Alex Smith, BMus Percussion

How long have you been playing percussion for, and how did you get started?

I started playing percussion ten years ago at primary school, when I was 8. My parents tell me that I had always been obsessed with musical instruments (specifically ‘the drums’) so when the opportunity came up for me to get percussion lessons with a music service teacher through my school, they signed me up! I’m not sure where the musical obsession came from, as no-one in my family is musically trained, but nevertheless, I’ve always seemed to be drawn to music. There is even a photo of me, aged 2, sat at my Nana’s keyboard pushing random keys, with a music book upside down in front of me.

You’ve been here for 4 weeks now, how have you found it settling in and making friends?

Settling in and making friends was so easy thanks to the events that the RNCM Students’ Union arranged. Literally every night of Freshers’ Week there were parties (normally with some kind of wacky theme or dress code) that acted as great ice breakers, and excellent ways to spend the nights with your new friends. Settling in to the day-to-day College routine just seemed effortless. From day one of your course you’re kept so busy with lectures, rehearsals, lessons, masterclasses and so on that you just sort of ‘pick it up as you go along’. However, there’s always someone around to ask if you’re unsure of anything!

Why did you decide to apply to the RNCM?

When I was applying to music colleges, I visited most of the UK conservatoires on open days/visits. Of course, each one is good in its own way, but for me, the RNCM was always top of the list. There are many reasons for this but the main two are the course and the atmosphere. The percussion course seems perfect for me, but as well as this, the non-Principal Study specific classes (such as Musicianship, Professional skills, Performance and Repertoire Studies etc) seem like they will really help me in my future career.

The atmosphere in the College is always so friendly and (outside of the practice rooms) so relaxed. Of course, everyone is here to work hard and become great musicians, but you’ve only got to walk into the refectory after a rehearsal or at lunch time to see that there’s always time for socialising and having a bit of fun!

What advice would you give to anyone auditioning for RNCM?

Be yourself! The audition panel will want to see your audition. This means, playing pieces that you love (providing they suit the audition requirements) and most of all, showing them your personality. The tutors want to see someone with a personality that they can work with, so just be yourself and hope for the best!

What do you plan to do after your studies here?

Definitely perform. I don’t know exactly in what context yet, but I’m hoping that the experiences I get from College in different genres of music will help me decide this. I’d also like to teach, but as of yet this is something I don’t have any experience in. Ask me again in a year or two…

Find out more about the Bachelor of Music programme here.

Read more about the School of Wind, Brass and Percussion here.