Influence of Twentieth century music

Seeing the brief obituary note for George Cowan brought home to me that our perception of particular masters was very much influenced by the precise time during their tenure when we encountered them. I confess that I did not take to George Cowan on his arrival in September 1964. I distinctly recall Simpson saying in Assembly that we should regard him as Head Master, with Deputy in very small letters. It seems that Simpson definitely had him marked down as his successor, and it was no doubt in an effort to demonstrate his personal qualities both to the school and to its governors that Cowan seems to have set out to establish his firmness as a disciplinarian, and as a ruthlessly efficient administrator. I imagine that Simpson must have impressed upon him that he was fighting a rising tide of non-conformity, engendered by the increasingly, in his view, lax social mores of that era, such as pop music, long hair, pointed shoes and a breakdown of the hitherto unquestioning compliance with previously accepted social norms which he struggled unavailingly to restore. Looking at it as fairly and objectively as I can, I have to say that George Cowan did somewhat over-egg the pudding in that first year, perhaps in an effort to establish his credentials with Simpson, and perhaps also with the governors, especially with the prospect of the headship apparently being dangled before him. From other contributions to this guest-book it seems clear that George Cowan later came to be seen as a fair-minded and benevolent figure, but there is no doubt that his talent as a formidably efficient manager, an essential attribute for anyone holding his position as Deputy Head, was widely recognised. This was perhaps his major contribution to the school. I know from conversations with former masters that Simpson in his time was recognised as an effective manager, whatever reservations some may have had about some of the notions he came up with in his later years, such as house sections, to take one example, and George Cowan, even though he never attained the Headship clearly carried forward that managerial leadership. However, the recollection of my exact contemporary Chris Esmond clearly coincides with my own impression at the time.

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Teen Thoughts: The Influence of Music on Youth
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Good news about Paul Oliver, he's finally out of hospital and back to his Queen Anne house in Oxfordshire but weak and needing care. However, he was immediately back to writing and correcting fallacies in Blues magazines. Regarding Peter Ward's comments on the Merrymen scouts and the Portillo Garratt connections, the picture was quite different from some of our fellow HCS students as it involved large quantities of girls ..... the Garratt household in Stanmore was a hugely sociable open place, with my two sisters bringing in their friends and somehow Phil Saunders, Chris Westerman, Charlie and Justin Portillo and Derek Minor seemed to have lots of connections not so much to Harrow County Girls but to the Royal Masonic, Sacred Heart, Lascelles etc, etc. From Friday to Sunday evenings there was always music, lots of joking and a big cream tea for whoever was around on Sunday afternoon. When we finally had access to our parents' cars it was even more hectic. So Friday evenings with the Merrymen at Blawith Road was often the start to a very social weekend, especially if my two sisters came on the 114 bus from Stanmore and brought some friends. It is true that Charlie married my elder sister, Linda, but he was never a BOAC , or even a BEA pilot. He became a redcap, went into senior BA management and stayed until recently along with his HCS friend Pete Hoggan. Our approach to scouting was mildly sceptical yet amused and aware of its usefulness to many. As to the mentioned 'council estate' at Stanmore this is worthy of a social documentary in itself. It started as a private estate immediately before WW2 but was only half completed when war broke out. Immediately after the war the rest was completed as a council estate. The inhabitants came from all walks of life, officers, bank managers, and horny handed sons of toil. The common denominator was that everyone desperately needed housing. The social mix was then compounded by the arrival of a large Jewish influx as three differing synagogues opened in the area in short order. This, combined with the opening of the avant garde Aylward School, led to a stimulating social and educational environment which helped me cope with the very different, rigid and difficult emotional climate I encountered at HCS for my first year. Paul Oliver saw me through this and let me take-off educationally for which I am always grateful.

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For Peter Fowler. Thank you for your response. We are in certain areas of agreement. However, I would refer you to a piece written by JS Golland in these archives. In it, he pretty well admits to turning a blind eye to the bad goings on in 1950s..60s HCS. I do not find that impressive. You question my logic on the deeds of those of the past being judged by later generations. And cite a reference of your own making to George Washington being considerably racist. Indeed, Washington's anti-slavery credentials appear very low. Pardon the pun, but in history he appears to have been white-washed. But do generally accepted norms of the time excuse this? Your logic would appear not to apply to anti-slavers such as Wilberforce and the Quakers. They rejected current social mores so why should later generations excuse others who went along with the accepted norm? Having just read about the Sonnerkommando SS Divisions romping around Belarus and Poland in the war, one questions in revulsion the evil individual mentality that drove these monsters. Surely, each individual must think things out for him or herself at the time and not necessarily go along with the generality. Perhaps like me you have occasionally wondered how you might have responded to Hitlerism if you(we)had been born in Germany in, say, 1920? Just right for the next War! The pressure would have been on to join the Hitler Youth before later getting locked into military fighting units committing atrocities all over occupied Europe. Would we have had the courage, as teenagers, to stand up and say 'no'? A very hard call. So I am not suggesting it is easy to fight against the norm. Far from it. It comes down to individual conscience at the time. Easily written, of course, by someone who had the fortune to be born into a decent Western democracy at the close of the Second World War.

E. Glenn Schellenberg. “Examining the Association Between Music Lessons and Intelligence”, , Volume 102, Issue 3, 2011, pages 283–302,
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Karin Harfst Sehmann. “The Effects of Breath Management Instruction on the Performance of Elementary Brass Players”, , Volume 48, Number 2, published by Sage Publications for MENC: The National Association for Music Education, Summer 2000, pages 136–150. (subscription access).

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Presumably one of the Sackwilds must have been Les Sackwild who is today an optician practising in the East End and living in Edgware. He is married to the redoubtable Shirley Sackwild, an old girl of Harrow County Grammar School for Girls and secretary of the Canons Park Residents Association. Probably one of the most influential women in the borough. When asked whether she would run against McNulty, she replied 'No! An MP's got no power.'

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Abstract: According to previous investigations by Leanderson, Sundberg, & von Euler, subglottal pressure in singing is adapted to pitch and loudness. Thus, wide musical intervals and great, sudden changes of loudness were found to be associated with substantial and precise pressure changes. In this study, we will focus on the significance to subglottal pressure of smaller, but equally important effects, namely those associated with musical expression, particularly alternations between stressed and unstressed syllables. We will use a GAELTEC pressure transducer introduced through the nose for measuring changes in subglottal pressure during vocal exercises and artistic performance of lieder and arias. Synchronous recordings are made of fundamental frequency and loudness. Professional singers will serve as subjects.