Activities in Academic Departments

Bringing it all together – Adam’s creative music project


Adam’s final year creative music project fuses drum’n’bass and live performance. To showcase his best work at uni, he’s drawing together skills and experience he’s gained through his academic studies, his co-curricular activity directing an ensemble, and his part-time job. Not only are they shaping his creative project, they’re also helping to shape his career thinking and goals for life after graduation.


What degree programme are you studying and why did you choose this particular one?

I’m studying BMus. I started my studies in Newcastle back in 2008 and unfortunately I didn’t get to complete my degree that time around.  I was diagnosed with a mental health condition that meant I couldn’t complete my studies. So I wanted to complete the degree after I recovered and everything was all good.

I was at a bit of a crisis point working in a mundane office in the City, working for the Man and trying to pay rent. When I had applied to Newcastle, I also got into Goldsmiths, so to complete the BMus at Goldsmiths was a natural choice. So it’s gone full circle, I’m living with my parents and finishing my degree here at Goldsmiths because it’s commutable, so it worked out well.

What have you got out of studying on the BMus programme?

Exposure to other people, other musicians, that’s first and foremost and it’s most important. If you’re not integrating with other musicians in a safe environment, then you can’t further yourself musically.

Secondly you’ve got the resources. It was really cool to do a studio session last year, to record a drum’n’bass composition of mine for a live band. So it was kind of like a mini creative research project, like the creative research project for my final year.  I just did as an extracurricular thing. It worked out really well and I think the reason it worked was because I made it a 3 day thing – from the point of learning the music to going into the studio, it was all done and dusted in three days. I think having worked in an office, those translatable skills that you can take in to uni are quite useful – people management and getting it done in the best way possible and the most non-intrusive way in people’s lives has helped.

Tell me about your creative project.

So the idea is that I’m looking at the relationship between jazz and drum’n’bass in a very broad sense. I’m fusing drum’n’bass production with live horns and I’m going to be writing out the parts for five saxophones, four trumpets and three trombones.

The creative research project will culminate in a performance maybe like a drum’n’bass event with a DJ. The performance will be with the horns and this composition of mine produced on a computer in the form of a backing track and the live performance will be played over it.

I wouldn’t have a collaborative aspect if it wasn’t for Goldsmiths. The ability to showcase my work, with quality musicians – you know, we’re talking fourteen instrumentalists here, playing the music that I’ve written. There is no way I would be able to do that if I wasn’t in uni.

Outside of music what has influenced the music you make and how you look at music?

Definitely the professional aspect. The social skills. My current part time job that’s helping me do my studies is heavily involved in customer service so I have to have a good social manner. That really helps with music. You’re meeting people from such a wide variety of backgrounds it’s unbelievable.

The professionalism really helps me in the study sense and the collaborative aspects of uni work. I found I’ve got a good natural ability in socialising and I think with that comes a bit of entrepreneurship in the sense that I’m rich with experience and know how to get the most out of most opportunities.

Why is it important to get your Directing an Ensemble achievement recorded on your HEAR?

This has all come about from the beginning-of-year meeting in my final year. Ian Gardiner, Head of Music, said that there are some things that you can get recorded on your HEAR, one of them is directing a departmental ensemble. I could totally see a way to showcase my stuff with the jazz ensemble and build on all the groundwork I did last year leading the jazz ensemble and I thought I could easily get this recorded on my HEAR.

It’s really good to have something recorded that showcases leadership qualities at university. If I’d passed my degree when I was at Newcastle, I’d have just got a certificate, now it’s got things that you can add on to it that highlight differences. It’s not just your degree. If you can have additional things that can showcase leadership or entrepreneurship, something a bit out of the box, especially in a portfolio profession like music, it’s only going to be of benefit.

What do you want to do when you graduate?

I’ve been thinking about an MA, but it depends on the grades. If I push myself and get the masters, I can go on to the PHD and try and go down the lecturing route. The academic route really does appeal to me. That would be the ideal. If not, it would be a case of going down the portfolio career route which would be an amalgamation of music workshops or teaching, coupled with the zero hour contract job that I currently have and I love.

How will all this experience help you in the future?

I’ve just come from an interesting lecture on music workshops. I work with a guitarist on workshops. I’m thinking of setting up a workshop thing we can take to schools, tailoring it to a subject. How the drum’n’bass and jazz and big band stuff fits into that, I’m not too sure but I know that the process for creating a piece of music to be played by others to then be performed is a standard process that can be reiterated in a workshop, in my own music practice, in loads of different things.

What big goals / plans do you have for 2017?

The thing I really need to do is move out of my parents’. I sacrificed my independence because I knew I would be exposed to so much opportunities here in the university – contacts, skills in music.  I’m realising that I’m coming to an end of it (my degree) and the big bad world is out there and it’s about working out how to do what I love, get money from it and be independent. I’m working that out.

Both participating and directing an ensemble are HEARable activities from this year. Find out more about these and all activities you can gain recognition for on your HEAR.


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