13 April - 2017
Studying Music at University – Advice from Music Graduates By: Nikki Halliwell, 1 Comments

If you are thinking about studying music at University, you need to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, and making the correct choices for your career.

Choosing the Right Course

There are so many music related courses available how do you find the one that suits you?

There are many things to consider:

  • Which university has the right facilities?
  • Are you set on specialising in a specific area of music or do you want a broad and varied course in order to expand your knowledge?
  • Do you need / want hands on experience or do you need to brush up on your knowledge of theory?
  • Where do your personal interests and passions lie?
  • What transferrable skills will you gain from a course?

Making the Most of Studying Music at University

University gives you opportunities that you may not find anywhere else so make the most of it! Here’s some advice from people who have been through it and come out the other side.

“Make sure that the course gives some vocational experience towards what you want to do as a career.”

If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “have looked for a course with more elements of music business. This will be at the core of any career you go in to so it’s important to learn about.”


“Think about what skills you actually want to learn and whether these will help you do what you want to do after university. There’s no point going to university for the sake of it, really think about what you will get out of it. Also, if you do go, make the most of all the opportunities given to you. It’s the perfect time to start building up contacts in the industry.”

If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “have done more gigs in my spare time because I definitely had more time to do it while I was at university… not so much now I’m working full time!”


“Make the most of it and get involved in different activities/events. Find out if there are other opportunities available through your course too.

If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “try to spend more time focusing on creative / composition tasks.”


“JUST DO IT! There are so many areas of music for you to explore in a university, and many institutions offer you the opportunity to tailor the course according to your interests […] frequent the library and make use of any resources the university provides you with. Some universities might place a stronger emphasis on academic modules rather than performance, so it’s really important to do your research. Check out the department’s course structure on their websites before applying or email admissions tutors, they’re there to help!”


“Music courses usually house a lot of transferrable skills and knowledge, but you need to be dedicated to make the most of it. You need to be willing to stay late or spend weekends in the studio or travel out for a field recording. Don’t spend your whole time at university working on assignments. You may never have access to such a wide range of resources at your disposal ever again. Work with students to achieve personal goals and work on your own projects. Studios tend to be free at the start of the academic year or in the summertime, use this time to get comfortable using the equipment and make lots of stuff.”

If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “Work on assignments as soon as they were set and make the most of all the resources available.”


“Go for a really broad course and experience all different parts of the industry in your first year and then you can narrow it down on your second and third years. There are so many different types of jobs in the music industry and it will probably surprise you. Also take every opportunity you can get make sure you’re signed up to find out about any extra curricular activities you can do like helping with festivals etc. You need to start thinking about your CV now. Remember to work hard and party harder.”

If I were to go back to university knowing what I know now I would… “Drink and party less and study a bit more I imagine. My time keeping is much better than it used to be so I’d probably not leave my assignments to the last minute.”


“Try to find the balance between doing something you really want to do and are passionate about while also thinking about future prospects, after all this is costing you a lot of money. This will differ for everyone. Just make sure you are willing to pull your weight in order to get out what you put in.”

Your Dissertation/Final Project

Your dissertation or final project is what you work towards throughout your time at university. It also has a lot of control over your final grade, so what do you need to think about?

We cannot stress enough how important it is to be truly interested in the topic you choose. You are (hopefully) going to be spending a lot of time on this, so try to choose something that doesn’t feel like a chore. It is very likely that the end product will be a lot better too!

This is an opportunity to put everything you’ve learnt into practise. You have so much new knowledge that you can put to use in whatever way you like.

It’s a final chance to learn something new but with all the support of the university facilities and lecturers. Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn more about? Here’s your chance.

Do you have the choice been a practical and theoretical project? Which one suits you best and which one will help you get the most out of your topic?

Good Luck!