Vance talks to LYC Trustee Duncan


“Greetings LYC, it’s Vance again! I’m back with another trustee to share even more interesting things I’ve learnt about the role of our board members. This time around we have Duncan Watts in the line of fire who shed insight on what it’s like to be a trustee.”

VANCE: We’ll start with the same challenge I gave Kate, can you tell me what being a trustee of LYC means for you – in eight words?

DUNCAN: Helping LYC become London’s greatest choral establishment!

VANCE: What were your music lessons like growing up?

DUNCAN: The teachers were okay but I couldn’t say I really enjoyed it. Eventually my piano and clarinet skills went by the wayside. I still have my saxophone but it was mostly self-study. I had to go to the record shop in order to find inspiration which is something students now are fortunate enough to not have to do. Everything is online now at the tips of your fingers.

VANCE: What language do you find most difficult to sing in?

DUNCAN: German because there’s a lot more going on in the back of your throat. It’s challenging to make a nice sound when it’s mostly guttural.

VANCE: I did German A Level but I don’t think I understood pieces any better despite studying the language. What’s your funniest performance blooper?

DUNCAN: I had to learn the first line of a piece called ‘One Voice’ when I was 10. The idea being that the lights would turn on after my part so that I could read off the sheet music for the rest of the song. The lights didn’t turn on and I desperately tried to make out the words in the dark. I just sang to la instead. In true primary school fashion one of the kids brutally mimicked me; I still have recurring nightmares about it.

VANCE: It seems like we all have embarrassing moments that never truly leave us. What does work-life balance mean to you?

DUNCAN: Work is an essential part of life. I find a balance between that and rest by spending time with my children or learning and playing music.

VANCE: Is there any advice you would give to your younger self about finding a job?

DUNCAN: Definitely. Around 16-18 I didn’t have much guidance about what I should be doing after school finished. There’s a saying: ‘If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’. It’s wonderfully aspirational but not entirely true all the time. I would say: One, follow something you believe in and find a purpose in what you’re doing; Two, keep asking others for help to better understand how they got to where they are now.

VANCE: You heard it here first; do what you want as long as you are fulfilled by what you are doing. How long have you been a trustee for?

DUNCAN: About three years. I know a thing or two about music but this role doesn’t require you to be a musician,  rather it’s a group of people with different expertises which is needed. We contribute to LYC making sure that all the bases are covered. It only takes a small board to make a big difference.

“Overall, I think an important sentiment to hold is that your passion should never cease as there are so many paths you can take it on, even if it doesn’t become your career. Speaking with Duncan reminded me that ambitions are great especially when they’re rooted in reality. We all have things we’re great at so keep at it! That’s it from me today. See you next time…”



  • LYC Trustee
  • Home borough: Wandsworth
  • Years with LYC: 3


  • LYC Member
  • Home borough: Croydon
  • Years with LYC: 6

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