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School helps musician fill the gap


Sep 24, 2021

A JOB offer from her old school proved to be music to the ears of an oboist looking for a gap year before heading off to university.

Barnard Castle School student Evie Brenkley secured three A* in her A levels and wants to read for a degree in music.

But because of the disruptive impact of the pandemic on university learning, she felt it was prudent to defer for a year before applying to Oxford, Manchester, Durham and York universities.

After discussing various options for her future with headmaster Tony Jackson and director of music Richard Dawson, the 18-year-old, of Barnard Castle, was offered a one year contract at the school as residential gap year music assistant.

“I had a very attractive offer of a scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, but because of the pandemic, all open days were online and I didn’t feel I could make a true decision until I could stand in the space and see myself there,” said Evie, who was deputy head girl and head of choir last year and learned the tenor saxophone over lockdown.

“It was such a generous offer from school where staff have been there for me every step of the way along my journey so far.

“I will be working in the music department across senior and prep school and helping to teach the lower years, as well as doing some one-to-one tuition, junior boarding duties, and assisting with organising and administration.”

Moving from student to staff will be the biggest change. “After years of calling teachers Sir and Miss, I’ll be using their first names which will take a while to get used to, as will the students calling me Miss,” she said. “But Barney is very good at fostering a community atmosphere, so I’m not daunted.

“The gap year will help me take stock of what I want to do in the future, and reflect on the impact the pandemic has had on the music industry which has been knocked for six.”

By French