like to change in your institution?

What is one thing each of us can implement in our institution immediately?

Is there anything you did not get to say, or anything you would like to add?

This is a reflective exercise, which will allow the participants to gather their thoughts and ideas. EXTRA EXERCISE: It might be useful to ask the participants to take a pen and paper and write down the answers to these questions before asking them to share their response, this will give them more time to really reflect on what they learned and what they would like to change in their institutions. 

Assembly 2

Getting Comfortable with Language associated with Gender and Sexual Orientation

(20 min)


  1. Split participants into small groups.
  2. Choose a moderator within the group.
  3. Discuss definitions of these 3 words – Sex / Gender / Sexual Orientation Gendered language in general 
  4. Discuss: Gendered language in music: (for example masculine or feminine themes: pianissimo, dolce; feminine cadence)

For additional information: Share the following link to the Glossary on Power Relations Gender and Sexual Orientation. If meeting in person, have print- outs of the glossary available for participants.

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to enable participants to feel more comfortable with this language.

Acknowledgement of Gender and Sexual Orientation in Music making (30 min)


  1. Split the participants into 7 mixed groups 
  2. Choose a moderator (who will also present later in the big group)
  3. Ask the following questions, and take notes on the discussion:

How has your gender or sexual orientation affected your musical life?

Have your musical skills and competencies ever been undermined/undervalued due to gender and/or sexual orientation? 

Did you ever feel privileged on the basis of (perceived/assumed) gender and/or sexual orientation?

  1. Share highlights with the large group.

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to help the participants understand each other’s experiences in these situations.

Researching Gender and Sexual Orientation

(20 min)


Imagine that the authorities of your institution would like to do some research on situations which include gender related aspects. In order to verify whether the current situation requires any improvements/changes, you must do some research. You will need specific answers. Take 20 minutes to discuss the following questions, with 5 minutes per question.

Questions to discuss: 

What information is needed to get the broadest view of the situation? 

Is there information that might be taboo? 

What information is available already? 

What do these questions suggest about your institution/organisation and its approach to gender and sexual orientation?

  1. Split participants into groups of four (20 min)
  2. Ask the participants to list up to 5 points on information needed.
  3. Take note of their findings

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to help participants better understand the situations in other institutions/organisations, as well as in their own.

A picture of Reality and a picture of Dreams

(35 min)


  • Imagine that you would like to make a description of the situation at your institution in relation to gender, but you don’t know how to put your thoughts into words. Think of other ways to do this.
  • In this exercise you will be asked to draw or visualize the situation in your institution and in your musical society. Answer the following questions by preparing a picture of reality and a picture of dreams. You can either draw a picture or use a mind-map.
  • Then try to put your drawings/mind-maps into words 
  1. A picture of reality
  2. A picture of dreams
  • Principal question: How does gender play a role in your institution? Think of positive and negative examples (Ensure that the participants have access to the questions at all times)

Split the participants into small groups. (6-8 people)


A Picture of Reality: 15 min

  1. How do gender and sexual orientation manifest themselves in music-making in your institution?
  2. How do gender and sexual orientation manifest themselves within your institution?
  3. How do gender and sexual orientation manifest themselves in the industry?

5 min: individual work (draw/visualize) – Create a picture in your mind.

5 min: group work (write down) – Describe the picture through writing

10 min: read out what has been shared and discuss with the group. Feel free to ask the participants to show their picture.


A Picture of Dreams: 15 min

  1. Dream of a better world: what could be done to ensure a fairer future?
  2. What can you see now? What should be done?

5 min: individual work (draw/visualize) – Create a picture in your mind.

5 min: group work (write down) – Describe the picture through writing.

10 min: read out what has been shared and discuss with the group. 

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to enable each participant to visualize their reality and their dream/ideal situation. This is a positive and enlightening exercise which is designed to empower participants to make change. This is particularly effective at the end of a workshop/assembly, as it focuses on making change and creating a better future.

Sense Making - Chatting with the Author

(20 min)


1) Split participants into pairs

2) Tasks for each participant : 

Step 1: List 3 key points from the paper Gender in Higher Music Education by Cecilia Ferm Almqvist and Ann Werner that made you think differently about your work/study environment or which made you want to explore certain topics in greater depth.

