some alumni success stories...
My 7 years at SMA have been the most incredible years of my life. Studying violin/viola and vocals there, the lessons I had have helped to shape me as a musician in many ways. To have purely individual lessons is one thing, but to be able to study musicianship, theory and aural amongst other classes has pushed me to develop my versatility in music which has inspired the way I perform. I loved having performance platform-style classes, as it not only helps me to receive feedback from my peers but also to give feedback to others. Furthermore, the countless amounts of concerts I have had the pleasure to perform in both as a soloist and as a part of various ensembles has helped immensely with confidence!
My favourite thing about being a part of SMA has to be performing with others. It has fuelled my passion for ensemble playing that I never would have had without the help of all the teachers and students there!
Melissa is currently a violist at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Jon Thorne.
My son David was keen on doing Music A’level but he was the only one in his year at school who wanted to, and he was told he couldn’t do the A’level there. So we looked around for somewhere else he could do it, and were very lucky to find that Sheffield Music Academy had just introduced an A’level course.
David had very dedicated teachers who pushed him to excel, particularly Miriam Hill, Valentina Kalashnik (piano) and Tom James (cornet). Miriam and Valentina put in a lot of their own time to teach him for which we are extremely grateful.
David went on to achieve a first class degree (BMus) from University of Birmingham, and then an MA (Merit) in Composition from University of Sheffield. His primary interest is in composition but he loves playing the piano, and does so for hours most days when at home.
David is currently backpacking through the United States, and plans to apply for a PhD in Composition at one of the East Coast universities, as he has a particular interest in American concert music.
All of this was hanging in the balance when he was trying to find somewhere to do an A’level in Music.
I joined the Sheffield Music Academy at the not so young age of 15 until I was 18. I was a shy and young individual who used music as a way of self expression. Music was a way for me to communicate and create ideas without the use for direct words. The Academy was a long shot that I took a gamble on, where I hoped my passion, determination and expertise in my chosen instrument would shine through on my interpretations of music.
As a result of that gamble, I secured a scholarship that covered my tuition fees and my timetabled activities at the Academy. I had the opportunity to really push myself as a performer, obtaining my grade 8 for my violin as well as Classical Singing; I also experienced the drums which really helped my rhythm and coordination. Apart from my family support, without the support of the staff at the academy, I know I would have doubted myself and not given 100% when faced with unpredictable changes. The time, commitment and support they give you is truly inspiring. They keep cheering you on, even when you lack that self confidence to believe you yourself can overcome that self doubt.
I met some truly talented and friendly teachers who taught me more than just music, they taught life lessons, that to this day I carry with me. I also had the opportunity to mix with individuals from all walks of life; some privileged, some not, some from the same city and some from all over the world. I still have friends that I still keep in contact with now.
Ultimately, the Academy is a place for individuals who share a passion for music. It is a place that can give your child that opportunity to better themselves, regardless of their financial background. Music has given me so many skills that I apply daily; problem solving, effective communication, team work, perseverance and confidence. The list goes on.
So I would like to say thank you to all the staff I had the opportunity to meet in my time there. Please continue to support those children with the talent and drive but maybe not the means to pursue their passion.
There is discipline in having a day dedicated to learning your chosen instrument (in my case the violin). It's motivating and encourages you to develop your abilities independently throughout the week. The Academy has provided me with the opportunity to meet like-minded musicians; to be able to play in groups, learn from knowledgeable tutors and develop team/social skills which translate to the non-music world.
Most importantly, you attend to find inspiration. I crave to be inspired; it's what keeps me going. Inspired by fellow students, inspired by my principal tutor, inspired by chamber groups. It's this desire to be inspired and say "wow, I want to play like that" or "they sound great, I wonder when I'll reach that standard" - and that's why I chose to return each year. To surround myself with talent which in turn pushes me to become better.
It's through this that I believe the Academy has successfully delivered on its slogan - Inspiring Young Musicians.
The Sheffield Music Academy allows me to share my interest in music with other people in a way that I can’t at school. It is great to be surrounded by like-minded people and to make music together. I now teach at the Sheffield Music Academy, tutoring small ensembles and assisting with the cello groups there.
The overall effect of music on my life is that it has brought me a real sense of optimism. The practise, care and thought that goes into music brings with it a sense of control. When your hard work pays off it is a great feeling and helps to build my confidence. Music makes me realise that when you carry on giving thought and putting in effort then you can achieve anything. That is an ethic that carries on into all areas of life.
There are a lot of different things I’d like to get involved with in the future but I’ve settled on the idea of orchestral playing as a career. From September I will be studying with the Royal Northern College of Music.
My cello teacher asked me to join when I was about 9 or 10 and I started learning piano there a year later. I loved the opportunities I wouldn't have otherwise had, like chamber music groups, regular performances and musicianship classes. Since joining I achieved grade 8 cello and grade 7 piano and music theory, and I would definitely recommend it to other students, especially anyone looking for a well-rounded musical education.