The differences between a Conservatoire of Music and a University + What it’s like to be in the final year!

Ay ay ay!

It’s that time of year again. Naturally everybody will be on high alert with stress levels running at an all time high. Taking a moment to take a step back and see this is quite daunting, how we let ourselves get into a state of mind. On the contrary, it’s rather stress relieving to be able to step back.

That’s why…

In the final 16 weeks I’ll spend, as well as planning to study around the world, I want to take some time out on a meditation course. Having used Headspace for 2 or 3 years now, and incorporating 30-60 mins everyday it’s really time to take the step up.

As a final year student, it’s vital to have a plan even if it’s not a ‘set-in-stone’ plan. You have a base from which you can work from. I began this style of organisation at the beginning of last summer, that allowed me to have all four of my exams in the New Year to be prepped to their maximum.

Two exams done, another one soon to be completed and I’ve felt only the stress required to help in my performance.

Nice.

Some time off too? I think I can fit that in…

Essentially not only does this style apply to students, it applies to everybody. If you can plan all deadlines in the space of 4 hours a week in less than a month for the next 3-6 months, you’re not only saving time but you also allow free time!

In a conservatoire of music you see the same people in and out. Due to the audition process, there is only a selected number each year so everybody is a familiar face. Naturally, in an intense, high level working environment, where learning pieces in a week, on the spot with forever changing irregular hours with the same people day in day out is normality.

In comparison, university is far from different. Generically speaking, not only are the hours less and consistent – you also are surrounded by over 10,000 students in a single block on flats. We only have an approximated 1000 in the whole of RWCMD!! The events are also very different, our SU is probably about the length of 30-36ft long and holds a regular quiz, live music and a few social clubs. On the upside, we have a plethora of gigs, drama productions we can choose from that are either free or discounted. To be honest, the more tame social scene is really nice.

However, you can’t beat a huge two level SU where the events are party crazy and so much fun! On top of that you have a huge range of socials to choose from and the bar is of course cheaper with so many students. As far as I know and have experienced, that’s all there is to say about that really!

And afterwards?

Well us musicians will either and most likely will freelance and teach. Or for those who don’t have that intention, other career options could be and Events Manager, Radio Producer, Music Therapy, Technician, composing for Film/TV etc etc etc. Some will deter from music in search for a more stable lifestyle i.e. regular income, working hours.

Post university? All I know is that most will look for a job, most will get a job (more likely if you’re on a Graduate Scheme) One this is for certain and something all students have in common….

We simply have no clue! 😀

Annnnd on that bombshell I’m outta here!

Thanks for reading guys and don’t forget to share 🙂

#BlogNo.19

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The National Waterfall Site – El Nicho
The differences between a Conservatoire of Music and a University + What it’s like to be in the final year!

A story about Cuba

Hey!

I’ve been away from Cuba for 2 weeks now and all I want to do is go back. So to fuel that, here is what I did on my trip! I can’t give details of patterns etc. as it was all very new to me too, therefore, some sit-down and transcribe time is needed.

Being in my final year with exams literally around the corner, means that for now, I’ll have to postpone until I’ve got some chill time.

So, my first stop was in Centro Habana. Throughout the whole trip, we were learning about Afro-Cuban Folkoric Music i.e. traditional rumba such as Guiro, Bata rumba, columbia, guaguancó etc.

Here we learnt songs for a cajon ceremony, in order to learn these lyrics, you need to get them from somebody who understands the language. Sounds silly, but the words aren’t pure Spanish – due to the slave trade and the migration of African slaves, songs/language were the beginnings of influencing one another and thus people took parts of other languages that meant something in relation to the religion.

We also learned Guiro. Another fascinating rumba, the pure essence of drive and passion is immense. The main drivers (in my opinion) other than the Clavé, I get a real buzz from the Shekere and the hoe blade. The sharpness of these instruments locks everybody in, allowing others on, for example the conga drums, especially the Tumba (main solo instrument).