Step 2: Formulate 1 question based on the previous step that you would like to ask the author to expand upon or clarify.


Step 3: Share these points and ask your partner your question, considering him/her as author – s/he tries to suggest possible answers.

Step 4. Partners share their questions and discussions with the whole group. 

For additional information: Share the following link to a Glossary Gender and Sexual Orientation. If meeting in person, have print-outs of the glossary available for participants.

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to enable participants to feel more comfortable with the readings about the topic, as well as to think critically and enter into the author’s mindset in a dynamic way. When we watch a video, interview or read something we often use the ORID method to ask questions.

Gender Guessing Game

(10 min) 


Use a Poll format to identify the gender in each anecdote. The best would be to create a quiz in Kahoot App.

Example: create 5 anecdotes of 2 sentences

  • A violin teacher takes a liking to a certain student and helps them to get a scholarship/prizes, in return for a relationship. This teacher changes their chosen student every two years.
    • What’s the gender of the teacher, what’s the gender of the student?
  • A singer leaves the rehearsal room abruptly due to not getting all the attention during a rehearsal. 
    • What’s the gender of the singer?
  • A conducting teacher makes a student’s life miserable and tries to lower their grade, due to the student not agreeing with the teacher’s teaching method.
    • What’s the gender of the teacher, what’s the gender of the student
  • The head of the orchestra is fired by the College Director for allowing themselves to be manipulated into choosing a particular student as  soloist for a concerto performance.  
    • What is the gender of the director?
  • A harp player is asked ‘you’re so small, why don’t you play the piccolo instead?’ 
    • What is the gender of the instrumentalist?
  • A singer is told to take ‘criticism and stop crying’ in a performance class. 
    • What is the gender of the singer?

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to enable participants to recognize their own stereotypes and prejudices. The exercise is also good as an energizer and/or introduction to the gender topic in general.

What Can You Do?

 (45 min) 


  • Break into pairs
  • Each pair is given one example of ungendered stories/narratives/roleplay (sexist, discrimination, abuse, harassment)

Examples – narratives:

Ex. 1. A young teacher was put under pressure from the very beginning by her superior,  the Head of the Department. Even though she had been hired on the basis of a competition, her supervisor insinuated that it was due to his influence, expecting that in return she would be ready to spend the night with him at his apartment. “I thought that maybe I had interpreted something in the wrong way: I looked the wrong way, I acted incorrectly, I thought that it all was because of me –  this was my initial reflex. Only later did I understand this was not so. In order to mentally extract myself from this situation, I used the help of a psychologist”.

Ex. 2. As a teenager, a trombonist kept his homosexuality a secret and tried not to stand out within his peer group. Later, as an adult in the local symphony orchestra, he came out. As a result, he experienced inappropriate jokes and innuendos, and his male colleagues in the brass department behaved in an increasingly „macho“ fashion. The other members of the orchestra did not react, and the trombonist subsequently left the symphony orchestra, ending his musical career. 

 Ex. 3. “When I started playing the double bass all my teachers were men and all their teachers were men. And therefore bigger and taller than me. They taught the same technique that they’ve been taught, and it was totally wrong for me, since I’m not as big or tall as them. It got to the point when I couldn’t play for three months because I had used the wrong technique for a long time.”


  • Each pair discusses these questions: 

(1) As a bystander, how do I respond? 

(2) What do I need to be able to help this person? 

(3) What should the institution provide? 

(4) I could have helped this person if X and Y of the toolbox were in place. 

After 5 min, pairs share their conclusions.

  • The facilitator introduces the  GENUS toolbox and the KEYCHANGE Pledge to assess the situation again. In pairs, participants explore toolboxes.
  • The exercise ends with the final group discussing the system framework  needed to prevent/respond to the situations  described above.

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to empower participants to acquire tools to help them act/respond in similar situations.

Dear Student/Teacher/Staff Member… I'm writing to tell you that…

(30 min) 


This exercise seeks to address gender issues by raising awareness amongst colleagues through the writing of a letter in your institutional capacity. If you are a student, you will write a letter to teachers and/or staff; if you are a teacher, you will write a letter to students and/or staff, and lastly, as a staff member, you will write a letter to students and/or teachers. 

