Former Student Profile - Tara Chapman, Class of 2006
We look forward to welcoming back Tara on Tuesday 2 March 2020 for the Year 12 Inspire & Career Talk
What years did you attend WHS?
1998 – 2006
What did you get up to at WHS in terms of study and extracurricular activities?
My main interests at school were in humanities and creative subjects, Music and Drama, and I participated in many school plays, musicals, but primarily in the extra-curricular singing provision in the Music department, where I used to spend a lot of my free time just hanging out with friends. I also participated in the Dance troupe and was involved in the annual dance shows as a performer. I organised the year group choir for the Year 12s in the Bailey Murphy Music competition.
My optional GCSEs were French, History, Music and Drama and my AS Levels were in Music, Drama, History and Government and Politics, dropping the Drama after one year. I won the Karen Jordan Memorial Award for Singing when I left in 2006.
Do you have any fond memories you’d like to share?
- Spending most of my free time in 6th form hanging around in the Music department with my friends and Mrs C, and music tours every year.
- Enjoying cake Fridays in Politics lessons, and generally the discussions and debates that we had every week with Ms Chamberlain.
- History A Level class with Mrs Tokeley, as it was so interesting and enjoyable as everyone loved the subject as much as each other.
What did you do after school?
I did not initially want to study music, as I thought I wasn’t of a high enough standard (despite getting an A at A Level), and I have always loved essay subjects, in particular my A Levels in history and politics, so applied and was accepted to Cardiff University to study Politics and Philosophy in 2006.
Cardiff University have this brilliant scheme whereby anyone studying arts, social sciences or humanities have a 3rd of their credits free in the first year so that you can take other subjects, allowing you to settle into a degree choice that you are very happy with for your final two years. I took Music modules without any hesitation, and after the first year decided that music was where I wanted to study so I changed my degree to Music and Philosophy for the final two years.
I sang on a student scholarship with the BBC National Chorus of Wales during my time at university which gave me many great opportunities such as singing in Paris for the Festival de Saint-Denis, and singing at the Albert Hall for the BBC Proms every year and in Wales for the last night of the Proms, in addition to taking part in many recordings, for CD and live for BBC Radio 3.
After university, I moved back to Berkshire to pursue singing as a career, studying with teachers and coaches from the Royal Academy of Music, but after several years of workshops and travel, I decided that as more of a homebody, a career as a musician was not for me. I studied a PGCE in Secondary Music at Reading University from 2011-2012, gaining distinction in both the practical and theory aspects of my degree, and spent two years classroom teaching at Great Marlow School.
What are you up to now?
In 2014, I decided that a portfolio career of teaching and performing was preferable to being in the classroom as it allowed more creative freedom, flexibility around timetable, and a better wage, so I have been working as a freelance musician and teacher since then. My work to date has included working at the prestigious Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals with their Singing4Breathing groups, setting up and running my own charitable organisation for people with chronic lung disease (Singing for Lung Health TCH), performing with various choirs and ensembles as a soloist, working for Hampshire Music Service in classroom and special needs environments, leading the Hampshire County Junior and Show Choirs, running music and singing workshops, working as a singing teacher for stage schools including at BCA Performing Arts and Steppin Out Stars of Tomorrow (formerly Razzamatazz), teaching musical theatre classes to 0-4s, and teaching over 1500 private music lessons.
What do you know now that you didn’t in Year 13 that you’d like to share with current students?
If you are someone like me who enjoys a lot of different subjects and variety in your work, don’t feel like you have to be restricted by career choices; I have always found that in every stage of my university life and career that there are always new opportunities and avenues to be explored, so say yes to opportunities of interest, as you never know where they might take you.