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My best teacher: Emeli Sand

The eccentric English teacher in the cool outfits challenged the future singer-songwriter to strive for lyrical excellence

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The eccentric English teacher in the cool outfits challenged the future singer-songwriter to strive for lyrical excellence

I really enjoyed school. I was very shy and found the whole social side of school difficult, but not learning - I enjoyed lots of classes. I also enjoyed making music instead of hanging out with people at lunchtime. I would always be in the music room. Finding a group to fit into was difficult.

I remember a few teachers well from my primary school. There was Miss Reekie and Mrs Rivers. Miss Reekie - I think she taught me in Primary 4 and Primary 6 - was a bit of a maverick. She taught differently from everybody else, making you feel equal to her, like you could share all your thoughts. All the girls thought she was amazing, a really inspirational character.

In secondary school, my English teacher, Mrs Edwards, was incredible - a really inspirational woman. I loved English. She taught us a lot about poetry, how to analyse text. She was such a good teacher and we loved sitting and listening to her stories.

Mrs Edwards had such an incredible life - she used to tell us stories about interviewing Jimi Hendrix, travelling around, all these books she had read. Her life was full of interesting stories, she had a very interesting character, quite eccentric, and always dressed really cool. Me and the girls in the class always used to talk about her - we used to think she was ace. She always wore her glasses on a string.

In lessons she demanded respect - nobody could muck around in her classes, she would call you out really quickly - but at the same time it was really interesting, the classes were never dry. They made you think about something, how you could write differently. We would always respect her opinion. There was something really inspirational about her, and we all remember her so vividly.

I think I learned from reading between the lines in literature. I am a songwriter, and being introduced to poetry introduced you to the best writers. It was something to look up to and to make you focus on becoming better. Mrs Edwards made me think about the use of words and how to be effective with them. She would give you a sentence and ask, "what do you think that means?" and we would just get the literal meaning. Then she would say: "Have you ever thought this could be what is being said?" She really made you look at other meanings.

The way I write has definitely allowed my career to progress faster. When you come to London, no one is really thinking about their lyrics that much, but you really stand out if you take time to write something properly. I have taken a lot of things I learned in that class.

We had a really good music teacher called Miss Moore. She was a great teacher for me because there were two shows every year, the Christmas concert and the summer concert, and she always let me do a solo piece or just got me to be on stage, so I really appreciated her support. There were so many ways you could express yourself.

I was invited back to my old school for a question-and-answer session with the kids. Hopefully, it will have inspired people to go for what they want to do. But it is quite weird to go around the corridors and think about how much time you spent in those rooms.

Emeli Sand was talking to Julia Belgutay.


Born: Adele Sand, 1987, Sunderland

Education: Alford Primary, Alford Academy; started studying medicine at Glasgow University, but graduated in neuroscience.

Career: Has collaborated with Chipmunk, Professor Green and Tinie Tempah. Debut single Heaven reached number two in the singles chart this week. Her debut album will be released in November.

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