Carl Clausen is a peripatetic teacher with Hampshire County Council’s Music Service and works as a Specialist Co-ordinator, Teacher and County Ensemble Director. He has been with the Music Service for twenty years, and has recently been offered the post of Director of the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra.
Q: Is your job a normal 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday job?
A: No, never! I teach in schools on Mondays and Fridays. I spend Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in my role as Ensemble Coordinator on administration for ensembles, Winchester Area Schools’ Orchestras (WASO), and the Hampshire County Youth Wind Band (HCYWB), as well as developing and organising community performing arts projects and festivals. Oh, and organising the tours and residential courses for the ensembles I’m involved with.
Q: So you have quite a varied job role.
A: Yes. There’s also Wednesday evenings for WASO rehearsals from 5-9pm, Saturdays are devoted to HCYWB rehearsals, and the rest of the weekend is often filled up with concerts and recitals with the ensembles.
Q: That’s a busy week!
A: Yes, but then music is my life. It’s not a job, it’s a vocation. A bit of a cliché, but it’s true.
Q: How do you manage a work-life balance?
A: Luckily my wife and son are also musicians, so I spend part of my working week with them, otherwise I’d never see them… I am very fortunate to have such a patient and supportive family.
Q: Music is obviously a massive part of your life. How did you start?
A: I was born in Chile, and I started playing the cornet in the Salvation Army. I carried on with brass and percussion, although I don’t have time now for personal music. I don’t regret that, as I get such a buzz out of conducting the children and seeing them develop.
Q: Even though you don’t have time for your own music, quite a large part of your work seems to have a performing side to it.
A: Absolutely. Rehearsals and concerts are a performance in themselves. It’s a part that I love, although it can be taxing sometimes as you always have to put on a good show for the children. If you’re below par they know immediately!
Q: What has been the highlight of your career?
A: There are lots. One of the most memorable moments was when I was an assistant conductor with the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, on tour in Chile. I conducted the orchestra in the very same theatre where I went to hear music as a child. A very exciting and emotional event – I made sure I was at the top of my game that evening!
Another one was a year ago when I conducted 797 young musicians from Hampshire at the last night of the Schools Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. We commissioned a new piece ‘The Darwin Dilemma’ so it was a world première.
Q: What are things you dread?
A: Staff meetings and irrelevant bits of paper! Get rid of them. I hope my manager isn’t listening. Actually, maybe that would be a good thing (he laughs).
Q: What advice would you give a new teacher?
A: Go for it 100%, enjoy your work, and believe in young people. Always ask yourself if you’re doing something for yourself or for the children.
Q: You have recently been offered the post of Director of the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra. Congratulations!
A: Thanks, it’s an amazing opportunity.
Q: What challenges lie ahead for you and the Music Service?
A: I would like everyone who wants to, to have the chance to make music – all sorts of music, old and new. Perhaps you could say they should have their feet in the past and their eyes on the horizon. All our pupils are there voluntarily so we’ve got to make the best of every opportunity we can. Like everyone, Hampshire Music Service is living through times of austerity. Luckily we’ve heard that the government is about to launch a National Plan for Music Education. We also benefit from massive support from councillors, officers, schools, parents and of course the children themselves. It’s a great partnership that enables everyone to Participate, Enjoy and Achieve”!