At the age of 11, Chris Pettitt started the clarinet alongside Dave Milsted at Marshalswick School in St Albans,
achieving success in the school clarinet quartet with an experimental music programme that culminated in a world premiere at the RAH in the Schools Proms of 1979 Chris Pettit.
An initial career in management included the setting up and launching of the Bath branch of Hamleys, being manager at Hamleys on Regent St
(apparently you really did get to play with all the toys), running an entertainment agency and a coach company – he had a coach license for a while!
Through all of this, Chris kept music on as a serious hobby. He became much in demand as a pit orchestra woodwind specialist in the London area, was a founder member of the famous Chapter 8 band,
and played alongside the greats such as Paul Young, Tears For Fears, David Bowie and Elton John.
Chris was asked to join Oundle by David Milsted (former Head of Woodwind) as a clarinet/saxophone teacher twenty-eight years ago.
Still in awe of David’s talent, Chris sometimes felt a fraud for
he had not attended conservatoire, did not have a degree, and had never even taught before.
Yet he quickly proved himself to be an inspirational teacher,
particularly for the younger jazz saxophonists for whom he was a true role model.
His specialty was keeping pupils interested in music and encouraging them to play in ensembles.
He took over the running of RocSoc and made it into one of the most sought-after tickets of the year:
many from that era will remember the years of the Medlock,
‘Kauffers’ and the Pettitt with the iconic motorcycle ripping onto stage, or the performance of Malcolm Arnold’s Grand,
Grand Overture for, among other things, three rifles, three Hoover vacuum cleaners (two uprights in B-flat, one horizontal with detachable sucker in C) and one electric floor polisher (in E-flat).
Chris encouraged all genres of music and made it ‘cool’ to be in a rock band. He evolved and diversified with the times,
filling the needs of a rapidly developing music technology scene, taking the subject and pupils with him through to A level.
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