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SSAT meets… Dominic Peckham

nc16-blog-header-929dominic-peckham-250x250Dominic Peckham: achieving, when you’ve started without confidence and experience

Soon to open the SSAT National Conference 2016, Dominic Peckham is regarded as one of the UK’s finest dynamic orchestral and choral conductors of his generation. As well as working with some of the top orchestras and choirs in this country and abroad, he launched the National Youth Choir of Kenya and this year has worked in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, Singapore, Nepal, the Netherlands and China.

His presentation to the National Conference will challenge teachers and school leaders to “put themselves in the shoes of the young people they serve, and remind them of the importance of teamwork at every level.”

Reflecting the conference theme of making the impossible possible, he recalls one of his first top-level conducting jobs, in the world premiere of a very challenging piece which was “beyond the capacity of any of the singers. It was an incredible challenge. I tried to apply my own mantra, sharing concerns and preparation with others.

“Demonstrating what I wanted”

“I physically and vocally demonstrated what I wanted rather than just dictating it. I think it succeeded because, having been a professional singer, I knew what they were going through.”

Film of Dominic’s work with groups of young people in Kenya from widely varying backgrounds shows the high intensity activity, focus – and fun – he brought to their performance. He loved that work: “they are like sponges, they listen to everything you say, (unlike many young people in this country). It made me think we need to remember what young people are going through. Priorities in schools, and education generally, have changed so much and teachers are not always aware of the pressures young people are facing in and outside school.

Renewing confidence

“I’d love it if school leaders and teachers took from my session a sense of the importance of renewing confidence – in yourself and your students – every day. Working on a live performance, even in rehearsal, means energising people in an out-of-control situation. The one thing you must avoid is monotony, a stagnant performance; putting on the same performance every day, or even worse a CD or the like. Constantly renewed energy is needed to lead young people in their live performance, be it in music or any other form of endeavour.

“You can achieve a huge amount, even when you start with a daunting absence of confidence and experience.”


Find out more and book a place at the SSAT National Conference 2016. SSAT member schools receive one complimentary place for both days of the conference.

Read SSAT meets… Marcus Orlovsky.

Read SSAT meets… Andy Hargreaves.

Read SSAT meets… Baroness Sue Campbell.

Follow Dominic on Twitter.

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