Reflection prompts:

  • Students: How do gender and sexual orientation show up in the classroom? What impact does/has this had on your own artistic journey? How do you think you could better handle potentially inappropriate situations – what tools and support do you need?
  • Teachers: How could you help students to overcome gender stereotypes as musicians? How can the institution open artistic disciplines which suffer from gendered roles? Did you experience a special/specific situation due to gender or sexual orientation?
  • Staff: Does your institution take a transparent approach to issues of gender and sexual orientation? How does your institution address issues related to equal pay (i.e., are men and women paid equally for equal work)? For example, does your institution facilitate paternity leave or job-sharing? 

At the end you can decide what to do with your letter. Ideas: you can keep it for yourself, send it to someone for whom you think it would be useful, rearrange it in a blog post, or post it on social media.

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to empower participants to communicate and take concrete actions within their institutions. For this exercise we used the OTFD Communication Technique as a basis.

Partners in Crime

(20 min) 

Work in pairs:

  • 2 scenarios (pick one): 
    • 1st: A letter from the management: Every concert at the university has to include a composition by a female composer – you discuss it with your colleagues in your institute: why is this IMPOSSIBLE ?
    • 2nd: The academy makes all toilets unisex (all gender): what are your arguments AGAINST it? 

Pairs come together in the group and each pair chooses and shares the worst argument from the scenario.

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To imagine all possible responses that can occur within the institution. The exercise can serve as a good energizer.

Assembly 3

All who have…Step Forward

(10 min)


  • Warm up game to explore difference vs. diversity (fun feeling, good atmosphere …)
  • The participants and moderator stand in a big circle. The Moderator  welcomes the group and explains that s/he/they will make a number of statements. When a participant feels the statement reflects their situation –  ‘yes, this is me’ – they take a step toward the middle of the circle. When a statement does not reflect the participant’s situation – ‘ no, this is not me’- they stay put.
  • Step forward if:
    • You have a birthday in June (or the month you’re holding your session)
    • You are a woman
    • You have relatives abroad
    • You don’t drink coffee
    • You speak more than one language
    • You love music
    • You have not yet stepped forward

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To introduce participants to the topic of inclusion/exclusion through very simple examples we all know. The exercise is a good icebreaker and energizer.

Any Other Questions?

(15 min)


Video: Any Other Questions (Kunstuniversität Linz) (duration: 7:20) (access: 15.3.2023.)

  • introducing and watching the video with the group
  • split the group into mixed groups of 4-5 and discuss the impressions

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE:  to acknowledge what it means to be privileged

How Diverse is your Institution?

(20 min)


  • Split into smaller groups and discuss the following questions:
  1. How diverse is your institution? Consider Him: representation of gender, class & race within departments and disciplines, among faculty, students and admin, or in leadership positions (student union, management)
  2. How is diversity communicated? Think of the ways in which diversity is communicated: in pictures, on the institutional website, in marketing tools, among staff members, members of the rectorate, senate, or department heads,…

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To map the diversity situation in your work/study environment.

Secret Friend (long-term exercise for building group dynamics and open environment)

Just as in the ‘Secret Santa’, the most popular version of this game, this version aims to pair participants and create open spaces which allow participants to feel included and better connected. This could prove especially beneficial for those having just entered the project.

Materials needed: small pieces of paper (for example, post-its)


The protocol of the game:

  1. Moderators write names of all participants and moderators (and anyone else who is there) on small pieces of paper/post-its.
  2. Put all the names in a small bag.
  3. At the start of the first day, each person takes one paper from the bag. Should a participant pull his/her/their own name, he/she/they needs to put it back in the bag and take another one. Each participant is now holding the name of another participant: he/she/they keep this information to themselves.
  4. During the two days of the assembly, the task for each person is to engage in a small act of care for their “secret friend,” thus making this person  feel included and appreciated. The person who does the act of care can choose to keep this secret or introduce himself/herself/themselves to the person on the paper. It is more fun to keep it secret until the very end. Check in number 5 why! 🙂 

Examples of acts of care might be: making a compliment, buying a person a drink/chocolate or some small item as a souvenir of the assembly, leaving a nice message for this person somewhere, having a nice chat and listening to him/her/them, etc.

