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Music - University or Conservatoire?

I didn't get an offer from Oxford University, but have offers from Durham, KCL, York and Birmingham - choices are to either take a gap year and reapply to Oxbridge (depending on grades), accept and take one of my current offers or take a gap year and try for a Conservatoire - I am torn between academia and performance, I am 50/50 stronger at performance but I also enjoy academia, I like being in the thick of music hubs - any advice from anyone who has been in a similar predicament would be much appreciated :smile:
Hey, sorry to hear you didn't get an Oxford offer, though congrats on getting offers from your other four! Some outstanding music departments in that list. You should be extremely proud! :king1:

My advice would be to firm/insure unis you currently have offers from - perhaps unis that have lots of ensemble opportunities for you, and options for examined performance modules in the course? Does Durham have college orchestras, due to its collegiate nature, as well as uni-wide orchestras?

If you enjoy academia, you might end up feeling under-academically-challenged at a conservatoire (though of course performance standards there are incredibly high!), so I'm not sure it's worth you taking a gap year just for conservatoire applications.

Even though I'm a muso, the only uni I applied to that you've got an offer from is KCL (and I applied in 2006, so my info would probs be outdated anyway!). I insured KCL without seeing it, and regretted making that decision a lot when I went to their open day. At that time, the snobbish atmosphere there really put me off. Have you been to in-person open days at all these four unis, and have you looked at the course content and structures of them? This can be a good way of narrowing things down :yep:

Dependent on what your principal instrument/voice is, I'm not convinced it's worth taking a gap year to reapply to Oxbridge when you've got some wonderful offers to choose from :nah:

Good luck with whatever you decide to go for! :h:

TLG
Reply 2
Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd
Hey, sorry to hear you didn't get an Oxford offer, though congrats on getting offers from your other four! Some outstanding music departments in that list. You should be extremely proud! :king1:

My advice would be to firm/insure unis you currently have offers from - perhaps unis that have lots of ensemble opportunities for you, and options for examined performance modules in the course? Does Durham have college orchestras, due to its collegiate nature, as well as uni-wide orchestras?

If you enjoy academia, you might end up feeling under-academically-challenged at a conservatoire (though of course performance standards there are incredibly high!), so I'm not sure it's worth you taking a gap year just for conservatoire applications.

Even though I'm a muso, the only uni I applied to that you've got an offer from is KCL (and I applied in 2006, so my info would probs be outdated anyway!). I insured KCL without seeing it, and regretted making that decision a lot when I went to their open day. At that time, the snobbish atmosphere there really put me off. Have you been to in-person open days at all these four unis, and have you looked at the course content and structures of them? This can be a good way of narrowing things down :yep:

Dependent on what your principal instrument/voice is, I'm not convinced it's worth taking a gap year to reapply to Oxbridge when you've got some wonderful offers to choose from :nah:

Good luck with whatever you decide to go for! :h:

TLG

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and in such detail, greatly appreciated and sound advice. No, I haven't accepted offers yet and the only university I have visited is Durham ( I had kind of put all my eggs in one basket for Oxford), which I did like but worry that the music performance opportunities might be limited. My instruments are piano and alto saxophone, I am classically trained but a big jazz enthusiast πŸ™‚ I hope to visit the others soon which may help with decisions. Where did you end up studying and do you enjoy it? Thank you again.
Reply 3
According to The Complete University Guide. entrants to Durham, Edinburgh, and Manchester currently on average have higher grades than entrants to Oxbridge for this subject. Of course, that would be easy for these high ranking universities to achieve if they simply accept fewer entrants than Oxford for the subject (or if they are better than Oxford for the subject). Oxford is only 33rd for Research Quality in the subject. (KCL is joint 2nd with Cambridge, Durham joint 11th, York 18th, Birmingham 21st).
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 4
Original post by Picnicl
According to The Complete University Guide. entrants to Durham, Edinburgh, and Manchester currently on average have higher grades than entrants to Oxbridge for this subject. Of course, that would be easy for these high ranking universities to achieve if they simply accept fewer entrants than Oxford, or than Cambridge, for the subject (or if they are better than Oxbridge for the subject). Oxford is only 33rd for Research Quality in the subject. (KCL is joint 2nd with Cambridge, Durham joint 11th, York 18th, Birmingham 21st).

Thank you for the advice much appreciated, so you are saying to focus on the faculty and course as opposed to university status/ranking, that is sound advice thank you.
Original post by Crotchet11
I didn't get an offer from Oxford University, but have offers from Durham, KCL, York and Birmingham - choices are to either take a gap year and reapply to Oxbridge (depending on grades), accept and take one of my current offers or take a gap year and try for a Conservatoire - I am torn between academia and performance, I am 50/50 stronger at performance but I also enjoy academia, I like being in the thick of music hubs - any advice from anyone who has been in a similar predicament would be much appreciated :smile:

Hi!

