Connor is 23 and lives in Pumpherston. He studied HND Popular Music and has progressed onto the BMus Hons Popular Music course at the college. He is the winner of this year’s Martson Citizenship Award.
What made you choose Edinburgh College for your studies?
I originally chose to study at Edinburgh College due to the great reputation of its music courses. On the whole, it seems like many other institutions still mainly focus on teaching classical music. Once I found out Edinburgh College also taught a popular music course, it was a no brainer for me choosing to study there.
What were you doing before starting at the college?
I had recently left high school, and ended up taking a one-year gap before I started the BTEC Level 3 Popular Music course at the college’s Sighthill Campus.
What has been the best thing about studying at Edinburgh College? Any highlights?
The best thing about studying at Edinburgh College is that it has given me much more time than most people get to explore the world of music, while allowing me to potentially make a career out of it once I finish my education. While it’s true that it’s difficult to get a stable job in the music industry, if you put yourself out there and use your initiative you can easily find ways to make money.
If I had to single out one piece of work I’m proud of during my time here, I’d choose my Film and TV composition show reel that I created for the second year of my HND. A lot of hard work went into it, but the results were certainly worth it in the end.
Did you face any challenges before starting or during your studies? How did you overcome them?
In all honesty, my road getting to this point has been a bit of a rollercoaster. In the gap year between me finishing high school and starting college, I ended up developing a stomach ulcer. At the time, I had just left high school and had never been seriously ill before. Being ill ended up delaying me starting college by a year.
Once I finally started my BTEC Level 3 Popular Music course, I easily passed that and the first year of my HND. However, my first attempt at the second year of the HND came to an abrupt end in March 2016. Between looking after my mum, who became wheelchair bound during my first attempt of HND 2, and problems I had with unexplained fatigue, I was forced to withdraw from the course despite doing well during the year up to that point. It was a real blow for me and a tough one to take, but I didn’t want to give up on my passion. Through sheer will and a lot of encouragement from people, I came back in August 2016 to do it all again and now I officially have an overall distinction for a HND in Popular Music. It was tough but I got there in the end, even if it took a lot longer than anticipated!
If you could give one piece of advice to a student starting at the college now what would it be?
I’ve learned that things in life never quite go to plan, so I think it’s important to try your best to block out the negative and distracting things going on around you to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding. A college course can be very demanding, so it’s important you give your studies your utmost attention or things can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful.
What are your plans for the future? Are you going on to further study or into employment? What is your end goal?
I’ve recently just begun studying a BMus Hons in Popular Music at Edinburgh College, so this will be my final year of study at the Sighthill Campus. My long-term plan is to either do music studio work or begin to make my name as a composer of film music. I would even be open to collaborating with film students at Edinburgh College after I finish studying, to help score their short films.
Do you have any messages for the lecturers?
I’d like to thank all the lecturers for the hard-work they put into teaching the music students. Many of my college friends on the course also got distinctions across the board, so I think that says all you need to know about how good the lecturers are. They’ve taught me and many others so much throughout the years, and I look forward to spending another year with them.
Looking back, if you could do one thing differently what would it be and why?
I wish I had asked for support on how best to balance looking after my disabled mum and doing college work, as reaching out could have enabled me to attain my HND one year sooner. I got the balance right this time around between college and helping out at home, but it was still difficult at times and I should have probably asked for more support in my daily life.
What are you most proud of that you have achieved while studying at Edinburgh College?
While it may be the obvious answer, it would be achieving my HND in Popular Music. With the amount of time it took to get to this point, it felt amazing to finish my HND this year and now it’s something I’ll have for the rest of my life.
It was also such an honour this year to be given the Marston Citizenship Award, as I wasn’t expecting it at all. I’d like to thank my lecturers for putting me forward for the award, and also all my friends on the course. I may be quiet and guilty of not showing much emotion at times, but I’d like all my friends to know that I care about them and that without their support this year, I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the end.
What made you succeed at Edinburgh College?
My dedication to my college work and my time management skills have been the key to my success at Edinburgh College. When I was at high school, I found it extremely difficult to motivate myself for any of my classes so I ended up underachieving massively in my opinion. I still left with an Advanced Higher in Music and two other Highers, but it was very evident throughout my time in high school that I wasn’t doing the work required to consistently succeed.
As for time management, it is even more important now due to looking after my disabled mum and managing my college work. I’ve learned to make the most of my spare time when I have it, as situations such as this force you to adapt and change your ways. I’ve learned that great time management is an invaluable skill to have, and will allow you to succeed whatever you choose to do with your life. If you have trouble buying into the idea of improving your time management, look at it this way: the more efficient you are with your studying and work outside college, the more time you’ll have to go out partying. At the end of the day, we are still college students after all.