Staff Spotlight: Clive Wears, Director of Music at Corby Business Academy
As a Trust, we fundamentally believe in ‘music for all’ so we’re very proud of the Trust-wide engagement that happens between our professional music leads across our schools.
Director of Music, Clive Wears has been part of Corby Business Academy since it opened fifteen years ago. He grew up surrounded by music and his passion for teaching the subject is palpable! We interviewed him to find out more…
Clive, tell us a bit about your background…
My father was a music teacher in Northamptonshire for 30 years and I was brought up in the Salvation Army, which is a church that’s very musically focused, so it was always around me. I had two brilliant music teachers at school who encouraged me to take music further, so those formative years had a huge impact on me.
I studied at Trinity College of Music in London, initially as a timpanist and percussionist studying with John Chimes (Timpanist BBC Symphony Orchestra) and Kevin Nutty (Percussionist BBC Symphony Orchestra). After my degree in London, I studied at Homerton College (University of Cambridge) before embarking on a career in teaching music. That was quite some time ago now!
In 2008, I applied for the Director of Music role at Corby Business Academy, being drawn to it as an exciting new place of learning. During the interview with Andrew Campbell (in the Brooke Weston bungalow!), it was clear that we shared a vision to create a nationally recognised Music Department, with students from a diverse range of abilities and cultures.
What are you particularly proud of?
A performance for Gordon Brown (who was Prime Minister at the time) coming to officially open the school was certainly something I won’t forget! It was in the very early days of the school’s musical journey, so the 40-odd students were all complete beginners, playing a combination of 5 notes on their trumpets and clarinets! I’m not sure how impressed the Prime Minister was, but the enthusiasm was there to see and is something I remember fondly.
I’m proud of the fact that we have created a nationally recognised Music Department, often performing in renowned venues like Birmingham Symphony Hall and The Royal Albert Hall. During my 15 years here, we’ve been on five European tours and played in some brilliant venues across Europe.
We enter national competitions every year and the students love to participate in these, often performing in front of thousands.
We have 2 successful choirs (led by Matthew Smith) and several successful ensembles, including a Senior Concert Band, Junior Concert Band, Big Band, Brass Ensemble (led by Gary Fountain (NMPAT) and a Woodwind Ensemble (led by Pam Carter NMPAT), so it’s a great team.
In total, we’ve got about 120 students playing instruments, all subsidised and supported by the school. These students are so loyal and committed that many of them have never missed a rehearsal in their entire time at CBA. Students often attend up to three rehearsals per week, so it’s a huge testament to their solid work ethic, something that’s part of the culture here.
All of this sits against a relatively bleak national picture for music, so I’m very proud that we’ve bucked the trend, with good numbers for ensemble and curriculum participation in KS4 and KS5.
What is the secret to keeping students engaged in music?
It’s important to have a supportive home environment that enables regular music practice. We’re fortunate to have a great community of parents that help to facilitate this, but we appreciate that it’s not always easy to practice at home, so we offer plenty of opportunities in school time too.
My mantra is to keep the students busy and ensure that they’ve always got an event to look forward to. We put on a concert every term because the ‘live’ performance aspect (often of their own compositions) is really important in keeping them excited about music.
Another great way to keep students enthused is to take them to watch live musical performances. We went to see Tosca performed at the Royal Opera House in London before Christmas and a lucky group of students were invited by the professional timpanist of the ROH to a backstage tour whilst the performance was in progress. It was an incredible experience!
Any final thoughts?
We have students who left this school 14 years ago that fondly remember their time at CBA for their experiences and opportunities within music. Some of them have gone on to study music at universities and conservatoires and it’s largely down to the opportunities they had to engage in music performance and enjoyment whilst here.
It makes me very happy to know that the outlook for music at Corby Business Academy remains strong with some really exciting projects in the pipeline for the future.
The support from the Brooke Weston Trust to promote music at Corby Business Academy has been unwavering. For this, I must personally thank both Simon Underwood (Principal), Andy Burns and of course Dr Andrew Campbell. All recognise the enormous benefits that music can bring to a school and the community.