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Pauline Allen obituary

Murray Gray
·2-min read

My civil partner, Pauline Allen, who has died aged 72 of cancer, was an inspiring head of music at Holloway boys’ school in London and later advisory teacher of music for both Norfolk and Suffolk county councils. Originally an accomplished flautist who took lessons from James Galway, she subsequently embraced many forms of world music, including Indonesian gamelan and African drumming.

In the late 1980s Pauline attended a course on Indonesian music at the Royal Festival Hall in London. There she fell in love with gamelan music played on a huge set of percussion instruments – including gongs, bells, pans and drums. She realised immediately the opportunities this provided for class music teaching, for, unlike western orchestral instruments, a set of gamelan percussion instruments can be played to a good level of co-ordination in a few hours.

In the 90s she decided to do a master’s degree in music education at the University of Exeter, writing her thesis on the use of the gamelan in primary music education. In order to improve her understanding of the music, she took a holiday on the Indonesian islands of Java, Bali and Lombok. In Java she visited a gamelan instrument maker and, as a result, imported two sets of instruments for use in schools in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Born in Bournemouth to Cyril, a banker, and Grace (nee Connelly), a piano teacher, Pauline was the middle of three sisters. She went to Glenmoor school in Bournemouth and then won a scholarship to study flute in the US at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. After gaining a diploma of music in education at Dartington College of Arts in Devon in 1969, she added a certificate of education at Rolle College in Exmouth, Devon, in 1970.

In the early 70s Pauline worked as a part-time music teacher at four schools in Southampton and then as music coordinator at Drayton Park school in Highbury, north London. After a six year spell in the same role at Pakeman school in Islington (1975-81), she then joined Holloway boys’ school (1981-86) before moving to East Anglia and retiring in 2012.

Pauline had a strong social conscience. She started a youth club in the village of Wortwell, Norfolk, which she led for five years, and raised funds to install play equipment on the playing field there. She chaired the Kirby Cane and Ellingham Parish Council in Norfolk, and was elected as a Lib Dem councillor on South Norfolk council serving for 12 years. She also chaired a Good Neighbours’ Group and organised many coffee mornings in Broome, a village in her ward, to raise funds for charity.

She is survived by me.