'I'm turning my passion for music into my career'

Sabrina from Italy is currently pursuing her master's in cello and music education at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester. She shares her experience of turning her love of music into a career through prestigious work placements, expert support and guidance and the joys of making new friends in the vibrant and cultural city of Manchester.

'I perform regularly with other talented musicians'.

'In the UK, there are no limits to musical expression'

In the UK, there is a broad vision of life in general and music. There are many opportunities for masterclasses, concerts, live gigs, and orchestras to join. Unusually, classical musicians in the UK also play contemporary music by living composers. I've never found this outside of the UK. There are no limits to musical expression here. Whenever I go to a concert, I learn new pieces and hear music I didn't even know existed.

When I've been to the pub here, it's rarely just eating and drinking, and there is often also live music. It's not a tradition I'm used to, coming from Italy, and I appreciate that so many talented bands and musicians are performing in Manchester and across the rest of the UK. I've discovered that I love Scottish music. Whenever I go to a pub and listen to folk tunes, I'm completely in love.

'Behind the scenes filming with Study UK'.

'I have gained so much confidence while studying in the UK'

Studying in the UK has definitely changed me. I have become a more confident and skilled musician and individual and am preparing for the life I have always dreamed of. At first, it wasn't the easiest as I moved to another country with so much I didn't know. I left my family and was studying and socialising in a language that was not my own.

Despite the initial language limitations, people never made me feel less important. They always took their time to listen to me and wait for me to be able to express myself entirely. Of course, I sometimes felt homesick, and it was not always easy, but it has definitely been worth it.

'I'm proud to be building connections with friends from all over the world'.

'I have made some really deep and meaningful friendships'

In the UK, I have never felt alone. People have been really kind. College is great because you meet new people every day—at the cafe, during rehearsals, after practice, or at concerts. I never had to make plans for lunch. I'd just go to the lunch hall and see who was there. It didn't matter if I knew them already or not, I'd just ask if I could sit with them, and we'd start chatting. When I come into college in the morning, I say 'hi' to a lot of people, and sometimes it takes me ten minutes just to get to my practice room because I always end up stopping to talk with my friends.

I made friends quickly, and after a few months, I had some really deep and meaningful friendships. I have friends from all over the world. Whenever I call my parents, I tell them about hanging out with this American, Brazilian or English friend, and it makes me proud to be building these connections. I'm sure these connections will continue, and even if we take different paths, we'll still stay in touch.

'I feel really supported by the teachers and staff at RNCM'.

'When we become professional musicians, we will already be professional'.

'The teachers and staff treat us like professional musicians'

At the RNCM, I feel really supported as a student. The teachers and staff also treat us as professional musicians, and there are high expectations. We are learning, but we also have to be prepared on time and do as we would do if we were in a professional orchestra. We always answer our emails, put everything in our calendars, and are organised and communicative. It's such a good thing to practice so that when we become professional musicians, we will already be professional.

'I've found a community of musicians at RNCM'.

'I will play with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as part of my work placement'

Work placements are available at RNCM. Each year, there are auditions for the professional experience scheme. After a successful audition, the selected students are invited to join a professional orchestra in Manchester. I won a place in the scheme. I'm so happy that I will get to play with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as part of my placement. It's something in my life that I never thought could have been possible.

'At RNCM we have our own Concert Hall Theatre'.

'We have so much exposure to musical talent from our teachers and beyond'

We have so many great teachers for each instrument, and masterclasses are ongoing throughout the year. Recently, I took a masterclass with a very famous international cellist, which was so inspiring. RNCM invites many fascinating musicians to teach us and who we get to play alongside. We also get coached by chamber musicians and have access to lots of wonderful music venues, including our very own Concert Hall Theatre on campus.

'There's so much to explore in Manchester, rain or shine'.

'Student discounts make life easier'

One thing I love about the UK is student memberships and discounts. It makes life easier. Things like concert tickets are cheap for us, making a huge difference. I go to so many, whether classical music or other music or arts more widely.

'Out for a traditional British pub dinner with my friends'.

'Manchester is a really vibrant, cultural city'

Manchester is a bit like a little London in the way that it has everything you want in terms of pubs, restaurants and cultural activities, but it's not as huge as London. It has all of the things you'd want that you'd be able to find in a big city without having to live (or pay to live) in one. It's also more affordable. I have lots of friends who have moved here. It's a really vibrant city, not just for classical music, but for all sorts. There are concerts going on every week, including at Bridgewater Hall, so many that I don't even know about all of them.

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