Going to University


My name is Heather, I am nineteen years old, and I am just starting my second year of a music degree at the University of Birmingham. Hobbies include (and, to be honest, are basically limited to) baking, running, and playing board games. I also enjoy making puns about composers.*

Born and bred in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, I didn’t exactly have a wide array of musical experience. I’d studied only the bare minimum of repertoire in my 20-minute instrument lessons, and music was hardly encouraged as a career choice in my ‘Mathematics and Computing’ secondary school (particularly for the girl who won ‘Einsteinette’ at prom). That’s not to say I hadn’t done anything; for 3 years I played in the Sheffield Youth Orchestra which did some great repertoire, although this did mean travelling to Sheffield city centre at 9am every Saturday (my friend and I learnt that cellos don’t deserve ‘priority’ spaces on supertrams – a disappointing but valuable lesson). Nevertheless, I was excited to join a course where enjoying classical music wouldn’t put me in the minority, music was valued as a discipline, and there was a variety of ensembles right on my doorstep (or in fact, a twenty-minute walk away; Maple Bank is seriously mis-sold as being ‘very close to campus’).

However, there were nerves under the excitement. I don’t know if my list of hobbies told you this already, but I don’t get out much (there were fourteen composers in that footnote. FOURTEEN.), and so I was a bit worried that my aversion to clubbing would make me an outcast. However, there really was no need to be nervous; the university put on great sober events throughout welcome week, and while I am probably in the minority in my complete avoidance of the local nightlife, I soon developed a close group of friends with a similar lifestyle to mine. Obviously, if going to clubs and dancing all night is your idea of a good time, that’s fine too, but my point is that whatever you enjoy, it’s easy to find like-minded people to do it with. What I’m trying to say is, you’ll have a great time at university whatever you do with your Saturday nights, and who gets to say that Cranium is less fun than Snobs, anyway?

*Let me be Franck with you, music can be a Rimsky business to go into, but don’t go Haydn your talent. If you feel like Spontini-ously singing, or writing a symphony on the Spohr of the moment, go for it! It’s important to relax though, for example by going Chopin, watching a film (I recommend ‘Bax to the future’) or by drinking some Tchaik tea. And if someone’s losing sleep, try singing them a Lully-by, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. Just don’t get too Strauss-ed out (for example by making too many to-do Liszts) or you’ll come out in Ives. I should get a Handel on these puns now or someone might put an em-Bach-o on them.

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