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One of my favourite parts of being a music student at The University of Sheffield was being able to access available facilities. I could use computers and the internet, space for studying, the Sibelius program for composition, and the ensemble and practice rooms for… practicing.

As a pianist, I’ve had various opportunities to perform, which I have done as a soloist and accompanist. There have been concerts (such as the lunchtime ones) put on by the University in which I had opportunity to both listen and play. Not only did I perform in Firth Hall, but I also had opportunities to accompany people in other public settings.

Although I was a first study pianist, that did not limit me to only playing the piano. For a while I took part singing alto in the Chamber Choir and in third year I took a module in Indian classical music performance in which I was able to learn more about a style of music I was less familiar with. I went to sessions where I practiced the tabla, and in other sessions I was able to practice more melodic Indian classical music on the trumpet.

Although I took a gap following my first two years of University, I returned and continued having piano lessons with the same teacher as before. She went the extra mile (and more) in striving to help me to prepare for my final exam. Performance classes gave students opportunities to listen to other performers as well as play in front of them. We were encouraged to be somewhat critical and were allowed to give and take advice from other students.

My final third year performance examination took place in Upper Chapel in town, where performances were open to members of the public who had been invited to attend. I also had support from some family members who attended that day.

One of the best things about University is having and taking worthwhile opportunities. In third year, I took the opportunity to study a couple of languages for credits. Why not use the help that is offered, the materials that are available, and become involved in ensembles? Of course there are several factors that contribute to one’s experience, but much of it is really what you make it.

I don’t have all of my plans finalised since finishing Uni, although I have some ideas; as well as handing out business cards advertising myself as an “event pianist”, I began a teaching assistant course and have begun applying for work in schools. Once in a school, I may be able to look in more detail about other possible roles within education. I do not yet know for sure if I will go on to become a qualified teacher, return to University and do a master’s degree or neither, but I am excited to find all the opportunities that lie before me.


Rachel Crowley