Page 29 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 29

                                                                                                                                         Music staff are well known for their enthusiasm and dedication, which often extends outside the school gates into involvement in the community through music-making organisations. ISM asked three teachers at Bolton School about their life in music...
  Jonathan Ainscough
Andrea Price
Q. What music-related activities are you involved with outside school? What has been the high-spot of this? What does it add to your teaching?
I play Principal Horn for the Brighouse and Rastrick Band and regularly perform as
a soloist and deliver masterclasses all over the world. Before I began teaching at Bolton I was the Tenor Horn tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music.
It’s very hard to pin point a
high point as there are so many to choose from. Playing at the Commonwealth Observance
Day in Westminster Abbey
and meeting the Queen was
a wonderful experience and getting the opportunity to perform in the Sydney Opera House was incredible, but I also enjoy playing at the Whit Friday Marches in Saddleworth in the wind and rain with my brass band which is at the opposite end of the spectrum.
All these experiences make me
a better music teacher as every experience I have I can share with my pupils and let them know there are no limits to what they can achieve. My mentor always said to me...many are picked but few are chosen... you choose yourself.
Idooddbitsof piano-playing as an accompanist, but most of the rest
of my musical life is tied in with theatre – mainly
theatrical forms in which drama and music are intertwined, like musicals, operas and plays with music. I work across all those forms as a performer, often
in shows that require artists that can act, sing and also
play instruments – one of my favourite jobs in that regard was a production of Sondheim’s
Into the Woods in Manchester
in which all the cast-members doubled as the orchestra, with
my particular tasks involving playing two characters while also performing on piano, accordion and saxophone! I also recently enjoyed playing Franz Schubert
in a play about the composer’s life that toured the UK, although playing horrendously hard Lieder accompaniments in the midst of
a very emotionally-draining play was a bit of an ordeal! I direct operas and musicals around the country, and work for most of
the major UK opera companies on various community and outreach projects. I also lead weekly music and drama workshops for the amazing charity Streetwise Opera, who work with people who have experienced (or are at risk of) homelessness. My latest new adventure has been joining the cast of the Olivier-Award-winning Showstopper!: The Improvised Musical which is literally what it says on the tin – we (a cast and
a band) make up a brand new musical on the spot, based on audience suggestions for setting, content and musical styles. If you’ve never seen a Showstopper show... you really should! There’s nothing else quite like it.
All of the elements of my career influence and develop each other, but, in regards to helping me as a teacher, it would be particularly the community and outreach work I do for opera companies and theatres. The experience of helping people of so many different age-groups, backgrounds, and expectations engage with music and theatre challenges me to be continually creative in how I communicate, how I choose repertoire, how I describe technique, how I introduce people to things they might feel apprehensive about... Also, I would encourage anyone involved in teaching to explore the wonderful world of improvisation, as nothing better prepares you for thinking
on your feet and responding to unexpected circumstances!
The brass band community is very important to me, and aside from playing regularly
in bands, I am also one of the percussion tutors of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. I am still a freelance performer; I love the buzz of being part of an ensemble and am very fortunate to have been able to travel the world as a percussionist. However; in recent years, composing seems to have taken over, and I am spending more time writing music and am
in greater demand as a composer. My latest brass band composition
will be premiered in Japan in April, and I will be heading over to Osaka to conduct the premiere during the Easter break.
There have been so many highlights including my time in Africa, tours to Australia, Japan, New York, Europe, and so many amazing venues; Sydney Opera House, Wembley Stadium, The Royal Albert Hall; my twenties were quite a whirlwind! Quite simply, I know that without music, I would not have what I have, or be what I am – and so I spend my time trying
to unlock musical potential in the young people in my care. Perhaps one of them, one day, will also have an unexpectedly amazing life thanks to music.
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