  1. At the very end of assembly, ask each participant to introduce themselves to their “secret friend.” Some will already have realized who their secret friend is, but some will not. Ask them to share a short reflection about both days; then give each of them a post-it on which to share feedback about the whole assembly. Each participant then places their post-it in the bag from which they took the names of their secret friend on the first day.


AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to strengthen group dynamics and bonding between participants, and to make participants feel connected and included.

Walk & Talk about Disability

 (55 min)


  • As an introduction, show video (14’) Examined life with Judith Butler and SunauraTaylor: (access: 15.3.2023.) Play until 9.29
  • Put participants in pairs and ask them to go for a walk while discussing the following situation:
  • Imagine that you are visually or physically impaired/have learning disabilities/ are neuro-divergent; (‘My brain is wired differently than yours’, dyslexia, on the autism spectrum). How can my institution support my psychological & physical needs?

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: acknowledge and discuss the challenges faced by disabled people through a variety of perspectives. What changes might this suggest in my institution?

Let’s Talk about Invisible!

(60 min)

TED TALK VIDEO  Access Ain’t Inclusion – Anthony Jack (12:42):

(access: 15.3.2023.)


    1. Start by sitting in groups (with the moderator from your institution). 
    2. Introduction by moderator about questions of access, inclusion/exclusion, understanding of social codes
    3. Get the questions on a flipchart and go through them prior to watching  the video
    4. Watch the video together
    5. During the video, participants write/make notes on the flip chart with their ideas/thoughts relative to the different questions. 
  • How does poverty  (socio-economic status) manifest itself at your institution? Per instrument group (for example, brass: working class, strings/piano: bourgeois)
  • Describe the hidden curriculum at your institution.
  • How would you describe the relationship between you and the people at your institution who are in higher positions, those taking decisions regarding your future, Erasmus possibilities, etc.?
  • Are there students and employees in your institutions who can’t go home during school holidays? Does the institution do anything to help them?
  • Do you know of professors at your institution who have succeeded in spite of their background (so, those who didn’t have significant financial resources when they started, for example)?
  • What do you take for granted at your institution?
  1. After the video, ask if the content is clear (1. lecturer’s personal story; 2. poverty, statistics, distinguishing access from inclusion; 3. cultural capital, benefits of connecting with college; 4. hidden curriculum; 5. ‘Lost in translation’ – office hours and connecting with those people at the HMEI in higher positions than yourself; 6. inclusion – exclusion; what if you can’t go home?; 7. the need to move from access to inclusion; 8. What else do we take for granted?)
  2. After clarifying the content, discuss the questions and notes in the different groups:
  • Conclude by giving examples/stories of socio-cultural exclusion and inclusion from your institution, choose one to share with the larger group
  1. After discussing with colleagues from the same institution, return to the plenary. Share the examples of exclusion and inclusion.  

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to  acknowledge the difference between access and inclusion and discuss what inclusion signifies.

What Do You Need to Receive from Others to feel Included? Analysing your own needs

(30 min)


Moderator: ask participants to write down individually on two separate sheets 5 of the most important things that they need from other people to feel included and 5 that make them feel excluded.

When the moderator says: INCLUSION! and then EXCLUSION! Each participant crosses out one from each list that they feel is least important. This process is repeated  8 times until each participant is  left with just 2 of the most important things that make them feel included and excluded. 

Write these on the Post-its and stick on your front and back. Walk around, asking others why this feature is most important to them. Then take your post-its and stick them on the wall under INCLUSION. EXCLUSION. Take a picture of the wall. 

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To acknowledge what makes you feel included or excluded within your study or work environment.


(45 min)


Split up into 6 different (mixed) groups to talk through each of these journeys. Include the steps, obstacles and solutions on sticky notes.

Student Admission/Taking an  audition for admission to a HMEI

  • What steps do I have to take to get admitted?
  • What obstacles could I face?   
  • What solutions might help me on my journey?

You can take any example that’s relevant for your institution, situation, but these are the situations that we’ve used.

… if I am lacking financial support? – group 1

… if I am visually impaired? – group 2

… if I am dyslexic? – group 3

… if I am neurodivergent? (‘My brain is wired differently than yours’) – group 4

… if I am using a wheelchair? – group 5

… if I am coming from abroad – group 6

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to acknowledge possible physical, mental, linguistic, financial challenges facing certain students taking the regular admission test at the HMEI. Discuss potential solutions and gather examples of good practice from different institutions.

