A #BREMF18 trainee’s busy morning with OAE TOTS

I woke up at 5:30am as my alarm rang without hitting snooze. It was my first event today as a trainee in Brighton Early Music Festival. I was feeling very excited to help out in our OAE Tots concert as I do love working with kids a lot! I took the train from London to Brighton, and it was my first time in Brighton. As soon as I got out of the train, I could already smell the sea. I ordered a coffee in a café to get myself ready for a consecutive 5-6 hours of work and off I go!

When I arrived the venue slightly before 9am, Cathy our director was already setting up the room while players from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment gradually showed up. There wasn’t a lot of things to do before the music rehearsal, I had to scatter cushions of 3 different colours on the floor for the audience to sit on. A few other helpers came later, and we put on signposts and posters both inside and outside the venue. I was given the role to welcome everyone at the reception. Our first concert was a sold out one, a lot of children, families and carers arrived one after another. The library area which served as a buggy space was overcrowded as well!

Just before the concert began, I went into the room for another mission – to stop any children who ran towards the instruments. I was sitting in front of the players and facing the children. It was a very amusing view. They were all so concentrated during the performance. I could even see small sparkles in their little eyes when they heard the music played. There were also a lot of acting for them to do as well, feeling hot and cold, doing a rocket jump, and imitating the sounds of natural horns. Parents were also very engaged as well. It was a beautiful family event, but also very challenging because I always had to keep an eye on children who were more physically active. There was not one single moment that I could relax because it was always children, who looked calm and sat a bit far behind, who all of a sudden ran towards the players in lightspeed! I managed to catch a few of them coming from very different angles just in time.

After the performance, the audience could meet the players individually and learn about their instruments while I had the chance to walk around the room to give out little comment sheets for people to fill in. I had a small chat with most of the parents as well. They all told me how much they have enjoyed it and how delightful it was to see their children dancing and swinging with the music. It was very special for me to receive those genuine feedbacks in person. They also gave me the energy to immediately reset the room for the next perform which would start in half an hour.

I went back to the reception table and started again, new envelopes of tickets to be collected, a new list of bookings, etc. The foyer area was even busier this time as there were both new buggies coming in and old buggies going out at the same time! We had fewer people in the audience, so it was less stressful for me to be the guardian of the instruments. In fact, there was one little girl who kept coming forward and I had to slightly hold her hand to pull her back. We ended up building a special friendship when she shared with me the colours of her dress and names of her different body parts. She sat with me for the rest of the performance. It was very sweet of her. There were parents coming up to me after the performance and asked for future events both in the Festival and in OAE education programme. I was very glad that though the event had almost come to an end, the magic of music would still go on!

As we finished cleaning up the space, it was already 2:30pm! I actually didn’t realise time had passed that quickly. It was a busy morning but very satisfying! After saying goodbye to all helpers, I began my journey to the train station and had a wander around Brighton. It was when my stomach gave me a strong message that it’s really time for some food!

Chloe Lam, BREMF 2018 Trainee

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