From here we travelled to Matanzas – a completely different vibe from Havana. Definitely less crazy (a little bit of craziness) and with that a notable difference in sound. The music of Havana is fast paced – Matanzas is more relaxed allowing space to here the melodies between the drums. We did Rumba Columbia <– can you hear the music?!

Then Cienfuegos – where we based as we went to Trinidad and Palmira. Trinidad is a B-E-A-UTIFUL place. As the group would say ‘Tranquillo!’ 😀 Trindad is pure Cuban music, with no outside influences. This is because they wanted to keep the music theirs, a part of the heritage and music they’ve developed. The drums used, were very similar to that of congas (see photo below) and the music sounds very different indeed! Likewise, Palmira also used different drums and there was no holding back. The main drum used as a message, could be heard up to 1 mile away and we could definitely hear that in a relatively small room!!

Finally, Havana. Last stop of classes, learning about Rumba Fransisco (again completely new) and all I have to say is it was a great way to end. All of the above can all be researched (be careful of the resources, there is lots of it and therefore it can get confusing)

The best way to learn, it to go to the country, go on a course in the country or where you’re based. Feel free to contact me if you’d want to know where you can get inside the world of Cuba!

Learning all of these new forms of rumba was an amazing experience. Now with enough contacts, I will be going back again and again and again. But first, it’s time to explore the next stop in the 1-2 year working ‘year out’ i.e. building a name for myself and travelling to Brazil, Africa (Senegal/Dakar) and India.

Next week, I’ll talk about the differences between a Conservatoire and University and what it’s like to be in the final year/prospect of leaving as a self-employed musician! Enjoy the photos! Hope you have enjoyed and gained some insight into my world.

#BlogNo. 18

A story about Cuba

A little note #2

Welcome back!

I am back again and in the full swing of things (quite literally)

I had a monstrous Christmas (in a good way, work prep and all) a jam packed NYE, then headed to Cuba to study for 2 weeks! I’ve had 1 week back at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, for the final 4 months!! Time flies bye and it’s amazing.

Batching all of the hard work from the summer until the end of the year, was well worth the stress and now I’m relishing in the practically less, if not non-stressful time I’ve had over the 10 days I’ve been back.

I’m glad I did! 

From now, I’ll be offering a more analytical blog style, on topics such as:

  • Musical styles and niches in music
  • The differences between a Conservatoire and University
  • Being a self-employed musician

+ other topics relating to Living The Life of a Musician

I’m looking forward to it and in preparation…

Next week I will be talking more in depth about my travels and what I learned and preparing and comparing what it is like to be in final year compared to a university.

Thanks for stopping by! Let’s get back into it! #MotivationSunday

Until next week!

#BlogNo. 17

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Last day of classes in Palmira, Cuba. We headed back to Havana for more classes, before leaving 😦

 

A little note #2

What’s been going on?!

I’ve been away for a 2 weeks exactly and it certainly doesn’t feel like it! It’s really flown by and I unintentionally missed last weeks’ weekly Sunday Blog as I’ve been super busy (except the week where I took a Break)

So what have I been up to? 

Looks like I could only hack one week after college finished…and I was back in the ‘diff trialling a street performance version of Viktor Ullmans’ Opera – Der Kaiser von Atlantis with freelance Opera Director Polly Graham; check out some photos here.

Before all that happened I recorded pre-recorded loops for a piece I doing next year in my recital (I’ll allow a preview of what’s in store 😀  –>Leap)

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Recording pre-recorded loops

Back to the Opera – I’m not an Opera fanatic I’ll be honest, but when it’s quirky and contemporary, as well as it being intense…that’s my jam guys! Only 2.5 hours of essentially relearning a condensed Opera (originally 1.5 hours…this was 30 minutes!!!) This was so that people would stay to watch and also we had to travel from Penarth Pier to Grangetown Pavillion Winter Fare then Delikatesy Mis (Polish Café in Cardiff) It was thoroughly enjoyable and I hope for this project to develop further!

