William Sterling

An introduction to the music section

My earliest memory of music making was conducting the school band mostly consisting of percussion instruments with our teacher, Mrs Distin, filling in the melody and harmony on the piano. I had to announce to the audience of parents and friends that we were about to play “Minuet in G by John Sebastian Bach”. My proud mother took a photo of me conducting which I believe my sister has in the family album.  I was five years old.  I continued to play music throughout Junior School and won a prize for my Xylophone playing in the School Play “Lieutenant Cockatoo”.  At Grammar School I sang in the choir, occasionally as a soloist, and played viola in the school orchestra.

After giving up music lessons in the Lower Fifth, I decided to resume Musical Studies in the Sixth Form at Colf’e’s as I had spare capacity on my timetable and I gained an A grade at “O” level for which I was awarded the Powell Cup for Music. I was photographed for the local paper along with three other trophy winners including John Hayes who is now Minster for Adult Education. In order to take “A” level I had to get my clarinet Grade 6 exam and continued to learn the Grade 8 pieces even though I did not need to take the exam. I continued to study music at the University of Keele under Peter Dickinson, George Pratt, Philip Jones, Roger Marsh and Eleanor Purce.  I gained a Distinction for my Music course and sang in four choirs, though not all at the same time.

Among the music I studied for “O” level, “A” level and at University there have been several which I have subsequently used in my teaching including Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra, Haydn’s Fifths String Quartet, Beethoven’s First String Quartet and Eroica Symphony, Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Brahms’s Piano Quintet and Academic Festival Overture and Schumann’s Dichterliebe.

Whilst still at University, aged 18, I gave my first History of Music lecture when I filled in for my friend Dr Will Reed at his class at Kidbrooke House in Blackheath.  My mother attended his classes every week and I had always joined her when they coincided with school holidays.  Will was a great musicologist and inspired me to become a Music lecturer.  I hope I live up to his expectations.

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