Music. What is it? Why study it? What does a week of it look like? You might have many questions like this if you’re thinking of studying it at university. While I might not be able to answer all of those in this blog, I can try to show you what life is like for me as a first year at the University of York.
This term I’ve decided to take Musical Analysis (one of the benefits of studying at York is you can take option modules from the first term), so that’s what I have on a Monday morning at 9.15am. Most lectures or seminars start at or after 9am, so if you’re a night owl like me you’ll never have to wake up earlier than about 8am. The way this is structured is two 90-minute seminars with a 30-minute break in the middle.
“What is a seminar?”
Good question! Simply put, at university, there are 3 main types of groups you are in. A lecture is a huge hall with probably 50 or more people in, but in Music we mostly have seminars and tutorials. A seminar is more of a class ranging from 12-30 people and a tutorial is a small number, about 1-3.
After this, I’ve finished my taught bits of the day and I spend the rest of the afternoon practising or working. At 7.30pm is University Choir, which is a great opportunity to make friends and perform with a 200-strong choir as part of the course. A highlight of mine is the pub afterwards where it’s the jazz night every week.
Tuesday morning is reserved for tutorials for Musical Analysis. This is a one to one session with your tutor where they might give you advice on your essay ideas and drafts or answer any questions you might have. For this, everyone gets a 15-minute slot.
After that, while I’m still in the department, I might do some more practice and have lunch. Then at 4.15pm I have a Harmony and Counterpoint seminar. This is probably my favourite bit of the week. I love a good bit of theory and it’s a small group of about 6 which makes it personal.
This day is a nice late start: 10.15am for Aural Skills. I’ve also been enjoying this module. It gives some fundamentals about listening to music analytically and critically. After that, it’s a quick turnaround to the weekly ‘Listen to this!’ lecture at 11.30am. Another highlight, this is an hour and a half lecture about any piece that a particular lecturer is passionate about which is so cool to hear. My favourite lectures so far have been about The Beatles and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.
After the lecture, I then have Chamber Choir, another fun way to get to know and work with other singers. After that, I’m free for the rest of the day. I normally try to do my weekly shop by now; it tends to fluctuate between Mondays and Wednesdays. There’s a really nice path through a field that takes you to Aldi, so I like to cycle there.
Wednesday evening also has the concert for the week, which Music students get a free ticket for. There have been some amazing performances, ranging from The Manchester Collective (who play classical and world music alongside each other) to the Gould Piano Trio.
Today is another Musical Analysis day, from 9.15am to 12.45pm with a half an hour break in the middle. After that, I have a free day which I spend working on ‘coursework’ or practising. I also love to go climbing every week with my girlfriend at the Red Goat climbing wall, which we normally do on a Thursday. At some point during the day, I’ll also have a singing lesson.
The morning of Friday is for Musical Analysis tutorials (the same concept as the ones on Tuesday). In the evening I also have Yorkshire Bach Choir, which performs challenging repertoire and is made up of mainly professional singers. Friday is also a great night to go on a night out. Personally, I love pubs like the Stone Roses and I have a soft spot for Flares.
On Saturdays I like to do something new, whether that’s exploring the city or doing an activity. If I need to do some shopping, I’ll get the bus into town and read in a cafe afterwards. Or if I need to write a blog, I might do it then! Of course, somewhere in the day, I’ll fit in some more practice.
On a Sunday I like to check my timetable for what’s next week and spend some quality time on Netflix or YouTube. At 3pm, I play tennis at the sports centre – a great way to make friends and get away from all that studying.