Stephen Willey

I chose the Conservatoire to study my MMus Music Composition because the course there offered lots of opportunities in the field and the tutors were very open-minded and welcoming of different approaches to writing music. After I finished my undergraduate degree at Birmingham Conservatoire I felt that the university still had more to offer me, and that there was more I could learn from my tutors. I had always felt that the Conservatoire has a warm and friendly feel about it so I was very happy to stay there for my Masters.

The university was very well equipped and the lecturers were brilliant and really made me feel like they cared about what and how I did. They came from such a variety of different musical backgrounds and I was supported by excellent visiting tutors meaning there were always people to challenge the effectiveness of my music. I found them very supportive and encouraging.

We were encouraged from the offset to have a professional attitude, and the course provides you with opportunities to get involved with many ambitious and exciting projects. These helped to develop my composition skills as well as providing me with many professional links and important networking skills. We often worked in collaboration with musicians and composers who were both part of and separate to the university, which made for very exciting and ambitious projects. Being chosen for the Deutsche Bank Creative Enterprise Award for Music through the Conservatoire was also a huge honour, which helped set us up for the future.

Since graduating I work as a Director and Composer at Etch Music, which involves composing music for live, recorded and interactive visual media. I also construct a lot of the marketing and PR and put in place strategies to help grow the business. My degree really helped me in this career as the training I received for writing music has been invaluable. The constant drive towards finding new sounds and developing your own musical voice helps us to understand how to make our music more appealing to our clients. There were also a great number of professional and social links I made while at university that still continue to be very close to us as a business.

University taught me the value of completely letting down my barriers and realising I didn’t know everything already! It’s important to let yourself be pushed in directions that you are not always comfortable with as it’s often these opportunities that become the most exciting experiences.