A week in the life of a Music student can vary greatly from week to week, and from student to student, depending on their interests! Here is what a week in my life looks like, as a 2nd-Year studying Music at York!
Monday is generally a pretty relaxed day for me, as I don’t have any seminars to attend. I generally spend the morning getting ready for the week, sometimes going for a walk around town with a friend. In the afternoon, I do some online tutoring, and then in the evening, I head off to the university choir. This is a large choir of students (both in and out of the Department) and locals. It’s a great way to easily make friends with other people with similar interests!
For the first six weeks of the term, Tuesday morning goes to seminars for my first option module. This is structured as a 90-minute session, followed by a half-hour break, followed by another 90-minute session. This term, I decided to take ‘Song Beyond The Score’ (which I’d highly recommend!). This module largely focuses on the distinction between written music and music learned by ear. It’s challenging us to think about whether reaching for sheet music is necessarily the best way of learning.
Part of what I loved about this module was the emphasis on practical and collaborative learning. We never had to just sit through a 90-minute lecture – there were plenty of discussions and varied presentations from students. A highlight of the sessions were the songs learned at the beginning – nothing beats learning lullabies for the sake of education! After seminars, my day is pretty open, so I often stay in the Department to practise or talk to students.
In the morning, I have a seminar for one of my core modules, ‘Critical Thinking and Listening’. In this, we discuss core issues of music in a more social setting, such as the canon. Later in the afternoon, I often have a committee meeting for Music Society (which generally alternates between Wednesday and Thursday). In the evening, the Department runs their concert series: a wide range of student ensembles and professional performers. These are always really high quality, and all Music students get free tickets!
During the first six weeks of term, my Thursday morning is very similar to Tuesdays, attending more seminars for my option module. Now that teaching for my option module has finished for the term, I generally spend this time doing study sessions with my friends to get our final submissions ready. (We don’t have exams – it’s all essays, performances or compositions!) This is a great opportunity to have a sounding board for various ideas I have about my assessments.
The great thing about this term is the choice given to what kind of work I submit (essay or performance/composition). This gives me freedom to present what I learned from the module in a way that plays to my strengths. These study sessions are also great for the weird and wonderful music we come up with together in our breaks! (Phrygian-mode version of Ten Green Bottles, anyone…?)
In the afternoon, I do youth gamelan, a trainee position where I help facilitate gamelan sessions with local children. This is an amazing opportunity, and one of the highlights of my university experience so far! After this, I go to Chimera rehearsals. Chimera is a student-led, contemporary music ensemble, which is great fun, but also useful for understanding concepts introduced in seminars.
On Fridays, my first activity is my singing lesson (on alternate weeks). After this, I’ll go to rehearsals for gamelan, which is great fun, in part because of the ensemble’s unique ability to accommodate beginner and advanced players in the same group. Gamelan is a collection from percussion instruments from Indonesia. York has the first set of instruments in an educational establishment in Britain, meaning there are prominent members of the UK’s gamelan community with strong ties to York. Occasionally, they come in to lead sessions – such as a recent one for the gamelan’s birthday! The ensemble is really close-knit, too, so we almost always stay and talk after rehearsals have finished!
This is my quietest day of the week. I generally teach in the afternoon, then either practise, do things with friends, or catch up on emails. Often I’ll end up going to practice rooms with friends to play through assessment pieces for each other, or sometimes just for a nice sing-along!
Most of Sunday afternoons/evenings are dedicated to rehearsals for Ragnarök, which is a large-scale concert of student compositions telling the story of the Ragnarök, in celebration of the gamelan’s 40th birthday. Apart from this, being my first opportunity to compose for the gamelan (which has been great!), this event also gives me the chance to be involved with the facilitation of other students’ compositions, since rehearsals often involve workshopping ideas.