Welcome to our brand new weekly feature where we highlight the great work that RBC alumni are doing in the field of music education.
Each week our guest will reveal insights such as what led them to do what they are currently doing, the projects they have been involved in since graduating, what inspires them on a daily basis, and what advice they would give to any music student considering working as a music educator in the future, whether full time or as part of a rewarding portfolio career.
Episode one: Gina Baker
Years studied 2014-2018
Course BMus (Hons)
First study Voice
I completed my Undergraduate in Vocal Studies at RBC in 2018. After graduating, I started working for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), with their Learning and Participation Department. I was the learning trainee for a year and was involved in a variety of different workshops, concerts and events throughout the year.
I currently have a private teaching practice and I’m the vocal coach for the University of Leicester Chorus, where I lead vocal technique sessions, as well as one-on-one coaching with chorus members. While studying, I started working for the charity Beating Time, which involves leading choirs in prisons around the West Midlands, and I still do this work now.
During my degree, I completed the Musicate Programme, run by Cheltenham Festivals, which led to a variety of work when graduating. After graduating, I went on to devise and lead music workshops in primary schools around Cheltenham and performed a leading role in a newly-commissioned community opera called Across the Sky, which was premiered at the final night of the Cheltenham Music Festival at the Town Hall. The opera was a collaboration with multiple different schools and was used to set up a new community choir, which I helped to lead. After the project was finished, I continued to lead the community choir in weekly rehearsals, which are still ongoing.
I have also led choirs and vocal workshops for different sectors of the NHS as part of their Staff Health and Wellbeing programmes as well as with the Prince’s Trust as part of their work with vulnerable young people. Singing and mental health is an area I am interested in and have been a volunteer for The Choir with No Name since graduating. The choir is for homeless and marginalised people, and I have found this experience rewarding.
Most recently, I have started working for the charity Music of Life, which uses high-quality music-making to advance education and improve the health and well-being of disabled children and young people aged up to 25.
Before studying for my undergraduate degree, I took two gap years as I was unsuccessful in my auditions to music college on my first attempt. Although I found this hard as I felt rejected, I decided to use the two years to gain experience in music in any way that I could.
I joined a choir and started volunteering in a local school, which had a thriving music department. Through this experience, I was introduced to music education and started to get a feel for the buzz of inspiring a generation through music.
It was then during my third and fourth year I got heavily involved with the Pedagogy and Community Engagement modules at the Conservatoire. These modules enabled me to see the impact music can have on a much larger scale, from care homes and hospitals to schools. One experience, which I found truly inspiring was observing a Singing Medicine session with Ex Cathedra in Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where they sang to and with the children on the wards. This also inspired my desire to work in community music and education.
The thing that I enjoy most about working in music education is how rewarding it feels when those that I am working with accomplish something they have been working on. I also love the variety of my work and being challenged in different settings. I feel very lucky to be part of such amazing charities that do such incredible work transforming lives through music.
The most rewarding moment so far in my career has been bringing people and communities together through music and helping to guide people to achieve their full potential. The community opera in Cheltenham was a real highlight for me, and I felt so grateful to be a part of such an amazing project.
I would definitely encourage current students to pursue a career in music education. The training that the Conservatoire provides for your instrument is an amazing foundation to become a teacher, and it can also lead to different opportunities that might not have presented themselves otherwise.
I would also recommend seeking every possible opportunity throughout studying and after graduating, as it has often been through getting involved in lots of different projects and meeting different people that I have secured work and experiences. Through using my voice in a variety of settings, I have also grown in confidence and noticed a considerable difference in my voice and performance since graduating.
If you are one of RBC’s alumni and would like to take part in this feature, contact Interim Vice-Principal (Learning and Teaching) Luan Shaw, Head of Pedagogy Dr Adam Whittaker or Head of Learning and Participation Richard Shrewsbury.