- Course: MArts, BA Music and Music Psychology
- Year of graduation: 2023
- Nationality: Singaporean
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My name is Steph and it’s my fifth, and final year, at the University of Leeds. I was born and raised in Singapore and moved 10,879km away from home to start University in 2018.
Why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?
Before undertaking my current course, I finished my Diploma in Psychology where I realised my interest in the study of human behaviour and research. Music and choral singing was also a passion of mine since I was little and thus, when I discovered that I could combine my academic interests with my passion, I knew I had to pursue a degree in Music Psychology. The University of Leeds was the only University I knew that offered this at an undergraduate level and since this was something I knew I wanted to do, I decided to go for it. I also found out about the option of completing a placement year as part of this when I was applying, and gaining work experience as part of my Higher Education, was important to me as well.
What has been the best aspect of your course so far?
I think the best aspect of my course so far is that I had the freedom to make it what I wanted it to be. Through being able to choose our own research questions and topics, to the variety of optional and discovery modules offered, I was able to shape my studies into what I thought would be best for me in terms of gaining the most out of the course so that it is relevant to what I want to do upon graduation, but also into something I knew I would enjoy.
Can you tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed as part of your degree?
Two projects come to mind when I think about what was most exciting for me to complete as part of my degree. In no particular order, the first was an event conceptualisation project I did in my first year as part of my Managing Festivals and Events discovery module. I had to pitch an event idea as part of this and because no set brief was given, I had the chance to put my creativity to the test and had a lot of fun doing it!
The second was a research assignment I had as part of my third year Music Psychology module. My research was on Music-Evoked Biographical Memories (MEAMs), which was a relatively new topic to me. Although conducting research (and writing up a huge report after) may not be the most exciting to some, I thoroughly enjoyed reading up about the topic, designing the research study and conducting it. As part of the research, we asked people to share their memories associated to some songs that they listened to, and it was so interesting to just read the responses. I think this project really humanised what I’ve been studying for the past few years. What was once theories and words on a journal article became experiences that people actually encounter, and I think that really sparked interest and joy in me (even more than my course already did!).
Have you worked closely with a particular tutor or member or the University’s academic staff? Tell us about that experience.
My personal tutor, Dr Emily Payne, has been great since first year. She’s supportive, encouraging and kind, which really helped me along the way. I also got the chance to work alongside various staff members through my time as course representative (first and third year) and the undergraduate school representative. They were open to what I had to bring to the table, and always had the best interest of students in mind.
What activities outside of your studies were you involved in?
I volunteered with LUU Music Impact in the Community where we ran music workshops, projects and sessions to bring together different social groups. I got to work on some projects with primary schools, as well as Leeds MENCAP. As mentioned earlier, I also had the opportunity to take on some leadership roles alongside my studies (Course Rep and Undergraduate School Rep), which allowed me to get more involved with the School of Music. Other activities I took part in outside of my studies include being a Hall Executive for Central Village in my first year, and a School of Music Peer Mentor in my second.
And now, in my final year, I decided to be part of a society that has provided many other students like me with a tight knit community. I am excited to be the President of Leeds Singaporean Society and although my term has just started, I cannot wait for the socials and events we already have in the works, and to continue to support fellow Singaporean international students during their time at Leeds by providing a home away from home.
My school has always encouraged us to get involved with things beyond our academics and the University of Leeds has something to offer for everyone! Without all these extracurricular experiences, my time at University would not have been the same (or as enjoyable!).
What would you say to students thinking about studying your course?
If music is something you are considering to pursue, but also want the option to explore the more academic side of things, then this course is for you! Music Psychology is such a broad field in itself that you will be able to learn about the various topics that come under it and discover what really interests you. You’ll gain insight into things like music education, performance, music therapy and even applied fields like marketing. And because of the knowledge you’ll gain on the ways in which we listen, interpret and respond to music, you’ll be able to apply it to what you choose to do in the future.
What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?
There’s always something going on in Leeds! It’s such a music-centred city, so there are always gigs happening, and so many feature student performers and bands, which allows you to feel this sort of community. But if music isn’t your thing, there’s something for everyone. From so many cafes and food places to explore, to places to just walk around and discover, Leeds is a great city to live your student life.
What do you plan to do once you graduate?
I plan on entering the Arts Management industry upon graduation. Even though I do music at University, my end goal was never to be a performer. But because music has been a passion of mine for such a long time, I knew I still wanted to be a part of that when I begin my career. And thus, I decided that being part of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work was something I wanted to do. More specifically, I wish to do outreach work for classical music organisations to hopefully make classical music more accessible and to be part of something that would impact people in the same way that music impacted me.
What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career? (Or what experiences at Leeds do you think will help in securing a graduate role following graduation?)
For me, the Discovery Modules I took, as well as my placement year, would help me with my future career. With Discovery Modules, you can choose to do something beyond your main academic subject. Personally, I chose to do Arts Management related ones for all my years of study to not only broaden my academic experience, but to also enhance my course so that I could gain more relevant knowledge for what I wanted to do in the future.
And without a doubt, my placement year with Manchester Camerata allowed me to apply whatever I had learnt from those modules, coupled with any other relevant experience I had, in the real world. I worked for their community team where I planned and managed various music-making projects that were delivered across the North in different schools and care homes. As I said before, I already knew I wanted to do some sort of work for an orchestra or choir, but it was through this placement where I found my footing and was reminded that this is exactly what I want to be part of in the future.