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Proms 2009: Shooting Children

June 12, 2009

I’m back from spending a day at my old school where I had the opportunity to dip my toe in what I had perceived to be the shark-infested waters of being a class music teacher.

Myself and cameraman @tommypearson took up our positions in a ground floor teaching room (one which was formerly partitioned into separate practise rooms in which I learnt to play the clarinet twenty years before) for two separate sessions with a class of 17 ten year olds during which I had the opportunity to share some music with them and gauge their responses to it. Their reactions surprised me and will be the subject of one of the Proms videos I’m working on for this year’s season.

Please forgive me if I don’t detail exactly what the outcome was. If I was to do that you’d l be even less likely to watch the finished piece. Quite apart from the inevitable and numerous surreal experiences to be had wandering around buildings and classrooms and lunch-halls I spent ten years in, my return to London from the sweltering hot environs of West Suffolk on an early summers day now appreciating just how demanding a profession teaching must be.

One teacher I caught up with in the staffroom after the shoot was quick to point out that the feelings of complete exhaustion were quite normal for those who had started out in the profession. Teachers become accustomed to it. With familiarity comes stamina.

Teaching is a performance. You are there in front of a small crowd of children needing to secure their attention for a fixed period of time. And that demands considerably more energy than I realised it did. Sure, your body might get accustomed to it, but still you’ve got to want to do that kind of work and I admire anyone who does. It’s tough but vital.

Breakfast wasn't that greatFor those who may possibly feel an account of what my little jaunt to Suffolk for the BBC Proms website cost may possibly be interested in this breakdown of expenditure recorded the night before my day “down wiv da kids” today (watch the video below). It provided an opportunity to double check the equipment was working correctly and to provide an account of my experiences staying in a hotel for a night which I originally hoped would leave me feeling bright and breezy in the morning ahead of an experience I anticipated would be incredibly stressful.

Sadly, I left the hotel feeling neither bright nor breezy. I’d already moved rooms from the basement (yes, I had a view of a brick wall) and gasped at the customer service in the bar but banked on the idea that the morning would provide a different view.

Instead, the miserable breakfast hadn’t started my day at all well, nor the apparent 14 year old on the reception desk who clearly displayed both attitude and apathy in equal measure as well as considerable reluctance to investigate my genuine claims my hotel room was a corporate booking and therefore already paid for.

A heavy dose of sarcasm resulted in the issue of payment being resolved almost as quickly as his face blushed when he realised both his spectacular laziness and his error. Maybe I should have been more forgiving. Sarcasm is such a potentially unpleasant thing to dispense sometimes after all.

Or maybe the less than satisfactory hotel experience put me in an ideal mental state for tackling a big personal challenge today. Let’s wait until the edit before we answer that question.

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