Wrapping up the Journey

(60 min)


Visually, use what participants have learned about disability/ableism, diversity/difference, race, gender to define the different journeys that exist for people wanting to study or work at an HMEI, or true are already studying/working at an HMEI. 

Depending on how big you want to make this exercise, plan to take 1 – 2 blocks of 90 minutes. Decide whether this is based on general experience or choose specific profiles representing inclusion/exclusion, depending on prior exercises. 

  1. Define point A (as the journey’s starting point) and point B (as its end point) : Point B = I’m now in the institution, as a student or as a staff member. 
  2. Instruct the group to write on sticky notes the steps the user takes before, between and after the two points: I enter the building for the audition
  3. Collect and put all the sticky notes along the dotted line in the order in which they occur.
  4. Together, discuss each post-it and determine its position along the y axis based on how delightful or frustrating that step is. Define potential obstacles: “I wish I had..” Scenarios: I am a visually impaired student, I am in a wheelchair
  5. Add the problems people might encounter on sticky notes.

The next step is to define how we might tackle this, looking at the most frustrating processes or steps for different groups. 

  1. Collect the most obvious problems, and ask How might we… solve/address this “problem”? Tip: ask yourself if your question allows for a variety of solutions. If it doesn’t, broaden it. You can sort  by theme and vote on the most important questions..
  2. Brainstorm on the solutions (crazy 8ths or another method)
  3. Prioritise according to impact / effort, depending on what is relatively easy to do or what is relatively hard to do. Given these themes, participants may feel some of this is beyond their power (money, societal problems), so it is important to focus on what is doable – power to empower or to become an ally. 

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to map the steps on the journey to entering an HMEI as a student or staff member, and visualize what is needed to get there.

Imagining Being in Another Person's Shoes

(15 min)


  • Work in pairs
  • Choose a role you would like to play: a person at the front desk,, security, staff in The Dean’s office, Dean, IRC, librarian, etc. You are exchanging with a person who is dealing with some challenges,  for example: an incoming student who…. A new teacher from another country… a worker from another institution who has disabilities .  Prepare a list with what you would need to feel included and a list indicating that which would make you feel excluded. 
  • As a pair, write 10 amendments or a code of conduct/ standards for this person. Start by using the words Be/Do/Do not.

As supportive materials you can use: (access: 15.3.2023.)

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To step into someone else’s shoes and think about advocacy as well as possible solutions.

Musical Duos ‘Speed Dating Bands’

(10 min)


  1. On each post-it, moderators write one part of a well-known name from the music business (see proposed names below). 
  2. Moderators stick one post-it paper on the back of each participant.
  3. The task for people with post-its on their back is to try to figure out the other member of their small group (duos, trios, quartets). They look at each other’s backs and ask questions to figure out what is on their own back (the question ‘what is written on my back?’ is forbidden).
  4. When people find their little groups, they sit down together and write recommendations for Assembly 3.

Ideas for ‘post-it musicians’: Johann Sebastian Bach, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sir Elton John, Jesus Christ Superstar, Buena Vista Social Club, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Mike and the Mechanics, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Andrew Lloyd Webber, A C D C (we made a playlist and actually played some of the music while this exercise was going on).

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: This exercise is useful as an icebreaker and/or energizer, for splitting participants into small groups in a fun way.

Assembly 4

Utopia Bridge (exercise on the wall in the classroom)

During our days together, we will think of steps or bricks that can lead our institutions to become stronger, kinder, and more equitable, while also deepening our insights into power relations/hierarchies and their impact. Feel free to indicate topics, suggestions or questions you would like to discuss at the end of the 2nd day to give direction to continuing this work. Use big letters to do so. Put large sheets on the wall


  • What have you learned from this project/journey?
  • What do you most wish for yourself so as to have a happier experience in your institution?
  • Make a wish for future work on this topic.


AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To reflect on the power relations journey and think about future steps.

Walk & Talk

(45 min)


Divide into small groups (3-4). We are going out into the city on a quest for standards. When you return, please bring proof of your journey. The quest is about reflecting on artistic standards and power relations seen from different perspectives. You will be furnished with a list of questions. Explain what you have observed in the application of artistic standards.

