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Catching up with... Sharon Jagdev Powell

We catch up with Sharon Jagdev Powell about her Kingston University days and what keeps her busy now.

Sharon JagdevWhy did you choose Kingston?

When I was deciding where to continue my studies, I visited a number of universities with my father. We both felt that Kingston was the friendliest university, had the most desirable location and I loved the feel of the Kingston Hill campus.  The music facilities were also very impressive, I immediately felt 'at home' there so my decision was easy.

What do you remember about your time at Kingston? In three words.

Music, laughter, friends.

Have you been back since graduation? If so, what for?

When I graduated I moved to South London to start my first teaching job. Here I set up an African drumming group as an extracurricular activity and they were given an award for excellence in extracurricular music. I brought my drummers back to Kingston to perform for the undergraduates on the PGCE music course. My students taught the trainees some traditional rhythm from Ghana and an African Song. It was a fantastic experience to be invited back and my students got a taste of university life. Since then I have occasionally visited my old haunts in Kingston, my favourite place being The Boaters Inn where I worked for a few years behind the bar. Here I loved working on jazz nights and got to hear some quality music, I also made some lifelong friends that I am still in regular contact with.

Are you still in touch with anyone from your Kingston days?

I met some wonderful people during my time at university. I lost contact with many people when I graduated, but through Facebook and other social networks I have reconnected with a lot of old friends. It's amazing to see most have children of their own, some are still involved in music, some have moved away to different countries and a few still live local to Kingston. We used to have an annual event at Kingston Hill called 'Coombehurst Capers' I often think how wonderful it would be to get together one more time and put on a show, it was such a carefree time in my life at university.

What did you expect to do after graduating? Are you still doing that now?

After graduating, I knew I wanted to teach music and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to do it as a long-term career. I had a break from teaching when I relocated to Nottingham to work as the project manager for Musical Futures. Musical Futures is a nationally recognised movement to reshape music education driven by teachers for teachers and is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. I carried out extensive research in how best to meet the needs of students to ensure that they has access to musical activities in school that were relevant and engaging. I have written and piloted teaching resources that have been published in the Musical Futures teachers resource pack. At present I teach music at Nottingham Girls' Academy and I am a Musical Futures Champion teacher. The best thing about teaching music is being surrounded by creativity, energy and noise. My students' enthusiasm for music is contagious and I am still learning new things every day. Being involved in music keeps my brain alive and makes me smile.

What's your greatest achievement?

I can happily waste a day achieving nothing much in particular, yet achieving nothing is a worthwhile thing to do because it involves an appreciation of time, your time – and that in itself is an important achievement.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Enjoy your life to the max, bend the rules but try not to upset anyone intentionally. Take time to listen to others but form your own opinions and always believe in yourself.

What last made you laugh?

I am lucky that I am surrounded by people who make me laugh on a regular basis. I laugh every day, at work and outside of work with my friends. The louder the laugh the better! Today my two children made me laugh (Evie aged seven and Skyla aged five). I was late home after a rehearsal and they ran to the door singing Elvis songs and doing Elvis style dancing together. Such an unexpected and delightful welcome home!

What's your ideal weekend?

As I teach full time my weekends are dedicated to my family. I try to slow down, make time to talk, watch a film and spend some quality time with my husband and my daughters.  I enjoy cooking, but never follow a recipe properly because I always think I know better!

Tell us something we would never guess about you.

A portrait of me and my Japanese Taiko drums appears on the front of the book entitled We Teach Music. I have recently been involved in a project with the photographer Emile Holba who travelled around the country and took a series of 20 portraits of music teachers across the country who have adopted the Musical Futures approach in their teaching.

My photograph is featured on the recently launched Musical Futures app which is designed to support and enhance music educators' classroom practice by taking them on a journey of exploration and innovation from the palm of their hand. I am the cover girl on the book that accompanies the Musical Futures app.

You are to live out your final days on a desert island:

Who would you take with you and why?

My husband Jimmy. Sometimes our lives are so busy that we don't get time to sit and talk without being interrupted! How nice it would be to stop, sit and talk and spend some quality time together!

What book would you take and why?

A blank notebook, so I could write down my thoughts and musings on life. I should really write a book sometime as there is so much I would like to say... maybe a desert island is the ideal place to do it?

What movie would you take and why?

All the home movies/videos that I have made of my children. I still can't believe how they have changed and grown over the years, I love looking back on their lives and smiling with them.

What food item would you take and why?

I am a little bit obsessed with wasabi. So I would take any wasabi flavoured product available – wasabi peas, wasabi popcorn, wasabi chocolate, wasabi peanuts... wasabi anything really.

Contact us

Development, Alumni Relations and Events
Kingston University
53–57 High Street
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT1 1LQ

Alumni relations:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3178
Email us

Fundraising and Annual Fund:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3299
Email us

Any other queries:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3664

Contact us

Development, Alumni Relations and Events
Kingston University
53–57 High Street
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT1 1LQ

Alumni relations:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3178
Email us

Fundraising and Annual Fund:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3299
Email us

Any other queries:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3664

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We love hearing from all Kingston graduates – no piece of news is too big or small, so whatever you have done or are about to do, email us and let us know!

Contact us

Development, Alumni Relations and Events
Kingston University
53–57 High Street
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT1 1LQ

Alumni relations:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3178
Email us

Fundraising and Annual Fund:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3299
Email us

Any other queries:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3664

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