Tom Bennett joined the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2018 and is currently studying BMus (Hons) Music (Orchestral Percussion and Timpani). He describes to us what student life is like in lockdown and explains how he has adapted to this new way of working, along with some of the advantages of studying from home.
I’m a BMus third year student at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire studying Orchestral Percussion and Timpani. Lockdown has affected everyone universally and as a student this has been no different; so, I wanted to share my experience of student life in lockdown.
Everyone has had to adjust in their own way and as three musicians living in an apartment we’ve had to adjust too, like practising quieter and hearing each other practising the same pieces over and over again. I’m sure our neighbours have had to adjust as well… However, there have been perks, for example having the comfort of working from home whilst practising and having limitless cups of tea all day!
One thing I have really got into over lockdown has been cooking! Since I’ve had more time at home than usual, I’ve been able to cook more and cook things I never would have done before. I really enjoy sitting down with my flat mates for a meal, (due to our timetables, we often don’t see each other in the day), it’s a really nice time to catch up and unwind.
To help contain COVID, departments have been put into ‘bubbles’ from which classes, ensembles and teaching is done from within. The great thing about the percussion department bubble is that we all get along really well and so it acts like a social bubble too. We are just as busy as previous years - if not more at times! This means I am in uni every day and the structure helps it to feel as close to normal as possible.
The only major change is the limit to cross department activities; however, the performance department has tried to run as many ensemble projects as practice. So far, we have had a Symphony Orchestra project with Mike Seal. Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. This was across four days and the orchestra was spread remotely over three rooms using headphones and monitors to make it work - the result was amazing! It was fantastic to play with other musicians again.
The Conservatoire runs Health and Wellbeing lectures every Friday hosted by specialists in many different fields relating to self-care. Talks highlight the services on offer to us as students of RBC and BCU; some examples include taking care of our hearing, Alexander Technique and Mindfulness sessions. This has been especially useful this year as it is so important to take time out for self-care activities.
Something that has affected everyone is the potential lack of separation between work life and home life. I’ve tried to keep my work life in uni as much as possible and away from home, but I’m always tempted to do more when I get home. So, I found a happy compromise for me which is to stop working and switch off my phone from 8pm onwards. This has also helped me sleep well, which is really important.
There is an overall feeling that everyone is in this together and trying their hardest to make the best out of the situation and support one other. I’m really looking forward to going home for Christmas and seeing my family!
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