My name is Maria, I grew up in Norfolk, and I have recently secured a place to study a postgraduate degree in classical singing at the Royal College of Music, London. I am also a member of CAE’s Creative Connect group!
For the last few years, I have been studying an undergraduate degree in vocal performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. I am often asked what exactly I do in my degree and I thought I would give an overview.
First, a bit of info about what a conservatoire is…
Music colleges (or music ‘conservatoires’) are higher education institutions that primarily offer performance-based music degrees. Musicians with conservatoire education can go on to perform at elite venues such as the Royal Albert Hall. As with university, students usually apply aged 18/19 with the intention of studying an undergraduate degree in their chosen instrument. Places are scarce and attained through competitive auditions.
Studying at conservatoire is a bit like an apprenticeship, students are taught by an expert musician and receive lots of practical classes to help them develop into well-rounded, skilled musicians fit for the profession.
What classes do we have?
Every week I have a 1-1 singing lesson with my singing teacher and a 1-1 lesson with my vocal coach. A vocal coach is a pianist with extensive knowledge of vocal repertoire and often with language expertise.
The other lessons in my timetable vary hugely, but here are some examples of the type of classes we have:
-Language classes – German/Italian/French are standard – Russian and Spanish occasionally
-Song Class – an opportunity to sing to a language specialist and singer
-Performance Class – an opportunity to perform to a singing teacher
-Informed Performer – a class with a musician with a particular insight or specialism surrounding your instrument (for example contemporary vocal music)
-Stagecraft – this can include dance lessons, acting, movement workshops, etc.
-Masterclasses – a guest professional singer will watch students perform and offer advice/critique
-Musicianship & theory
In between classes, I am usually found in a practice room or at a desk translating song texts, researching new pieces to learn, or doing admin (my least favourite job!). We are also actively encouraged to audition for internal and external performance opportunities outside of classes, as nothing beats experience! These performances could be solo recitals, operas, or choral works, for example. As with most degrees, we are still expected to write essays and take written exams, but the weighting of the marking ultimately favours our performance exams.
Of course, this year has been a bit different with most of our classes and exams moving online. I have been lucky to find some online opportunities, but with so little work around competition is fiercer than ever. There is hope that in the next few weeks lessons at Trinity can start to move back in person again, which I am looking forward to.
I hope you have enjoyed this summary (and my first attempt at a blog)! If you are interested in finding out more about what I do then follow me on Instagram @MezzoMaria.
Stay safe and well, everyone!