Isle of Wight Music Service: Soprano Soloist Evelyn Tubb On Why It Must Be Protected

Internationally famous soprano soloist Evelyn Tubb explains the importance of the Isle of Wight Music Service and why it should be protected.

Sandown High School’s Evelyn Tubb is an internationally famous soprano soloist, long-time member of the universally acclaimed Consort of Musicke, and now a sought-after Professor of Voice at one of the world’s leading music institutes in Switzerland. She writes about how important the Isle of Wight’s music service was to her and her siblings. In her own words. Ed

Evelyn TubbIt was my father who brought us to the Isle of Wight in 1968 having been living in what was then called “The Garden of England,” Kent. I often speculate on how different a pathway I might have taken had he not brought us to this bliss-filled Island all those years ago.

Up until then dance had been my direction, as piano lessons at five were not rewarding for me, as my piano teacher, though caring and gentle, was not inspiring. The Island was to change all that!

Thriving music department
I went to Sandown High School, what was then the Fairway Secondary Modern School. Our school had a thriving music department, spearheaded by my teacher Mr Ron Tyler, who engaged us in musical activity at all levels of ability.

I chose to learn the trumpet and was given lessons weekly with a fine musician called John Gower.

Music education was a gift
The Head at that time encouraged music in assembly, and there was a choir that sang in parts, an orchestra reasonable enough to service prize giving and parent events without too much embarrassment, and a fine concert band that gathered a reputation around the Island, playing regularly at fêtes and festivals.

This is without mentioning the excellent development opportunities the County Youth Orchestra provided, and later more professional Island orchestras and choirs gave us as we became more competent. This is a only brief background of the wonderful gift of music education the Island gave to me.

Support in developing musical talent
Our family was always struggling for money, but because of the peripatetic teaching system and the arrangement to loan instruments from the music shop, Teagues, we were given the best chance to search out and develop our musical talents.

Out of our family of six children, three of us have had a valuable and fulfilling profession in music.

One of my siblings composes and arranges for various orchestras and plays the French horn. Another is a professional flautist and works as a peripatetic woodwind teacher. Finally I am working as a singer in one of the best vocal ensembles in the world, The Consort of Musicke, and am also as an established soloist. My other three brothers and sisters all still make music for hobbies.

The power of music
I could muse much on all the amazing opportunities the Island gave me, partly because it was small, but mainly because in my day we had people that really, really cared about the social and psychological development of a young mind through the power of music.

Somehow we easily accept the physical and teamwork strengthening that sport brings, which we also excelled in on the Island at this time. But we are seriously in danger of overdosing on this and killing a precious tool that can bring harmony and understanding and a sense of self-esteem to our future generations, which will last long beyond the thrill of following a ball of various sizes!

I fear for talented children
I honestly have a great fear for our young talented children that are not able to receive the high level of teaching on their chosen instrument as we had.

I fear the musical chain of young talent + excellent teacher in preferred instrument = entry to music college or university = place in good orchestras or choirs, so famous through Europe for their excellent training, or world class soloist = a society where music features strongly and beauty is maintained.

I fear for no children with music as an interest, nobody to replace our ageing choral societies and orchestras, therefore young soloists not able to practise honed skills from years of hard study; this will equal implosion of the arts and the death of our culture.

Then what?

Can sport really be seen as a sole replacement for this?

Hope it’s not too late
I hope that we are not too late to change the fate of the Island, as so many other local authorities now famous for their “Hopeful Hubs” without ‘peripatetics’ have decided this to be the best option in the current economic climate. In my view, this is short-term thinking – to save today and hope for the best tomorrow and if it goes wrong, let someone else sort it out, as it will be “not my problem’.

Finally I wish you a good meeting, with healthy debate with real integrity and honesty and hopefully a way of preserving something wonderful and joyous for our younger generation. They at least deserve that from us, considering the legacy of a very confused and broken world we may be leaving them.

