Assuming that that Internet has done its thing and placed this blog in the hands of a stranger or two, a quick introduction: my name is Mimi Doulton, I’m a 21-year-old singer, and I have just started on the Extended Artist Master’s at Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
This blog is to jot down some thoughts that I hope might be useful to other young musicians out there. I hope that it will also be entertaining for friends, family and other interested parties; although much of my writing will have a musical focus, I fundamentally plan to describe human experience that can be found in all walks of life. If that all sounds a little serious, I can promise some silly stories too!
Today I want to focus on something I have just survived myself – the first month at conservatoire. If you are also new to conservatoire, but are yet to meet someone who is honest enough to admit that they are as terrified as you are, then keep reading…
Nothing can prepare you for the first day. You sit in a room of a few hundred students and get told that you are the best performers of your generation. As the welcome speech continues you look around at the other people – they all seem so confident, so secure – they look like they think they deserve to be there. Perhaps they will be the best performers of your generation, but you are nowhere near their level. You are too scared, and too nervous to ever compare to the quiet confidence that they exude.
1) Truth – They are thinking exactly the same thing while they look at you.
As the week progresses you start to find your way into the practice corridors. Rows of doors with soulless soundproofed rooms behind them, where you will spend much of the next few years of your life staring at your tongue and feeling perplexed (if you are a singer anyway!) The noises that come from behind these doors are beautiful and brilliant, and once again you find yourself wondering how you ended up studying with all these beautiful and brilliant people. Every time you venture into a room yourself, you hardly dare make a noise for fear that somebody will laugh at how terrible it is.
2) Truth – Anyone can sound brilliant through a soundproof door. Including you.
There will be moments when you feel like you do not fit in with everybody else. Maybe you are from another country, or specialised in a different field before committing to music. Maybe you swear every other sentence and talk a little too openly about your bodily functions (hello!). In your eyes all other students amalgamate into a mass of one personality and mind-set. You worry that it is ‘them’ against you, and that you will never be one of ‘them’.
3) Truth – We are all different. That is what makes human beings so wonderful. There are over 7 billion people on this planet. Some of them will like you for you.
As the first days become first weeks, and those weeks become months, you will start to see the ‘equal’ in everyone. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, we are all at conservatoire to learn and develop. There would be no point in paying the fees if you were perfect.
Most importantly though, you will discover that you are studying with a wonderful group of people. These are people who you can rely on to clap every time you perform, even if nobody else does (and they will!); the people who will buy you cake on a bad day; and the people you can talk to about bodily (mal)functions unashamedly. They are your greatest asset (along with teachers, coaches, family members and partners).
On that note, thank you to all my wonderful friends at Guildhall whose frankness has inspired me to finally sit down and write. I promise a lighter subject matter next time! Until then…
Over and Out