Prodigious Joseph scores musical treble

UCS is rightly proud of its musical provision, which is a key area of the co-curricular life of the school. And when our student starlets shine bright, we duly celebrate their success in the pursuit of excellence.

So take a bow, Joseph, the Year 9 pupil who has just achieved a rare treble of Grade 8 exam distinctions – in this case, in recorder, piano and now oboe. Joseph completed his hat-trick by attaining a notable score of 142/150 in Grade 8 oboe. It marked another milestone on the musical pathway of this talented teen. Here, a thankful Joseph reflects on his progress, aspirations and inspirations.

You are Grade 8 in three instruments: would you say you are a musical all-rounder?

Joseph: Well, I started playing the recorder when I was very young and learnt by ear because my teacher taught the Suzuki method. I think that meant that I got used to listening early on, so when it came to learning other instruments I was used to figuring out tunes by having them in my head and then achieving the sounds by trial and error on the instrument itself. I learnt to read music later, and that’s given me a lot of other freedoms too, but it certainly helped me to start my learning by ear.

How much time in school and out do you commit to music?

I put in quite a lot of time, but that’s split between practising, playing in groups in and out of school and having lessons. I think the balance of all three helps keep me motivated because I’m always using the things I learn in real situations, and likewise I pick up a lot from other people.

Who are your inspirations?

I’m always learning from musicians – like the astonishing recorder player Michaela Petri – but I think it’s my teachers, namely Geri Yates [oboe], Nancy Daly [recorder] and Alla Kravchenko [piano] who inspire me the most because what they pass on to me through their teaching is what is forming me as a musician and as a person.

What are your ambitions for the next few years?

I would like to keep playing in the orchestra and jazz groups and will take any opportunity I can to keep playing in concerts and events.

How does UCS help you reach your goals and which areas of UCS Music do you most enjoy?

I started the oboe because Mr Dawe told me about the endangered instrument scheme which encourages pupils to take up less played instruments. I had no idea at that time how much music this would open up for me. Another thing about UCS is all the incredible concerts you can be a part of and attend. I was blown away by the Percussion Group’s rendition of Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood last term. Lastly, since I came to UCS, I’ve been invited by my peers to accompany them on piano while they perform – it’s not something I’d ever done before and it has been a particularly enriching experience for me.

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