My professional life so far:
Chorister, St Mary’s Warwick
Music Scholar, Wellington College
Foundation Scholar, Royal College of Music, London
Organist & Choirmaster, St James’s Church, Muswell Hill
Acting Assistant Director of Music, Channing School, Highgate
Assistant Director of Music, Pangbourne College
Assistant Director of Music, Rugby School
Director of Music, Wycombe Abbey School
Director of Music, Monkton Combe School
Much more importantly though …. I have been extremely lucky in that I have had some wonderful teachers and mentors along the way. For the record, Ethel May, Alan Baker, Paul Trepte, Richard Popplewell and Yu Chun Yee have made me into the teacher and musician who you may now know. I have also worked in some wonderful places where people have entrusted me with responsibility, and their children too!
I started teaching when I was twenty; at the request of his mother, I took on a five year old piano pupil. This was on the clear understanding that they would be parting with £5 per half hour even though I had no previous teaching experience! In next to no time I had hordes of 5 – 7 year old piano pupils, about thirty five in total, including two days in a school.
I learned from day one that you can’t switch off for a single moment when teaching a hyperactive five year old! Teaching very young children is as much about having fun as anything else, and I quickly learned the art of teaching through any means I could find; silly games and surprise seemed to come much, much higher up the list of effective methods than plain (boring) explanation did, and these lessons seemed to stick better too. Many of the silly games and surprises were instigated by the child of course, and by allowing myself to be led down their own avenues of investigation – even if sometimes we both ended up in tears of laughter with little else to show for it – I think I discovered the thing which has been most important to me ever since; for me, at least, teaching is about connecting with people. Infinite patience helps too, of course, as does an awareness of the fact that many five year olds are barking mad!
I don’t think my teaching style has changed much since then; I’m a little wiser perhaps, and know a lot more tricks, and I generally teach older children now. But engaging the pupil comes at the top of my list.
George Bevan, Director of Music, Monkton Senior School