Welcome to Birmingham – My First Term

As a first-year music composition student, I feel very small in the big community of music. In a class of 16 students, we are the largest year in the composition department. Despite the difference in class sizes across the years, I feel that the first year composers are their own community, with styles ranging from traditional Folk song to contemporary graphic scores.


The first term is now coming to a close and I officially feel settled in. My writing style has begun to develop a lot since starting in Birmingham. I am now often composing in a lot more of a contemporary style and working with non-traditional instrumentation.  However I am also working with traditional instruments combined with more contemporary techniques. One of the main projects that I have been working on this term is called Twenty Something Chairs, it involves a percussive approach to chairs. Notation of this piece includes tapping the chair legs and also pushing and pulling the chairs away from the performer.

Adjusting to life at the Conservatoire is something that came quite naturally to me. Despite loving Birmingham, to start with I felt very lost in a big city but having really caring flatmates made it a lot easier to deal with being so far from home.  I feel that I have settled into the course very well, despite at the start it was a slight shock to the system. With tutors exposing us to music such as Yvonne Rainier the contemporary choreographer and Louis Andriessen the composer.

A big part of life at the Conservatoire is all the concerts and gigs that are constantly going on.  I have to admit it is hard to keep track of what is on when but I would highly recommend going to as many different concerts as you can. Not only does it help to widen your musical knowledge but I found that it also has helped me to form new friendships and get to know people outside of the composition department.

I do have to say that overall my first term experience has been made so much more wonderful because of all the new friends that I have made. I think a big part of this for me was just putting myself out there and showing people my personality. As well as going along to course nights out and being social during fresher’s week, I have had to give my all to everything I have taken part in like chorus and practical classes such as Gamelan and orchestral conducting . The next step for me is finding a flat for next year with my two closest friends.

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