  • Take a selfie with your group and post on the common communication platform
  • How do you see artistic standards? / What are artistic standards to you?
  • Identify different perspectives (the performer, the jury member, teachers, etc.)
  • What power imbalances occur? (in concerts, in exam commissions, in auditions)
  • gather data on

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To open a discussion on the subject of artistic standards in an informal way.

Creating Artistic Standards

(45 min)


Introductory VIDEO in the plenary (9’43’’):

  1. The Re-Imagined Arts Standards presented by NAfME – good conceptualisation, though related more to schools (5’55’’)
  2. Artist’s Code of Excellence Revealed – 4 components of excellence: passion, drive, discipline, mindset. (3’48’’)

(access: 15.3.2023.) 

  • Divide participants into 3 groups,  each group has a facilitator  (10’)
  • Questions for discussion:
  • Situation: an (entrance) exam
  • What checkboxes need to be ticked to consider a musician  good or excellent (for different musical genres)? What is a good teacher or an excellent teacher?
  • Create a list of ‘requirements’, or standards, (write them on Google Drive or in some other common space). 
  • Discuss the list of standards. Here are some possible questions (10’):
  • Do these standards matter when you visit a concert? Or in another professional setting? 
  • Who influences these standards: performers, audience, HMEIs, agencies
  • Are certain genres or departments favored in this list?
  • In an exam situation, can you judge fairly/objectively? 
  • sharing insights from smaller groups with the big group (10’). 

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To create a list of artistic standards integrating issues related to power relations and hierarchies of power.

Susanne van Els TED video 'Trusting Students while Teaching Excellence'

 (15 min)


  • Discussion:
    • What did you learn about co-creating excellence with students? 
    • Are there any examples of power relations  and the ‘power to empower’? 
    • What makes a teacher a good teacher? What makes a teacher an  excellent teacher?

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: to re-think the power dynamics between student and teachers based on concrete, real-life examples. When we watch a video, interview or read something we often use the ORID method to ask questions. 

Let's Talk about Assessment

 (30 min)


  • Divide participants into small groups
  • Discuss assessment situations – entrance exams, final exams, if necessary take one assessment situation per group. What is the setup-context-criteria?
    • How do artistic standards come into play? What invisible or non-artistic standards also play a role in assessment?
    • What kind of feedback is given?
    • What power is visible, and what is invisible? What relations do we observe between players, teachers, committee members, and who has the final say?
    • How could a fairer balance of power be guaranteed in the application of artistic standards? Explore.: opera-orchestra-band auditions, teacher certification

AIM OF THIS EXERCISE: To acknowledge assessment situations in relation to power dynamics and envisage possible challenges and solutions.

Additional exercises created and implemented in institutions during the PRIhME project

Privilege Walk in HMEIs


In Assembly 3 we used the Music Privilege Walk exercise (idea  Kendra Preston Leonard): 

(access: 15.3.2023.)

Based on that exercise and the exercise Take a Step Forward from the Compass handbook activity: , we created a privilege walk adapted for higher music education institutions. The exercise has been implemented since the 2021/2022 academic year in the course Musico-pedagogical Topics in Society at the Academy of Music, University of Zagreb.   


Number of participants: 10 – 15

Duration: 25 min

Objective: Are we all equal at HMEI or are some ‘more equal’ than others? In this activity, participants will experience what it looks like to be someone within the institution to which they go every day. The aim of the activity is to raise awareness of social inequalities and unequal opportunities inside and outside the music academy (the Academy viewed as a microcosm of society), to promote compassion for those who are different, and to nurture understanding of the possible (personal) consequences of belonging to certain social minorities or cultural groups.

Materials: (1) role cards; (2) open space (classroom without bench, hallway or outdoor space; (3) hammer paper and ‘chips/coins’ in case of table play).



  1. Create a cozy atmosphere (possibly with music in the background). Alternatively, ask for silence.
  2. Distribute role cards, in no order, to each participant. Tell them to keep them to themselves and not show them to anyone else.
  3. Invite them to sit down and read their roles.
  4. Tell them to start getting into the role. To help them, read some of the following questions (and pause after each question to give participants time to think about that role and life).
  • What was your childhood like? What did your parents do? When did you start making music? What was your musical journey like before coming to the academy?
  • What is your daily life like now? Where do you go, where do you hang out, what do you do in the morning / afternoon / evening?
  • What is your lifestyle? Where do you live? How much money do you have per month? What are you doing in your free time? Are you going somewhere for the holidays?
  • What is your sexual orientation? (choose what you will be for your role)
  • Do you like spending time at the academy? What is the most interesting thing for you at the academy, and what would you like to change?
  • Remember your first visit to the academy. What has changed since then? What does it mean for you to be at the academy today?
  • Is there anything you fear at the academy?


