Obituary: Brian Bonsor MBE, music teacher and composer

Brian Bonsor MBE, music teacher and composer. Born: 21 August, 1926, in Hawick. Died: 22 February, 2011, in Hawick, aged 84.

Brian Bonsor was a respected and admired teacher at Hawick High School who enthused generations of pupils to play and enjoy music. That enthusiasm was demonstrated throughout the Borders, where he founded and conducted numerous music groups and choirs, which he rehearsed with his own brand of patient commitment.

Bonsor's ability to motivate and stimulate a group ensured that musicians gave their best and then a touch more. He firmly believed, as he often repeated, that "music was for everybody and everybody was welcome".

Gordon Macdonald, who was a pupil of Bonsor's at Hawick High School and for many years played the recorder in the Hawick Music Club, said: "Brian was an inspiring teacher.

"He had a way to encourage children with his warm personality. He was a quiet and rather private man, but in front of an orchestra or choir he was confident. He knew how he wanted a piece done. There was never any shouting or histrionics."

James Brian Bonsor was the son of a hosiery manufacturer. He attended Hawick High School, where the rector discouraged him in his desire to study music as he thought Bonsor should pursue an academic career.

When he left school, his father encouraged him to join a local firm of solicitors, but the Second World War intervened and he served on minesweepers with the Royal Navy. On being demobilised in 1947 he enrolled at Moray House to become a music teacher. His studies were progressing well until 1951 when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He did, however, graduate LMus at Trinity College, London (in theory and practice of composition) in 1957.

It was then that Bonsor taught himself the recorder and became one of the instrument's finest players. He had trained with the Society of Recorder Players in 1955 and soon became a tutor. In 1966, he was appointed a director of its summer school.

That year he was also appointed assistant music teacher - and later principal - at Hawick High School. Bonsor was always pleased to see that many of his pupils remained involved in music and played in local groups or at universities.

In 1970, he was promoted to the post of adviser in music for Roxburgh and Selkirk - later he covered the entire Borders region - and was also a member of the Scottish Education Department Central Committee for Curriculum from 1971 to 1974. Bonsor was an influential member of the working party that produced Music in Scottish Schools, but in 1983 he took early retirement to concentrate on composing and arranging music.

He was much in demand as a guest lecturer at recorder societies and travelled to Australia, the United States and Ireland as well as throughout Scotland, running courses and workshops.Bonsor enjoyed conducting various recorder groups on his travels at music festivals. But it was his contribution to music in the Borders that singled him out as a musician of particular note and, indeed, gave him a special pleasure.

In 1961, he founded the Roxburgh Recorder Players and later the National Recorder School of Scotland.

He had close associations with the Border Orchestra and the Roxburgh Singers, the latter making him an honorary life member in 1983.

His contribution and encouragement at the Hawick Music Club was marked by his twice serving as president and being made a life member in 1973.

His arrangements for the recorder varied widely (from the musical Cats to the Emperor Waltz) and were widely played. His eight-volume Enjoy the Recorder is much used by students and has been acclaimed for its clarity of instruction.

He demonstrated a particular expertise in composing for the young - as was evidenced when the Robert Gordon's Junior School played Bonsor's Carriage and Pair in St Andrews Cathedral, Aberdeen in 2008.

On their annual visit to Hawick later this month, the Philomusica of Edinburgh have scheduled Bosnor's A Scots Suite, which he wrote for the Border Orchestra in 1952.

Bonsor was also a gifted conductor. "Brian was a stickler for accuracy," Macdonald recalls. "There was a recorder festival at Galashiels a few years back and the moment Brian picked up the baton, he had a way of making us play better. Music was his life."

Brian Bonsor is survived by his wife Mary, to whom he was married for 44 years, and their son and daughter.