Category: People

Year Abroad – Part 1


Since I learned on a university open day that it was possible for non-language students to do a year abroad, I wanted to go and study in France. I was studying French at A-level, and I was so excited for the opportunity to study there (in fact, the option to do a year abroad was one of the reasons I applied to Birmingham). I will be keeping a diary of the year abroad application process on this blog, and this is the first instalment! Enjoy!

October 2015 – Received an email about a talk on applying for a year abroad. Unfortunately is at the same time as one of my lectures. Booked appointment with study abroad tutor to catch up.

Found out that the systems for doing a year in Europe and outside of it are different. To go within Europe (for music students this is a university in France or Germany) I have to apply through Erasmus, and to go outside Europe (numerous universities, mainly in North America and Australia), applications are through Study Abroad.

Wrote a 500-word personal statement about why I want to study in France, to determine whether or not I will be allocated a place. In this I talked about how living in France would improve my confidence and language speaking skills, as well as why I wanted to go to that particular university. Sent personal statement to year abroad tutor.

December 19th 2015 – Received an email saying that I’ve been allocated a place at Université Paul-Valéry in Montpellier! Now to start filling in the forms…

December 29th 2015 – Printed off the first study abroad form, to be handed in on the 15th of January. Most of it is tick-able, but I don’t know how much money I will be paying to UoB whilst abroad, or how the course will be assessed In Montpellier. The internet wasn’t very helpful on either of these topics so I emailed the study abroad office about it.

January 6th 2016 – Turns out I was filling in the wrong form; the one I described doesn’t have to be handed in until June. The right form was actually one to fill in and send off online (which I have now done). It was pretty easy, just had to put in contact details and other things like that.

So that was Part One of my Erasmus adventure! I wonder what will happen next… (Probably more admin)


heatherHello, I’m Heather and I’m in second year studying BMus Music

Home town: Rotherham, South Yorkshire

Instrument: Clarinet and piano

My favourite piece of music: Rachmaninoff – Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini

Why I study music: I always enjoyed learning instruments and composing, and it’s a very varied degree in which I can do these things as well as develop academic skills like essay writing.

Hobbies: Baking, running, reading, board games

Fascinating fact about me: I have a minor obsession with sloths (I have a cuddly toy sloth called Slothgang Amadeus, and my dream is to go to Costa Rica to visit the sloth sanctuary).



Hi, I’m Sophie and I’m a fresher (first year) doing BMus Music.

Home town: I was born in East London, but I’ve lived in Bedford for most of my life.

Instrument: I’m a Soprano and I also play the piano.

My favourite piece of music: Tough question.. I like to think of myself as a William Byrd aficionado (even though I have a lot more to learn!).. So it would have to be ‘Civitas sancti tui’, but I also love ‘Versa est in luctum’ by Alonso Lobo.

Why I study music: It’s tough questions galore! I study music because it’s my absolute and utter passion. Music isn’t just a hobby to me- it’s what I want my career to be. Apparently at the age of 2 I was constantly singing ‘Frère Jacques’.. So I think it was pretty obvious from a young age I was going to end up studying it!

Hobbies: I’m a typical girl.. Shopping is most definitely my vice. However, I’m also known as a ‘petrol head’ at home- I adore cars. I have an ambition to be able to tell the make and model of every car I see… It’s a working progress!

Fascinating fact about me: I cried and practically hyperventilated when I met Eric Whitacre



Hi, I’m Will. I’m in second year studying BMus Music.

Home town: Lilleshall, Shropshire

Instrument: Guitar, Piano, Voice

My favourite piece of music: Richard Strauss – An Alpine Symphony, although I’m also rather keen on Mahler.

Why I study music: The course has a broad range of material which caters for everyone, and provides both academic and creative avenues to pursue. You also have the opportunity to take certain things which you learn in music and apply them to other things. Furthermore, the department as a whole has a very welcoming feel, and you’ll very quickly learn who everyone is and who to talk to if you need something.

Hobbies: Graphic design, video production, cross country running, motorsports, attending concerts and other music events, football

Fascinating fact about me: I’m part German (which hopefully means I’ll compose like Beethoven or something)



Hello, I’m Adele. I’m in second year studying BMus Music.

Home town: Lydney, Forest of Dean

Instrument: Flute, Harpsichord/Piano

My favourite piece of music: Sibelius Violin Concerto (or anything by Debussy will do for me)

Why I study music: It’s such a wide reaching subject, with what I think is the perfect balance of creativity, academia, and performing.  Plus, the course here at UoB is really varied so you experience everything, then can tailor your modules to your own preferences.

Hobbies: Recently discovered a love of cooking (on a student level I should add), reading, going to gigs, researching songs and bands to talk about on my radio show, and occasionally Skyping my parents so they know I’m alive (but mainly just to see my dogs).