Evelyn Tubb
(Isle of Wight, 1968-1980)

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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23 Comments on "Isle of Wight Music Service: Soprano Soloist Evelyn Tubb On Why It Must Be Protected"

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Very nice letter! Why is the Council trying to do a recommendation then a public consultation?? Are they even qualified to understand music education?? Budgets shouldn’t decide whether children get the education that they deserve, especially when the Council has been spending plenty of money on things like their own building….. The Music Service is about everyone getting a fair chance at education. It sounds like the… Read more »
Scrutiny Panels are not policy decision making bodies. (The papers for Wednesday’s meeting points to the policy decision being made later by a delegated decision.) Wednesday’s meeting appears to be an early (and limited) consultation opportunity. It might appear odd to have a ‘recommendation’ at this stage, but it appears only to be related to an option indicating a level of support based on currently available information.… Read more »
I agree, except that I believe that the Panel IS very much making a decision – to recommend an option, then that OPTION will go to public consultation. It might seem like a technicality, but it’s not – it makes it more difficult to have a full consultation on the whole of the Music Service, not just the potential 22 peripatetic redundancies. The only decision which needs… Read more »
Helen Atkinson

What a beautifully written and heartfelt plea from this remarkable musician! I hope those with the power to stop this change to musical education in the IoW will listen carefully to what she and those who share her concerns have to say.


I like what you say Evelyn.


A lovely letter and very valid points. Please if you can do go to the committee meeting, we do really need to show strength of feeling.

Robin Ford
Evelyn is a great musician and her letter is a very important one. As a former teacher (not of music) I have seen a huge range of children inspired and, in some cases, saved from a chaotic life because music inspires, calms, excites and, to put it basically, socialises. If the council want children on the Island to reach their full potential then, for those so inclined,… Read more »
Chris Wilmott
We’re on the right path if we want to head into a new Dark Age where only philistines will feel at home. Short-term thinking may be tempting when you’re facing huge budget shortfalls, but everyone pays a horrible price for it in the end. Ironically, investing in music education makes obvious economic sense too, as this country has very few attractive exports, but music in all its… Read more »
At the age of 19, I have just left the music service. I’m not pursuing a career in music but it has affected every part of my life! This is such a beautiful article which reflects how much of an impact music can have on young people. I know that the skills, experiences and passions I have acquired through music will never leave me – it is… Read more »
Walter Brewster
I am saddened to see another Music Service experiencing the issues we have recently passed through in Dorset. Last year we lost 40 from 67 teachers, contracts for those that remained were no longer tied to Teachers’ Pay and Conditions and the focus is now mainly on offering a first encounter with music (generically known as Wider Opportunities). 4 music leaders and one part time teacher work… Read more »
Alfred Tubb
I am Evelyn’s older brother Alfred, I was serving in the army as a horn player during my family’s period on the island. However, coming home on leave on may occasions I was asked to take part in many of the musical activities, usually playing in the Dunford Orchestra and the Sandown band,as well as helping out at Fairway School, so I know all the people Evelyn… Read more »

There is now a facebook group, Save IW Music Service, Please join and pass on

Walter Brewster

I can’t find it. You need to make a link here.


have copied link but awaiting moderation

Walter Brewster

It looks like a closed group. Nobody else will see the comments. Is that what you really want?


well walter I wasn’t sure what to do for the best. My thinking was that only members can see what is posted. I’m open to sugestions.Shal we have this conversation on fb?


Evelyn’s story speaks volumes about the benefits of the peripatetic teaching system, and her message must be heard by those who make these decisions. There is plenty of musical talent around, but without access to the sort of nurturing that a good Music Service provides, much of this talent will remain hidden, and much potential unfulfilled, to the detriment of the community, and ultimately, of the country.

My mum worked for a music service most of her working life, but was forced to go private in the end as they were making more and more ridiculous demands. She was so disappointed as she really believed in the ideals behind the music service. I think it’s so important to offer good quality music to all children in their formative years- we have a rich heritage… Read more »

And obviously you should listen to Evelyn as she’s a truly fabulous musician!

evelyn tubb
It has been truly heart warming to see how many people really care about the Islands future musicians and music education. I am an hour ahead here in Switzerland, but will be crossing everything for the meeting this afternoon. ‘England is a land without music” was written as a response to our so called lack in the early 19 cent. This was an English critic, whose damaging… Read more »
Alfred Tubb
The Isle of Wight council MUST not go down the same path as other councils in this matter, surely thy can find another way. My sister is right, we don’t want to be known as a country without music. I have just completed a massive commission to re-score a composition by an English composer Henry Hugo Pierson. Back in the 19th century Pierson made Germany his adopted… Read more »
I know that the Island music services have always been outstandingly good ,which would make it a catestrophic tragedy for them not to be able to continue to do so in such a remarkable way.They really do set a bench mark and it is so easy to make comparisons!Like Evelyn,my brother and I attended SHS until the mid seventies.What we were given was opportunity and heaps of… Read more »