Melissa Youngs (2007 – 2011)

Alumna, Melissa Youngs

Melissa Youngs attended The Denes High School from 2007–11. She is now in her second year at the Royal College of Music, studying for a BMus (Hons) degree as a clarinettist.

Melissa told us that she was very academic and quite quiet. “I chose GCSE options that interested me (Music, Media Studies, and Graphic Design) because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after school, but always dreamed of playing clarinet as more than a hobby. Although the majority of my musical education occurred outside of school and I had no idea about music college at the time, Denes always encouraged me to aim high. We had trips to Cambridge University for early introductions to courses, and I was also part of a gifted and talented group that was mentored by our head teacher.

“I was lucky to be able to receive a huge amount of support from my teachers, who inspired me to work hard and allowed me to achieve a great set of grades. GCSE English was my favourite, as it was taught by my favourite teacher, Miss Hall. She was so supportive of all aspects of my learning, not just English, and even got me a congratulations card when I passed my clarinet exam. It’s teachers like her that leave a lasting impression and provide great role models for students to look up to.

“I’m a massive perfectionist so revised for every exam and never missed a piece of homework, but also had my fair share of fun memories. I remember my media teacher telling us not to use Wikipedia for a piece of research work because it was unreliable, so he edited the article to contain the sentence ‘Mr Morris is awesome’ to see who had copied without reading it … and people did! I also remember arguing with PE teachers over my refusal to participate in the lesson because I didn’t want to injure my fingers and not be able to play the clarinet!

“I am currently in my second year at the Royal College of Music studying for a BMus (Hons) degree as a clarinettist. I live in central London, spending most days practising clarinet, rehearsing with different music groups, and having lessons with internationally renowned musicians. I never thought that I would end up with a scholarship to a world class institution, studying to be a professional musician, as I didn’t go to a specialised music school and could only dream of it in The Denes, but hard work and determination really does pay off.”

Finally, when we asked Melissa what her message would be for our students, she responded: “My advice to current students is to make the most of school; work hard but also enjoy it as it only happens once. And, don’t worry if you don’t have a plan for your future yet, just do what you love and you’ll figure it out. Also, participate in PE lessons now because gym membership and sports club fees are expensive when you’re old!”

Our thanks and best wishes go to Melissa.

See also

Melissa is interviewed by London Sinfonietta, July 2017

February 2016

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