School of Music alumnus, Helena Bisby. Helena is looking directly at the camera and smiling.

Helena Bisby

Why did you choose to study Music, Multimedia and Electronics at Leeds?

Having studied music, maths and physics during sixth form, I wanted to continue to study in an area that incorporated the three subjects, the Music, Multimedia and Electronics course seemed to have the balance between creative and analytical work that I was looking for. The course equips its students with a very diverse set of skills which range from analogue circuitry and programming to music technology and research, allowing for specialisation into specific fields.

The course is very unique, with the university of Leeds being the only institute which offers this specific programme. Between that and Leeds' reputation for having such a lively student community, it was a very appealing choice.

Have you undertaken any project work?

I think the most interesting projects I have worked on so far have been those which have integrated the electronics that I've been taught with musical design. This includes the mobile applications module in which the students were to design an iPhone application which acted as a musical interface, the embedded systems module, in which we designed and built both hardware and software to create a MIDI controller, and the final year MME project which I'm currently undertaking, in which students must create an innovative musical interface using their electronics knowledge.

What activities are you involved in outside of your studies? 

I often take part in productions put on by the university union's music society, such as musical shows, and I play the violin for their Symphony orchestra, for which we practice weekly. The course doesn't involve any performance of this nature, so it's nice to have a music department which offers such a vast amount of ensembles. I am also involved in organising this year's iscMME conference (ICSRiM (Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Research in Music) Student Conference on Music, Multimedia and Electronics), which is a conference led by students that invites those with an interest in this area to showcase any papers or demonstrations.

How have you found life in Leeds?

Leeds has so much to offer! With so many students around, there's always an abundance of social events and projects to get involved with. As well as the city centre which has everything a student could ask for; shops, bars, clubs, restaurants, Leeds is also very close to the country side, which offers a refreshing contrast to life in such a busy city.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I feel that I have been well equipped with the knowledge and skills to pursue a number of different career paths, from work in the music industry to electronic engineering. Although I haven't decided which of these areas I will ultimately specialise in yet, I have a particular interest in academia in the field of new musical interfaces, and in the future I'd like to combine everything I've learnt so far to develop a career in the design and construction of innovative instruments.

What experiences at Leeds will help your future career?

The course involves a lot of self-led research, as well collaboration and team work with other students. When working on a project as a group, we have learnt to delegate tasks between the group according to each of the member's strengths, and when a problem arises, we can now efficiently analyse it and work together to find the best method for the solution, which I imagine is something that is transferrable to career skills.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

I'd definitely advise you to get as involved as much as possible with the course, both in the school of Music and Electronic and Electrical Engineering, as your degree is what you make of it. I've always been an active member in both departments and it has definitely made my experience here a lot more enjoyable. New students should make the most of their time here; the course involves a lot of hands-on, practical work which is a lot of fun, and the year group is usually small, resulting in the students being a tightly knit group of friends, making hard work feel less like hard work!