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
It 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 fÃªtes 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.
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.
(Isle of Wight, 1968-1980)