Wednesday, 18 February 2015

An Introduction + why study music at a conservatoire?

Hello all, my name is Charlotte and I am currently in the process of working hard to achieve the grades needed to proceed to a place at a conservatoire here in the UK. The process of the applying and auditioning process is now over which, although fun, was also equally challenging in coming to terms with the fact that it signifies moving on to the next chapter of education. Like I said previously - this is both exciting and terrifying.

I am a first study singer, but I enjoy learning new instruments. Three of my current projects are cello, violin and piano.

The course I have applied for is a BMus in Classical Performance. This course is extremely exciting as it combines performance with composition and music history, alongside getting to study other genres of music (the name of the degree can be a little deceiving in that element - other music is still studied to some extent)

As an art form, Classical Music is one of the richest in history - one of the reasons I am so thrilled to begin studying it. In terms of history and culture, it has developed across hundreds of years and branches off into other genres too, such as jazz and pop. In terms of study, the reason I chose it is because the repertoire is challenging - it never allows you to be lazy and requires months of practice at times in order to correct. An example of some such repertoire is anything in the French language for me - currently I am working on a Faure song cycle. My German, Italian and English language knowledge is much better in terms of pronunciation than my French, meaning I am having to work really hard on developing it and making it sound more natural as well as expressive to an audience. To do so, I have been researching the composer, his lifestyle, his background, as well as studying French in my free time and listening to as many radio programmes, live performances and operas in French as possible: This is one element of being a classical singer - studying language. Although your audience may not always be able to understand exactly what you are saying, you need to be able to express your meaning to them none the less. This can also be through movement in performances, but in recordings where you cannot be seen, you have to be precise in pronunciation, dynamic and note accuracy. This can take months at a time, as previously mentioned, but means you can embrace entirely stories that you otherwise might never get to experience in the real world.

Music allows you to be anything or anyone. It is also a time machine - through it, I am able to see the lives and influences of times before mine in which these composers were writing. One such example is Elgar - in English music especially, one of the biggest influences is the countryside and the elements of earth and water. Elgar's music is a time capsule for the land he loved so - as is that of Vaughan Williams, as can be seen in 'The Lark Ascending'

In addition to all of that, music goes beyond what words are able to express which is why despite being a singer, it is useful to be able to play a secondary study (e.g piano) which allows you to be able to understand the impact of harmony as a singular technique upon a listeners reaction. Shostakovich' fifth symphony goes beyond one layer of meaning and is constantly analysed and argued over by critics trying to gauge the original meaning to no avail: And yet, does the meaning truly matter? Is our own interpretation the most important thing, or the composers?

Music, in any format, is an extremely powerful thing - it is a gift that you can give and share with many. That is the main reason that I have chosen to study it, for this is the best way I am able to communicate with others, to communicate with many. At a conservatoire, Music will be everywhere in my surroundings - it will not just be a part of my life, but the lives of other students I meet, the professors who teach us and the material created in class (whether that be Bach Chorales or string quartets)

Although university offers an equally interesting course for music, it does not offer the same amount of time and commitment to performance as a conservatoire does - universities are much more essay based, whereas at a conservatoire there is a competitive (although friendly) environment, meaning their students are constantly on their toes in order to prove themselves capable of being a professional performer. At a conservatoire, it is much more repertoire and recital based, although essay work and lectures are still involved. To me, that challenge is nothing short of a dream come true as it will push me beyond my comfort zone as A level has done so far - the best way to become an expressive singer. And I cannot wait to begin studying music all the time - although a huge decision to make, there is so much to learn, so much to do! There is never a dull moment.