Hi! I’m Sarah, and I’m a 1st-Year Music student at York. In this blog, I hope to highlight a few of the things that are great about studying Music at York, and what you have to look forward to!
Ensembles, ensembles and more ensembles
York is unique in that, while an academically rigorous course, it strongly emphasises performance and practical music making. While there are of course all the more ‘traditional’ ensembles on offer that one would expect of a music department (choir, orchestra, chamber choir), there are also more unique ensembles which give students a fantastic opportunity to discover and perform a wide range of diverse pieces.
For example, this term I am a member of the gamelan ensemble, which has introduced me to an entirely new culture through music, as well as having a lovely, tight-knit community with socials being a regular part of the experience. I am also part of the Chimera ensemble, which focuses primarily on contemporary/experimental music. This is an excellent way to really get to grips with some complex issues behind experimental music. It’s a great example of York’s initiative in practical methods of exploring academic subjects.
One of my favourite things about the Department is the way it encourages us to diversify our performance experiences. I have had so many opportunities to explore instruments that aren’t necessarily related to my degree. On the weekends, I play with the University’s concert orchestra and concert band with relatively ‘new’ instruments, which has been great fun, and allowed me to meet even more great people!
Course structure and flexibility
I applied for (and eventually chose) York mainly because of the sheer choice and flexibility it offered to shape our degree the way we want. We also don’t sit written exams, meaning we’re assessed on our knowledge and ability, rather than through a memory test.
Unlike most universities, we choose option modules from the very start, from composition to music psychology, from jazz to atonality. Each allows for a different assessment type, letting you choose modules that assess you on your strengths. This could mean essay writing, performance, composition or other forms of submission.
There is also no requirement to write a dissertation (although, of course, this is an option!). Instead, all final-year students carry out a solo project, which is a year-long project of the student’s choosing. This means we have the opportunity to carry out significant work on an area which really interests us, giving us an edge in terms of gaining employment in our preferred fields.
I hope that this blog has given you a flavour of what it is like to study Music at York, and I really hope you consider joining us in the future!