I am a 28-year-old soprano, progressing onto my 3rd year on the Masters Programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Help me stay!
I am a 28-year-old soprano studying on the Extended Guildhall Artist Masters, about to progress into my final year, MPerf. Let me tell you a bit about me, how I became involved in music and why it's so important to me.
I first got involved with music when I was eleven years old, studying a musical instrument, like most children. One might say with my family history of maternal grandparents being in the arts, and my mum herself as well as my father being a photographer, I was always destined for a creative career. However, discovering a love for terrible television and watching Holby City and Casualty, I quickly realised I wanted to be a doctor.
However, when I was sixteen years old, I started to have lessons with a new singing teacher, who put a piece of Mozart in front of me. I was completely entranced and experienced a rush of adrenaline that I’ve never felt before. As I started to explore this genre of repertoire, it was like stepping out of the wardrobe and into Narnia; a foreign world I didn’t know much about but was fascinated by and couldn’t get enough. I saw my first opera aged eighteen in Venice and the whole experience felt like a blur; I was finally immersing myself in a world where all that existed was me, the story and the music.
Fast forward eight years and I started up my own choir to benefit the people of South Harting as well as providing myself with some valuable experience of how to run a charitable organisation and plan events. It soon snowballed and our numbers reached fifty plus, raising thousands of pounds for charity but more importantly, changing people’s lives in the village. Widows and widowers, cancer suffers and survivors, carers, au-pairs, elderly people, and individuals with learning disabilities… you name it, they came through our doors. When I realised how much music could completely transform people’s lives, I knew that I had chosen the right lifestyle and career. To serve the world by telling stories and providing people with the space to push the “pause button” on life. Singing is the most wonderful gift and it's hard to explain the effects it's had on me; only that I want to spread the feelings I get with other people.
I have wanted to study at the Guildhall since I ordered a prospectus, age 13, and since studying with the incredible Professor Susan McCulloch from 2010-2017; just being here is the realisation of a segment of my long-term dream. She completely changed my life, vocally and emotionally, and over our long journey together, she encouraged me to believe in myself and follow a professional career. Without her, I wouldn't have thought I had the strength or vocal talent to pursue a musical career. I accepted a place on the Extended Guildhall Artist Masters course as it enabled me to refine my vocal and performance technique over a three-year course, giving me the luxury of time. Having never studied in a Conservatoire environment the nature of a longer course appealed to me, twinned with a school who aren’t afraid of training bigger voices, seemed perfect for me. The Guildhall School have guided me safely through developing my performance experience with regular repertoire classes, platforms, coachings and masterclasses as well as broadening my language, movement, stagecraft and industry skills.
In May 2016, shortly before I began my Masters studies, my mother was diagnosed with secondary, stage three breast cancer. She underwent invasive surgery, six months of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of radiotherapy as well as a year’s worth of intense drug treatment. Her cancer was tested to be HER2 positive, meaning that it is six times more likely to return; the drug treatment may have reduced that to three times more likely. As the breadwinner of the family, she was unable to work for 9 months, with no sick-pay being self-employed and now has had to reduce her teaching significantly to lessen the chance of her cancer returning in the future. This not only had a major financial impact on our family, but also left a significant emotional footprint; her diagnosis has made me more determined to succeed in my career, as well as trying to secure as much funding as I can to relieve financial pressures.
As there is currently no government funding available to support my studies and my fees next year are a little over £10,000. ANY amount of financial or emotional support you'd be able to offer would be so gratefully received. As a 28 year old singer with a larger voice, it is increasingly hard to find bursaries and grants who support anyone over the age of 26. I have written, applied and auditioned for over 30 charities, trusts and major donors only securing a small but valuable donation from a charming gentleman in a charity who's wife had been diagnosed with cancer.
By donating just a few pounds, you would be launching me a little close to the singing dream that is becoming more and more like a tenable reality with each passing day.
For each donor, I'd like to be able to keep you up to date with performances, events, successes and developments as a thank you for taking an interest in my career.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story.