From then onwards I have been attending jam sessions in Bristol, playing and watching world class musicians in the local area to me, Frome! It’s amazing who is around you – go to some local gigs in your area, get talking and see who’s around. You never know if you’ll be watching somebody who plays in a famous group! 

Also, it’s been busy because I’ve been working hard. Mainly prepping my ideas for the New Year so I can deploy them at the most convenient time. For now I’m mostly practising, listening, researching and most of all. Learning. Investing in instruments (PSYCHED) and prepping for CUBA once again. I will be leaving very early in the New Year and will be away for 2 weeks, learning about Western Cuba/folkloric music and rumba! I can’t wait!

That’s all for today guys! Here is an album I recently listened to and fell in love with!

HAPPY LISTENING     MORE HAPPY LISTENING    LAST BIT OF VERY HAPPY LISTENING

Have a very Merry Christmas!

 

H

 

#BlogNo. 15

What’s been going on?!

Break

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The sumer gear collection…more latin gear has been added since 😀

The last week at the RWCMD came to a close on Friday! Now I’m back in my hometown of Bath and safe to say, my body has shut down. So I’m taking a break from playing for a little bit, so I can rejuvenate my mind and body.

Because of this, and also as a heads up, I may not be blogging next Sunday!

It’s important to take time off and I’m certainly one that can keep powering through no matter what, perhaps I’m stubborn but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been.

Listen to your gut more and your mind less.

It’s harder to be aware of this during the day than you think. 

Next week I’m back in Cardiff for rehearsals at the Welsh Millennium Centre (WMC) in the Cardiff Bay. I bumped into the Operatic Director for an independent/contemporary Opera I did over a year ago and now I’m playing in her test run of her own company. Even though Opera isn’t my thing per se, but when there is room for creative direction then who knows where it could lead to! This is something I’m really excited about.

Over the next few weeks, as well as spending time with family and friends, I’ll be working hard on my own ideas and planning ahead for the next two and final terms at the Royal Welsh. Just so that I can really enjoy my time in Cuba and not think about missing two weeks of college! There will be lots of photos and experiences shared come early New Year!

That’s all for today guys! Take some time out for yourselves too!

Songs of the week

Here are two songs that I hope will set you up for the week no matter what you’re doing!

Some cheeky Bileo – You can Win – this is from the early 80s and it’s a massive soul song!

Roy Davis Jr ft Peven Everett – Gabriel (Live Garage Version) – the sound of human nature and original music is a beauty when you mix it with electronics

Rest Hard, Work Harder.

#BlogNo. 14

Break

P ure D edication N o D istraction

Hey one and all!

I hope you all have had a great week. Last week’s blog was about finding your path. So today I’m continuing this idea, but taking a little further with some underlying truths that we take for granted, and may stop us from progressing as much as we can!

It is simply the cost of distraction that can stop us. (That was quick!!) As you can see, it doesn’t take 1000 words to tell somebody this. For example, by simply changing the spacing of the title, forces the reader to focus on the words in order to be able to read it (and it kinda looks cool)

Awesome!

In order to reach your goals, ambitions, focus; you have to really understand what your motivation is firstly. WHY are you doing what you are doing?! HOW can you CHANGE the tiniest part of your work ethic to enhance your performance?!

You yourself can only help. Nobody else can analyse the WHY and HOW of your work (I’m not shouting fyi – I’m merely stating key words that have been based on my previous blogs –> CHECK IT OUT + AND THIS + and FINALLY)

You may ask, ‘what are the simple things’?! Well, it all depends on what technology you use, your work environment and most importantly being realistic about how you are really focused. For me, it’s turning my phone on Airplane Mode, only having the essential notifications from my apps, only subscribing to emails that I actually read etc. See how you work and see what you can change, even if you think you’re on top form already 😉

It could be having a clean/spacious work space, music that helps you to focus, or simply setting a fixed time to get as much done of your project as possible! 

