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Kirsty McLean



Being surrounded by such talented musicians has made me work harder than I would have done at a university.

Kirsty McLean

Being surrounded by such talented musicians has made me work harder than I would have done at a normal university. Everyone is such a high standard and you have people in older years to aspire to. You learn so much from professionals that come in to college: I’ve learnt valuable technical skills from them, and since coming to Trinity Laban I have discovered that there is so much more to music than the notes written. That isn’t something you’re taught as a child.

With our student-run company, we performed Così fan tutte at St Alfege church as a lunchtime recital. The show was very successful and it was so good to be supported completely by all our teachers and peers. I also loved performing in Trinity Laban operas Belshazzar and Orpheus in the Underworld at Blackheath Halls, where we performed fully staged operas and worked with professional directors and creative teams.

Having the chance to work hand in hand with dancers and musicians as a singer is very unique. I had the amazing opportunity to work with the composer Stephen McNeff and dance teacher Julia Gleich in a project in Colab last February. But the best thing was what I could take away from my week with such an amazing team – I learnt so much about creativity and how to be free as a musician and a performer, not always having to conform to the rules we’ve been taught.

I had a friend who did the Erasmus exchange programme and said she had the best year. I think it’s so important that conservatoires are welcoming to international students, as they deserve the opportunity to study in a place as wonderful as London and at our beautiful conservatoire, especially as it’s closer to home for some international students than it is for us living in England. (It costs less money and takes less time to fly to Spain or to France than it does for me to get home to the Lake District!)

The opportunities in London are endless. Staff at Trinity Laban are amazing at finding us the opportunities but it also doesn’t take much looking. London is a very cultural place and there are always people wanting to enjoy our art. I have a huge love for Greenwich and especially Blackheath. I feel a part of its community through Blackheath Halls, and performing in Blackheath Opera with the community chorus. The support the community gives us young musicians is amazing.

Last year I had an Alexander Technique bursary. It really helped me a lot with my performance and technique and we are very lucky to be offered it for free. I have also been supported through the counselling team who were fantastic and helped me a lot.

I lived at McMillan two years ago. Its location is very good, and I am very glad I lived in halls as I got to mix with students who weren’t just on my course. It’s also a nice stepping stone from living at home (or school) to living with a group of people, before having to live on your own or in a smaller group. I made a lot of friends from staying at McMillan.

I love being part of the vocal department. They are so encouraging in letting you work externally and take as many opportunities as you can, as well as providing us with so many great opportunities within Trinity Laban. I also love our “engaging audiences” classes and our “creative educator” classes – Tim Palmer has been a great tutor who has taught us so much about working with children. As someone who is very passionate about teaching and education, the lessons I have had with him have been very inspiring and I have already got a job working in primary schools in Dartford, helped by having a lot of experience already from the classes I had in years 1, 2 and 3.

All in all, Trinity Laban is a truly inspiring environment where I have always been supported fully in achieving my dream in becoming a performing, working musician.