My experiences as a music degree student at Edinburgh Napier University
By Conal Mooney
My name is Conal Mooney, and I am a first-year guitar student at Edinburgh Napier University Popular Music Course. This small blog is about why I chose the BA (Hons) Popular Music course and what it has to offer you as a potential student and what it is like to study music in Edinburgh.
After finishing my sixth year of high school, I was confident that I wanted to study music at university. However, I had no real idea where I wanted to attend. I was also unsure of what course path to take – whether to apply for a classical or a popular music degree or to study a pure music technology degree with no performance aspects at all. I decided I was most interested in a course which had the option of studying many aspects of music, as well as specialising in particular areas that take your interest. After attending open days at the likes of Glasgow, Ayr, and Edinburgh etc. as well as speaking to friends and reading student reviews, the BA Pop course at Edinburgh Napier piqued my interest. Reviews of the course as well as the multitude of career paths available following graduation really stuck out to me.
After attending an open day at Napier’s Merchiston campus, I was very impressed with the facilities as well as what the course had to offer. The four-year course has a wealth of areas of study ranging from composition, performance and technologies, to more integrated branches in the music industry such as music therapy and community music projects. As well as offering such a range of course content, the lecturers and tutors are of the highest industry standard, with sought-after session musicians and accomplished academics making up the music team. Another aspect of the course that particularly attracted me is the option of a trimester or a full year abroad in 2nd or 3rd year for an overseas study module.
First and second-year modules offer a focus on music genres, cultures and industries, centred around group discussions in lectures as well as analysis of studies and academic works on music. These years also focus heavily on practical music studies and technologies, the former encouraging a strong focus on theory and one-to-one instrument lessons as a foundation for building your general musicianship. Instrument/vocal lessons ensure that you’re always seeking to improve your playing skills and encourage you to apply your learning in compositional tasks.
Music Technologies modules are where Napier’s superb technical facilities are put to use. Lectures in first and second year offer extensive use of digital audio workstations such as ‘ProTools’, ‘Logic Pro X’ and the advanced music notation software ‘Sibelius’. Rehearsal rooms, as well as studios in the uni, are open to students 24/7 for practice and recording use, all fully equipped with amps, drum kits, keyboards and professional mixing desks and speakers. Additionally, all students are taught how to make proper use of the studios, with a more advanced studio practice module available in 3rd-year.
Third and Fourth-year modules allow for you to further develop skills in areas that you have strengths in. Modules such as music therapy, music psychology and instrumental/vocal teaching offer an insight into applying music practices in the real world. More advanced technology modules are available, using Ableton for advanced mixing and producing. Additionally, performance modules can be taken right up to fourth-year, as well as the more academic ‘Music in a Globalized World’ and ‘Entrepreneurship in the Music Industries’ laying a foundation for music research projects.
In the brief time that I have studied at Napier, it is clear that both the staff and students are happy and actively engaged with course. There is never a shortage of opportunities for musical exploration and work. Fourth-year student, Corin Anderson (composing, producing and DJing under the name CoriAnder) says,
“I recently accepted the post of Music Technology Lecturer on the Junior Napier Music course. My job is to teach high school students how to use industry-standard software to record, edit and mix music. ”, adding, “Edinburgh Napier’s Popular Music course has opened up so many opportunities for me and the past few years have undoubtedly been the best of my life so far .”
My own experience of the course has been fantastic as well. In seven months, the amount that I have learnt with regards to composing, recording and producing music is immeasurable. My guitar playing has come on massively as has my sight reading, which is still improving as the weeks go on. The folk in my year are spot on, we all get along well and even in the short time we’ve known each other, I have made some really good friends. I am looking forward to the rest of this trimester and the years ahead, ready to work, be challenged and to keep making music. Hopefully, this blog reflects my honest feeling about the course and shows you that if you want to study music, Edinburgh Napier is the place to be.
Corin Anderson is a music producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ with a wealth of musical experience. Having written and released five albums and one EP as well as collaborating with other artists on many works, he is nothing short of accomplished. You can follow Corin’s music projects and releases on his website https://musiccoriander.weebly.com