School of Arts and Cultures

Rebecca Chalmers

Rebecca Chalmers

Degree Title: BA Combined Honours (Music and Spanish)
Year of Graduation: 2010
Post-Graduation Qualifications: MMus Guildhall Artist Programme – Orchestral Studies – Flute with Distinction, Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Occupation: Musician/facilitator, Montserrat, West Indies

About Rebecca

Undergraduate degree

My undergraduate degree was the perfect choice for me. As an 18 year-old I was very unsure about which career path I wanted to follow. The course allowed me the flexibility that I needed to explore all different possibilities open to me. I was able to choose modules that really interested me, which in turn inspired me to do well. I felt the staff were very approachable, open minded and they treated each student as an individual.

After graduating

I am working as a musician/facilitator leading a music outreach project on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. I work both independently and alongside the Ministries of Culture and Education to develop musical activities for young people in schools and community settings.

I enjoy a varied and exciting job where two days are rarely the same. I have the opportunity to use and develop a wide range of skills and work with people from all different walks of life. One minute I may be accompanying an opera singer and the next starting a Ukulele Orchestra or writing a pantomime!

How your degree prepared you for your career

The varied nature of my job means I am constantly being pulled in different directions. My degree taught me how to manage my time, prioritise tasks and multitask, skills that are invaluable to coping with different demands.

The flexibility offered in the music course directly equipped me with practical skills I use every day. In my final year I did a project for which I was the Musical Director of a production of “Fame” with the University Theatre Society. Through this I learnt skills that I used recently in devising a piece of musical theatre with children based on their local folklore. Another example is a module I studied in my second year, “Singing for Learning” which has directly impacted my ability to lead Early Years music workshops.

Throughout my degree I was allowed to switch between flute and piano as my first study instrument. This has been instrumental in my success so far. My flute skills enabled me to pursue my postgraduate studies which got me where I am today whereas my piano skills enabled me to accompany a visiting international opera singer recently.

I was told by the interview panel of my current job that the year I spent studying and working in Spain during my undergraduate degree was an important factor in being offered this position. The experience of moving abroad on my own meant that I didn’t find the prospect of living and working on a small Caribbean island daunting.

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

Look carefully at the details of each course and choose the one you feel is right for you. Push yourself out of your comfort zone as often as you can by trying new things; you will surprise yourself and discover things about yourself that you didn’t know.