If you had told me I would be finishing my degree in my hometown, I wouldn’t have believed you. My BIMM experience has been so focused on the community and experiences created in Brighton throughout my three years that to no longer being able to go to a gig at the drop of a hat was something I would have to get used to fast! Here’s how I’ve adapted to the online learning experience during the recent lockdown.
When we were told all of term 3 would be done online, I was hesitant and disheartened that I would be losing an integral part of my BIMM experience. However, as every 3rd year will tell you: “BIMM is what you make it”. So, I decided to grab as many of the amazing opportunities on offer as I could and probably got more done to progress my musical career in these past weeks than in my whole degree. This was due to having an outside view of BIMM, rather than living in it day to day, which allowed me to see what I hadn’t been taking advantage of and fill in the gaps.
Joining lessons via Zoom, with video chat and comments, allowed full participation. Getting in touch with lecturers for assessments was really easy, and a great support system was provided.
I decided to sign up for as many Masterclasses and tutorials as I could. In my opinion, these are the greatest assets BIMM have. Being able to have someone in the industry be sat in front of you (metaphorically of course) is such an invaluable opportunity that I would highly recommend utilising.
Masterclasses and tutorials in lockdown did not hinder the experience – they actually enhanced it. For example, due to everything going online, students from BIMM Brighton got to attend Masterclasses from all the other BIMM’s, which they wouldn’t have beforehand.
Taking activities online seems to be building the community further and it is interesting how taking some of the university experience online wasn’t obvious to us all before!
One Masterclass I particularly enjoyed in lockdown was hosted by Chris Difford, a legendary songwriter in the UK and one of the founding members of the band Squeeze. I had the opportunity of sending my track in advance to be listened to and critiqued by him in real-time, which was an incredible learning experience as a songwriter myself.
Lots of Masterclasses were held, which meant that everyone was catered for, from business students to drummers. For example, Debbie Knox-Hewson, a female drummer who has toured with the likes of Charli XCX and is now in her own band Nasty Cherry, hosted a very useful Q&A for drummers and bands. The range of industry professionals was really valuable.
Don’t get me wrong, being able to perform, socialise and learn in person is an amazing experience. However, the building blocks of making the most of your time here will be learning from industry professionals that guide you in the right direction.
Tutorials are an amazing resource. I particularly recommend having regular career tutorials from your first year onwards. I only started taking full advantage of these in my third year. If I were to do it all again I would have been building on my CV from day one. Doing this teaches you how to present yourself in a professional way and tailors your CV to fit your job aspirations post-BIMM.
This preparation means that once your degree is over you’re not lost and wondering what to do next. Instead, you have a clear goal and can demonstrate you have experience and knowledge to match.
MAKING THE MOST OUT OF THE SITUATION
In the last term – whilst working hard on the final essays and my dissertation – I was also getting ready to release a debut track with my band. Then lockdown struck! At first, we thought it was all over and would be impossible to do everything remotely, but then we decided to use the spare time and the online tools at our disposal to create a fully-fledged release, in the height of lockdown.
We tapped into our artistic community and found animators and graphic designers to create visuals and artwork for the release. We also spoke more as a band than ever before with lots of Zoom meetings, which we will continue to do. Our release became social media focussed, and we were able to get a good response and build our followers up.
Get involved. Create. Think outside the box. There are so many opportunities online – from jam sessions, online performances, releasing music to starting your own blog. Instead of allowing the online learning experience to hinder you, let it enrich you.