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Actress Rosie Cavaliero: 'I owe my music teacher a lot'

My Best Teacher: The actress who's starring in ITV's Cleaning Up remembers Mr Pont, the teacher who instilled a love of music

Rosie Cavaliero, Cleaning Up, ITV, Sheridan Smith

My Best Teacher: The actress who's starring in ITV's Cleaning Up remembers Mr Pont, the teacher who instilled a love of music

I was quite an average student. I was one of those people who just got by, I was definitely in the B category. I struggled in maths and I had to redo it. Eventually I passed, but I was better at the arts. They were my forte. Ooh and languages, I was much better at those. I was terrible at maths and science and I loved arts and languages.

I went to a convent school in East Sussex called Mayfield. It was in such a beautiful location and was surrounded by fields. We were taught by a mix of nuns and male teachers – some of the nuns were lovely and others were really quite scary. Most of them were fine. It wasn’t a massively academic school, but it’s aim was to get everyone to university.

It was a shock coming from primary school, suddenly having masses of homework, and studying and everything, and it was quite strict. It was high pressure at a young age.

What was brilliant about it though, and why I loved it, was that it was great for drama and music.

I learned the violin and the piano and we had a wonderful head of music there called Kenneth Pont. He was quite a formidable man and was quite eccentric – a real character. He had a bob but it was kind of curled, and he had really big blue eyes and wore lots and lots of knitted ties. He did cut quite a figure. He was very funny and could have us all in hysterics, but he was also really strict –  you knew you didn’t want to mess with him.

He was great fun, had a real twinkle in his eye and was really passionate about music. He demanded a lot of my time, because he ran the school choir which I was in. We’d get professionals to come in and do solos and we performed at festivals. We even performed at the Royal Albert Hall! He had really high standards and I learned much musically from him.  From a very young age I was singing very ambitious work, like Bach, Handel and Elgar. We sang things like Bach's B-minor mass, St Matthew Passion, Benjamin Britten's Saint Nicolas, we did all of these wonderful things. I owe him a lot and my love of music really came from him.

Rosie Cavaliero

When I left school I was in his personal choir that he ran. I didn’t do it for very long, but I wore a monk's outfit and sang in various cathedrals around the country. 

My other big passion at school was drama. At Mayfield, you either did sport or music and drama. I was always in plays and rehearsing and I had two fantastic drama teachers. One was called Gill Moore, and she taught me in the early years of secondary school and as I got older, I had a teacher called Su Collings. Again it was amazing. There was a really high standard and we did fantastic plays.

We actually had drama in the timetable. Every week we had a drama lesson, which I don’t think many other schools had, or even have now. My son, who’s at a primary school, has no drama at all, nothing. If he wants to do drama he has to go and find somewhere else to do it after school. It’s such a shame.  


Born: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Education: Mayfield School, Mayfield

Career: Rosie is an English actress. She’s appeared in countless TV, radio, theatre shows including, Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge, Unforgotten and Jane Eyre. She’s currently starring in Cleaning Up on ITV.

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