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News > Mill Hill Now > Farewell to Kevin Kyle

Farewell to Kevin Kyle

'This is my family. I feel woven into the fabric of modern-day Mill Hill. It has only hit me recently that I will really miss this place.'
Kevin Kyle, Director of Musical Performance
Kevin Kyle, Director of Musical Performance

How did you first encounter Mill Hill?

After finishing school, I went to Huddersfield University (I had initially planned to join the Navy) and from there, I joined the Phantom of the Opera. I worked there for two years and, during that time, decided I wanted to be a classical singer and an opera singer. I applied to music college and was offered a scholarship to the Royal Academy. During my time there, I started teaching the National Youth Choir during the school holidays. The director of Music at Mill Hill at the time, Richard Allain, came to watch a concert and mentioned to a few people that he was looking for a singing teacher. Some of the pupils recommended me and came to see me. Very soon after that, I started working at Mill Hill as a singing teacher. Richard Allain was the best music director I've ever known. So many of the good things that I do come from him, and I am so glad I was able to work with him.

I taught singing at Mill Hill for a long time and worked one morning a week while also pursuing my own singing career. I loved it so much that for two years, I would commute back from Paris on a Monday morning to teach, and then go back to Paris on a Tuesday afternoon to do a show.

In 2009, Richard and I started the Chapel choir at Mill Hill, which included both Belmont and Mill Hill pupils. When Richard left in 2010, I took over conducting the chapel choir. I worked with two more Directors of Music before being appointed to a full-time role in 2014; the school restructured, appointing a Director of Academic Music and a Director of Musical Performance. I was asked to be the Director of Musical Performance with the aim of developing the musical culture of the school.














What have your career highlights at Mill Hill been?

We've been on music tours to Amsterdam, Belgium, Barcelona, and Paris, and we've been on tour domestically too. We have four orchestras, four bands, four choirs, and all manner of small ensembles. We perform about 250 musical performances a year, including every week in Chapel and a couple of informal concerts a week in break times. We also have a really good reputation within the Ministry of Defence, which has led to us going to dinners and engagements for the Army, the Navy, and the RAF.

This is a fun, fun job that enables me to work in different styles; I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do this when I worked in opera. I could be conducting a musical, a symphony, running a choir rehearsal, or an evensong service. I can be teaching GCSE, or A Level or Fourth Form, I could be running a guitar ensemble or a ukulele choir. It gives me a huge amount of pleasure.

Mill Hill is not a specialist music school, but we have trained some of the very best musicians in the country. The school is a place for everyone, from the pupil that doesn't take their instrument out of its case for practice from one week to the next but comes along to band and enjoys it, to the most serious musicians who want to win medals and trophies. We have developed a scholars program where each musician gets a review at the end of every term, discussing their goals, the expectations they have of themselves, and the expectations on them. The people who take music seriously here are as invested in as needed as individuals, and we have normal musicians whose ambitions might be to play in the university big band or to win a singing competition.

What are you going on to do?

I’m leaving Mill Hill to go and be Director of the Aberdeen City Music School, a specialist music school. The pupils there will be expected to practice between three and three and a half hours a day. My job will be to oversee those people and make sure they are happy and to recruit new pupils. From the whole of the north of Scotland, anyone is eligible to come and receive government funding for a musical education. It is an amazing opportunity.

What will you miss most about Mill Hill?

I will miss so many things, but most of all, my colleagues. I think if you and your colleagues are happy, then the best things happen for the pupils. Happy teachers go above and beyond; I will miss how happy my colleagues make me. I worked in two schools before this one, and I loved working at both of them, but I didn't experience that limitless support for colleagues in the way that I have experienced it here. If I need help, I get it, and with a smile too. I will miss that hugely. This is my family. I feel woven into the fabric of modern-day Mill Hill. It has only hit me recently that I will really miss this place.

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