Music at Brockwood and the ‘Informal Evening’

by Michael Ledwith

Ulrich and Jerome

Ludwig van Beethoven famously said that “music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life”. Music also mediates between people, unifying not only the performers but also the audience. J.Krishnamurti spoke often of the limitations of words. Music can say so much that words cannot. As Ulrich, one of our music teachers at Brockwood Park School, points out, 'Music brings harmony between the body, the intellect, the senses and feelings, giving a sense of wholeness. Even listening to music is educational'. Learning music is like learning a universal and timeless language, and the benefits it brings to the brain are frequently reemphasised by the scientific community.


Music Classroom

At Brockwood, music education is promoted and fostered in a variety of ways. Most of the students either already play an instrument or are learning some form of music, and there is an abundance of instruments for students to choose from. There are guitars (of course), a keyboard, violin, saxophone, bass guitar, a percussion set, five pianos and numerous flutes and wind instruments among the many other instruments adorning our shelves and cubby-holes.



The Recording Studio

To learn more comprehensively, students can attend one of the three music theory classes per week as well as lessons from a multitude of both voluntary and professional teachers. Students are also encouraged to attend professional performances, and throughout the year trips to concerts and musical events take place. For instance, next month will see the students going off to a symphony orchestra in Basingstoke and a jazz concert in London.



The Studio

Apart from focusing on individual practise, the students practise together in a number of ways. There is an active choir of about thirty students and staff, and its repertoire ranges from music of the 15th Century to recent traditional, right up to contemporary pop music. Almost every year, some students come together to form a school band, and there is a recording studio which can support quality recording by a number of musicians.



The Sitting Room

Some days it is as if Brockwood has a soundtrack as at almost any time of the day, on any day of the week one might find a student or staff member practising somewhere in the school. It can be an especially moving soundtrack when one hears the chamber orchestra practise in the assembly hall. The classical music drifting down Brockwood’s Georgian corridors can be quite gripping.



Most of these musical endeavours culminate at Informal Evening performances which occur every month. These popular events are made by the students for the students when, in the sitting room and dining hall, the furniture is pushed back, the microphones and speakers are set up and the stage is set for what invariably turns out to be an evening to remember. Lasting usually over two hours, poetry recitations, drama groups, comedy acts, but largely musical performances of an extraordinary quality are presented. On my first Informal Evening, I was astounded at the quality of performances and the relaxedness of the performers. It was truly something to behold.

The video you can find on this page is an Informal Evening given by former students of Brockwood Park School, recorded during the 2014 Reunion in August.


The Music/Recording Studio