The Gift of Music

Janelle Fletcher
Janelle Fletcher with past and current students

You can feel the pride and passion exude from Janelle Fletcher as she reflects on her thirty-year career as a Music Tutor at Toowoomba Grammar School.

“It’s a long time to stay in any job,” she admitted.

“But working with the boys, seeing how important it is to have music in their lives and to develop not only as musicians but as people, that’s what’s kept me here.”

Janelle believes staff in an all-boys’ school have a real understanding of boys.

“It’s been very positive for me to see the changing face in education with boys over the years and how we connect with, engage and inspire boys to learn across the board; it’s a good thing,” said Janelle.

Janelle has played an integral role in the development of the Music Program at TGS. Watching it grow from one room with less than 50 boys involved in the co-curricular program, to the opening of the Junior School in 1997 and dedicated music facilities across the entire School. Janelle contributed to the program’s growth from a few small Senior School choirs to instrumental lessons, then the involvement of all Junior School students and the implementation of performances, competitions and musicals.

“It’s an extraordinary achievement and has been inspiring to be part of the development of such an impressive music program,” Janelle beamed.

“My role has evolved over that time too; starting out teaching piano to being involved in all aspects of the program.”

Janelle credits the success of the TGS Music Program to the dedication of staff and the calibre of educators in the music department. She said TGS seeks out the best candidates and finds the right people for the job.

“I’ve worked in a lot of schools but the support of the TGS staff and Executive has been extraordinary,” said Janelle.

“The School really nurtures the performing arts; the cliché the we’re just a sporting school is certainly not true, as anyone involved in the Arts here would know.”

Her continued connection with former students is testament to her love of her job and the passion she evokes in her tutees.

Just a few weeks ago she recognised a young man in the shops and said “Geoffrey Raymond, boarder from Gundy.” His response, “Miss Fletcher, piano teacher from TGS.” Janelle had not seen him since his last music lesson in 1994!

“That type of reconnection is a wonderful reflection on the TGS music department,” said Janelle.

“We’re not just tutors, we’re heavily involved in pastoral care as well. The boys often talk to us about life in general and we’re there to help them find their way.”

Janelle’s career is diverse. Along with her lessons at TGS, she is a Director on the Board of the Empire Theatre and the Chair of the Empire Theatre Foundation, responsible for awarding thousands of dollars in bursaries to promising performers.

She shrugged off the responsibility of the role and stated, “I invest as much time into teaching a Prep student to love music as I do into keeping the Empire Theatre operational during a pandemic.”

She has too many highlights from her career to list them all but said to see former students Andrew Stone and Alex Miller reach the pinnacle of their careers has been very satisfying. Andrew Stone (TGS Old Boy 1997-2001) is the General Manager of Chugg Music, the Record Label and Management division of Chugg Entertainment, while Alex Miller (TGS Old Boy 2007-2011) is the Associate Principal, French Horn with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

But what she finds equally rewarding is receiving photos of TGS Old Boys playing music from music sheets with Janelle’s notations on them, dating back to the nineties; or messages from them saying that they still enjoy playing music today.

“Now I teach the children of my former students,” smiled Janelle.

“And I have no plans to finish any time soon, I love it too much.”

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