SPOTLIGHT - CAROLINE ROBINSON
The final 'Spotlight' of the year shines on our effervescent Director of Music, Caroline Robinson.
A chance playground chat between her mother and a high-class cellist led Caroline to start learning the cello when she was seven years old. She was part of the Berkshire Young Musicians Scholarship Scheme and through this enjoyed playing with various county based Youth Orchestras and Ensembles. Caroline studied A level Music alongside English, Geography and Theatre Studies and then went to Nottingham University to study Music and this was followed by a PGCE at Manchester. Caroline’s first teaching job was at Misbourne School in Great Missenden, where she taught James Corden (well, once, in a cover lesson). After two years, she took on her first Head of Department at Burleigh Community College in Loughborough. She combined motherhood with teaching ‘cello and piano at Monkton Combe School in Bath. She also founded a baby and toddler music business, ‘Tunes for Tots’ and appeared on BBC2 Working Lunch as an entrepreurial young mother. Once it was time for her youngest, Alex, to start school, Warminster Prep School beckoned at just the right time. After five years as Head of Music at the Prep School, Mr Mortimer asked her to become Director of Music. Three years into her Directorship and no two days are the same!
How long have you worked at Warminster?
This is my eighth year.
What’s the best thing about your role?
My amazing colleagues (especially Mr Williams). I love the range of ages of children I teach and the variety of concerts we produce. I also love the fact our facilities are quirky, unique and ever improving and that the Music Department is well respected, resourced and supported by the School.
Describe a typical day?
Of course, no two days in our extremely busy department are the same. However, I always start by dropping Lola the crazy cavapoo to doggy daycare. Then it's onto School before 8am to unlock the Music Department and check that all of the instrumental teachers will be in and time for my first coffee. Email traffic is busy to the Music Office, so then it’s quickly onto answering the first of the day. Anything from queries about the days' music lessons, requests for me to adjudicate a competition, music for this, that and the other, messages from Instrumental teachers, parents, pupils and staff. I usually then run to Church to play the organ for our morning Chapel service. After that, it's time to teach some lessons, answer more queries, plan or direct a concert or rehearsal, practise some accompaniments with or without pupils, teach some more, have another rehearsal or concert and then another coffee. Depending on the day I’ll go to the Prep School where I might be taking pre-prep, prep or Chamber Choir, teaching pupils or more recently, helping with nativity rehearsals (a personal favourite). Then its time to get back to the office for some planning for a forthcoming tour, Band visit (last year the RAF Band visited, next term the Army Rifles are coming) or plan some Concert, event or theatre dates. On the way home we get the dog back, I feed the children and supervise their prep and of course music practise. I then might design some posters for forthcoming concerts and events on canva.com. Do some lesson planning or marking and finally I’ll watch the news at 10.
What inspired you to become involved with the Song for William project?
The first time I met William properly was when he came to hear our Concert Orchestra Pre-Tour Concert. I realised there and then just how much he loved music. I was delighted when we realised that the music we had planned for the choirs at Christmas lent itself so well to this project. I appreciate the time that Jon spends photographing our various events and the children are terribly fond of him. This seemed the perfect way to return the favour and show Jon just how much he means to us here at Warminster. Having our resident music technology wizard, Gareth Williams, on board has just been the icing on the cake for this project. I do hope that everyone enjoys the film – it was lots of fun to make.
What do you think makes Warminster a special place to live and learn?
The school is such a friendly place. I also absolutely love the social side and particularly enjoy WSPA events: you will see me at all of them! Our department is really cosy, and I love the to-ing and fro-ing of such a fantastic bunch of visiting teachers.
What’s your favourite WSPA event?
I just love buying dresses so really it’s anything that requires a new one! The Summer Ball probably ranks at number one.
What would surprise us about you?
I once took part in a management challenge when I was in my first job. It required me to abseil off a viaduct in Longrigg, go potholing and then run down a river and be fully submerged when jumping off a waterfall. This is an experience I have not repeated, nor am I ever likely to!
What other Warminster role would you like to try for a day and why?
To be a reception pupil. Because I love everything that they learn, their classroom is so vibrant, and they get early lunch.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional cellist/musician.
What did your school reports say about you?
Caroline talks too much in class. (I don’t expect that will surprise anyone!)
Your note/advice to teenage self?
Think before you speak.
Your mantra/motto or favourite quote?
Quality not quantity or Super Trouper.
Hidden ambitions still to achieve?
Work as a musician on a 5 star plus cruise ship travelling the world in a luxury suite.
A favourite possession you would save from a fire?
People playing chopsticks on the piano.
Take That (well, Gary Barlow mainly).
Buying dresses on ebay.
MasterChef signature dish?
Salmon with a pesto crust, rosemary crushed potatoes & purple sprouting broccoli.
Favourite TV programme?
Benidorm (or a Jamie Oliver cooking show).
Last book you read?
How to Inspire your Choir by Mark De Lisser & Dominic Peckham.
Last movie watched?
Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?
Prosecco after 5pm, before that, Coffee.
Favorite place/city in the world and why?
Salzburg: It is beautiful and I am a big Mozart fan (this is where I hope to take our next concert tour).
Twitter or Facebook?
Both (in large doses).