Gareth Churcher – Head of Service and Lead Child Protection & Safeguarding Officer
As Head of Service for CMST I take great pride in being the first person to accept this post. I have taken a fairly non-formal route into music education after first studying to be an accountant! After gaining my AAT qualification I found a real enthusiasm and passion for teaching and started to teach for Music Cornwall, the then council run music service.
Before this I learnt to play the Trombone and Piano from the age of 5 and had great successes as principal Trombone for St Keverne Band. Whilst playing for the Youth Band I gained three National Finals first places and two BBC Youth Band of the Year titles. It was whilst playing for the band I met my wife, Claire. We have 3 children Maisy, Milly and Charlie who are already showing an interest in music at a very young age. I have always had a great interest for composition and after completing a licentiate diploma with the Trinity College of London, I have gone on to be successful in a Masters of Fine Art with Falmouth University specialising in composition.
Christine Judge – Team Manager for Curriculum and Vocal (2nd Point of Contact for Child Protection & Safeguarding and responsibilities for Health & Safety)
My love of music began at an early age at home in Southport with my parents who play piano, organ and violin. After gaining grade 8 violin, piano and voice and enjoying many years with Sefton Youth Orchestra I went on to do a Music degree at Manchester University studying these three disciplines as well as music history. I stayed in Manchester to complete my PGCE in music and performing arts before moving to London to teach music, performing arts and drama in secondary schools and sixth forms, latterly as Head of department.
I moved to Cornwall to join the County Music Service in 1999 becoming an Advanced Skills Teacher with the service. I enjoy playing and singing all sorts of genres from folk to classical and love the variety that being in Cornwall and working for Cornwall Music Service Trust offers. My job has enabled me to deliver training across the county and nationally as well as providing many performing and conducting opportunities.
I manage the curriculum and vocal team and teach classroom music, violin, ukelele and singing as well as delivering training alongside bespoke projects in schools and co directing the Cornwall Youth Chamber Choir. I am also currently one of the Cornwall Music Education Hub’s School Engagement Leaders.
Andy Bilham – Team Manager for Keyboard and Jazz
I started playing the piano at the age of 6, and the voilin at the age of 10. After gaining Grade VIII in both and playing violin in both the Falmouth Youth Orchestra and the Cornwall Youth Orchestra, I went over the border to study Performing Arts at Leicester Polytechnic.
After graduating I joined a travelling theatre company based in Loughborough and travelled all over mainland Britain, and an overnighter to Shetland! I then moved to London where I joined the staff at Professional Percussion, and then subsequently Percussion Superlines, which imported the PSL drum and percussion range.
A chance meeting led to a job with the Hertfordshire Music Service based in St. Albans in 1988, and I remained there becoming Percussion Instrumental Leader until I returned with my family to Cornwall in 1998 so that my daughter could be brought up nearer to her close relatives in Redruth.
I began teaching for Cornwall Music Service the following year, and helped out with the Cornwall Youth Jazz Orchestra (CYJO) the year after that. When Bob Peters retired I took over the running, and the Orchestra is still going strong 15 years later. I teach piano, keyboard, drum kit and jazz piano, as well as samba, a more recent interest which gives me great satisfaction.
Janet Elston – Team Manager for Ensemble and Progression
I grew up in Rotherham, Yorkshire where I learned to play the clarinet and then the saxophone. I played in lots of bands and orchestras and I just loved it, so decided that a career in music was for me. I played in the National Youth Wind Orchestra for several years and this is when my love for wind orchestras was born.
I took my degree at Huddersfield and a post-grad at Bretton Hall and throughout these years I played in several ensembles and orchestras, including a professional clarinet quartet which toured the country.
I was delighted to get my first teaching post in Cornwall and I am still here, many years later. I still do a lot of playing and am now the Ensemble Manager, conductor of Triggshire Wind Orchestra and the CYWO and my teaching area is North Cornwall.
Karen Frost – Team Manager for Strings and Pastoral Care Officer
Having taught the violin and viola for 30 years, I still really enjoy teaching a mix of ages and abilities and believe that every child, whatever their background should be given the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and experience the joy of playing in an ensemble for their life enhancing qualities.