I studied Music at York a few years ago and I was in a very similar position to you. Ultimately, I chose the academic route because I felt like it left me with more options in case I changed my mind about a career as a pro musician. A large number of students in my cohort went on to do a Masters at a conservatoire after our BA and went on to professional careers so that option is still open to you even if you choose an academic route. But we've also had people go on to do varied careers including teaching, marketing, stage management, academia etc. so there is lots out there for us musicians! I've also had friends study at conservatoires and have a great experience too so it's really about what's best for you.

If you have any questions about York in particular let me know πŸ™‚
Original post by Crotchet11
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and in such detail, greatly appreciated and sound advice. No, I haven't accepted offers yet and the only university I have visited is Durham ( I had kind of put all my eggs in one basket for Oxford), which I did like but worry that the music performance opportunities might be limited. My instruments are piano and alto saxophone, I am classically trained but a big jazz enthusiast πŸ™‚ I hope to visit the others soon which may help with decisions. Where did you end up studying and do you enjoy it? Thank you again.

Do try and visit all the ones you might consider going to, if possible/affordable! Another thing I should have mentioned is that some of the unis you mentioned (KCL and Birmingham, I'm thinking) would have links to nearby conservatoires. So you would hopefully still be able to study your instruments with a conservatoire professor, without being at the conservatoire.

I was accepted by Oxford and went there. Wasn't the best experience for me tbh (though I wouldn't necessarily change it, or want to have gone elsewhere), as the course was very different back then. Even with the current course structure, you'll probably have better performance examination options at other unis. Try to see not getting an offer from Oxford as a blessing in disguise! :h:
Reply 7
If there's a significant change you're still contemplating a performing career then I would suggest take the gap year and go down the conservatoire route. A gap year isn't the end of the world especially if you're still working away on music and would give you time to explore if you want that performing career. Apply to defer for a year (which gives you the option to cancel at some point in the year too) and use that time to try and gain clarity.
Reply 8
My sister did an academic music degree and is now at guildhall for a masters, so it doesn't have to be one way or the other because a course with enough performance (or even just a uni with a good enough music soc) should give you enough performance skills to apply for a masters after your undergrad if you decide you want to perform after that.
Original post by University of York
Hi!
I studied Music at York a few years ago and I was in a very similar position to you. Ultimately, I chose the academic route because I felt like it left me with more options in case I changed my mind about a career as a pro musician. A large number of students in my cohort went on to do a Masters at a conservatoire after our BA and went on to professional careers so that option is still open to you even if you choose an academic route. But we've also had people go on to do varied careers including teaching, marketing, stage management, academia etc. so there is lots out there for us musicians! I've also had friends study at conservatoires and have a great experience too so it's really about what's best for you.
If you have any questions about York in particular let me know πŸ™‚

Hi! I was initially really interested in York uni for music, I was wondering how much performance opportunities there are and also grants available for instrumental lessons. In a similar situatiion- I love music performing but feel I'd miss the academic side if I went to concervetoire πŸ™‚ Thanks!
Original post by Anonymous
Hi! I was initially really interested in York uni for music, I was wondering how much performance opportunities there are and also grants available for instrumental lessons. In a similar situatiion- I love music performing but feel I'd miss the academic side if I went to concervetoire πŸ™‚ Thanks!

Hi!

There are loads of performance opportunities! What instrument do you play?

Firstly, there are several choirs that all have different styles - so you have the large University Choir where you do big choral works, then some smaller groups including a Capella and Gospel choirs. I was in the Gospel choir and it was so fun!

For instrumental ensembles, there are loads to have a look at including the Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra.

There are also Music societies you can get involved in including CHMS (musicals) which I really enjoyed doing. York itself also has lots of different music groups so depending on what you play, you can join those groups as well! I played in the pit orchestra for some of the amateur music productions in York and also played for the York Symphony Orchestra. Honestly, there are loads of opportunities! I also busked in town which was a great way to earn some extra money. York is very touristy so it's a good place to busk - we created a small funk band in my year so you could find other students and get a group set up.

In terms of instrumental lessons, they are funded by the department so you don't need to worry about paying extra! The tutors are experts in their field and play with top orchestras/ensembles. I play the trumpet and my tutor also taught at RNCM and played with the Halle and BBC Philharmonic so I felt like I was getting the same quality of teaching as a conservatoire but also getting the academic knowledge from the York staff. The lessons are one-to-one and you get a certain number of hours a year which is increased in your 3rd year if you choose to do a recital or more performance based modules.

Hope this helps!

Hazel πŸ™‚

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