  1. Now ask the participants to be completely quiet and to line up next to each other (as on the starting line). In case the game does not take place in a space, but at a table, give each participant one figurine / token to mark that person – and put them all in the same line on hammer paper.
  2. Tell participants that you will read aloud a list of situations or events. Every time they answer “yes”, they need to take a step forward. Otherwise, they stay where they are.
  3. Read the situations aloud, one at a time. Pause between each statement and give the participants time to take a step forward and look around to see their position in relation to the others.
  4. Finally, invite everyone to look at their final positions. Give them a few minutes to “get out” of the role, before you get together in a large group.



Read aloud the following situations. Allow some time after reading the situation, so that participants can take a step forward and see how much they have moved away from each other.

You do not have any particular financial difficulties.

You live in an apartment that you don’t pay for, with an internet connection and television.

You feel that your family or cultural background is respected and valued.

You are a heterosexual person.

Your family lives in the city where your university is located.

You understand the language in which lectures are held at the academy.

You feel that your opinion on student issues at the academy is important, and that your views are listened to.

You feel that your opinion on issues related to the music profession at the academy is important, and that your views are listened to.

You feel that your opinion on social and political issues at the academy is important, and that your views are listened to.

You feel that the department you are in is important and of good quality.

You feel that at the academy you can change what bothers you.

Other people at the academy consult with you on various issues.

You are confident that your existence at the academy is secure, at least for the next few years.

You know who at the academy you can turn to for advice and help, if needed.

You have never felt discriminated against because of your background.

You have never felt discriminated against because of your gender identity or sexual orientation.

Your social and health care are sufficient for your needs.

You can move within the academy space on your own.

You can travel abroad, supported by the academy to attend a seminar, course or conference.

You can invite friends to your apartment to hang out for a gig.

You have an interesting life and a positive attitude towards your future.

You can choose the content or type of music you will be doing at the academy.

You are not afraid of being harassed or attacked on the street, in the media or on social media.

You can vote in the election for academy management.

You make decisions about the repertoire performed at the academy and choose performances.

  You successfully balance your artistic commitments and needs inside and outside the academy.

You can go to the cinema, theater or to a concert at least once a week.

You are not afraid for the future of your children.

You can buy new clothes at least once every three months.

You can fall in love with whoever you want.

You feel that your professional competencies are valued and respected at the academy.

You feel that your professional competencies are valued and respected in the society in which you live.

You feel like you are in a minority at the academy.



Start by asking participants what happened during this activity and what they thought. Then, move on to talk about the questions that arose and what they learned from them:

  1. How did they feel when they stepped forward, or when they stayed in place?
  2. For those who have often stepped forward – when did they start noticing that others were not moving as fast as they were?
  3. Can the participants guess each other’s roles? (Allow them to reveal their roles in this part of the discussion)
  4. How easy or difficult was it to play these roles? What did they imagine the person they played looked like?
  5. Does this exercise mirror society?
  6. What are the first steps that can be taken to address inequalities within and outside the academy?



At the beginning, in the phase of immersion in the roles, some of the participants may say that they know little about the life of the person they are supposed to play. Tell them that it is not particularly important, that they use their imagination and do the best they can. The strength of this activity lies in the impact of actually seeing the growing distance between the participants, especially at the end, when there is usually a great distance between those who have often stepped forward and those who have not.

During the analysis and evaluation, it is important to explore how much the participants knew about the character whose role was to be played. Was it through personal experience, through other sources of information (books, movies and jokes)? Are they sure that the pictures and information they had about the characters are reliable? In this way, you can present how stereotypes and prejudices work.



