Imogen O’Connor is a Year 8 student at Jumeirah College, Dubai, and a keen musician who plays the piano, oboe and recorder to a high standard. Some of her greatest musical successes this academic year have been on the recorder — an unusual instrument for students to master to such a high standard.
Why did you start to develop an interest in the recorder and how long have you been playing?
I have been playing the recorder for eight years. I started playing it in music class at school and quickly realised that I really enjoyed it and soon after started taking individual recorder lessons.
What is the best part about playing the recorder?
I really enjoy playing an instrument that other people often dismiss. The recorder is versatile — you can play anything from baroque to jazz and much more in between. People often tell me that they had no idea that the recorder could be anything other than a classroom instrument.
What practice techniques do you adopt and recommend?
Even though it can be tough — the most important thing is to practice regularly. I often find that the thought of practice is much more daunting than when I actually start to play. Then I can lose myself in playing for a very long time. Additionally, it is important to focus on the small detail to create the bigger picture by isolating problem passages and playing them in a variety of rhythms, dynamics and tempi.
What are some of your best musical achievements this academic year?
I was thrilled to get a score of 137 in my Grade 7 recorder exam. I was also selected to perform in the inaugural Kempinski Concertini at the Kempinski MOE, which aims to support young musicians like me. Probably my greatest success was reaching the semi-finals of the Young Musicians of the Gulf Competition in Bahrain in January. I exceeded my goal of reaching the second round and was really proud of myself.
What has been your favourite musical moment(s) this year?
I am currently rehearsing for a special performance at the Global Education and Skills Forum with an international star in a few weeks’ time. I have a feeling that it might top all of my moments so far!
What are your other interests? How do you manage your time to practice and balance your other activities and school work?
I am a keen ballet dancer, and will be taking my Intermediate Foundation exam in April. I also love to play netball. I find that it is important to be really organised with my time and to understand that I will only get my time off once everything has been done.
How does learning to play a musical instrument benefit you?
It helps my brain because I must focus on details and on the bigger picture. It also opens many doors for me, taking me to interesting places and allowing me to meet new people.