Sam Harrison – BA (Hons) Music graduate

Current employer: Southend Adult Community College/Front Row Music

Current job title: Music Teacher

Current location: Southend

“Studying at University of Plymouth has allowed me to develop as a musician... It’s really important to follow your passions, and university not only allows you to do this but it also allows you to explore new areas of interest.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Since completing my degree, I subsequently completed my PGCE in secondary music. I am now working part time as a music teacher, going to various schools and running night classes at the local adult college. Alongside this I am now studying part time for a Masters degree in The Psychology of Music in Education, through Sheffield University.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

The music degree at Plymouth has given me the necessary skills and attitude to not only secure a place on, but to effectively complete, a teacher training course, and to become a good communicator and leader in the classroom.

What is the most difficult thing you have faced in your career?

Early mornings. There is an adjustment to be made after finishing university and starting a job. But this can’t be avoided. Also, it’s been both challenging and engaging when I’ve had to apply the knowledge gained from the course in a practical environment.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Using the skills that I gained from my degree every day and playing music as a career. If your job is something you love then you never work a day in your life.

Imagine you were about to start university again – with the benefit of hindsight – what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

If I were about to start university again, I think that I would start working as soon as possible. It’s so important to build up relevant practical experience. It’s what employers are looking for. Also, I wouldn’t have left assignments until the last day, but instead spread out the workload. I gained these time-management skills on the course.

If you were just about to graduate again, what would you do differently?

I would have liked to have volunteered more at the University, as there are so many opportunities to get involved in and so much to be gained from helping others. Also, I would have liked to been more involved with societies; again, there are so many societies to choose as there is really something for everyone.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Make sure to be super organised and keep on top of your work, as essays can pile up. This is also a great tip for working life.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth has allowed me to develop as a musician and to learn more about a subject I love. It’s really important to follow your passions, and university not only allows you to do this but it also allows you to explore new areas of interest.

The University of Plymouth Professional Opportunities Scheme (PUPOS) and the wide range of opportunities offered to me has helped me to develop multiple different skills and disciplines, including performance and teaching. Furthermore, there is no doubt that these opportunities, such as running school workshops, have helped me to secure a place on a teacher training course last year and has helped me this year securing several different teaching roles.

The opportunities available to students through PUPOS not only allow you to improve different skills that are desirable to possible employers but, most of them, you get paid for. I would encourage anybody to take up as many opportunities as the University offers them.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

Studying at Plymouth allowed me to gain countless new musical skills and also the knowledge of the very interesting history about different forms and genres of music from all around the globe.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

I think it was probably my final solo performance for the degree; but also all the other gigs I played at, like Jam House. There is so much going on in Plymouth: go out and explore.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University, and why?

One hundred percent. The staff at the University try and accommodate whatever you want to do, and all the lecturers are incredibly passionate about their subjects. This passion is contagious, as it really makes you want to learn more as well.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Make the most of your time at university: get involved with as many things as possible, like volunteering, societies, and explore what’s on offer in the city.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying BA (Hons) Music please visit our BA (Hons) Music course page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Humanities and Performing Art, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities are currently doing, please visit the humanities and languages interest area.