My favourite things about studying at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Richard Thomas is currently studying Advanced Postgraduate Diploma Music (Professional Performance) at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He explains to us how he overcame his nervousness before starting the course and how he has adapted to a socially-distancing academic environment, as well as praising both the staff and his fellow students who have supported him during his time here at RBC.

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Starting life afresh in an unfamiliar city and at a new university is always an exciting, if perhaps at times a, daunting experience.

“What will my course be like?”, “Who will my classmates be?” or “What modules should I pick?” These are just a handful of the numerous queries that racked my brain and I’m sure, the minds of many, when starting this year’s new academic adventure. While wading through the murky waters of academic uncertainty is always confusing at the onset of any new course, add to this the extra complications of a socially distanced, mask-wearing and frantic handwashing learning environment.

However, coming to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC), my queries were never allowed to become anything more than mere inquiries. From their helpful admin team to the incredibly friendly staff, all solutions to the problems or questions I might have had, and believe me I had a few, were only ever a simple email away. And this, aside from the obvious high-quality education offered, leads me to probably my most favourite thing about studying at the RBC: the general friendliness of everyone. From my head of department, right down through the various ranks of teachers, assistants, support staff and students, there is a level of friendliness and a willingness to help that is second to none. Staff members eagerly listen to the suggestions and concerns of their students and do their absolute best to act upon them; something that is especially important during this academic year, where modules and courses are altered to best suit this bizarre world of social distancing.

For a long time, chamber music has been a vital aspect of my musical journey. I was thrilled to find that, even during a pandemic, RBC not only found ways to offer regular coachings with various members of their teaching staff, but also organise chamber music performance classes a few times a month; a class that has become a personal favourite of mine. Having spent the majority of my previous academic term in lockdown, it brought such joy to once again work on Beethoven string quartets and Brahms piano trios with likeminded musicians, and an added bonus of being able to perform these works for the classmates that in the end, I did meet!

Here at RBC, the aforementioned friendly and enthusiastic environment doesn’t stop short at simply answering one’s queries but extends right through to the everyday workings of the Conservatoire. From the hearty enthusiasm shown in chamber music coachings right through to the friendliness with which one’s suggestions are met; all culminate in an academic environment filled with encouragement.

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