WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT’S YOUR PROJECT?
My name is Jessica Smith. I am a Northamptonshire-based soprano, teacher and community choir leader who earlier this year was lucky enough to be offered a place to study on the Vocal Studies Course for the Artists Masters programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, recently ranked the Number 1 Conservatoire in the UK for Music. The course is a fantastic opportunity for me to explore solo, ensemble, and opera work which will give me the skills needed to become a professional singer.
Although I was over the moon to be offered the opportunity to study at one the country’s best conservatoires, the hefty price tag attached may prevent me from fulfilling my dream. I have been unsuccessful in gaining any of the highly competitive scholarships offered at the University and I am therefore only left with a few options: take out a career development loan, crowdfund, and apply for educational grants offered by independent trusts.
I am already in £30,000 of debt from my undergraduate degree and therefore want to borrow as little money as I can. My estimated living costs at University are £28,760 for the two years (rent at approx. £750 pcm plus food, bills, travel). I have managed to save a substantial amount which should pay for a large proportion of my living costs at University and I also intend to get a part time job and earn money through singing. I have already applied to over 50 trusts/grants but at the age of 27 most grants/trusts do not offer financial support to me due to my age – I have had rejection letters from almost all of the bodies and have secured just £350 of funding from 2 trusts.
I am currently in deficit of £15,000 towards my studies. I know it is extremely difficult to Crowdfund this amount and so am currently asking for £1000, with the view to expanding my target if I can raise this amount.
WHAT IS THE ARTISTS MASTERS COURSE AND WHY DO YOU NEED IT?
The Artist Masters course is a practical performance course which is flexible to suit your career aspirations. It is a two-year course with regular singing lessons and a series of elective modules which allow you build skills in specialist areas including: opera scenes, repertoire and song classes, consort singing, performance skills. I will have regular singing lessons with Susan Waters and a dedicated coach assigned to me each term, both of whom will work to build my vocal technique and skills. In addition to building necessary skills, the course will also allow me to work with esteemed conductors and tutors to build contacts to work within the performance industry after graduating.
When I left school, I decided to pursue an academic music degree at Royal Holloway, University of London. I loved my studies at Royal Holloway, and the course was perfect for me at the time – it combined historical and theoretical studies with some performance studies. Much of my performance experience at University was choral based; I was a Choral Scholar with the Chapel Choir, at St Martin-in-the-Fields, and as a member of the Genesis Sixteen scheme. In my final year, I sought advice from a number of tutors and vocal teachers and I was advised to take some time out after my degree to let my voice mature.
Since graduating, I have been working as a music teacher in Northamptonshire and have loved every minute of it. My first graduate job was at Abbeyfield School where I fought for instrumental scholarships for disadvantaged students and increased uptake in music instrument lessons by 100% in just one year. After this, I worked at Northampton College, before moving on to work as a Singing Teacher at the Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust, teaching children across the county and directing the County Senior Girls’ Choir. I have also been working in the community and have directed 3 community choirs – the Northampton General Hospital Choir, The Melody Choir, Greens Norton Community Choir – who all have diverse membership but unite in their love of singing and friendship. Together we have raised lots of money for local charities, including Different Strokes UK, Motor Neurone Disease, Air Ambulance, and more recently for the Northampton General Hospital.
I have loved my community and teaching work, but studying at the Guildhall will allow me to develop my performance skills which I have so far been unable to do effectively whilst working full time. My dream career is to balance work as a performer with high level groups alongside some teaching and community work. This course at the Guildhall will give me the skills needed to pursue my dream career.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?
All money raised will go directly to my University tuition and college fees.
Year 1 Tuition Fee Costs: £10,380
Year 2 Tuition Fee Costs: £10,380 (will likely rise)
Total Tuition Fee Costs: £20,760
I am taking advantage of the governmental Masters’ loan which will be paid in instalments across 6 terms for my two years of studies. Each term I will be awarded £1,817.60, £5,453 for each year, which will pay for just over half of my tuition fees per annum.
This leaves me in deficit of £4927 per year for my tuition fee costs, £9,854 in total for the two years.
FIND ME HERE
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HELP ME SUCCEED
You don’t need to give money to help me succeed! Please share this project with anyone you think may support me – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by e-mail, telephone, blog, or in a chat over a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive.
I am hosting a fundraiser concert at All Saints' Church Northampton on Sunday 23rd June at 7pm with my lovely friend Edward Pick (Piano). It will be a lovely evening of light and popular classical music including songs by Mozart, Bach, Britten, and Copland, interspersed with some piano works.
Tickets for the event are £10 for adults, £7 for children (they can be booked via my website). All concert proceeds will fund my postgraduate studies.