Gillian Earl (Honorary President) studied at the Royal Academy of Music. She spent fifteen years in Winchester in charge of singing at St Swithun’s School and was the organist at the Cathedral. She now teaches piano in Cornwall. She has attended three International Seminars in Kecskemét and holds the Diploma of the BKA (Adv) and their CKME. She has tutored for the BKA, given lectures in many parts of the UK and also at the EPTA International Conference in Budapest, 2000 and the OAKE National Conference, San Francisco, 2004. She is the author of With Music in Mind, a founder member of the BKA, former Chairman and its current President.
Sally Edwards (Membership)
Sally writes: I was born in the Far East and grew up in Lincolnshire and Suffolk where my brothers and I were founder members of one of the very first County Youth Orchestras in the country.
Music was always in my background, my mother a very talented amateur musician, and I turned to music as a career while studying on a post A level music course – tutor: that young unknown lecturer, Christopher Hogwood. I studied at RCM doing flute as first study and then at London University under Keith Swanwick for a Music Teachers Certificate.
I have taught at the same independent school in Hertfordshire all my career holding a succession of different posts so that I could continue teaching while my children were small.
Once my son had decided that he wanted to be a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral, I took a full time post in the Junior Department with a class of 15 seven year olds. Then followed several years of great fun with lovely colleagues before the National Curriculum took hold.
Singing has always been my favourite form of music making and my main memories of RCM are Choral Class with Vernon Handley and Bach with Denys Darlow. Subsequently I have preferred to sing in chamber groups and now after a week of sessions with Jeannette in summer of 2012, I am now taking lessons with Eleanor Meynell.
I run three choirs at school at the moment and we been regular Music for Youth participants including three invitations to the National Festival, firstly at the QEH and more recently at Birmingham Symphony Hall. As a school we have given concerts at St John’s Smith Square and the Barbican Hall.
I did not discover the BKA until about 8 years ago when I attended my first Summer School in Leicester. At about the same time I discovered Lucinda Georghan and her ‘Singing Games and Rhymes for Early Years’ at a Singposium on the South Bank. What a revelation! Lucinda, my saviour! All my questions answered! It was now possible to enjoy a lesson with Reception and not finish up in a heap on the floor!
Over the last 3 years I have been a regular attender at courses and now wild horses couldn’t drag me away.
Will writes: Growing up my life was full of piano lessons, ‘cello lessons, orchestral playing, church choirs, school choirs, even making and playing bamboo pipes with the Piper’s Guild, and I taught myself the basic chords on a guitar, too. Despite this childhood rich in musical experience I was not drawn to what I saw as the unexciting world of ‘classical’ music. I did not do music ‘A’ level or pursue music at university level.
Music remained part of my life in various ways but it wasn’t until I began working as a primary school teacher in 2001 that I began to draw on my instrumental and singing background. This led to becoming a primary music specialist in 2010. I chose to attend the BKA Summer Course and decided at once to join the BKA and pursue this approach to music education.
I am now the full-time music teacher at a large state primary school – Manorfield Primary in London E14. I find this school inspiring because it insists on developing the whole child; good grades are not the purpose of the school; they are the happy outcome of a thriving educational environment. I enjoy making links with other schools and organisations that also think about teaching and learning in this way. I am keen to put my school on the map as a musical school.
I have just begun teaching a third year ‘module’ about music teaching to some students at the London Centre of Contemporary Music. I enjoy this very much. I am hoping to work towards being a BKA Elementary Musicianship tutor and am excited to become a BKA Trustee.
Cyrilla gained a Bachelor of Education degree and then was a class teacher in First and Primary Schools for eleven years. During this time she became increasingly interested in the approach to music education pioneered and developed by the Hungarian composer and educator Zoltán Kodály, and subsequently attended many courses including Summer Schools in Britain and Hungary. She obtained the British Kodály Academy’s Advanced Musicianship Diploma with Distinction in 1991.
Since then Cyrilla has taught the Elementary and Intermediate Level year courses for the BKA and has taught solfège, methodology and conducting on BKA Summer Schools. She teaches in primary schools and on the String Training Programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Cyrilla has run courses around the country for organisations including the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, The Dalcroze Society, the Shrewsbury Opera Project and for various schools and LEAs, including a year-long project in Barnsley and helping to plan a pre-instrumental musicianship course for children on the Isle of Man. She was the first advisory teacher for the Voices Foundation.
Her latest projects are writing the ‘Jolly Music’ scheme with David Vinden and hoping to set up the first ‘British Kodály School’. She is also working collaboratively on a Kodály syllabus and curriculum for use in the UK.
Cyrilla has run a large junior age choir who won the Bromley Music Festival in 2000 with a high distinction mark of 96. The most experienced members of the choir performed both at the Royal Festival Hall in the Music for Youth Choral Day and at the Royal Albert Hall as part of a 500-strong Bromley choir at the 2002 Schools’ Prom. They performed many times at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon, supporting the Band of the White Russian Army and the Croydon Philharmonic Choir.
Cyrilla is available to run training courses for schools, LEAs and other organisations.
Cyrilla writes: Having been spectacularly mediocre at learning to play the piano as a child, I grew up with the unshakeable belief that I was ‘not musical’.Music was an almost alien foreign language to me – I didn’t play well, I couldn’t sight-sing, I couldn’t hear intervals, I didn’t know how to even start dictation, chords and harmony were mathematical puzzles and my understanding of rhythm was almost non-existent. I trained as a primary teacher and we did hardly any music on my course.I do remember one day a tutor saying, ‘Orff is rhythm and Kodály is pitch’, but he never elaborated!