Not only is technology a factor, but also how much you work you set yourself, and whether you have a reason behind your work i.e. what we call motivation, I like to call it PURPOSE. 

What I do, is I get everything that’s in my head, put it into a day’s work of practise and prioritise them from highest to lowest. What I don’t get done, is carried on into the next day, I simply reprioritise them. If there is a particular aspect I’m not focused on, I ask myself why I wrote it down and usually, it’s something that motivates me to go and do it, to go through the motions, work the logistics out, and continue it with full focus the next day.

If I’m not sure why I wrote something down, I’ll research it or ask myself whether it’s useful to do it at that moment in time.

In short, if you simply boil your down, you can see it clearly and have a flowing work schedule. Also, you can see where, why and how you’re perhaps not getting as much as you would like (think distractions and motivation)

TIP: Boil what seems complex down so anybody could understand it, simplify it to it’s raw ingredients. 

If the fundamentals are at there best, then you can really explore your passion.

That’s all for today guys. Remind yourself at least once a day, why you are motivated to do what you do. PURPOSE.

Bring yourselves back to reality this week guys.

Music of the week

Today, I feel in the mood for Brazilian. This is style of Brazilian music called Capoeira. This song is called Parana ê Parana

Love to one and all!

H

#BlogNo. 12

 

 

P ure D edication N o D istraction

Knowing where your heart truly lies

Buenos días a todos!

(Good morning everybody!)

I hope you all have had a discoverable week guys!

This week, I will be talking about being realistic about where your heart truly lies. By this, I mean where your passion is, when you get goosebumps, or where you’re reacting in ways that you’re not even aware of…!

…and I also mean, being realistic about what skills you have and if these skills are at a level, that you can reach your dreams and goals! It’s all very well saying you want to be the best at one thing, but if the time, place and location aren’t in the right place for you to utilise the necessary skills, then it can be quite unrealistic.

I had this realisation where I wanted to be a music producer. That guy or gal who’s in the studio mixing, setting up mics etc. That was just an unrealistic goal, and a misunderstanding of where my passion lies. I have little understanding of the role of a producer. Where I am currently in my stage of life, I would seriously have to change everything and put my soul into producing.

In order to come to this stage…

I think it’s important to;

  1. Take some time out for yourself
  2. Look at your situation as clearly as possible
  3. Be realistic about the proficiency of your skills and what you can actually achieve
  4. Try to understand where your true passion is and follow it all the way

But how do you come to realise this?

The way I found this out, was by putting myself out there and trying all the avenues that seemed to interest me. Sending emails, shadowing etc was and is a great way of getting to grips with a particular area of interest. Usually, the people in the chain of the business, are able to see very easily, whether a person is suited/100% in it for the long run. Be aware of how people react and their willingness. You can’t fault eagerness, but at the same time, you don’t want to create a bad impression.

Now, I know where and what I am aiming for. Developing myself as a world percussionist and drummer. Combining the two together, to create something new and unheard of before. This link here will take you to the guys that made me come to the climax to my conclusion. I saw the live performance of Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita where at the RWCMD – that special time in life where you’re experiencing something that hits home hard – I was reacting in an uncontrollable manner (not extremely ha!) in relation to the music.

The use of percussion and electronic sounds, emulating drum kit made me go ‘dayum, this is it!!’ I can see I was and am on the right tracks and how I can get to where I want to be! I was at a jam night the other day, I mentioned Cuba to the drummer after I played and eyes lit up when I said I could bring my congas down…little moments like that really bring home where your heart lies, truly lies. 

This week and thereafter – sit yourselves down and ask yourself where your heart lies. Follow it 100%.

Your gut feeling may mislead you sometimes, but the more you do this, the more times you will learn from errors and the more you will get closer to your path.

 

Album of the week

Check these guys out, who really made a difference to me –  Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita – Transparent Water (the link is above too!)

Go and find your path guys!

Thank you to everybody! Love to one and all

#BlogNo. 11

 

 

Knowing where your heart truly lies