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News > Life After Hymers > Music at Hymers and Beyond

Music at Hymers and Beyond

Michael Bridger's (OH 1950-57) whole life has been involved with music, starting with his decision to include Music in his O level choices
Michael Bridger, OH 1950-57
Michael Bridger, OH 1950-57

While at Hymers between 1950 and 1957, I had organ lessons with Graham Watson, at that time the college's music teacher. Out of school hours I practised on a Compton Electrone organ situated on the platform at the front of the main hall that was used to accompany hymns and on which a short organ voluntary was played each morning before the assembly. When choosing which O levels to take, I and one or two other pupils wanted to include Music and subsequently A level Music. We thought we were probably the first Hymers pupils to make those choices, “boldly going where no man had gone before”. I still remember my class roll call in the early years that started Alder, Austin, Bradnum, Bratley, Bridger…

Music was my choice to study at university. I applied for a scholarship at Cambridge and was offered a place, but at 16 was considered too young and was advised to start my studies after completing National Service, which at that time was optional rather than compulsory. This was not an attractive prospect because I hadn't particularly enjoyed my unenthusiastic participation in the Hymers Combined Cadet Force. I had however enjoyed accompanying a fellow pupil, Peter Neumann OH 1952-59, who played the violin. His parents both taught Mathematics at Manchester University (actually cycling there from Hull periodically!) and on one occasion when we were practicing I mentioned my university choice dilemma to his father, who drew my attention to a scholarship then being offered at Manchester University. I read the brochure, applied, and was accepted for immediate entry. Fellow students included my future wife (seen in the photo); we are now in our 60th year of marriage with three daughters and three grandchildren but would never have even met without that serendipitous advice from Peter's father!

Subsequently, I taught music at Counthill and then Poundswick schools in the Manchester area, both transitioning at that time from grammar to comprehensive, and then into HE at Crewe College of Education, where I was pleased to re-encounter Peter Doughty OH 1951-58, another Hymers ex-pupil who was already an English lecturer there - he and I have continued in occasional contact ever since. Crewe College of HE transitioned into Crewe and Alsager College of HE. Much later, in 1983, I was appointed Head of School of Music at Middlesex Polytechnic, and the constant transitioning continued when the polytechnic gained university status - it had clearly been a period of constant change in the world of education!

At Middlesex, I was made Professor of Music (now emeritus) to add to my accumulated Ph.D. and MA awards and in addition to the usual teaching and administrative responsibilities I developed a strong interest in course development and validation processes, which led to a link role between the University and the School of Audio Engineering (SAE), jointly involved in establishing BA/BSc programmes around the world. Needless to say, the transitioning process continued when SAE became part of the Australian-based Navitas group of education enterprises…

Looking back, my life has perhaps had a more consistent trajectory through constant change than I realised! And I have, of course, been impressed and delighted by the news of Hymers' subsequent specialised focus on music…

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