In addition to my roles as string team manager and pastoral care officer, I run two weekly string ensembles for pupils in the St. Austell/Roseland area, Restormel Junior Strings and the St. Austell Chamber Orchestra. Music making is an integral part of every day life in Cornwall and in my spare time I am actively involved in music making for many local orchestras and choral societies, notably Three Spires Singers, Truro Choral Society, Cornish Sinfonia and many more as well as performing with a professional string quartet which plays regularly for weddings and other events.
Sara Munns – Team Manager for Brass
I learned the Trumpet with John Austin and David Frost and was a founder member of the Cornwall Youth Wind Orchestra. During my time at St.Austell Sixth Form college I was principal trumpet in the Cornwall Youth Orchestra and Cornwall Youth Brass Ensemble, I also played for Cornwall Youth Jazz Orchestra as well as many local orchestras and choral societies. Nowadays I coach the Cornwall Youth Brass Ensemble and support the Cornwall Youth Wind orchestra.
After gaining my music degree from the London College of Music and my Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Plymouth University, I returned to the South West and taught music in secondary schools across the area.
During the summer exam season, I am a moderator for A Level music performance examinations.
When the opportunity arose to work for the Cornwall Music Service Trust, I grabbed it and now thoroughly enjoy visiting a variety of schools delivering a range of brass lessons form key stage 2 – 5, whole class, individual and small group. I run the St.Keverne Junior band during term time and the Keskowethyans brass ensemble. As a performer I play in a wide variety of genre from Brass band to brass quintet, funk band and orchestra. I’m equally at home playing or conducting.
Elizabeth Sibley – Team Manager for Guitar and Pastoral Care Officer
I teach guitar, ukulele and piano in Truro and on the Roseland. I studied at Sheffield University where piano was my first instrument. Like the piano, the guitar being both a solo and harmonic instrument has always featured strongly in my musical perspective. I played the guitar as a teenager and was delighted to carry on as I quickly realised how valuable the guitar was in an educational setting.
I completed the ABRSM Certificate of Teaching course and subsequently a PGCE to enable me to teach class music too. I particularly enjoy whole class instrumental teaching, when well managed in partnership with the class teacher the results can be so very rewarding to all involved. I accompany the Fal River Strings and play with the CMST Classical Guitar Ensemble.
Verena Watkiss – Team Manager for Woodwind
Cornish born and bred, I learned flute and piano from an early age. I studied music at Helston Community College and joined their jazz band after taking up the saxophone.
I went on to take a jazz and popular music degree at Middlesex university, followed by a PGCE in Music Education and became head of music for 10 years at a local secondary school.
After being a member of both the Cornwall and National Youth Jazz orchestras, I now enjoy leading a successful local big band – Cornish Roots.
As a player, I enjoy playing regularly in local bands and shows.
I am currently based in the Helston area and teach woodwind, keyboards and curriculum provision in local schools.
James Robinson AGSM.,LTCL - Percussion Team Manager
I began studying timpani and percussion in 1983 with Paul Hiley in Truro. From 1989 I studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Corkhill, Terry Emery, David Johnson and Michael Skinner . Since graduating in 1993, I have worked as a freelance percussionist in the UK and overseas, in genres spanning classical, pop, jazz, theatre and television.
I have performed with the English Chamber Orchestra, English National Ballet, London Concert Orchestra, Moscow City Ballet, the Orchestra of St. John’s Smith Square, the English Bach Festival Orchestra, London Brass Virtuosi, and Glyndebourne Touring Opera.
Theatre and television engagements have included backing work for Bonnie Langford, Roy Hudd, Rick Wakeman, Ruby Turner, the King’s Singers, Richard Stilgoe, Peter Skellern, John Nettles and Jenny Agutter and Holiday on Ice.
My television credits include Wycliffe for ITV, commercials for Siemens, BBC’s Choir of the Year at the Royal Albert Hall, and the film The Vacillations of Poppy Carew starring Tara Fitzgerald.
I played percussion, keyboards and guitar for the hit dance show Dein Perry's Tap Dogs for over 5 years beginning with the West End production at the Lyric Theatre featuring the original Australian cast to subsequent tours across the UK and Europe.
I am principal timpanist / percussionist with the Cornish Sinfonia, Three Spires Singers, St. Mary’s Singers and Duchy Opera in addition to performing with many local choral societies. I also perform regularly with the Ten-Tors Orchestra, The British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, London-based percussion ensemble 'Drumstruck' and I am a member of the recently formed contemporary music ensemble Kevos.
