Why I love Music at York

This being my first blog post here, I’d better start basic…

I love being at York. Corny as it might sound, I really have been so grateful for my time here so far. I had a pretty unhappy time towards the end of school, and actually went to another university to study Anthropology before leaving after a year (it’s a long story – I’ll probably bore you with it soon…). I reapplied and eventually ended up – somewhat miraculously – at York doing a BA in Music. So I thought that before I write about the tricky things you might want to know about or the things I’ve learnt, I should do my bit to persuade you to consider coming here too. Here are a few reasons I feel relieved I ended up at York…

  1. It may be small, but the department has so much to offer…

My year has about 50 people in it – compared to literally hundreds in many other courses. Although there are lots of postgraduate students as well, Music is a very small department, which means you can really get to know people and feel at home. Since you’re likely to be rehearsing and learning with the same people a lot, I’d argue it’s a lot easier to make proper connections than it would be if we had lectures with a hundred other people. You really do feel like a member of a community, which is lovely. However, it doesn’t feel limiting; just as there are lecturers who specialise in completely different things, there are students who know they want to be performers, students who never practise, students who just want to compose music that sounds to most people like a broken computer, students who always take on way too much and end up having roughly 400 rehearsals every week (I may or may not be definitely guilty of this) … you WILL find other people like you, and everyone has their niche.

  1. NO EXAMS. I REPEAT, NO EXAMS

I have had to face a few death-stares from students doing other subjects when this comes up, but yeah, we don’t have to do any exams for our whole degree. Although I would argue that assessed performances are almost scarier (you can’t go back and change things!), it’s certainly quite a relief to not have to write essays under time pressure like in A-Levels (*shudder*). Also, since you can choose almost every module you do – or at least give preferences – to a certain extent you can avoid long essays, compositions, or performances if you know that’s what you find most difficult.

  1. For a 1960s campus, York is pretty nice…

I may be a biased observer as grey happens to be my favourite colour, but our campus really is quite lovely. It might look grim if you catch it on a rainy open day, but the big lake, the trees and grassy spaces, and all the wildlife (I won’t bore you with goose stories as I’m sure there are already hundreds on these blogs…) really make it a relaxing and interesting place to be. In first year I lived in a catered block in Vanbrugh college, which was a couple minutes’ walk over a bridge and across a lawn to the Music Department. And I wasn’t even in the closest block! It’s pretty great (not to mention the gorgeous acoustic of the Sir Jack Lyons concert hall which we get to use, and the kitchen and sofas in the building… there’s even a shower. You could probably live there. Not recommended for privacy though.)

  1. If I can make friends here, anyone can (yay)

Like I said, I didn’t arrive at York in the best of mindsets, and was pretty worried about the whole social side of things. I found it quite hard – very hard – to make friends where I was before. But the department, the course structure, and the fact that I was living in a big block of people and going to catered meals with them every weekday helped ENORMOUSLY. I am forever indebted to the bonding provided by breakfast, the social advantages of supper, and the magical mayhem of the music department.

  1. So much to do

As well as the seemingly ever-growing list of ensembles and events in Music, there are literally hundreds of other groups and activities you can get involved with around the university. For example, I did boxing, and my best friend put on a TEDX conference. If you find something you’re passionate about you can most definitely find time to do it. I’ve generally buried myself in rehearsals, but if you’d rather do loads of sport, astronomy or swing-dancing or anything else – you really can go for it!

So that’s my summary of why I’m happy where I am, by way of introducing myself! I hope this was useful in some way, and don’t worry if it sounds like I’m sugar-coating things. There are difficulties here, as there will be at any university, doing any course, for any person. But doing Music at York has helped me pick myself up, dust myself off and have some real fun for once. I strongly encourage you to let it do the same for you!

Published by

Sarah

Hi! I’m a second-year music student at York, orginally from London. I currently live with three other second-years in a smallish house, ten minutes’ cycle from campus and from the hotel where I work as a part-time waitress. In first year I lived in Eric Milner-White, a self-catered block in Vanbrugh college, and it was great! I love the campus, and my department is fabulous, and York itself is wonderful. I’m very happy to help people decide if York, and music, is right for them the way it has been for me, and I’ll try to convey my enthusiasm for it all without ignoring the inevitable tricky bits! University isn’t (like any big part of your life) going to be absolutely plain sailing, but nor does it have to be terrifying or impossible. Get in touch if you have any questions and good luck with your decisions!