Beyond These Walls

“The atmosphere of the theatre is my oxygen.” Plácido Domingo (1941 – ) 

You’d be surprised how much of a surprise it can be when instructors hear the fruits of one another’s work at concerts. How can this be? I would describe the instructors in East Lothian as a close-knit, affectionate family. Yet, we hear very little of each other’s work in the course of a normal working day. While we teach or rehearse in one room, our colleagues do the same in another room – or another school.

So it’s always nice to be able to hear the fruits of each other’s labours when ensembles take to the stage. Moreover, we have the chance to see some of our own pupils in another guise, playing or singing in other ensembles. I suspect that the subject teachers of our instrumental pupils experience an amplified version of this enlarged view of pupils, just as we do upon seeing their art work adorn the walls, their writing on the page of school magazines or hearing of their sporting triumphs on the field.

My experience is that pupils get a great deal out of seeing their friends play on stage – they know what they are going through and rejoice when a great performance is pulled off. That’s why I much prefer concert situations where as many pupils as possible can be present in the hall. For various logistical reasons this is not always possible but, when it is, the effect on atmosphere is palpable. No-one doubts for a second that the effect of seeing a son/daughter/family member on stage is a very emotional one. Young people, however, tend to be much more expressive – especially in large numbers – and the effect of this on the atmosphere is to convert appreciation into electricity.