Personally speaking - 'We used egg boxes to fix acoustics'

19th November 2010 at 00:00
Sarah Kekus is the new chair of the National Association of Music Educators. She was previously manager of the schools programme at the Sage Gateshead. She worked for 18 years as a secondary music teacher and headed a music department in Cumbria

Who has been your biggest influence?

My first violin teacher instilled in me a lasting love of music. He was gentle and encouraging, and he was also a mountaineer. He had an impressive newspaper cutting of him playing his fiddle on top of Napes Needle, a pillar of rock on the side of Great Gable in the Lake District.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

My classroom was on the first floor, with a fire escape in the far corner. Joe ran up the stairs, burst in, flew across the room, then down the fire escape. Seconds later he was back, charging across the room again and out through the fire escape. When he burst into the classroom for a third time, I suggested he may have had enough. Without further fuss, he quietly joined the class.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

The one who was adamant she wanted to study music and did not want to take the double dose of science prescribed for the majority. She wrote to the head, won her case and studied GCSE music and a reduced science option. I wonder how many pupils have been unable to take music because it did not fit into the school timetable.

What is the most outrageous thing a colleague has done?

We had egg boxes on the ceiling to improve the acoustics. The decision was made to take them down and pupils were allowed to jump off tables and tear down the boxes. The health and safety police would have had a field day.

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

I like to think I might have been a naturalist. I am fascinated by the natural world and I like being outside.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

Maybe playing in a ceilidh band, or travelling somewhere, or drinking wine and eating good food with friends.

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

I spent 10 days cycling in Brittany with my partner. It was a compromise: I like mountains, and he prefers something a little gentler.

What was the last book you read?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I couldn't put it down.

What is the worst excuse you've ever heard?

When asked to behave, one girl responded: "I am being have!"

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