A Week Studying at Leeds College of Music Watch

Leeds College of Music
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Following Jemma's inventive work as the previous TSR rep for LCoM, I thought I'd keep up the fun by sharing samples of my diary. Hopefully this will give you some insight about what goes on in college week by week!

I am a third year composition student studying on the Classical course.


It’s a bizarre thing to make the transition from a busy school timetable to a university timetable, because you may find you’ve got a random day off dotted somewhere in the middle of your weekly calendar. This year it’s Monday. From first glance it’s amazing ... “THREE DAY WEEKEND!” … but in reality your day off can end up being the most hectic day of all. Either you’re nursing a hangover because you know you’ve got time to spare, or you’re filling it with all of your domestic chores, like that weekly trip to Tesco, your ironing, cleaning… just generally catching up with life.

It’s perfect though, you need that time to ground yourself. After a heavily social weekend, or a busy week of lectures, the washing piles up, the flat needs a good cleaning, and your room starts to turn into a walk-in wardrobe. Although it’s hardly a thrilling way to spend your day off, it helps you out so much!


9AM start. I shouldn’t complain, it’s nice to get up early and get work out of the way. A new group event has been added to the timetable this year at LCoM; a fortnightly two-hour group lecture in which guests come in to give us a talk or demonstration addressing topics like stage fright, industry survival tips, performance preparation, etc. This week we had the wonderful Laura Moody come in to talk to us about her career as a singing cellist, and play some of her songs. She explained how she approached carving a career in music after graduating from university, how she approached crowdfunding for her 2014 album Acrobats, and explained how her musical inspirations helped shape her as an artist.

A few weeks ago we had a guest lecturer who was a horn player and psychologist - she works with high-profile musicians and gives them one-to-one lessons in how to handle performance anxiety. She got us discussing the psychology of how and why we get nervous in front of an audience… so helpful! Each pathway has their own two-hour fortnightly lecture, but the nature of them is the same cross-pathway.

11.30AM - 1PM is our weekly Journalism seminar. In second and third year, you get the choice to choose a Professional Studies option, and a Musicianship option to study alongside your main performance / composition studies. Journalism is one of the options for Professional Studies (for more about these choices, feel free to ask for further details!), and it’s been great so far. This week’s lecture was about how to write a headline for a review or news article, with the focus on being concise, engaging and entertaining. It’s more tricky than you’d think!

1PM - 2PM is my one-to-one lesson, a lesson every student will have, no matter what year or pathway. As a composer, each week I bring along pieces of work in progress, and we discuss the problems I’ve been encountering, how to develop ideas, and we discuss pieces that might be helpful to listen to. As there are 20 academic weeks of study per year at LCoM, that’s 20 hours of exclusive one-to-one lessons per academic year!

8PM (ish)… Dry Dock. £1 a pint… because a break from work is essential.


I always feel relieved from this point of the week onwards. After the ever so hectic Tuesday is ticked off, the week becomes really quiet. I have one seminar from 10 to 11AM, called “Composition in Context”. Depending on your chosen study, it might be called “Performance in Context”, or something similar. This year, our context classes have been expanded, we now get two separate lessons a week! In this one, as composers we look at other working professional composers and discuss the impact and ‘relevance’ of their music. Writing good music is a challenge. Writing music that actually creates impact is even more challenging. This lessons great for understanding not only how other composers have ‘made it’ in the industry, but are able to stay relevant. (Again, if you want more details about what you might be studying instead of Composition in Context, feel free to ask!)


On the Pop, Jazz and Classical courses, part of your performance or composition studies are graded through a Group Study module. For performers, that’s working in a band or ensemble and performing short group recitals in January and May (or just May if you’re in your final year). For composers, this module means writing music in a group environment; writing pieces collaboratively with players. I approach this module by drafting a short piece, and taking it to an ensemble and asking them to play it. My assignment at the end of the year is to hand in a portfolio of pieces and be able to provide evidence (a video or sound recording) that I have worked on those pieces with actual players, not just writing a piece and later finding out that it's impossible to play!

For performers, that's a weekly 90 minute session with your ensemble in a band or practice room. You are allocated a Group Study teacher who will also be present in those lessons for 45 minutes each week.


Cue Rebecca Black. Remember her? Another 9AM start, but it's okay because it's Friday... Friday means weekend, Friday means a few days rest. The first lecture I have is Music and Production for Film and TV, which I chose as my Musicianship module for second and third year. This week we looked at scenes from Gravity (2013), The Conversation (1974) and Rear Window (1954). We had a 'Film Night' a few weeks ago, which is a new masterclass set up for students studying Film Music to have their music played in front of an audience and industry professionals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE-_9RzO9nQ

My second and final lecture on a Friday is my second Composition in Context lesson, which lasts for an hour. In this lesson, we looked at the theme of war within Classical music, covering composers Heinrich Biber (Battalia) and Olivier Messiaen (Quatuor pour la fin du temps). Each week we also spend a short time looking at different compositional exercises to help generate material; this week we looked at using isorhythms.

As you might be able to tell, I love studying at LCoM haha!

Thanks for reading!

If you're considering studying with us, definitely make sure you book a place on one of our upcoming Experience days: http://www.lcm.ac.uk/courses/experience-days

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