Sophie Cleobury

A brief history of your career since leaving the University of Birmingham

I worked in Arts Management in London for seven years, as Planning Coordinator at the National Opera Studio. I then moved to the Royal Opera House, first as the Artistic Administrator of OperaGenesis, and then as Producer for the Linbury Theatre. Since 2011, I have been a secondary school Music Teacher, and I have also recently taken up the post of Head of Music at The Royal Ballet School.

Skills and knowledge from your postgraduate degree have you used in your career so far

The skills I obtained by teaching Pre-U Music and also EPQ at my previous school have been useful. These exams/courses stretch students beyond A-Level, so it was useful having the experience of learning how to research, as this helped me teach my students to a higher level.

Main work activities in your current role

Running a Music Department, which involves organising the curriculum, team of peripatetic staff, concert programmes and rehearsals throughout the academic year.

A typical day in your job

A typical day for me is very busy! This is the nature of the school I work in, as any music rehearsals have happen before the school day begin. The days involve teaching Years 7-11, and when I'm not teaching I'm busy managing the Department. I'm also a tutor to a selection of student in the school, so there is pastoral work to sort out too.

Main challenges in your role

The mix of people you come into contact with, such as students, teachers, admin staff and parents, can prove a challenge. You have to know how to approach each of these very different groups of people, and pitch your conversations accordingly. Keeping musical standards as high as possible is also difficult. It's a ballet studio, so the focus is completely on ballet, so I have to fight a fair bit to get music recognised, so it is given the status it deserves!

Why did this type of work appeal to you?

After 7 years in Arts Management, which I loved, I realised I didn't want to sit behind a desk organising things for the rest of my life. Running a Music Department allows me to enjoy teaching students, and lets me bring my personality to my work. I am allowed to be creative with my lessons and what I choose to put on in the school concerts each year. The desk time is less frequent and even enjoyable, up to a point, so for me it's a really great mix of different responsibilities.

Advice for students looking to enter this area of work?

Work hard and gain as much experience as you can. In the first school I worked in, I ended up being a Tutor to all years, including sixth form and I ran a whole host of different music clubs, helped out with rehearsals, went on tours and trips (not just music), helped with things like Duke of Edinburgh and ran the Ski Trip. Teaching is what you make of it, and being able to be involved in such a huge number of activities within the school community really makes the job for me.