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Case Study

Thomas Dixon


BMus (Hons) Jazz, Popular and Commercial Music student Thomas Dixon came across an advertisement for his course in a leaflet. He now tells us how consequently choosing to study at the University of Sunderland was everything he wanted and more.

I came across an advertisement for my course in a leaflet and it seemed to offer everything I was looking for. After being here for two years now I can confirm that it was everything I wanted and more! The opportunities provided within the course to meet and work with other creative individuals that are active in the local music scene are fantastic. The importance of networking in the music industry cannot be overstated, so even before considering the course content this is a major positive!

The facilities available to us, particularly at the Sage campus, are great and the lecturers who teach on the course are too. The lecturers are highly knowledgeable and they themselves often play local and national gigs which I try to attend at every possible opportunity. I really appreciate that the course covers a wide range of skills such as performance, composition and production; this helps you to become a well rounded musician and prepared for the real world once you move on from the degree. The course at times can feel a little bit jazz-centric if it’s not what you’re used to but I think that the lectures focus on this because of its difficulty – if you can master jazz you can probably play anything. However the lecturers do try to nurture your interests outside of the material covered by the course and they try to make the content as relevant to you as possible.

The lecturers aren’t going to treat you like a child and hold your hand all the way through but if you’re looking for somewhere that will stretch and push you to be the best you can be I would definitely recommend studying here. If you start putting in the work now then you’ll find everything much less stressful once you’re into your degree course. You want to make the absolute most of your time at university and you won’t be able to do that if you’re constantly playing catch-up. It’s a great idea to have side-projects and outside interests alongside your course but you won’t be able to get involved in these things if you’re drowning in work – so don’t be lazy!

I recently helped set up a group that now has a residency at the Jazz Café in Newcastle where we play at least once a month. I’m looking to create a new band in the near future to branch out into some other areas and start composing and recording as much material as possible.

Hopefully once I graduate I’ll have built up enough of a portfolio and profile in the local scene to make a living entirely through music and doing what I love. My time so far studying at the University of Sunderland has been a highly personalised experience. I’ve always felt like I’m completely in control of my own learning and I’ve enjoyed every part of it."

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