Fascinating fact about me: Apparently I’m very very very distantly related to John Williams on my mum’s side…maybe



Hi, I’m Zoe and I’m in my first year studying BA Modern Languages & Music (French & German)

Home town: Northampton

Instrument: Bassoon

Favourite piece of music:  Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture – Glinka

Why I study music: The study of music unlocks a world of creativity that I have always found exciting.  Studying music provides the opportunity to explore history and cultures.  Music is a universal language and it is great when people from all over the world are able to connect through music.

Hobbies: Playing orchestral and chamber music.  Walking the dogs, and the occasional bit of knitting or anything arty and creative!

Fascinating fact about me: My favourite biscuits are pink panther wafers!



Hello, I’m Usha. I am a third year BMus Music student.

Home town: Bangalore, India

Instrument: Piano and voice

My favourite piece of music: Brahms symphony no. 3

Why I study music: I love it!

Hobbies: Music, badminton, reading, laughing, teaching, working with paints and paper to create something different

Fascinating fact about me: This will sound heavy but as intense as I am, I balance it out by having the courage to be absolutely silly. I love to laugh and I love myself to the point of conceit. I can’t love another as much and as often otherwise.



Hello, I’m Carolyn. I’m a second year BMus Music student.

Home town: Menai Bridge, Anglesey, North Wales

Instrument: Violin

Favourite Piece of Music: This is such a hard question! My favourite music is usually things I have played myself as they always bring back great memories as well as being great pieces of music. If I had to pick one piece only then I would probably choose Danzon no.2 by Marquez.

Hobbies: Apart from music, I really enjoy playing racket sports like tennis, table tennis and badminton.

Why I study Music: Ever since having my first violin lesson on my 8th birthday, I’ve loved music and never looked back! I enjoy the performance aspect of music the most but wanted to study Music at University to have the chance to enjoy a variety of aspects of music.

Fascinating fact about me: I love learning languages! I’m trilingual, being fluent in both English, Welsh and spoken Thai. I also studied German up to A-level and did a module of beginner Italian in my first year of Uni as part of my course, even though I’m a BMus Music student!


Blogging team

Welcome to the official blog for the Department of Music at the University of Birmingham! The blog was named by our students and takes its name from two notable people from our past (Bantock and Raybould – read more about them below) and “me”, as it is written by current students and staff and alumni.

The blog was set up to provide an insight into what it’s actually like to study Music here at the University of Birmingham and create an online community for our students, applicants, staff, alumni and beyond.

Find out more about:

  • What our students get up to on a day-to-day basis
  • What modules they enjoy
  • What opportunities they get stuck in to at the university and further afield
  • What Birmingham is really like
  • And much more!

It is also intended to provide advice and guidance for potential students, provide a behind the scenes look at the Department, showcase the successes of our alumni, and the research being conducted by the Department’s staff and postgraduate researchers.

We are:

  • Charlotte, 3rd year BMus Music
  • Zoe, 1st year BA Music & Modern Languages (French and German)
  • Will, 2nd year BMus Music
  • Carolyn, 2nd year BMus Music
  • Heather, 2nd year BMus Music
  • Usha, 3rd year BMus Music
  • Sophie, 1st year BMus Music
  • Adele, 2nd year BMus Music
  • Beth & Libby, editors

We are also keen to feature guest contributors, such as other students and staff from the Department and across the University and graduates.  If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with Beth –

Who are Bantock and Raybould?


Sir Granville Bantock had considerable impact on the University of Birmingham’s Department of Music during his time here from 1908 to 1934, much of which can still be seen today. His role was that of Peyton Professor of Music – in fact he held this role immediately after Sir Edward Elgar, who had not enjoyed university life and resigned the position as soon as he could.

Generally, Sir Bantock is credited with founding a more holistic system of musical education, providing a broadly-based and enterprising programme of learning: students studied a variety of styles and periods, with a notable stress on ‘modern’ music.

He is also attributed with the responsibility for the links between UoB and the Birmingham Conservatoire. In 1900 he had become Principal of the Birmingham and Midland Institute School of Music (which later became the Birmingham Conservatoire) and on joining UoB he began intertwining the educational work of the two establishments.

Many notable musicians visited the university under Sir Bantock’s reign – at the Triennial Musical Festival of 1912, the Music Department welcomed and entertained none other than Jean Sibelius, whom Sir Bantock had first met in 1905. The two became great friends, and Sibelius even dedicated his Third Symphony to Sir Bantock. Another major dedication to Sir Bantock was when Edward Elgar dedicated the second of his Pomp and Circumstance Marches to him.

Another of Sir Bantock’s connections to Birmingham was his influence in the founding of the City of Birmingham orchestra (later the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), whose first performance in September 1920 was of his overture Saul.

ClarenceClarence Raybould was the first person to receive a BMus degree at the University of Birmingham. He was born in Birmingham and was a student under Sir Bantock and graduated in 1912.

Raybould went on to become a conductor, composer and pianist. Among his notable achievements are that he was assistant conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1939 to 1945, after which he became the first conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 1945, and was its principal conductor until 1966. In 1951 he also he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in their first concert in the recently opened Royal Festival Hall.