A day in the life of a music student

Alex Wallace is studying a Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours), Music Studies and Music Specialist Studies. Read on to find out more about Alex and his studies. 

“I am a third year clarinettist studying a Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours), majoring in Music Studies and Music Specialist Studies.

“I chose to study the music double major because I want to be a performing classical musician in the future and I felt that the Conservatorium was the right place to equip me with the foundations for such a career. I also have a strong interest in music academia, which the degree’s musicology units have been great in nurturing.

“I started playing clarinet when I was 10 years old through the School of Instrumental Music program. I’m not from a musical family and so I wasn’t really exposed to classical music as a child.

“However, when I started playing in orchestras and going to live concerts in high school, I very quickly decided that I wanted to pursue a career in performance. And it’s because of that aspiration that I’m here at UWA, where I’m currently studying to be a professional musician in the future.”

What’s your favourite thing about studying at the Con?

“The community! I think music brings out joy in people, which is how I would describe the vibe at the Con. It’s a warm and supportive environment to learn in, and it has made my university experience simply incredible.

“Recently my chamber group and I performed Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet in B Minor Op.115 for one of the weekly Lunchtime Concerts. We played with so much passion that I felt quite emotional on stage and felt like I was hearing the work with new ears. It was so fulfilling to have the performance go well given we had worked so diligently on such a difficult and mature piece of music.”

You are hosting your dream dinner party for four guests, who are your dream guests and why?

“Tough question! Most probably Hilary Hahn, Emmanuel Pahud, Pam Brown and my late grandfather.”

Who is your favourite musician and why?

“I would say Ashley Smith. I think he has one of the most beautiful and expressive clarinet sounds I’ve ever heard, and his diligence and commitment to music is incredible. There’s not a lesson or class from which I have not learnt something new or been inspired.”

What is currently vibing on your playlist?

“I really love baroque music and I’ve just discovered an album of Handel’s Italian Cantatas featuring two amazing French sopranos, Sabine Devieilhe and Lea Desandre. It’s so cool to hear his lesser-known works in such a fresh, beautiful recording.”

What is a typical day at uni for you? 

AM

“On a normal day, I’ll wake up around 6.30am, get ready and then take the bus to uni. Normally I’m on campus by 9.00am and, if I don’t have any morning classes, I’ll spend about 2 hours practising technical exercises (e.g. scales, studies, articulation drills). After this, I’ll go get some fresh air, have morning tea and catch up on emails.”

Lunch

“I like to have lunch in the music students’ common room with my uni friends. It’s a real highlight in my day getting to catch up and talk about music with my mates.”

PM

“Most of my classes happen in the afternoon, so I’ll go attend them. Depending on how late I finish, I might stay back for an extra 1-2 hours to practise (recently I’ve been practising lots of bass clarinet) or I’ll take the bus to my local yoga studio to a Bikram yoga or pilates class. I find that these forms of exercise really help with breath support as a clarinettist and are great for my mental health.”

After dark

“I’ll have dinner with my family around 6.00pm and then we’ll watch some TV together. My evenings usually involve studying for 1-2 hours and maybe catching up on some admin stuff. In the last hour of my day, I usually watch something (a documentary, tv show or interview) in French or German just so that I don’t forget those languages, and then I’ll go to bed around 10.30pm.

“I really love learning foreign languages. I’ve been learning French and German for a while, and I’m hoping to re-learn my mandarin over the summer break. I like exercising in my spare time as well as reading about opera, interior design or watching TED talks (I’m 19 but I feel like I have the tastes of a 65 year old!). I also dedicate my free time to being the Education Representative of the UWA Music Students’ Society and the principal clarinettist of the WA Wind Symphony.”

 

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