My Burford - Mrs Helen Jenkins - Music Administrator

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My Burford - Mrs Helen Jenkins - Music Administrator

Mrs Helen Jenkins Music Administrator

Our Music Administrator for the Burford Institute of Music Mrs Helen Jenkins reflects on her role and time at Burford School as part of our ‘My Burford’ staff feature series. This was first published in issue 9 of The Burfordian for 2023-2024.

The series aims to shine a spotlight on the superb staff team at Burford who make it possible for us to offer ‘the best of education’ to our students.

I have worked at Burford for almost 7 years, starting here in March 2017. My role was a new one, created to support the burgeoning Burford Institute of Music and the expansion of the opportunities on offer. I had previously been self-employed, running my own Forest School business, but when I had to close this, I decided to find something more permanent and stable. I considered going back into either accountancy or Early Years work (I am a qualified Chartered accountant and an Early Years Professional) but when I learnt of the role here at Burford School, it seemed like the ideal opportunity for me as it aligned with my other passion in life, music. 

My main remit is administrative support for the Music department, but this entails much more than that. I am often the first point of contact for enquiries about the department and the team of peripatetic teachers which delivers our instrumental and vocal lessons. I produce all the weekly timetables for these using our fantastic software package, Practice Pal, and I have recently begun to oversee the content on the department’s newly installed digital display boards. This has also expanded my knowledge of graphic design and allowed me to become more creative, an aspect of my role that I particularly enjoy. Being responsible for all the posters, programmes and other visual materials for music is a key part of my job, so I particularly enjoy the run-up to our events when I can experiment with new designs! 

The large number of music events here at Burford is probably the best part of my role – being a French horn player, I can often be spotted in the orchestra or brass ensembles, and I also taught myself trombone so that I could join in with Jazz Band! The students really relish the numerous opportunities that they have to perform and it is fantastic to see their confidence grow as the rehearsals progress. I love hearing their final performances and feel very proud of what they achieve. 

My favourite events of the school year are Star for a Night and the Summer Gala, and these are the ones I look forward to most. I also love the musicals - they are a highlight that happens every two years and give me the chance to work closely not only with the performers but also with everyone behind the scenes who makes the magic happen, like the costume managers and the backstage crew. 

Burford School is a special place, and, although I am biased, I think the team in the Music department is fantastic. My own children did not come to Burford and I realise now that the music opportunities that they had were not nearly as varied or numerous as those received by the students here. The whole school atmosphere is very supportive and students are allowed to grow and develop in their own way, not only musically but in every way. 

It is hard to pick a highlight of my time here as there are so many, although I think the first events that we put on after COVID-19 were particularly special. We were fortunate in 2021 to hold our Christmas Miscellany concert in the Sheldonian Theatre as part of the school’s 450th anniversary celebrations, and it was a lovely occasion at a very spectacular venue, made more poignant by what had gone before. 

Outside of work, I play my horn with the Burford Orchestra and the Radcliffe Orchestra, and I also really enjoy the outdoors. My weekends are usually filled with bike rides and long walks up mountains, alongside training for triathlons, something I started thinking about during lockdown! I have since competed in several sprint events, and I have realised that the buzz I get from competing is hard to beat! 

My to-do list is always quite long as the department is very busy, but at the moment my focus is on the musical, which is coming up at the end of March. I am sourcing props and drafting the programme at the moment, alongside liaising with the costume managers and the outside agencies providing the staging, lighting and props. No two days are the same in the department and I never know really what each week will bring, which is part of the joy of my role!