Grace Mason, Composer

What made you first apply for Junior RNCM? And how old were you when you applied?

I applied to Junior RNCM at quite a late age, I was in year 12 at school so roughly 17. I first heard about it when I realised my interest in composition was getting quite serious and I read that previous winners of the BBC Young Composer Inspire Competition had tutelage there. I was immediately excited about the idea of getting composition lessons, let alone the professional standard of teaching, and I enjoyed the idea of learning more in-depth about music and getting to experience a music college environment.

What were your favourite aspects of Junior RNCM?

Junior RNCM provided the most friendly and supportive atmosphere imaginable, which made the journey to Manchester every week something to look forward to. I loved the array of lessons I had in various different musical aspects, such as conducting and musicianship, and the standard of the ensemble playing was the best I had experienced; I remember the first time I played in the Symphony Orchestra and was thoroughly amazed! For me personally as a principal study composer, getting to hear my own pieces rehearsed and performed in concerts was something of a unique and important opportunity; it provided me with the experience of meeting deadlines and getting recordings of my work. The students are all very passionate about music and everyone is happy to help each other and work together – especially where new music is concerned!

What advice would you give to anyone auditioning for Junior RNCM?

Be yourself. As cliché as it sounds, the Junior RNCM is there to support and help you grow as a musician and as soon as you walk through the door to your audition you will feel that way, too. Express your musical passions to show the very best version of yourself, and enjoy it!

What are your main personal achievements during your time at Junior RNCM?

My main achievement was winning the senior category of the BBC Young Composer of the Year 2013 competition, which was an aspiration of mine that I may never have realised without the supportive environment that the Junior RNCM had to offer. In the following year, whilst still at Junior RNCM, I became a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain 2014 as a composer, which was also a major ambition of mine. Another highlight was the performance of my orchestral piece played by the Junior RNCM Symphony Orchestra in my last ever concert as part of it; I think it was an amazing way to finish my time there.

You’re now in your 1st year at RNCM on the undergraduate BMus course. How did you find the transition from Junior RNCM to being a full time RNCM undergraduate student?

I think being a member of the Junior RNCM first definitely made the transition a lot easier for me. I felt I knew what to expect a little more as the environment was already familiar to me and some of the staff members are the same; such as my own composition tutor. As a full time student now, I’m really glad I experienced the Junior RNCM first and I will always value my time as a part of it.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Music programme here