Inspiring the Next Generation: Simon McCullough

Welcome to a new weekly series where we highlight the great work that RBC alumni are doing in the field of music education.

Each week our guest will reveal insights such as what led them to do what they are currently doing, the projects they have been involved in since graduating, what inspires them on a daily basis, and what advice they would give to any music student considering working as a music educator in the future, whether full-time or as part of a rewarding portfolio career.

Episode 11: Simon McCullough

Simon McCullough

Years studied 2008-2012, 2017-2018

Course BMus, Hons top-up

First study Cornet         

I am an Early Years (3-5yrs) teacher at St Louis School, Milan - one of Europe's finest schools, which is ranked second in the International Baccalaureate results table. I play a key role in promoting creativity through expressive arts to the pupils daily. As an Early Years teacher who promotes music through extracurricular activities, and carefully planned and constructed lessons, I can promote the use of music effectively within their education.

The Early Years curriculum is focused around expressive arts, which is fantastic. Children have an exceptional ability to copy and imitate teacher-led sessions, which plays a key role in promoting social communicative learning through peer learning. This basically means that in my role, I can sow the seed for an expressive art session and the children will actively participate sharing musical ideas with their friends. Music is such a powerful tool for early childhood development.

Before re-joining RBC to top up my BMus degree, I was the Musical Director of Dalton Town Junior Band. This was a stepping stone as the children were from various backgrounds and learning abilities. Most of the children had only been playing for a few weeks, and I had learnt to develop my pedagogical approaches to carefully rearrange the music for individual ability, while encouraging the students to work as a team to make music.

After six to eight months of hard work, the band entered the South Cumbria Music Festival achieving second place out of five bands. This was the turning point that helped me to decide to finally achieve my degree at RBC and fulfil a career I genuinely love, teaching. 

I feel fortunate to have studied music pedagogy at RBC. These sessions were often dynamic and always interesting as I had to expand learning through creative teaching strategies, which I still use within my classroom today.

The best part of my job is that it’s not a laborious nine-to-five role. It’s an exciting one, especially introducing and promoting many musical aspects within a child’s education. I passionately feel that music allows children of an early age to express themselves without pressure and promotes positive learning outcomes through enjoyment.

In my recreational time, I enjoy performing Latin and Jazz music on trumpet in a local restaurant and writing junior brass band music. Unfortunately, I miss playing in a brass band, as they do not have them in Milan.

Finally, if you want to pursue a career in music, you don’t necessarily need to be a music teacher. There are many other avenues that you can take, which incorporate a passion of music. Early Years education has allowed me to actively incorporate the arts into daily classroom activities, which is supported by the curriculum.

If you are one of RBC’s alumni and would like to take part in this feature, contact Interim Vice-Principal (Learning and Teaching) Luan ShawHead of Pedagogy Dr Adam Whittaker or Head of Learning and Participation Richard Shrewsbury.