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The Blue Coat School Music Department’s first music careers advice Zoom session was held with Old Blues Louise Goodwin, from the Class of 2012 and Alistair Rutherford, from the Class of 2013, discussing their pathways into the profession.

Hosted by Director of Music Mr Emery, with Miss Horton also present, 13 current Sixth Form Music students heard how Louise, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s principal timpani and percussion player, and Alistair, freelance viola and strings player previously based at Birmingham Conservatoire, forged rewarding, but sometimes difficult careers.

They discussed the options of choosing between further studying at either university or conservatoire, with the more academic curriculum versus a performance related one (although Manchester University offers a hybrid version).

Louise said: “In hindsight, a conservatoire was the right choice for me. I had eight years in London, with four at the Royal College of Music and then four years freelancing and doing auditions and trials for orchestras, with success at my sixth attempt which meant moving to Glasgow, which I love, as it’s like Liverpool. London is very exciting, but it’s a big pond with a lot of fish, whereas Glasgow is the opposite.”

Alistair said: “The Blue Coat Music Department formed my passion and I decided at 14 to give everything to music. I was in the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the Formby Band and did A Level Music. I was at Birmingham Conservatoire for four years and nearly went to the US, but a crazy but fantastic job came up with the ARCO project, teaching South African students to play strings.

“In choosing where you go, be hungry asking questions and make the best personal statement. It’s worth looking at who could be doing your teaching. You’ve really got to want to do it, as you have to give up a lot of other things. A hundred per cent of symphony players make their income with a portfolio of music jobs.”

Louise said: “Looking back at the Blue Coat Music Department, it was a ‘safe’ place to be myself, talking about and playing music with other students. I loved being in the choir, going on trips, and it’s turned out to be a fantastic foundation for my career as I learnt so much without even realising it.”

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