Chris Rabbitts, Popular Music Bass Guitar
You originally came to an RNCM open day with the intention of studying clarinet here didn’t you? Tell us how you came to apply to the popular music course instead?
I knew I wanted to study music, and applied to lots of university music courses and conservatoire. The RNCM Open Day began with a concert featuring performers from various years and course pathways, and they all blew me away but the band from the Popular Music course immediately grabbed my attention. I had looked at some popular music courses for bass, but hadn’t heard of the one at RNCM and I was really impressed with the standard. I went to sit in on the Popular Music course talks that day as well as the classical ones and when the RNCM Session Orchestra played in them, I knew that this was the course for me. It was so inspiring to see such talented players and I wanted to surround myself with those musicians.
You’ve been here for 4 weeks now, how have you found it settling in and making friends?
After all the Freshers’ events, I’d easily met over half the people in my year. One of the Freshers’ activities was an instrument swap orchestra – where we were paired up with someone who played a different instrument and we swapped and taught each other. I was paired with a composer who played violin, and it meant I made friends with him and lots of the other composers. Being surrounded by so many opportunities and like-minded people is the perfect way to make loads of friends – it definitely feels like home here!
What is a ‘typical’ week in college like?
Well, in terms of course content, I have my instrument lesson on Monday and lectures that include Theory, Aural, Improvisation, Professional Development, DAW (using computer programs to aid our music) across Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday our band practices in a professional studio, and on Friday we have various visiting tutors who come and deliver talks – these could be people from the Musicians’ Union, or the Music Director for major UK acts.
However, aside from the course lectures and lessons, it’s hard to pin down a ‘typical’ week. There’s always so much going on in Manchester – whether you’re heading along to a jam night at Matt and Phred’s, seeing a friend perform a set, having a samba jam with the other people on the Pop course, or one of your favourite bands are playing in town. For example last week, the Pop course students were offered half price tickets to see Snarky Puppy’s Bill Laurance playing his solo album with other members of Snarky Puppy, which for me was a real highlight as I’m a huge fan of his music.
What advice would you give to anyone auditioning for RNCM?
Try and enjoy it! Be prepared to talk to other people at the audition too – not only can it help you out knowing that someone else is in the same boat, but it becomes like a team effort – helping and supporting each other through what can be a daunting day! Also, the people I spoke to on the audition day were familiar faces when I first arrived here in September which is great when you don’t know anyone else. Just make the most of the day and what it has to offer as an experience – I had not done many auditions on Bass Guitar, so I learnt a lot just from that one audition.
What do you want to do after your studies here?
I want to continue playing Bass Guitar, ultimately professionally. At this stage, I’m still trying to keep my performance opportunities open and aiming to study as many genres as possible. I have an interest in Musical Theatre Pit Bands but also love playing in groups and arranging for them – arranging is a skill I hope to keep developing through my studies.
Find out more about the Popular Music Performance Programme here.