Making Music: Helen Pugh

Helen Pugh is part of Fulham Symphony Orchestra, a group who are registered with Making Music. You can read more about Making Music as an organisation here.

Making Music: Helen Pugh

What is your instrument of choice — including your voice?

I love playing the cello and I also enjoy singing. If I were to play a different instrument, it would have to be the flute or the harp.

What do you love about playing music?

I love working together with other musicians to create something more powerful than anything you could do on your own. I also love the fact that anybody can understand what you are trying to say even if they don't speak your language.

Did you study, or are you currently studying, music at uni?

I studied music as my undergraduate degree.

Why did you join your current group?

I wanted to make sure that I kept up my cello playing to a high standard even though I was primary teaching.

What do you get from the group? 

One of the things I most enjoy about the Fulham Symphony Orchestra is the challenge. Even in two terms of playing with them, I have had the chance to play music I had never even heard of and try playing contemporary works that initially I was scared of. There is a brilliant team spirit in the orchestra which makes the rehearsals and concerts a great experience.

Do you feel there are enough opportunities for young people to find an outlet for their musical talents?

Living in London, I feel privileged that there are orchestras and opportunities for young people to get involved in but I also know that this is not the case everywhere, particularly if you want a large ensemble like an orchestra of high standard.

What more do you think could be done to get young people excited to get into learning music or joining a group? 

I think there needs to be a lot more focus on singing as a way into music. It is the fundamental and most accessible form of music. A lot of musical groups require you to be able to read music however there is so much that you can do and enjoyment you can get even without this skill. Young people shouldn't be put off by this.

One of my highlights has been a university orchestra concert that I organised to introduce primary children to orchestral music. Because we were younger and there was drama and audience participation involved, it changed the image that some of the children had of orchestras as being in posh music halls, dressed up like penguins. Pop-up performances in unusual venues can also have this impact.

Crossover genres are also useful for encouraging young people to get involved and listen to new types of music that are not too far out of their comfort zone.

Fulham Symphony Orchestra /

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