The Spotlight shines on Jonnie Bridges, our competitive brass band enthusiast Director of Music.

Jonnie grew up in Kingston-upon-Thames, attended Richard Challoner Boys’ School, the University of Surrey for his Music degree and Roehampton University for his PGCE. Through teaching, as a student, Jonnie specialised in trumpet performance, 20th Century Music and conducting and it is the latter which led him into the teaching vocation. Leading ensembles and helping others understand music became a real passion of Jonnie’s through his undergraduate degree and following this, he took on a number of community choirs and bands. It was around this time Jonnie also became involved in the National Youth Music Camps, an outstanding series of residential camps aimed at children of all musical abilities. This was when Jonnie  started to hone his arranging skills for large ensembles including Chamber Choirs, Big Band and Orchestras. Jonnie spent seven successful years as a Director of Music in Surrey, spent another two at Downside and is now enjoying working at Warminster. Through teaching, Jonnie gets to exercise his love of music and will take any opportunity to play or sing; he hopes this enthusiasm towards music inspires and motivates our pupils (and staff) around him to do the same. Jonnie has one daughter with his wife, Helen, and another on the way in April. Jonnie is a brass band enthusiast and regularly competes in contests around the country. Jonnie also enjoys being beaten, mostly, at badminton.

How long have you worked at Warminster?

Just over two years, as I started in January 2022.

Describe a typical day at Warminster?

I am an early bird so  get in early, sometimes before 7:15am, get the kettle on and catch up with the instrumental teachers who are in early, too. If I’m in later, it’s because I’ve been shopping for snacks to keep the department running! Mondays and Fridays are great as starting the day with assembly/church means getting to blow the cobwebs out of the St. Denys Minster Church organ and make some music together as a school. Each day has a good mix of KS3, 4 and 5 teaching and there’s always a rehearsal at lunchtime (usually two). Getting out at break time to see other staff or pupils outside the department is always worthwhile but sometimes, simply hearing the music happening around the department in those short, 20-minute bursts is great, too. Green Zone is also a great time to be in the department as there is so much music happening; from Warminster Singers to Music Theory, individual practise to pupil ensembles. The department is very much alive in the day and a busy department is a happy one.

What do you think makes Warminster a special place to live and learn?

Pupils and staff are extremely friendly and will go the extra mile to help each other. Pupils will regularly greet you in the morning when passing on the road (which is always reciprocated) and staff always have their doors open, even if just for a brief talk.

What other Warminster role would you like to try for a day and why?

Working in the kitchens! I believe this must be one of the most stressful jobs in the School and I love the thought of working to tight deadlines! (plus, I do enjoy cooking).

We are gearing up to Cabaret 2024 – what can we expect?

A FANTASTIC evening of music from bands, choirs and soloists involving over 110 pupils! It’s going to be brilliant!

What would surprise us about you?

I’m a keen runner and have, over the last few years, completed a few half-marathons (current PB is 1:48:56 but I’m working to get below the 100-minute mark!)

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

A teacher.

What did your school reports say about you?

Polite, well-behaved and put in what was necessary to do well but not reaching my potential!

Your note/advice to teenage self?

Working little and often is much better than in big chunks, infrequently.

Your mantra/motto or favourite quote?

1, 121, 12321 etc…

Any hidden ambitions still to achieve?

Unrelated to teaching but I’d love to perform with a Championship Section Brass Band at the Royal Albert Hall at the National Championships. I try to go each year to watch; it’s a great gig (even if you’re not a brass band geek).

A favourite possession you would save from a fire?

Family first (including Tallis the dog), trumpet after.

Biggest bugbear?

Rudeness and laziness.

Favourite musician/group?

Currently, Jacob Collier with his new album, Djesse Vol.4 (you won’t be disappointed) but overall, Mahler, Shostakovich and S-Club.

Guilty pleasure?

The Office (the American version). Not S-Club (despite the previous question) as I feel no guilt about this one – they have tremendous musical arrangements.

What is your MasterChef signature dish?

Pomegranate Chicken.

Favourite TV programme?

Besides ‘The Office’, ‘Teachers’, the brilliant Channel 4 sitcom with Andrew Lincoln.

Last book you read?

The Gruffalo (at least twice a day thanks to an obsessed two year old).

Last movie watched?

Star Wars: Episode 9.

Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?

I’ve been told I look like Jack Black. I’d be ok with that.

Favourite tipple?

Anything by Brewdog.

Favourite place/city in the world and why?

I’m a countryside convert, so anywhere there’s green and pleasant land and a pub…closely followed by Mauritius.

Is there a Music Instagram account we should be following?

There is! WarminsterMusic where we try and post lots to do with what our pupils are up to. Follow us!