14-year-old Sophie was for nominated for TrinityTalent 2020 for her achievements with the oboe for her Grade 8 exam. She completed her Trinity College London exam online due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Sophie was nominated by her teacher, Rachel Harwood-White, for Artistic Achievement in Classical and Jazz. She said "Sophie is an accomplished and confident oboe performer. She has successfully auditioned for National Childrens’ Orchestra every year since her first audition in 2016. She has also been a member of the Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra since age 9 and was one of the youngest members to successfully audition and join their main orchestra for Grade 7 and above at age 12. She is a member of her school Symphony Orchestra and her school Junior Orchestra. She is a music scholar in her senior school and during this period of lockdown has organised a Chamber Group with a fellow pupil in addition to also playing in a year group Chamber Ensemble."
The Trinity judges said: "Every year she has embraced performance opportunities and pushed herself further, in addition to creating her own. Her national music achievements are laudable."
How has your Trinity qualification influenced your artistic achievements with your art?
My Trinity qualification was a Grade 8 Distinction in the oboe. Achieving this award – particularly during lockdown – has really helped my confidence in performing on the oboe and in tackling new and difficult repertoire. It has also inspired me to push myself further in my musical goals both on the oboe and the piano and as a solo and group performer.
Has taking part in a Trinity qualification helped you to develop wider skills?
Working towards my Grade 8 Oboe and now towards my Grade 8 Piano Trinity qualification has really helped improve my focus and concentration overall – it requires a lot of discipline and a lot of practice, whilst juggling school work, sports and other commitments. Working towards a qualification also gives me a real sense of joy and escape from everyday life – when I play, I can forget about everything, get lost in the music and discover new composers and styles of music.
Please tell us how you found the experience of recording a digital submission for music
In July 2020, I completed my Grade 8 Oboe digital exam. Although I was nervous about performing to the camera, the experience was much more relaxed and easy than I thought it would be. I only did one take in the end because our internet crashed and I only had a certain amount of time with the accompanist, but I think that really helped replicate the experience of a live exam. The instructions for sending the video were really clear and well explained and the results came back really quickly too. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and enabled me to perform music that I enjoy without feeling the stress of a live exam or the worry about having to delay the exam due to lockdown.
Would you like to tell us anything about the challenges you’ve faced this year, and how you’ve overcome them to achieve your qualification?
The biggest challenge I faced was that from March 2020 to when I took my Grade 8 Oboe exam in July I had no live lessons with my teacher at all. I really missed seeing her in person for lessons. It was also really hard to prepare for the exam effectively on Zoom, especially as the internet kept cutting off and it was difficult to hear the tone and the dynamics. Working on the final touches for the pieces was especially difficult. I tried to overcome the problems by really focusing on my practice and by listening really carefully to performances of my chosen pieces so I could gain a better understanding of the music I was playing.
What are the next steps for you following your qualification?
I am so proud to have achieved a distinction in my Grade 8 Oboe exam. My immediate focus is on my Trinity Grade 8 Piano qualification which I will be submitting digitally this week. I have also started to look at the oboe Diploma repertoire and I am currently working on Mozart's Oboe Concerto in C major which I am really enjoying. I love playing in orchestras and this year will continue to play with my school orchestra at Kingston Grammar School, the Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra and National Childrens' Orchestra.
What are your career aims?
I am not entirely sure what I would like to be when I am older, but subjects I would like to work in include those relating to music and science. One thing is for certain, I will keep on enjoying music and playing in orchestras no matter which career I choose.
Have you got any advice for other young people working towards a Trinity qualification or Arts Award?
My advice would be to have fun! Choose exam pieces you love and then enjoy getting to know the pieces and playing them. This will really come across when you play and the audience (and examiner!) will enjoy your performance too.
Read more about the talented young people selected to be featured as part of the TrinityTalent Class of 2020.