Hi, I’m Lauren. I studied Music at the University of York. I graduated last year with a 2:1.
I picked to study at York because I fell in love with the city, it was just such a pleasant place to be. I felt like it suited me, and a lot of my interests. York has a vibrant city life, especially in the theatre and music. I now work as a freelance musician and private tutor in and around the local area and with the local schools.
I’ve always wanted to do music, even though when I was doing my A-levels I had no thoughts about going to university, as I’d come from a working-class background, where money wasn’t spent, and I’d got into my head that I couldn’t afford to go to university. 6 months later, after I got my AS results of AAAB, (first year of 6th form) I realised I had the grades required to study at a Russell Group University, so I started looking at courses and requirements. I came across the York course from recommendations of friends from school who also went to study music at York, so I went for a visit day, and instantly wanted to study there.
The campus is beautiful, and h
as something for everyone. How you found it – the learning style, the life style or the workload. The learning style suited me at first, as I was very much an independent kind of person when it came to studying and working on projects. The part of the course that I loved was the fact that you could pick your own modules from a list of around 8 choices, a
nd tailor your own degree to your interests and needs. In my first year I studied the Jazz Diaspora for my first module, and i absolutely hated it. The amount of work and knowledge for a first module was overwhelming, and I got the worst mark I’ve ever had. Understandable though, for a first module and first essay written in the style required for university though – it was still a pass, but a rubbish one!
It got to around Christmas and I absolutely HATED university. I felt like I wasn’t fitting in, I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t about the university lifestyle. However, I told myself I would go back after Christmas of first year with a positive attitude, an my next module as education based, which is my second passion. I love teaching, and this module allowed me to complete a placement in an educational setting. Lo and behold, I completed my first year with a good solid pass, enabling me to continue into the second year.
Second year was hard, but I loved every minute of it. I’d found friends that had similar lifestyles to me – I didn’t drink that much back then – and similar inter
ests. I’d made some fantastic memories and fab friends for life. The truth about the academic side is that there are tonnes of avenues of support. We all had an academic supervisor, a performance supervisor and a mentor. These people acted as counsellors sometimes, and mine really did go above and beyond for me in my times of need. I really didn’t get on with my instrumental tutor at university, to the point I wanted to leave – so my performance supervisor found me a replacement, and my new tutor and I got on like a house on fire. Our personalities were practically the same, and she was really great at getting my full potential and showering me with support when I needed it.
The real struggle came when it got to third year, and it was toward the end of first term in November. I’d taken up cycling in the summer, racking up the miles and training for events. I’d got ready to go for a short ride before it got dark after a day at university. I left home and literally not even a mile away from my house, I was hit by a van, and was knocked unconscious for a few moments. I suffered badly bruised arms and knees, and severe concussion. This was a real big set back for my confidence AND my degree.
That Christmas was an interesting one, I had to train myself to hold myself up again, and had to use crutches to hobble around – not because I’d broken any bones, but due to the head injury confusing my body. It was awful – I felt useless, I couldn’t read, write, watch TV, do anything other than rest. And it blooming’ well bored me to death. Not to mention the amount of pain I was in, and what impact this had on my already strained mental health. It was advised that I be signed off for the term, but I was very worried that I wouldn’t get to graduate with all of my friends in summer. Luckily, my supervisor was super helpful (clue is in the name of supervisor!!!!) and I was due to do a recital in March, which was able to be postponed until summer, giving me a whole term off, just to do my dissertation – which, I might add, was handed in on time, and I received one of the highest marks of my degree.
I was able to complete the required modules AND my recital AND my dissertation all in the space of a few months, running side-by-side (triple the work load!!) and by some miracle, I managed to graduate in the summer with all of my friends, celebrating our success. From a young age, I have always wanted to do music as a career, and I was always noted at school to be the ‘musical one’ or the one that would go on to be a music teacher. It was actually my dream to be a music teacher since I started learning the trumpet way back in primary school. I now give that energy and inspiration that was passed to me, to my own pupils, hopefully inspiring those to go on and do the same.
However, there was a spanner in the works in September last year, when I’d just started my PGCE and teacher training, I’d been diagnosed with Glandular Fever in November, and I’d had it since the end of July, so teaching and doing a PGCE was blooming hard work! I do have some regrets about university – I wish I never believed the myths that you are told before moving, and I wish I had more confidence in my first year, I did deserve my place on that course, and i wish I knew that I was capable of graduating, rather than ruining my social life and working my finger to the bone in first year, which didn’t actually count towards my degree. The more annoying thing about this was the fact that in my second module of first year, I got the highest mark on a project I was passionate about.
In hindsight I would have saved this project for final year, where the credits were of a higher percentage! However, despite all negative moments and bits of panic, my degree really was the best three years of my life. I would go back and do it all again if I could! (maybe not the dissertation!!)