Aside from performing, I have always maintained a busy teaching schedule. Whilst living in London I taught for Berkshire Young Musicians Trust, St.Paul's Cathedral School and was visiting teacher at the Guildhall School of Music Junior Department. More recently I havegiven masterclasses for Felstead School, Essex and Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith in addition to adjudicating percussion competitions at both. Formerly a demonstrator for Sabian Cymbals Limited, I have conceived many educational masterclasses for the company, designed to encourage children into orchestral percussion.
I am proud to be percussion team manager for CMST and currently teach at Truro College, Penryn College and Truro School.
Steve Clifford - Ensemble Co-ordinator Manager
I studied clarinet under Colin Courtney in London and on leaving college joined the Royal Air Force as a musician. I was posted to the RAF Central Band and performed with them for 26 years. During my military career, I performed with the RAF Central Band, The RAF Squadronaires and the RAF Dance Orchestra, touring and performing throughout the world including USA, Japan, Africa and Europe. During my time in London, I taught woodwind in Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Bedfordshire schools.
On retiring to Cornwall, I joined the county's Music Service and I am the County Orchestral Co-Ordinator. I teach in schools and colleges from Truro through to Saltash and I am the Musical Director of Sax Is Our Business.
I'm also a past RAF Water Ski champion and my current hobbies include mountaineering, mountain biking and walking my German Shepherd ‘Skye’.
Steve Hawker - Team Manager with responsibilities for Special Education Needs
Growing up in Cornwall, music and learning the piano were almost as important as going to the beach. Sadly there were no beaches near Wells Cathedral School, but my studies there in piano, harpsichord, chamber music and composition moved on apace, with plenty of performing opportunities, including getting to the BBC Young Musician semi-finals, and televised masterclass. Further studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Cambridge, and Warwick Universities moved progressively further away from the sea.
A return to Cornwall was inevitable, and happened following training and working in the Midlands as a community musician specialising in "musical inclusion" - work with young people with special needs, disabilities, or with emotional, social, behavioural, or mental health issues. Inclusion work seeks to address some of the barriers many young people face in having access to learn an instrument, make music with others, and experience the transformational effect music can have in the life of a young person.
It's an honour to have been asked to become Inclusion Manager for CMST, and to work for a music service that is fully supportive of inclusion. New areas of work are being developed, including projects in special schools, and creating inclusive ensembles where music technology allows students with disabilities to play in an orchestra. We work closely with Cornwall Music Education Hub, and other partners to raise aspirations, provide training for staff and schools, and increase equality of access to music.
Ross Hamilton BMus PGCE - Communications Manager
I began my musical journey learning piano from the age of 5. On joining Mullion School I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take percussion lessons with Paul Hiley. Soon after, I became a member of the Cornwall Youth Orchestra and the Cornwall Youth Percussion Ensemble. During my A-Level courses at Helston School I was a member of the Helston School Jazz Orchestra under the direction of John Austin. Concert tours with these groups included performances at the Edinburgh Festival and Montreux Jazz Festival.
Further studies took place at Cardiff University where I gained a Bachelor of Music (Honours) degree. During my final year I successfully auditioned to perform Rosauro’s Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra in City Hall, Cardiff.
On returning to Cornwall I began to pick up some instrumental teaching work, initially on a supply basis, before taking up a teaching post with the then council-run music service in 2002. Having gained a few years peripatetic teaching experience I embarked upon a part-time Post-Graduate Certificate of Education specialising in Secondary Music with Christ Church Canterbury University and qualified in 2009.
I am proud to be a member of Cornwall Music Service Trust, maintaining a busy teaching schedule and coaching the percussion section of the Cornwall Youth Orchestra. I have recently been appointed as Communications Manager keeping the CMST website and social media output up-to-date.
As a performer, I play drums and percussion for local shows including, most recently, Priscilla – Queen of the Desert, Rent, Grease, Legally Blonde and Sister Act. I was a member of the 9-piece funk band 4 Tons of Funk and more recently The Futons.
I also perform with local orchestras and choral societies including Three Spires Singers, Truro Choral Society and Penzance Orchestral Society.