Jump to accessibility statement Skip to content

Case Study

Bradley Johnston


BMus (Hons) Jazz, Popular and Commercial Music graduate Bradley Johnston describes his experience at the University of Sunderland as a sincere life changing opportunity to learn and perform with the best.

I chose the course for its tutors, class and well structured modules. They give you everything you need to know to become an all-round professional musician. The campus at Sage Gateshead is a recognised world-class music venue which has hosted some of the great musicians of the past 20th and 21st century such as James Brown, George Benson, Cleo Laine, Jackson Brown, Nils Lofgren from the E- Street Band and ‘Sting’.

The tutors on the BMus degree are some of the finest in the country, always delivering quality teaching in all aspects of jazz, popular and commercial music: performance, composition, production and academic studies. The space in which you are taught too is quite something – 26 potential lecture rooms turned straight into practice spaces and filled with your requirements needed for a productive rehearsal including P.A., amps, kits, pianos, percussion, music stands and whiteboards.

Having the opportunity to study in such a world-class venue is great and also the opportunity to be able to perform in all of the Sage Gateshead’s three main concert halls, supported by a professional tech team. To also have a world renowned international jazz festival, Gateshead International Jazz Festival, under the roof of where you study is very unusual. In the past, students have been invited to take part in such workshops by visiting artists such as Sting, Bill Frisell, Martin Taylor, Mike Stem, Roberto Fonseca and The Yellow Jackets.

Without a doubt I would recommend the University of Sunderland to other students. Considering this was one of the first jazz-related degree courses in the UK it continues to keep up-to-date with training musicians for the profession. It's recognised honours degree status continues to attract musicians from all around the world. There are great facilities on campus supported by a super admin team of professionals who treat you like a professional musician.

My advice to prospective students would be, be prepared to study hard and enjoy working with likeminded peers who want the same outcome as you; to push yourself physically and mentally to become the best you can be. Take any performance opportunities you can by the horns and really use them to your full advantage. Since graduating I still continue to perform regularly throughout the North East and beyond in a variety of ensembles ranging from duos to big band, including my own ensemble.

I am currently studying a PGCE to teach and share my knowledge with other musicians and alongside this, I obtained a placement on the BMus degree course, teaching theory and harmony to current first year students and supported in improvisation studies. I also plan to take the FLCM Jazz Performance Diploma at the end of the year.

My experience studying at the University of Sunderland has been a sincere life changing opportunity to learn from the best and perform with the best. It's a world-class course in a world-class venue.”

More case studies