I had been teaching for two years when I was asked to be music co-ordinator – I said yes because I would earn more money! I was then faced with classes of children to whom I had to teach music and not the faintest clue how to start. I remember thinking,’There must be something more you can DO with a song besides just sing it…’. Eventually my head teacher took pity on this poor struggling wretch and pointed me in the direction of a Kodály course. I did a six week course (Monday afternoons) with Cecilia Vajda (also on this same course was Mary Place!) and my world started to change.
My whole Kodály journey has been a slow and steady one, but one in which so many light bulbs went off. If I had been told, at the age of 23 that I would end up teaching only music, I would have laughed because music had no real place in my life and it was something at which I was only, at best, mediocre. Ah – the power of Kodály! This is why I am hooked – for life! Kodály has been a true Road to Damascus experience for me – it unlocked all this music inside me that I didn’t know was there.And if it can do it for me – then it can do it for anyone.
I am delighted to be a BKA Trustee and to be part of an organisation which I hope will continue to thrive, grow and adapt – and become a true force to be reckoned with in music education in the 21st century!
Alan writes: I was born in N Ireland and my early musical training was in the local brass band. After music studies at Queen’s University Belfast, I taught in Belfast before moving to South London in 1988 where I concentrated on choral work in the John Fisher Comprehensive School.
I revived my interest in Kodály education, which I first encountered at London University, Institute of Education, with Cecilia Vajda, eventually completing an advanced course with Cecilia and attending Summer seminars regularly in Hungary and England. The Chapel Choir of boys in my school is one of the best known school choirs in the UK, getting into the finals many times of National competitions. The Boys’ Choir section reached the semi finals of the BBC’s Choir of the Year competition in 2000; achieved the “outstanding performance” award in the National Festival of Music for Youth in 2002; a “highly commended performance” award in 2004; finalist of the BBC Songs of Praise Choir of the Year 2006 and final six of the BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year 2008. This year the boys and mixed voice choirs were both South of England Area section winners of the BBC Choir of the Year. The school’s choral society has performed many of the major choral works like the Fauré Requiem, Mozart Requiem, Handel Messiah, Verdi Requiem, Britten War Requiem, Haydn Creation and Walton Belshazzar’s Feast and Louis Vierne’s setting of the Mass. I have just retired from class teaching to enable me to further teach Kodály methodology in more schools and in the community.
John Oliver (Treasurer)
John writes: Until the 2011 AGM my connection with the BKA was through Margaret to whom for several years I have given behind-the-scenes assistance, particularly on the administrative and financial aspects of the Bookstore operation.
Now, having been elected Treasurer, I am much more directly involved, putting to more intensive use my experience of administration gained in a long career with a large industrial company. My “retirement” was already a very busy one with family activities involving much time and travelling – these of course will continue as also I hope, will opportunities to experience and learn more about music, and especially to keep up the choral singing which has been a major enthusiasm of mine for as long as I can remember. It is particularly from that angle, and from having shared with Margaret the priority given in her professional life to music and music teaching, that I am now looking forward to making my own contribution as a BKA Trustee.
Margaret Oliver (Chairman and Bookstore)
After reading music at Durham University, Margaret taught music in secondary schools. Subsequently, having retrained and qualified as a Montessori teacher, she worked for 23 years across the curriculum in a Montessori school (nursery & infants) with special responsibility for music there, as well as giving private music lessons. Though retired from teaching now, she continues to pursue her love of singing.
A BKA member since 1994, Margaret has served as a Trustee and on the Communications Committee since 2006. She has chaired that Committee since November 2008, and also continues to look after the sale of books.
Margaret writes: After reading music at Durham University, I taught music in secondary schools. Subsequently, having retrained and qualified as a Montessori teacher, I worked for 23 years across the curriculum in a Montessori school (nursery & infants) with special responsibility for music there, as well as giving private music lessons. Though retired from teaching now, I continue to pursue my love of singing. I remember that, when I was a schoolgirl, every music lesson began with sight singing to solfa. It was a great revelation when, not long after completing my Montessori training, I was sent to an Easter course advertised as “An Introduction to Kodály, Dalcroze and Orff”. Everything fitted into place and I subsequently became a BKA member.
I have been a Trustee and on the Communications Committee since 2006 and have chaired that Committee since November 2008. I look after the sale of books and enjoy advising people on which BKA resources may be suited to their needs, books and music being such an important part of my own life.
Nicky writes: How do I recollect my early musical experiences? My grandfather loved music and had a large collection of 78 records played on a scratchy old phonogram, and church and school both provided lots of opportunities to sing; in school mainly from ‘Time and Tune’, a BBC Schools Radio broadcast. I started learning to play the piano and later the cello; I continued to sing and aspired to a career in music; but there I hit a stumbling-block. I had to write Renaissance-style polyphony – but what was a mode? I had to notate melodies, harmonies and note-clusters but ended up surrounded by the pathetic remains of my eraser whilst the person next to me was writing in pen because they could ‘just do it’!
My first BKA Summer School was in 1996 and I was in Sarolta Platthy’s group. The ‘light bulb moments’ could have illuminated the room. Not only that, the structure of the lesson, with its own beauty and logic, allowed us all to succeed. At last I realised that it wasn’t a question of some innate ability that I lacked, but that I could learn the language of music too. And what about my own teaching? It had to change! I wanted to learn more about Kodály’s Philosophy of Music Education; I wanted to improve my own skills and to be able to teach others in the same way. Since that first Summer School I have learned so much from many wonderful Hungarian and British teachers, both in the UK and in Hungary and have come to work as a BKA tutor. I also work as an Advisory Teacher and Course Leader for The Voices Foundation and serve on the Yorkshire Regional Committee for ABCD. Once started, it’s an ongoing and lifelong process!
Hilary Lawson (Secretary)