A Week in the Life of a Music student

Hi I’m Megan! I’m a third year Music student at the University of York. I’ve absolutely loved my time here and my overall experience has been hugely varied from learning about the psychology of music to getting involved with the Musical and Aerobics societies. There is so much going on at York, both on campus and in the city – don’t be fooled by the city centre not being the biggest! Here are a number of things that might take place in a typical week for me and my coursemates.

Lectures

The music course at York gives you a huge amount of flexibility to choose your own modules based on your interests from day one. Actual lectures tend to only take up 2 days of the week maximum, and these are never in a traditional lecture hall or either a traditional lecture style. If you are doing a performance assessed module for example, as I have recently, you may be rehearsing during your lecture times as part of a chamber ensemble under the guidance of your lecturer. It’s an incredibly personal experience, even in more traditional-style lectures as there are only ever around 20 people in a group!

Overall, the number of people on the course in a year group is quite small, meaning that you get to know everyone in the department, including students from other years. Lectures are mixed year groups, which means that you meet a lot of people and the whole department is very vibrant, sociable and inclusive.

Instrumental/singing lessons

All music students are entitled to a number of instrumental/singing lessons a term. This means that practising also becomes a daily habit for most music students, particularly for people passionate about performance or with assessed performances coming up. This is one of many reasons why our timetable isn’t too heavy, as we need lots of time to work independently on our own playing or singing.

Ensembles

Beyond lectures, most music students are involved in a whole range of ensembles, from University Symphony or Chamber Orchestra to University Choir and Zamar Gospel Choir! There is also a Jazz orchestra and Big Band.

Rehearsals tend to take place in the evenings, which can be tiring if they succeed a full day of lectures but generally rehearsals are great fun. Most ensembles will do a concert every term, and these usually happen on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday evenings. This does mean that sometimes weekend rehearsals happen. But they are only in the run-up to a concert and tend to be a lot of fun, with adrenaline high before a performance.

Concerts

Every Wednesday and some Friday evenings, the department runs a concert series and tickets are FREE for music students. There are some great concerts on, from professional string quartets to the Swingle singers! It is also an opportunity to really think about the concert setting and evaluate concerts. Later in the term, all students have to complete a review of a number of concerts put on by the department.

Volunteering

During the days where I am free, I tend to spend most of my time volunteering with the Music Education Group. This is super important to me as I really would like a career in teaching/community music/music therapy after my degree, and volunteering in schools, care homes and the hospital is perfect preparation for this. We lead music sessions, teaching Samba, African Drumming, Languages Through Song, General Musicianship and lots more! It is a really rewarding and valuable way to spend my free time.

Part-time work

I also have a part-time job as a Student Ambassador with the university. It is a really fun and flexible job. It allows me to expand my experience of working even more with young people and their parents, delivering tours and generally promoting York and university life. As shifts largely run during the day, it will rarely clash with rehearsals or concerts. Plus, there are opportunities to do residentials in the holidays also!

At the weekends

At the weekends, if there aren’t rehearsals for department ensembles, I take time to practice, work and go to the gym!

Some terms, I have been heavily involved with the Central Hall Musical Society working towards a show. So my weekends have been taken up by lots of dance and singing rehearsals with a huge group of fun and fab people.

It is also really important to me and my housemates to spend at least the weekend evenings together. We’ll maybe cook a house roast on Sunday or make the most of chilling and watching very exciting Saturday night TV together. It doesn’t seem like much, but as we’re all music students, our timetables can be hectic in daytimes, evenings and weekends and they can also be very opposite. One of us might be in a choir on Monday night and free Tuesday but then instrumentalists are in an orchestra on Tuesdays! The weekend evenings are a really key time for us to relax and catch up on our week.


Hopefully, this has given you an insight into a typical week in the life of a music student. I think it certainly reflects the diversity of the course and the university as a whole. So if you’re looking to come somewhere that has a lot to offer then I can definitely recommend York!

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