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My first year experience in Music

Ruby Thorne joined Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2019 and is currently studying BMus (Hons) Music. She shares with us what her first few months were like, her experience singing in the guitar chamber as a soloist and what advice she would give to students starting their first year at RBC in September.

Ruby Thorne Headshot

What were your expectations before starting your first year at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire?

I had high hopes that I would develop as a musician and make friends with similar interests. I was not disappointed!

How did you find the first few months of university?

It was a bit of a sensory overload at first as there was a lot of information to take in, especially in Freshers week. But, with self-organisation, I quickly got into a weekly routine. I worked hard with my singing teacher and in other classes for all four modules. I also made the most of the social events that often took place in and out of the Conservatoire.

What has been the most fun/interesting project you have worked on in this last year?

In December 2019 I sang in the guitar chamber concert as a soloist. I was asked by one of my friends in the guitar department if we could perform together. This was held in the Recital Hall and many of our peers came to watch and support us. I sang two Spanish songs, which was a challenge because Spanish is not a language that we learn in the Vocal department. However, I worked on the pieces with my singing teacher and I asked some Spanish students at the Conservatoire to help me with my pronunciation. I then had the confidence to deliver the pieces accurately.

Also, in March this year, I had a principle role in the play ‘All About and To a Female Artist’ by Stuart Stevens. Here, I worked with a professional music ensemble and director. We performed in the Recital Hall to a full audience of members of the public. This was an incredible experience to work with people already in the industry. It was also a privilege to perform on such a platform as a first-year student!

What is the community like at RBC?

When I was told that the Conservatoire is super friendly and everyone is very supportive of each other, I was enthused but also a little sceptical. But I can confirm that all of the stewards on Open Day were right! Because the Conservatoire is small, you can make friends with people across all years and departments. I absolutely love this because I am a social butterfly and I do not like the high school mentality of being in one friendship group forever.

I think the reason for the community spirit at RBC is because the tutors and heads of department treat all of the students equally. There is no hierarchy when it comes to auditions or opportunities. Instead, opportunities may be offered to you if you are a hard working student and if you want your efforts to be recognised.

Is studying at university much different to college/sixth form? If so or if not, why?

In my opinion, in terms of organisation, punctuality and commitment, studying at RBC is just as intense as A-Levels. However, I am now focusing my energy into something I fully enjoy. Therefore, it does not feel like a real effort to put the hard work in, because singing is what I love, so the work feels more like a hobby. By choosing to study at a Conservatoire, you definitely do not have only two lectures a week and you’re not sitting in halls of residence twiddling your thumbs - that's for sure!

What advice would you give to students who are starting university soon?

Make friends in Freshers week! It is important to meet new people both in and out of your department because these friends will also be your colleagues and you may want to collaborate with them in the future.

I would also advise you to absolutely go for it. You worked so hard to get in, so now you should reap the rewards by working hard and enjoying student life! Try not to burn yourself out and don't feel guilty for having a night in every now and then. But make yourself known in your department by being a hard worker!


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