Headmaster’s Blog

This week, our guest writer is Mr Quinlivan-Brewer, Director of Music:


It is a pleasure to be part of the ECS journey for our students and staff in my new role as Director of Music. It is clear to me that the school community is very warm and nurturing, enabling our students, as well as parents and staff, to thrive both pastorally and academically. This ECS spirit was very much evident in our recent Autumn Concert last Monday. The musical show put on by our wonderful pupils was a pleasure to behold – music runs through their veins strongly at all levels and abilities! This was made possible by a team effort from all our Year 3-8 students, who not only performed/expressed themselves with distinction, but also listened attentively to their fellow musicians from other ensembles and year groups in such a positive way. After visiting many other notable schools in the Exeter area, it is clear to me that we can be very proud of the achievement of all our pupils.

The Autumn Concert was unique in many ways since it was pupil led with the exception of some accompanying and conducting from myself, Mr Fitzpatrick and our inspirational percussion teacher, Mr Crossen.  My team of specialist visiting music teachers have also done a magnificent job of expertly guiding our children through their studies; I’m also grateful to the catering, pastoral and academic staff who cheerfully volunteered to help in order to make a concert, involving ALL of our Year 3-8 students.

As I reflect on my first Michaelmas Term at ECS, what strikes me most about our school is the students’ unrelenting thirst for knowledge, something which is especially noticeable and encouraged in the classroom where specialist music lessons are taught from Pre-Prep to the end of Year 8. We aspire to prepare our students to be in a position to select GCSE music as a viable subject choice at the end of Year 9 (at their senior school), should they wish to. My belief is that music should be enjoyed by all who study it, not only our choristers and high achieving instrumentalists – this is what I aim to encourage and sustain at ECS. This is indeed evident in performances at every level at ECS already – I’m struck by how keen our students are to participate in all concerts and take part in ensembles and choirs. I especially enjoyed the performance of ‘Kumbaya’ at the Harvest Festival given by our youngest choir (The Hall House Choir), which included not only the tender voices of our nursery children, but the entire Pre-Prep. Later in the term I was enthralled by the participation of 29 of our Years 3-6 pupils all playing solos on their chosen instruments (or singing solos) in the Performers’ Platform.  Other memorable moments for me have been the appropriately moving performance of Gabriel’s Oboe, given by Hector in Year 8 after the 1-minute silence in the ECS Remembrance Service alongside the Senior String Ensemble’s performance of ‘Panis Angelicus’ during the Communion.

Looking ahead to the remainder of term, a number of our Years 5-8 string players will be visiting King’s College, Taunton for further performance experience and gleaning of knowledge at their String Workshop Day, this Monday. As a whole School, we look forward to the magical Carol Service at the end of the term, where you will experience all of our Prep School choirs singing once again.

I am grateful to our Headmaster, James Featherstone, who has shown great trust in my vision for music at ECS. Most of all I would like to thank you as parents for the encouragement you give your children at the start of their life-long musical journey at ECS.

23 November 2018
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