Final recitals give students musical freedom

Well, lessons are over, and students now have to put themselves on show for end of year assessments. These are full-on for four weeks. As Head of Department I chair most assessment panels for the Wind, Brass and Percussion (WBP) Department. Hard work as it is, I enjoy it immensely as it is a chance to hear pretty well the whole department perform, and see how far each student has progressed throughout the year, or throughout the whole course if it’s a final recital. Sometimes I can still remember someone’s entrance audition from almost five years before, and seeing how far a player has travelled in their four years as an undergraduate makes me feel very proud of them. A final recital can be quite an event, an exciting culmination of four years of undergraduate study: adventurous repertoire; additional players joining for some items creating colourful ensembles; new pieces specially written for the occasion; mum, dad, brother, sister, granny and granddad, boyfriend, girlfriend, chums, all there to support. There can be quite an atmosphere. As Roger Argente, bass trombone teacher, said to me, the final recital is probably the one opportunity a student will ever have in their life to ‘really do their thing’. Rarely, if ever, do such opportunities come along once you have left Trinity Laban. WBP students are adept at taking the opportunity to really put on a memorable show.

Then it is all over. Well, not quite, as there are three weeks of term left after assessments filled with all sorts of performance projects, which involve as many of the students as possible – from opera and symphony orchestras to chamber groups we are building this slot in the year into a veritable festival of varied activities.

Then it is all over. Well, not quite! For those returning next year there could be summer courses to attend (some students go far and wide around the world to attend these); a well earned holiday; practice (of course) to keep in trim and possibly even get on top of those scales and orchestral extracts that will come up next year (hm, I wonder…); and/or a summer job to help boost the finances. Busy, busy for most.

For those students leaving there is the excitement and the nervousness of either going out into the big wide musical world or going on to study somewhere else. Many of our students get involved in a stimulating variety of musical activities during their careers; performing, teaching, workshop leading, organising, arranging, fixing, all sorts…there is much that can be generated by the person themself, which becomes highly satisfying especially if it is developing something that is a special interest to them.

We always wish our students well, and do ask them to keep in touch with us, letting us know what they are doing, where they are, if they can help someone. As a Head of Department it always seems sad at this time of year to see people you have known for quite a few years move away; but then again there is the anticipation of the next generation waiting in the wings to join us in September all bright eyed and bushy tailed. The life cycle forever turning…

Ian Mitchell

Head, Wind, Brass and Percussion

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