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For this issue, we spoke to Mrs Coles, asking her about her musical and teaching careers and how they fused together for her current role here at BH Junior School.
Could you please tell us about the start of your career path?
I initially studied for a Law degree at Girton College, Cambridge University. I had decided, before university that I wanted to take a vocational degree that would enable me to pursue a career with progression and prospects. However, I realised that Law wasn’t for me and I needed to find something else, preferably applying my love of music.
Your love of music really benefits our girls, what musical instruments do you play?
I am a pianist and also sing.
I began playing the piano at aged 4 after being envious of my elder sisters both playing. I asked their teacher when would she start to teach me and she said: “once you have learnt to read, write and count” so, with determination, I went back to her once I could read, write and count (around aged 4) and asked her, again, to teach me. This time she agreed and I have been playing ever since!
I gained my Piano teaching qualification whilst working at Queen’s College.
I was a chorister whilst at university, regularly singing in the Chapel and was fortunate to travel and perform in many fabulous countries including: Thailand, Malaysia, Switzerland and Ireland; and singing in wonderful venues such as Westminster Abbey and Yorkminster Cathedral.
I also play the cello.
You began your teaching career at Queen’s College Prep. School, Kensington; could you tell us a little about your time there.
I started at Queen’s Prep. working in the Admissions Team but covering the existing Music teacher when she was unable to teach. During that time, I completed my QTS teaching qualification.
This led me to teaching music part-time and then to becoming Head of Music at the school.
When did you join us here at BHS?
I joined Blackheath High Junior School in 2011 and have never looked back!
What do you currently teach?
I currently teach a Year 5 class of delightful girls and teach Music to girls from Reception through to Year 6.
I run the Chamber Choir which comprises girls in Year 5 and Year 6 and we are delighted to have been selected for the national finals in TWO competitions next week – The GDST Junior Choir Competition and the Dr Barnado’s Junior Choir of the Year Competition. Both of which are taking place in prestigious venues in central London: Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square and The Royal Festival Hall. We are very excited, please follow us on twitter (@rcoles8 and @blackheathhigh) to share the experience!
For girls in EYFS and Key Stage 1, music lessons comprise of learning music skills through movement and the use of our extensive range of percussion instruments.
In Key Stage 2, girls study History of Music, learn how to read music and enjoy lots of singing practise!
We have an abundance of opportunities for girls to sing and play their instruments, including: Chamber Choir for Year 5 and Year 6, the Key Stage 2 Choir, ‘Minims’ for Year 2 and Year 3 plus a popular orchestra for girls in Key stage 2. We now have 35 members!
We are also very excited that a well renowned trumpet player will be joining our school community to develop a Brass Section.
Plus we are very fortunate to have many peripatetic musicians teaching over 200 lessons per week to our students covering a huge range of instruments!
You are obviously very busy working inside school, but what do you enjoy doing outside of teaching?
I really enjoy running and have ran three London Marathons.
We have a piano at home and I play as much as I can. My daughter, Isla, is now at our Nursery and I look forward to seeing if she too develops a love of music.
What makes working here at BHJS so rewarding and enjoyable?
It is impossible to have a bad day here – it is a real pleasure working with such a supportive, passionate team of people and children. The girls constantly amaze and enthral me. We really do have a great, aspiring team and I’m delighted that my daughter is now benefitting from a BHJS education. I also love working with Emily Gunton (Director of Music) - she is a real inspiration.