MORE HoD MUSINGS

Well, it’s all over now. Andy Murray so easily out of Wimbledon; Brazil humiliated in their own backyard; Chris Froome crashing out of the Tour de France so early after winning last year; Trinity Laban’s year ending on 4th July. However, whilst the first three could be seen as disappointing, a failure, or unfortunate, Trinity Laban’s year has been just the opposite. There have been successes in all sorts of areas. The Faculty of Music puts on just over 350 ‘official’ events throughout the year, and there are very many student activities too. Looking back I particularly remember one new initiative, side-by-side, whereby our teaching staff played alongside students in Symphony Orchestra performing Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Holst’s The Planets. These were wonderful experiences for the students, who played principal while their teachers played second. I’m sure it put both parties on their metal! There was a sectional rehearsal for each instrument, then six hours of rehearsals before each of the concerts. This is just one highlight from the huge variety of music making throughout the year.

The Wind, Brass & Percussion Department has presented many events of its own (as do all departments) including Wind Orchestra, Sinfonia Wind Orchestra (Years 1 and 2), Symphonic Brass Ensemble, Flute Ensemble, Double Reed Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Saxophone Choir, Horn Ensemble (who were joined in two concerts by 8 horn students from the Musikhochschule Trossingen, Germany), Trombone Choir, Bass Clarinet & Friends (including a tap dancing singer), Music Theatre band and all sorts of small ensembles. Phew! It has been a splendidly busy and varied year and the range of repertoire performed has been huge.

Next year? Well, I’m sure Murray will be back and wanting to prove a point, though he should watch out for the new kids on the block. Froome will be determined to get back in the saddle as soon as possible, and Brazil will need to start rebuilding their team in order to redeem themselves four years from now.

Our new students could do worse than compare their work to that of an athlete in many ways. There is an enormous amount of muscle training, care and maintenance needed to ensure that damage is not done to embouchure, arms, etc., due to the daily grind. There is an understandable tendency to practise more as a big concert or an assessment looms; tension and tiredness creep in; posture might distort; warm-ups and cool-downs are missed in the apparent need to attack that difficult passage just one more time. We musicians have to be aware of our body use throughout our lives and could do no better than learn from our colleagues in the Faculty of Dance. The Laban Building has a world-renowned Dance Science Department that, amongst other activities, can assess and monitor body use to increase our personal awareness of how we are treating our bodies.

Those who recently made the transition from Trinity Laban student to alumni will be beginning a life in the music profession that might be very different from that at a conservatoire. It can become easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of making a living how to treat our bodies and we begin to realise something might not be quite right. Beware! That said, we hope that the four years training as an undergraduate at Trinity Laban will have honed technique and performance skills so that our former students entering the profession will always be able to give their very best at all times, unlike poor old Brazil!

Ian Mitchell

Head, Wind, Brass & Percussion

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