For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing tons of posts about GCSE/A-Level results and it has made me think about how far I’ve come and how much I have achieved since sitting my A levels.
When I was in my first year of sixth form, starting to think about applying for university, I was told by my a level music teacher that I wasn’t good enough. He told me I wouldn’t get into university to do music at degree level, especially not a conversatoire. As a result, I didn’t apply for any conservatories and I very nearly didn’t apply for music courses at all. Until a couple of days before I sent off my UCAS application, I was applying for primary education courses. And then I realised that it wasn’t up to my teacher to decide where I should and shouldn’t apply, what courses I should and shouldn’t apply to, and it certainly wasn’t up to him to decide whether I would be accepted on to a course or not. So in the space of two or three days, I re-wrote my personal statement and I looked for music courses I liked the sound of. I sent off my application to study music.
A-Level music wasn’t the best experience I’ve ever had. Being told that you’re not good enough for the only thing you’ve ever really wanted to do at 16/17 puts a little bit of a damper on it all. My teacher wasn’t particularly pleasant, I didn’t feel like I learnt anything (and music was actually my worst a-level grade in the end), and I absolutely dreaded going to my lessons.
I started to hate music.
But thanks to other, much more pleasant music teachers, I persevered, I did some great auditions and I was offered an unconditional place at Coventry University from my audition. I went on to graduate with a 2:1 in Music Performance and I am about to start a Masters in Music with Performance at the University of Birmingham.
Yet, 6 years ago, I was told I’m not good enough to study music at degree level. My first real success in music was proving that teacher wrong.
More recently, I have been accepted onto a Masters course at the University of Birmingham and have students in the National Children’s Orchestra and the Birmingham Junior Conservatoire. All this amongst great exam results for my students!
6 years ago, when I was told I wasn’t good enough, I briefly believed it, and definitely didn’t think I’d be where I am now. I might not have the success of Sir James Galway or Jasmine Choi, but I have my own little successes, and for me, that is good enough.