Post People: Dagenham’s community music service champion talks trombones and playing in Les Mis

PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 December 2016

Digby Hunt outside the Community Music Service at Sydney Russell Primary School

Digby Hunt outside the Community Music Service at Sydney Russell Primary School


Deputy head of Community Music Service, Digby Hunt, 58, tells Sebastian Murphy-Bates about about how he inspires pupils with his orchestra

“Back in 1991, I got all the borough’s music support teachers together to help form our service, which aims to provide opportunities for young people with live music.

“Working out of Sydney Russell Primary School in Fanshawe Crescent, Dagenham, we hope to give people an enjoyment of music and currently teach more than 5,000 young people across our schools.

“I’ve always been musical and came from a musical famiy. My mum played piano, which is always useful. When I was four, I saw a marching army band in London. They looked great and they were really loud. I thought ‘I wouldn’t mind having a go at that’ so I started learning piano and went on to learn the trombone and conduct in our orchestra.

“Learning an instrument gives you a great advantage in life; it improves your reading, listening and organisational skills. And it helps what we call ‘corporate skills’, such as making friends and communication. It’s also very challenging, and can improve your language skills while you’re still young.

“After I studied music at Trinity College London, I went off to become a professional trombone player and since then I’ve played in West End shows such as Les Miserables and I’ve also performed music for TV adverts and films. When I wasn’t doing that I taught pupils because I just couldn’t stop playing. I’ve also worked with the Royal Academy of Music.

“As well as teaching children music and hosting workshops with the Royal Opera House, we go round 20 borough schools every year in the run-up to Christmas to give pupils a proper live music experience.

“We try to change the music round a bit by playing orchestral versions of Adele and Beyonce. This year we’ve had a fantastic reception. The kids really enjoyed it.

“Our hope is that we give them a love of music that they keep for the rest of their lives – I think that’s a really important thing to have.”

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