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Personal statement advice: music

Writing a personal statement for music? Whether your musical interests lie in performance or music history, think 'engaging', 'detailed' and 'relevant' to strike the right note with music admissions tutors.

We asked music tutors what they're looking for (and what to avoid) in your personal statement here's what they told us. For more personal statement advice, see our top 10 things to include plus our personal statement checklist for everything you need to get writing.

And here's more on preparing that all-important audition piece.
 

What to include in your music personal statement 

  • Where your musical enthusiasm lies: Dr Kirsten Gibson, music admissions tutor and programme leader at Newcastle University (an academic course) is looking for detailed, engaging examples of your musical experiences, interests and your academic and musical aspirations. These could lie in performance, composition, music history, analysis, ethnomusicology or elsewhere...
  • Wider reading around music: for academic courses in particular, do mention additional reading you've done around the subject, including what you've learned from it. You should also be prepared to expand on this during an interview.
  • Extra-curricular musical activities: rather than reeling off a list of what you've done, try and write reflectively about the insights, skills and knowledge you've gained from a select few experiences.
  • Why music?: write clearly and engagingly about the subject and your reasons for wanting to study it at university level this should naturally lead you to demonstrate your current knowledge, skills, passion and suitability for the course.
  • Teamwork skills: the University of Bristol is also keen to see examples inside or outside of your studies where you've demonstrated your abilities to work well as part of a team. 
  • Awareness of what different music courses cover: practical or academic, your statement should engage directly with the actual courses you’re applying for. If you're applying to a conservatoire, do refer to personal statement advice on the CUKAS website
  • Engagement with a specialist area: there's also a wide range of music courses out there that focus on specific aspects of the industry like popular, commercial, enterprise, composition, performance, production, technology, digital, media, journalism, theatre, songwriting, film music, church music, opera, jazz... The list goes on. So if you're applying for a more specialist kind of course, then clearly your statement needs to bring out some of your interests, insights, skills, knowledge, achievements or experience that are relevant to that field. Remember to do this in a reflective way, not just with a list of things you've done.
 

What not to do in your music personal statement

  • Clichés: avoid the likes of ‘music is my life' or ‘music is a universal language’.
  • Replication: including information on additional music qualifications and grades you have is important, but put these in one of the qualifications boxes on the UCAS form so you don’t have to waste valuable space on it in your statement.
  • Ignore the course content: make sure your statement shows you've researched your courses carefully, to ensure that they suit your musical and professional aspirations. If it's a course that focuses on music production or technology, for instance, then your statement needs to talk about your practical and academic interests in these areas.

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