"A couple of highlights have been having my work featured on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, BBC News and in The Guardian. I was also fortunate enough to work on an operatic project with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which won the 2021 RPS award for Best Opera and the Sky Arts award for Best Opera".
I chose to study Music in Surrey for the location, quality of teaching and the welcoming and approachable nature of the staff. What particularly stood out was the vibrant network of students from different courses within the Department of Music and Media, which opened up opportunities for collaboration, peer learning, and connections. If you embrace this opportunity, the Surrey experience for a musician becomes much more than just the course and its modules.
"My strongest memories were of the many late-night string quartet recording sessions in Studio 1. As a viola player (we’re a rare bunch!) I was often asked to play strings on people’s recordings, so we would spend many hours getting the perfect take".
Course best bits
I found that the quality of composition and harmony teaching really encouraged my individual growth and a true diverse understanding of the craft of writing in any style or genre. It pushed me to approach all kinds of music to inform and improve my work, while also understanding the works of others. I found myself viewing music as one interconnected form, rather than a collection of distinct separate genres.
I studied a really fantastic module on Arts, Policy and Practice, which gave me a crucial understanding of the arts infrastructure in the UK. Aspects of that module have applied to every instance of work that I have had in the industry – whether that be understanding and engaging in conversations, or just having a general awareness for how an organisation functions.
Life after Surrey
As a recent graduate, I’m establishing a freelance portfolio career for myself. One day I might be arranging and playing strings on a pop track, on another I might be editing a music video, then I might be editing and mixing someone’s recording, or helping a national orchestra tour some concerts around the country! I’m loving the diversity and flexibility.
A couple of highlights have been having my work featured on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, BBC News and in The Guardian. I was also fortunate enough to work on an operatic project with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which won the 2021 RPS award for Best Opera and the Sky Arts award for Best Opera.
The variety of content the modules covered definitely pushed me to think about how many different ways music can be applied as a career. For example, the Music Project modules allowed me to experience marketing leadership and to stage manage a music event and being surrounded by Creative Music Technology and Tonmeister students introduced me to music production and sound recording. Professional guest speakers often visited the studios and encouraged us to think about career paths.
From the beginning of your degree you should be actively thinking of what you want to do after graduating and try and tailor your university experience towards that. Whenever you have a choice - such as a module to study, an essay title, or format of assessment - make sure to go for what will best develop your skillset as an individual, not just getting the top grades.
I’d also strongly recommend getting as much additional practical experience as possible. Seek advice from individuals who are experienced in the industry and learn from their own journeys. If you can build up your CV, knowledge, skills and network beyond what the average music student has, you’ll be in a really good place after graduating.