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Reflections on My First Year as Director of Music

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By Peter Grant

February 2018 and I am sitting in my Wiltshire kitchen longing to return to Scotland when a job advert for one of Scotland’s top Prep Schools, Ardvreck, jumps out at me from my laptop screen. Application submitted and interview offered but the beast from the east scuppers my flight plans as even South West England is knee deep in snow but nonetheless an 850 mile round trip in my car was hastily arranged and the offer of Director of Music led me to return to my homeland.

My first nine months in post have been exhilarating and immensely enjoyable. My first experience of Ardvreck was the 6th Form Challenge where I somehow managed to drag my slightly out of shape 45 year old frame up and down 6 Munros in one day, that took some time to recover from! The Glenalmond Choral Day in October was a wonderful musical start to the year; the music of Vaughan Williams and Stanford ringing out in their beautiful chapel.  This was followed by a Christmas concert where every single member of the school made a singing contribution. January gave me my first taste of an Ardvreck Burns’ Supper and I loved it. The 6th Form boys and girls talking confidently and amusingly and paying tribute to the great Ayrshire Bard. I even got the opportunity to sing a duet with my lovely wife Michelle.

The Spring Term led towards my first Ardvreck production of a musical version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This was a fantastic experience and a joy to watch the journey that over 50 children made throughout the process. A house move in the Easter break was swiftly followed by the renaming of our music rooms and  tremendously successful Piping and Drumming Competition and House Music Competition adjudicated by the world renowned composer and Master of the Queen’s Music, and my good friend, Judith Weir.

In Judith’s short visit to Ardvreck she was heartened by the importance that music holds in our wonderful school. As music slips down the pecking order in terms of educational priorities across the country, Judith delighted in the fact that there is a dedicated arts and practice time every day and that over 97% of our children have lessons on at least one musical instrument.

The youngest members of our school community, Little Ardvreck,  also get the opportunity to perform and we drew them together with some of the oldest members of the Crieff Community on their musical trip around the world when residents of Ancaster Care Home joined us for a sing song.

When I sat at my kitchen table all these months ago I could not have envisaged how great an experience Ardvreck would be for both myself and my family. My girls have loved the opportunities presented by this special place. A world class education in sensational surroundings with teachers who will all go that extra mile is something that cannot be valued highly enough. I can only look forward to what the future brings at this wonderful school.