After a bout of unfortunate illness, Simon was finally back in the Department for me to meet with him! We met in Starbucks which was nice as it was really informal and friendly. We had a chat about me, what I’d done so far with my degree and what I wanted to do in the future. I told him that I was planning on taking a year out to study a Vocal Diploma (DipABRSM) and to get a job in order to save up for a further music qualification (not sure if it’ll be a Masters degree or if it’ll be something else like a PgDip or one of the many other singing qualifications you can get! I need to look at each place I want to go and find out what’s best for me). He said this would be a great idea and I told him that I wanted to work somewhere that had a connection to music, like the CBSO, Birmingham Opera Company, the Hippodrome, and so on. Simon said that he’d give me the names of some contacts to email which was obviously really helpful! He also said that starting at a minimum wage job isn’t an awful thing because there’s always room for promotion etcetera, so not to be scared about taking a job that sounds amazing but pays low to start with!
We then had a talk about which music schools I was looking at to study in 2014/2015. I named the top institutes in the UK (Royal Academy, Royal College, Guildhall, and so on), and he said that was fine, but to be honest I could have a much richer experience if I studied abroad! I’d literally NEVER considered this before (no idea why!) so when he mentioned this I was really excited! I’m especially good at early music and he said that The Hague in Holland has a brilliant early music programme. He also named the Yale School of Music in America as being amazing, and what’s more, to study there is free because they pay all your tuition fees AND give you an allowance to live on! Unfortunately they only let 2% of applicants in to study there so that would be something of a miracle if I got in there. It doesn’t put me off applying though!
What interested me the most was when he mentioned two music schools in Berlin – the Hans Eisler and the UDK. Simon lives for half the year in Berlin as he works with the Berlin Philharmonic, so he knows a lot about it. He made Berlin sound really attractive to me – tuition fees and living costs are cheaper than over here. Also he said I’d pick up the language fast and end up bilingual (I speak a bit of German already but would love to develop it and maybe become fluent)! The employment rate for musicians in Germany is actually quite high – I want to be a singing teacher as well as a performer – and he said that a qualification from a Berlin school of music would help my chances no end.
Of course going to study abroad is a scary thought but also an amazing one. I’m really interested in Berlin so am definitely going to look at the courses the Hans Eisler and UDK offer! All in all it was a really successful, chilled out meeting, so I’m really happy with how things have been going. If Simon hadn’t mentioned studying abroad I would never have thought of it so the mentoring scheme is clearly worth it!