Duncan Fraser

Duncan Fraser Image

Name: Duncan Fraser
Job: Teacher of Music and Musicianship, St Edward’s School Oxford & Royal Academy of Music
Industry: Education
Class of: 2017
House: Clyde

What do you do?

I currently work as a teacher and musician around London and the south of England. I have recently joined the teaching staff at the Junior Royal Academy of Music and also teach at an independent school in Oxford. Before this, I held the position of Head of Lower School Music at King’s College School in Wimbledon, and previously taught at Brighton College in East Sussex. I balance my work as an educator and animateur with pursuing freelance opportunities as a clarinettist, conductor, and pianist.

How did you get to where you are today?

After leaving HSOG, I studied for a degree in Music at the University of Cambridge. Unsure exactly what path I wished to pursue upon leaving school but inspired by some of the incredible teachers, I felt like studying an academic degree in music would be something that I enjoyed and which kept options open for the future.

My time at Cambridge was an amazing experience. From directing an opera at the Edinburgh Fringe, to performing orchestral works like Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Mahler’s Symphony No.2, I forged some incredible memories and friendships. It all ended rather suddenly however with the first Covid lockdown coinciding with my final term at university.

After graduating, I was unsure what I wanted to do with my career, particularly with the impact the pandemic had on the arts. Eventually, I ended up accepting an assistant teacher job at an independent school in Brighton. Being on the other side of the classroom and working in a school surprised me due to the range of skills it required. Teaching requires you to posses excellent leadership qualities and the ability to be proactive and organised.

From here, I joined a leading boy’s school in London on a short-term basis as Head of Lower School Music. I led the provision of music in years 7 and 8, providing students with performance opportunities and planning their music curriculum. It is amazing working with young people; they can come up with truly unique ideas and it is rewarding when you can see their own enthusiasm for learning beginning to develop and take shape.

More recently, I have started two new jobs: one, teaching musicianship at the Junior Royal Academy of Music, and the other continuing my work as a classroom teacher at a school in Oxford.

What is a standout memory of your time at The High School of Glasgow?

My time at HSOG was filled with many memorable moments. From trips to Utah, Berlin, and Normandy, to small and innocuous moments in the classroom that are brought up anytime I catch-up with old school friends. Mr Toner’s Higher English class is always a source of many stories!

That being said, my standout memory must be taking part in our production of West Side Story in November 2016. Looking back, it’s amazing to think that we managed to perform such an ambitious and difficult musical while at school. It really is a testament to the quality of the performing arts at the High School that we were able to pull it off! In particular, I’m grateful to Mrs Stuart for all her work and inspiring presence in this production, and of course to our esteemed director, Mr Robertson, who helped me perfect my Puerto Rican accent.

What one piece of advice would you give to current pupils and recent leavers as they look to their futures?

It’s so important for current pupils to realise that there is more to the world than Glasgow and the West of Scotland. We are now part of a society that has become increasingly globalised; opportunities exist and are there for the taking across the world. With the growing power of technology, it is easier than ever to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds, something I think pupils should be aware of when considering future careers. With that in mind, I would encourage pupils to take risks and strive to be ambitious in what they do. There is so much out there to see and experience; if you want to make something happen, then go out there and do it!

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