Molly Barker, MMus Mezzo-Soprano

Did you always want to be a singer?

I was in a choir as a kid for years and I’ve always loved singing, but studying music full-time is something very new to me. I’ve worked on farms since I was 13 and did my undergraduate degree in Agriculture at University of Derby. I still live in the Peak District and work as a dairy farmer early mornings and evenings around my studies.

Why did you decide to study at the RNCM?

I was encouraged to apply by my previous singing teacher. I had a consultation lesson at the RNCM in June, auditioned at the end of July and I started studying here in September. So it was all very quick!

The timetable studying at the RNCM is also very flexible, so I could keep working on the farm and living in the countryside, which I much prefer. So having the flexibility to keep living where I am is great.

Are you enjoying the course?

I’m absolutely loving the course. There’s a huge amount to choose from and the standard of teaching is incredible. The difference in my voice from September until now is amazing, it’s like listening to someone else!

Probably what I’m enjoying most about the course is Consort Singing with David Lowe. It’s an opportunity to sing with other people, so it’s great for me because all of my musical history has been in choirs.

I’m also enjoying the language classes. You can take your own repertoire and sit with a native speaker to make sure you’re pronouncing everything correctly – that’s been great and really helpful.

I’m also loving my lessons with Hillary Sommers. Growing up I saw her perform several times, and all of a sudden she’s my teacher and I get to see her every week. She’s brilliant. After a single lesson I was like, ‘Yep, she’s the right teacher for me.’

What’s your favourite type of music?

I like opera but I am quite a fan of German lieder and English song. I also really like performing  comedy; I always do a Victoria Wood song as the finale piece in a concert.

What are some of your performance highlights?

I got to work with Opera North recently over a weekend of performing scenes. It was an amazing experience and very surreal, because I’d grown up going to Opera North productions and a dream of mine had always been to perform with them.

Now I’m auditioning for a lot of operas at the College because I want to increase my performance experience. But there’s no pressure; a lot of my friends are working on repertoire and taking a break from auditions this year. That’s a great thing about the RNCM; you can take things at your own pace.

What are your future plans?

I’m taking every day as it comes. Studying music full-time is something new for me, so I’m just putting my faith in my teachers – they know best and can guide me. At the moment opera is where I would like to be. Whether that’s what will end up suiting my voice or not I don’t know. This year I’m going to try and dip a toe in everything and see what works and what doesn’t.

After graduation, perhaps I’ll do a Postgraduate Diploma. I also love teaching and I’ve got quite a lot of students now. I’d like to continue teaching in a place like the RNCM; that would be my absolute dream.