You are an Erasmus student from China, an instrumentalist. You are a pregnant 3rd year conducting student, a student council member.
You are a 4th year piano student, blind from birth You are a 45-year-old student who is returning to the 4th year of study after more than 20 years, because your job in the profession is ‘hanging’…. you left school prior to obtaining your degree in order to take this job.
You are a student of musicology who already has a career as the frontman of a popular band – you want to finish your studies only to get your degree. You are the newly elected female Dean of the music academy.
You are a teacher with 20 years of experience at the academy, a successful jazz musician, who has been working unsuccessfully for years to open a jazz studio at the academy. You are a student of the music pedagogy department; you come from a well-known family of musicians and are a member of the student council.
You are a teacher in a department where your colleagues are only men. You are a 1st year student from a small island town, with small economic means.
You are a non-binary singing student. You are a young teaching assistant who immediately after graduating from the academy jumped into the role of teacher and doctoral student.
You are a retired teacher from the academy. You come from a famous family of musicians and you have an enviable performing and pedagogical career behind you. You are a Roma woman and a first-year violin student.


THE AIM OF THIS EXERCISE:  for participants to experience what it feels like to be someone else in their everyday institutional environment. The activity is designed to raise awareness of social inequalities and unequal opportunities both inside and outside the music academy (the Academy seen as a microcosm of society), to promote compassion for others who are different, and to nurture understanding of the possible personal consequences of belonging to certain social minorities or cultural groups.

Discussion Methods

You may want to organise your own meeting and event, with different themes or questions. Perhaps you’ve invited a really interesting guest, or perhaps there is a video that you want to use in your event. In that case, it’s good to know that we used some discussion methods as a basis that often came back when we designed exercises. These methods exist already, so perhaps you already know them!

3 – 2 – 1 exercise

When you work with people who don’t know each other very well, or when you work with different personalities (more quiet or more loud), it makes sense to practice active listening with each other. One of these techniques that specifically works well for duos is called 3-2-1. 


You divide the group you’re working with into duos. Then you ask a relevant (and often personal) question. It can vary from ‘how are you feeling today?’ or ‘what is important in your home’ to ‘what is your personal experience with power relations’. 


  • The first participant shares the answer for 3 min, while their partner listens and then repeats for 2 min what (s)he/they has heard. Then the pair can discuss it for 1 minute. Then they change roles.


If you are in a small group or if you’re gathering experiences, you can ask the listeners to present what they’ve heard to the small group. E.g. if you are using this as an introduction exercise: 

OTFD Commmunication Technique

OTFD is an abbreviation for Observe, Think, Feel, Desire,  and can be used in a situation where you have different perspectives or may even be in conflict with someone. The PRIhME moderators saw this method as a resource tool in the case of very heated discussions. This method is also mentioned in the exercise ‘Dear… I’m writing to tell you that’. 


Here is an article and a PREZI presentation on the OTFD communication technique, or as the article says, Open The Front Door:


ORID questions

ORID is an abbreviation for Observation, Reflection, Interpretation, and Decision, and it stands for the type of questions that can be asked to move a discussion forward by making sense of the different perspectives that exist within a group. They are specifically helpful to analyse a certain situation (perhaps a difficult meeting with sensitive issues and challenging questions), but also to better understand new information. If you’ve watched a film or video, or if you’ve invited an expert, you may use these questions to make sense of what they’ve presented, how you feel about it, and how it applies to your own situation. 


We’ve made questions for exercises in our assemblies based on this method (for example after the video of ‘Access Ain’t Inclusion’ in Assembly 3 and after many expert talks – see the ‘Sense Making – Chatting with the author’ exercise in Assembly 2. We’ve also used it throughout the programme of an assembly as a guideline for the entire event. The first morning may have been about Observation, the afternoon about Reflection and the second day about Interpretation and Decision making – when we came up with the recommendations. Do you recognise the pattern?


Here are two links to the ORID method


World Cafe

The World Cafe method is very well known for group discussions. Set up small tables across the room, where people gather to discuss themes in different rounds. You don’t need facilitators and it’s dynamic for participants. In our sessions, we’ve looked specifically at the world cafes organized by Lyn Carson, an Australian professor with extensive experience and knowledge of deliberation and assemblies. If you are interested in assemblies and the assembly process, by all means check out her work.

Here is the link to the World Cafe Method and how she applies it.


More Methods? 

There are some wonderful websites that have great ideas for workshops and events and sometimes even templates. Here are some that we’ve found: