Shrewsbury School

A Week in the Life of Henry Thomas (Ch 3)

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Monday 16th April
I can’t believe how quickly the Easter holidays have flown by, probably not helped by the fact that I have only just got back from 8 days with the National Children’s Orchestra in Dorset. I arrived back at school at about 4pm, having already texted my housemaster for this term’s Churchill's door code, to find I was in a dorm quite close to Matron this time....sigh! Closer to the showers, though, and my new room-mates are a good group, like ALL CHURCHILL'S 3rd FORMERS OF COURSE!. I had third choice of bed, so a bunk-bed this time, but once I got organised, not bad. Poster up on my pin-board, sorted! My parents then took me out for tea before dashing back to school in time for them to go to the parents' talk on internet safety. We third formers had our talk an hour later, while they went to the 3rd form Parents’ Evening (gulp!). The talk mostly confirmed all my father’s misgivings about "the evils of the internet"; what a shame we have to live with it in these modern times ha ha! No idea how the Parents’ Evening went, but I expect I will find out soon enough. So quite a busy first few hours, but very relaxed compared to what was to follow.........

Henry at the Boathouse this weekTuesday 17th April
My alarm woke me at 6.30am and I fell out of bed and into the shower as if I had never been away from school. I was queuing outside KH by 7:10am, and was back in Churchill's by 7:35am. Whole school assembly included an announcement of all the music exam results with distinctions from last term. This meant I heard my grade 8 trumpet exam result read out, which was both great, but quite embarrassing. Lessons then came thick and fast, but all I could think about was...ROWING at 4pm! I had missed not being able to row for 3 whole weeks, and couldn't wait to get back out on the river. I had missed the rowing camp in the Easter holidays, which meant I had not learnt "racing starts", but I soon got the hang of things. After tea I went to the Maidment Building and squeezed in a trumpet practice, and then sat there wondering why no-one turned up for Wind Band practice! On returning to my House, I discovered it had been cancelled, but at least it meant I could try and keep up with my Top schools workload, which was an unexpected bonus!

Wednesday 18th April
Up at 6.30 again, and rang mum after breakfast to say happy birthday (always good to remember these things, guys!!!)  Remembered at the last minute it was CHAPEL TODAY NOT FRIDAY! Aahh I thought, that’s in five minutes. I quickly packed my bag, threw my jacket on and walked quickly to chapel, turning up just in time, PHEW! Lessons went past, as they do, my mind collecting random bits of information on the way. By Lunch time my stomach was screaming for FOOD, so I rushed down to KH for lunch. 20 minutes later and I’m getting changed for rowing when I realise I don’t have a water bottle. I dash to the grot shop, purchase a “Shrewsbury School” water bottle for a very reasonable price (!!) and rush to fill it up before racing down to the river. My evening was spent rehearsing for the “Magic Flute” concerts with the Orchestra, followed of course by more Top schools, and then bed.

Thursday 19th April
Third form assembly this morning, which included a talk by Mr Hudson on “Shrewsbury slang”. After lunch the third form had a Duke of Edinburgh meeting, telling us what equipment we would need for our imminent practice Bronze D of E expeditions. I have been put into a group of seven boys, and my particular role is going to be the “team cook”. RESULT! Squeezed in a piano lesson at 4pm, then trumpet lesson after tea, followed by Trumpet Quartet and Big Band rehearsals. My bike lock broke in the midst of all this chaos, so I had to take the wheel off to secure it. Finally got back to my dorm to catch up with Top schools. The end of another average Shrewsbury day!

Friday 20th April
I started the day with a piano practice, which always makes me feel very saintly. I never have enough time to practise, but there’s no point getting stressed about it. Every once in a while I get a break and can really get my teeth into a piece, and the rest of the time I just do my best.

Lessons flew by in a blur, then a rehearsal with my accompanist for Sunday’s Senior Brass Competition. Rowing was good although chilly and wet, and after tea it was the usual list of music rehearsals; this time Junior and Senior brass. Is it Friday already?

Saturday 21st April
Churchill’s House seems to be undergoing some sort of weird transformation today. I went downstairs to do an early morning piano practice to find that the pianos had both disappeared! Black bin bags seemed to be covering all the walls, and all the sixth formers were trying hard to appear rather bored and not at all excited! Then I remembered……the House Dance tonight! Mr Hudson had been trying to persuade us younger boys all week to have an “extra Coach weekend”, and it occurred to me that this could possibly be the reason why. I always love Saturday mornings, and today was no exception. Despite the forecast, the day had dawned bright and sunny, without a cloud in sight, and I began to grin from ear to ear at the thought of rowing after lunch in such perfect conditions. (Big mistake!) First lesson of the day was Design. Max Walley and I are designing a catapult, and it hardly seems like work by comparison to most lessons… quite relaxing in fact. The rest of the morning flew by, and before I knew it I was wandering down to rowing and wondering with Guy Cabral whether that huge black cloud was going to pass overhead without drenching us. It did not! Still a good training session though, despite having to dodge the “Sabrina” boat in between training drills

After rowing I met up with my parents and went home for the night, as per my Housemaster’s wishes of course, and nothing to do with the fact that we were going out for a Thai meal to celebrate my mum’s recent birthday. Many cloves of garlic later, I fell into bed at home near Worcester, and far too soon it was Sunday morning….

Sunday 22nd April
Unfortunately my extra “Coach weekend” had to be shorter than most as I had to be back at School in time for the Senior Brass Prize at 11.30am. This took the form of a master class given by Paul Archibald. We were all around grade 8 standard, and I was pleased with how it went overall. I was given some useful tips on how to improve the Haydn piece I played (wish it had been before my exam, though!). The results are to be announced during tonight’s concert, so they are dragging out the pain, but at least I could now relax. Off to the Albright Hussey Hotel for lunch with parents (not a bad haul of meals out this weekend, methinks!), before getting back to the Maidment in time for a pre-concert rehearsal at 5pm. I am performing with the Junior Brass, Senior Brass and Brass Quartet, so a busy evening. Not sure when I will have time to finish writing up my week for the School newsletter! Maybe tomorrow!

The concert went well, with a varied selection of pieces played. Mr Archibald helped out, as did a number of Old Salopians, and he performed some impressive solos, my favourite being when Mr Moore accompanied him on piano and he performed his own arrangement of the "Overture to Carmen". The Brass prizes were announced, and I was both surprised and pleased to win joint first place with my fellow Churchillian Laurence Jeffcoate in the Senior competition. Not as pleased as Mr Hudson, though, who was heard to say afterwards that he was especially glad that we were both wearing our House ties!

I was kept busy all evening, performing with various ensembles in the concert, but my favourite pieces to play were probably  "The Battle of Jericho" with the Junior Brass, and also Bohemian Rhapsody with the Trumpet Quartet.

By this stage in the evening, however, my lip and cheeks had gone numb, and I couldn't get the top notes any longer. So I just went down an octave and hoped the Headmaster didn't notice! Mr Moore hijacked proceedings after the interval to announce that Mr Gibbon had been teaching at the school for 25 years, and he presented him with a thank you present, of the liquid variety of course.

As I wandered back to Churchill's in an exhausted daze after the concert, I slowly realised there was something I had not yet done.....note to self; I must remember to learn my German vocabulary tonight, sometime in between changing my duvet cover and brushing my teeth! Humph!!

Henry playing at Birmingham Town Hall in March 2012I know I have barely been back at School a week, but a Shrewsbury week is more like a month anywhere else! The start of another week looms, but the days are longer and lighter, and they may eventually start to get warmer. I have the Birmingham Regatta to look forward to next Saturday, as well as next weekend’s performances of “The Magic Flute”. I dread to think how many extra Orchestra rehearsals that will mean......oh well, at least I won't have time to get bored......

The End

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