Running/managing a massive department, trying to teach young musicians the practical and life skills they need to succeed in their careers. I’m in charge of our new Music Tech course as well as the younger (GCSE level) students – apart from that I teach History of Popular Music/Recording, Synthesis & Sound Design and work with bands on whatever practical project we’ve got going on. Even after so much time, every day can have surprises.
How did you get started?
Looking back it’s easy to see that this was a sensible career path for me, at the time though it wasn’t so clear. After graduating uni I did the standard unfulfilling jobs for a year before I decided to do a PGCE as something that was a little more challenging and skills-based. The job at BRIT was my first interview at the end of my training year and I haven’t looked back since. Been there for fifteen years now!
Do you have a daily routine? Can you describe it for us?
I live far away from work so I’m up at around 5.30 every day. You never really get used to it. I’m usually in around 8, school day finishes at 4.15 but I’m normally there til 5.30pm. If we’ve got a show happening I’ll be there until at least 10 – it’s long hours. There’s a routine to the day in terms of timetable but unlike most schools we have the power to move things around if there’s a guest speaker coming in, for example, or if we need to put on extra rehearsals for a gig.
What keeps you going every day?
Caffeine. Nicotine (vape, these days). The students keep you going more than anything else, being surrounded by young musicians keeps the overall energy level up without a doubt. Also I really, really love talking about and creating music, and you need that subject knowledge and enthusiasm if you want to be able to last in this job.
What are the main challenges that you face in your work?
I’ve only been in my current management position for two years, and the biggest current challenge is finding time to plan the ‘big picture’ stuff when the day-to-day events get in the way. If a student has some sort of issue or crisis then you need to drop everything and deal with that, and the time management can be a challenge. I wish I had more time to do the fun stuff sometimes.
What three pieces of advice would you give anyone wanting to do similar work?
1. Everything you’ve heard about the workload is true. Don’t get into it unless you know what you’re letting yourself in for (It’s worth it, though).
2. The cuts to vocational and post-16 education in recent years are appalling and they’re impacting on the jobs that we do. The government do not know the damage that they are doing to young people.
3. If you find yourself getting frustrated with them, always remember how much of an idiot you were when you were that age.
What would you like to work on next?
I’d like to teach undergrad and/or do some more research-based work. I completed an MA a few years ago and got a lot out of it – I’m really into my subject, and want to learn more about it all the time. I’d also love to get back to making my own music at some point. I used to play in bands and do production work a lot more, but it’s hard to find the time these days.
For more information on the Brit School visit their website. Thank you so much Chris!