• Bangor University: Department of Music

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Current Student Profile: Charlotte (School of Music)

Hi, my name is Charlotte and am known as AllergictoFairydust on TSR. I am currently a final year music student (Bmus) at Bangor University. I joined the University in September 2005.

My Department

My lectures are confined to the music school’s building on College Road and the recording studios in Main Arts. It is quite small which I find is great because if you have lecturers straight after one and other you don’t have to run up Bitch/Time hill. Also, as a plus, lectures rarely occur on Wednesday afternoons and Fridays. All my lecturers’ offices are in this building too so if I need to see them briefly, I can normally knock on their door and see them without an appointment.

As for size, the department of music has been gradually growing in size. In 2005, we had about 55 students in first year whereas this year’s intake has been around 80.

Lectures/Lecturers

The lecturers in the music department are all extremely friendly and totally approachable. I have cases where I have been pulling my hair out over an essay and I have sent an email to the lecturer concerned and got a speedy response back. Their fields of study varies greatly so whatever your particular area of interest, you can be sure to find a lecturer to match it. Many lecturers have been with the School Of Music for years such as Prof. Bruce Wood and the recently retired "granddad" of the department, Dr. David Evans. Others such as Dr. Guto Puw were previous students at the university before becoming lecturers.

I have one lecture per week in each module I take. These are normally 1 hour 15 minutes in length. Some modules have seminars which are much more informal and rely on discussion between students but personally, I have not undertaken a module like that since my first year. More popular modules generally take place in the Music Hall but most of my lectures take place in Parry Williams, which is a much smaller room with a classroom like layout. I am doing a module this year called Recording Techniques which means I also have access to the Studio 2, located in Main Arts.

Course Overview/Special Projects

In the music department, the only compulsory modules you have to take are in the first year. These are The Study of Music, which is a broad look at music across all time periods and Harmony and Counterpoint in which you look at harmonising music. This year does not count to your degree.

In your second year, you have 120 credits (60 per term) to play with. You are required to choose one genre module (e.g. The Early Romantics) and one composer (e.g. Mozart.) You are also required to take a module called Supplementary Research Study where to choose a module and looking into more depth into a particular area of study. When I did mine, I choose to do an Orchestration and a Composition. Outside of these requirements, your degree is up to you. Most modules like genre and composer studies run in one term and are worth 10 credits though some for example Composition run over both and therefore worth 20 credits. This year is worth 33.33% of your degree.

The final year provides you again with 120 credits to work with. Again you have the requirements of a composer and gene module but you also have to pick a special project to do. This can be either 30 or 40 credits in Dissertation, Edition, Performance or Composition. You can pick to do two projects if you wish but these come with “health warnings” as special projects are very independent and require a time commitment from yourself. You’re assigned a supervisor and have private one to one tutorials with them as well as a class session several times a term to discuss special projects in a general way. Your final year makes up 66.67% of your degree.

This year my supervisors are Dr Peter Flinn (composition) and Dr Pwyll ap Siôn (dissertation). Both of these lecturers supervisors’ style vary greatly but despite it only being the start of the year, they have been great in helping me get my workload sorted and have been very helpful in pointing me in the right direction in terms of research.

Exams/Coursework

Since coming to Bangor, I have only done one formal exam. This has been brilliant as I am dyslexic and dyspraxic. However this does come with a downside. The course is generally is very much coursework based. It varies between modules but many modules involve an essay due at the end of term and a presentation which you have to provide to the class, which take place during lecture time during the latter part of the term. As I do not do any modules related to performance, I can not comment of this side of course.

Other modules, like Orchestration, require coursework in at regular intervals during the term with a final larger piece due at the end of term. Some modules also include class tests, which in ones I have done have been a listening test – here is a piece of music name the composer and piece – type questions with extra questions relating to module. These are done under exam conditions but are less formal than normal exams and take place in the final lecture of the year. These class tests are worth between 10% and 15% depending on the module so if exams are not your forte, like me, you don’t have to worry too much.

Facilities/Music Library

Outside of the lecture rooms, the University has 3 studios for students who are undertaking modules in Recording, Practical Music Technology or Electroacoustic music. There are 10 practice rooms, in the basement of the music department. While these are not soundproof, the department is so informal that this is not a problem for me and I am a really bad, and neurotic, violinist and clarinetist.

Outside of this, you have the music library which is where, besides the common room; you will find most music students working. The library has scores and CDs/Records and one extremely friendly librarian called Geraint who knows the library like the back of his hand. He is always there Monday to Friday except during his lunch hour. If you cannot find it, he will! You can withdraw 6 scores at a time but you cannot withdraw cds/records. There is a listening room across from the library you can listen to them in though.

About a year ago, the department invested in a subscription to Naxos Music Library which is an online catalogue of recordings which you can listen to on and off campus. Because I live a 25 min drive away from the University this has been a godsend! You can also get onto Grove Online, which is an online version of Grove which I find brilliant compared to the size 6 font versions in the library.

Overall opinion

I choose Bangor because I liked the friendly aspect of the department when I came for an open day. I was very happy when I was therefore accepted despite missing my offer. My time at Bangor has been a rollercoaster with health and financial problems but the pastoral care in the Department is brilliant.

When I was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia at the end of my first year, my lecturers were very understanding and have being extremely helpful. I get support outside of my department from the dyslexic unit, which is located near the department. I also get double loan times on books from the library. I do not regret my choice to come here as because of the department size I get more teaching support than I would in larger classes in for example the School of Psychology.

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