Greetings from the heart of London

London is the city I have been living in since September and it has already started to feel like home. Unfortunately my time here is soon coming to an end. It is my third year of undergraduate studies in music pedagogy and I have been doing my exchange term on classical trombone at Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

The London Eye and River Thames at night

My studies in here are very practical. Besides lots of individual practice, I have trombone lessons, repertoire classes, chamber music and platforms. One of my favorite classes of the week is trombone class in which all the trombone students attend – there’s about 15 of us! The professor taking the class changes every week so you never know what to expect from the class. We have played as a big ensemble, taken turns on playing orchestral excerpts as a section, played sackbuts (the early version of trombone) and made our own contemporary pieces of music in groups.

Instead of playing solo repertoire in concerts like we do in TAMK, we play them in a class called platform. All the students in their first and second year have platform classes weekly and in my group there are all the brass, wind and percussion players. Everyone is assigned their week of performing and every week there are about six performers. Before playing the actual piece the performer has to give a little speech about the piece they will be playing. After the performance they get to choose a few friends from the audience to take backstage and talk through the performance. Meanwhile the professor will ask feedback from the students in the audience. I find this concept nerve-racking but extremely educational. Your student colleagues are the best and yet the worst audience at the same time. They can hear even the most minor mistakes but they are very supportive in general and it’s a situation that everyone has to be in at one point.

The Royal Opera House

As a musician it is very normal to have to study or work during the evenings or weekends. During this exchange I have come to the conclusion that the situation is much better in Finland. In here it is quite normal to have classes until 8 pm or sometimes even 9 pm and during orchestra periods there can be rehearsals during the weekends also. But it means that there are a lot projects happening constantly which is a good thing in general.

A picture from one of the many road markets around London

There is so much culture to explore in London, that it’s impossible to go and see everything you want to. I have been to see a few musicals, concerts and operas which have all been terrific! There are lots of road markets and food markets around here and I’ve been trying to go to them as much as possible. There are so many foods to choose from and so far there hasn’t been any food that I haven’t enjoyed! A big part of the UK is the pub culture. After school or work people go to the pub to have a drink and socialize. That is what we do as well after a late class or a concert. A lot of the times people even go and stand outside in groups because it’s too noisy inside or there isn’t any space.

In my personal opinion I would definitely recommend London as an exchange city. There are many things to explore in the city and the people are generally very welcoming and friendly.


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