Guest blog: Vocal student Chelsea Burns shares her experiences studying at the RNCM

Australian mezzo-soprano Chelsea Burns on new opportunities and adjusting to life in Manchester.

I’m a vocal studies student in the second year of my postgraduate study here at the RNCM. I’m originally from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia and did my undergraduate studies at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in Perth. I knew I wanted to study internationally after finishing my undergraduate degree, and so I came to the UK to audition for music colleges. I decided on the RNCM because two friends of mine studied here and they told me, ‘It’s amazing you should come and check it out.’ I’m so glad I did because I’ve really ended up falling in love with the place.

An average day for me starts late – I’m not a morning person. My schedule depends on the day but I’ll usually have class and then practise, or other times I’ll have a coaching or singing lesson. At the moment I’m looking a lot into recital repertoire because I’ve got my graduating recital at the end of the year, so I’m spending a lot of time in the library. In between study I often wind up at the College café, which is an amazing place to bump into people and easily lose track of time.

Settling into Manchester wasn’t totally smoothit was my first time living out of home which was a big adjustment. But it was also really great because I found a support network of international students. Before Freshers Week there was an international induction week where we got to meet all the other international students and settle in before the local students arrived. I found it really invaluable because it meant that you weren’t showing up with everyone else on the first day, trying to make friends while at the same time being like, ‘What is this place?’

I really love the Master’s course here at the RNCM. You can basically make out it what you want. All of the classes are open so you can go into anything, whether it’s an undergrad class or, say, if you want to go to a piano masterclass or a violin masterclass – everything’s open. You can do so much here and you can structure the course exactly how you want it to be.

Chelsea Burns as Didymus in the 2017 RNCM production of Handel’s Theodora.

Professionally, there are lots of opportunities in Manchester, with not as many people vying for them as in London. The city is really well located. You obviously have access to goings-on in the north, while still being close enough to London and Scotland to take advantage of opportunities there. Coming from Perth, which is an isolated city, it’s amazing to have so many exciting prospects now on my doorstep.

Overall, what I love most about the RNCM is the people. I love the friends I’ve made here – my year group’s very supportive of each other, we look out for each other. I also love that everyone’s of such a musically high standard. It’s nice to be working with people who are so good that it makes you think, ‘OK, I can’t rest on my laurels today, I’ve got to keep moving forward and working hard.’ It’s very inspiring.

27 November 2017