Day in the life - Emma Stretch

12th December 2008 at 00:00
Emma Stretch is director of music at Belmont Grosvenor School in Harrogate

This is my busiest time of year. The wall planner is bearing down on me and there's no space left to write on it. Every spare moment, I'm rehearsing nativity plays and getting the choir and orchestra ready for the carol service. Today it's "Ding Dong Merrily On High" - at break, at lunch and after school.

But first it's assembly and it's my job to choose the hymn and play piano. A colleague comes up afterwards and says how much he enjoyed it. It's nice to think music can give everyone a lift at the start of the day.

More than a third of pupils here play an instrument, so liaising with peripatetics is a big part of my job. I have to work out timetables, check that everyone gets billed correctly and ensure the less reliable children remember their instruments. It's a huge task.

I don't just teach music. Today I have a Year 5 ICT group, where we work on PowerPoint skills. I also accompany my form to their swimming lesson, acting as an extra lifeguard. And I teach an RE lesson about Hinduism. I used to only want to teach music, because that's my passion. But now I love the variety - springboarding from one thing to another, wearing lots of different masks, flying by the seat of my pants.

After school I take a group of pupils to the local artificial ski slope. We go there once a week to prepare for our ski trip at the start of the holidays. Then I dash home to teach a private violin lesson. I enjoy working one-to-one, but wouldn't want to do it all the time. Finally, I find a few moments to do my own practice - I play violin in Harrogate Symphony Orchestra and need to prepare for our weekly rehearsal.

It's a busy day, but I like it that way. "Ding Dong Merrily" is starting to sound pretty good, and being a teacher you always know the next holiday isn't too far away. Working hard then taking a break suits my temperament. For example, I belong to a running club and I always enjoy the sprints best. I just like going flat out.

Emma Stretch, 29, was talking to Steven Hastings.

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