After a first year comprised solely of compulsory modules, picking four of your own choice can be a pretty big deal. When we chose ours, there were thirty-four to choose from, which was both a blessing and a curse.
Because music as a discipline covers so many areas, having this many options is a good thing because the curriculum can cater to everyone’s interests. A selection of our choices were ‘American Experimental Music’, ‘Shakespeare and Music’, and ‘The Sixties’, and the overall list spanned everything from the medieval period to present day, as well as including more creative/practical options.
However, as someone who overthinks everything and is generally indecisive, this list was very daunting. Naturally I could rule out some modules straight away (‘Recording’ wasn’t the ideal choice for a technophobe like myself), but there were still plenty of others that looked interesting, and since getting a time-turner wasn’t an option, I had to firmly tell myself that I couldn’t take twenty choices.
After considerable thinking/agonising about my future studies, I eventually decided on three modules that I absolutely wanted to do. This left one empty space on my module form, which I chose to fill with something a bit different to what I usually like to study.
Here’s what I ended up doing:
- Solo performance – doing this meant that I could continue my instrument lessons (as well as the definite advantage of not having timetabled lectures for it). Even though the idea of doing a recital is quite scary, I think it will eventually help me get over my stage fright. Also, all my other options are coursework-based, so it’s nice to not have to stress about essays for the entire year.
- Paper composition – I enjoyed this (and was quite good at it) in first year, so I decided to continue it to a more advanced level.
- Music and the Brain – this module is about how music affects people who listen to it, with particular regard to emotion and music’s health-giving benefits. I did GCSE and A-level Psychology, and have always been interested in how the brain works, so this seemed like a perfect option for me.
- Sacred Music in Secular Britain – this is to do with the relationship twentieth-century religious music had (and still has) with its contemporary society, and is the ‘unusual’ option that I decided on after all the others. I tend not to think much about the cultural context of music, so I chose this to help give me a wider perspective on musical works.
In short, my advice to people unsure about which modules to take would just be to do things you’ll enjoy, and don’t be afraid to do things that are going to push you a bit. If you know exactly which career path you want to go down, that’s great, choose things that will help with that, but it’s also worth venturing outside of that sometimes.