I went to Eastwood High school from 1979-1985. I was distinctly lacking in musical talent so didn't spend much time in that department, though it was a compulsory subject for the first two years. We were made to learn recorder. There were two teachers I remember, one male and one female. Older pupils warned us from day one that the male teacher had a bit of a reputation and should be avoided but we were 11 years old so we didn't really know what was meant by that. Once or twice a year we had a music exam which consisted of choosing a recorder piece to play. This of course necessitated you being alone with one of the two teachers. As head of department, the male teacher chose who he was examining and who got the other teacher. I always got him. I remember my music exams because, despite being a small man, he was fierce and frightening. I was academically in the top classes at school but chose the easier music pieces, firstly because I was crap at music and secondly because I knew I would not be continuing with it so did not need a specific grade. On the occasion of my final music exam at the age of 13, I walked into what was known as the 'music cupboard' and the teacher locked the door behind me. I remember feeling distinctly uncomfortable about that and looking worried. He caught my eye and without my asking, told me he didn't want anyone walking in on us and interrupting my playing. That seemed logical to me at the time, despite other departments simply attaching signs to the doors marked 'Silence: exam'. Next he asked which of the four pieces I had chosen to play. They increased in difficulty from 1-4. I said piece 2. He immediately looked angry and through gritted teeth, he hissed at me that I could surely have done better than that given my academic credentials. He was close enough that I could smell his breath. I nervously played the piece (badly!), he gave me the minimal pass mark and then unlocked the door and ushered me out.
It was obvious that I would not be visiting the music department after that day. Today, as I read this, I wonder now if my lack of musical talent changed his mind that day, or if he genuinely locked the door behind every pupil?
Post a Comment