School of Arts and Cultures

Kirsten Barr

Kirsten Barr

Degree Title: BA (Hons) Music
Year of Graduation: 2009
Post-Graduation Qualifications: PGCE Secondary Music Education, Homerton College, Cambridge University
Occupation: Lead Teacher of Music (Equivalent to Head of Department), Thomas Deacon Academy, Peterborough

About Kirsten

Undergraduate degree

I think the best thing about studying music was the sheer variety that the course included. I had the opportunity to study performance, collective performance, conducting, singing for learning, ethnomusicology, music and cultural theory, composition and analysis as well as a range of historical modules.

The chance to make music every single day with a whole host of musicians was fantastic. There really was something for everyone and the standard of performances was high. The single most rewarding experience was being part of an opera project where we put on a full production of Kurt Weil’s Mahagonny Songspiel and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti at the Northern Stage theatre. This event gave a real flavour of what the world of performance is like whilst building my performance skills and simply being so much fun. It firmed my resolve to continue developing my singing after university.

After graduating

Since graduating I spent a year as a teaching assistant then went on to do a PGCE at Cambridge. From this I did my qualifying year in the same school where I now lead the department. What I love the most about my job is that every day I get to teach and enthuse pupils about music. I run trips to the Opera (for the kids of course!), organise workshops, conduct a choir as well as teaching pupils from ages 11-18. It is such a rewarding feeling when, through your guidance, a pupil really grasps something and feels like they have achieved. The most recent rewarding part of the job was taking 51 pupils to the Royal Opera House and watching them gasp as they entered the auditorium!

How your degree prepared you for your career

I was the secretary for the music society for two years along with been involved with the team who ran the first ever ICMUS Summer Music Festival. Both of these helped me to develop my organisation and management skills. I did a ‘Singing for Learning’ module which started my journey into music education. It got me thinking about singing and its core value when teaching music to pupils. Finally, the vast array of performance opportunities, both solo and as an ensemble, greatly built up my performance skills. I use many of these skills when working with pupils on their performances.

Advice for a 16-18 year old considering a music degree

If music is your passion in life then I would not hesitate to take a music degree. The breadth of skills you learn is vast meaning you have a wide range of options when you graduate. It also means you get to spend three years doing something you love!