By Isabella Gentleman, Visiting Student Blogger
Music majors often find it hard to identify study abroad programs which will help advance their musical studies. As I study Church Music, it was slightly easier than looking for a performance program, but I still needed to find a school with a music program that was comparable to the one at my home college. I decided to come to Dublin because I would be immersed in Western Church music tradition, close enough to the UK to explore and experience more choral and church programs, and could be immersed in Irish culture. I knew Trinity had a music program, but of course it was hard not knowing what modules I would be able to enrol in until arriving at Trinity.
The best advice I could give to visiting students is emailing to set up appointments to meet face to face with faculty and lecturers once you arrive, if there are questions about the course you need answering. Upon arrival, I met with the chair of the music department, to ask what modules would be available for me to take, while also being able to describe, in person, what experience I had previously. This made a world of difference, as he could suggest modules which I would be challenged in, and learn new things. I registered for 3 music modules, all of which completely enhanced my experience as a music major, both in education and connections. I was taught by lecturers at the top of their field in composition and musicology and met peers who will be great connections to have as fellow musicians around the world. I bring home with me a rather polished composition, new knowledge about early opera in France, Italy, and England, and many musical experiences both at Trinity and around Dublin, and beyond.
Outside of classes, I sang in two Trinity choral groups during the term; Trinity Chapel Choir and University Dublin Choral Society. The first met twice a week for rehearsals and sang services on Thursday (Evensong) and Sunday (Mass). Reading new music for each service kept my reading levels up which was the experience I needed and I learned lots of new music I am excited to use with choirs once starting my career. The Choral Society sang the Brahms’ Requiem as their Spring Concert at the National Concert Hall, and rehearsals met weekly. It was wonderful having 3-5 hours of choral singing a week to build a choral community and gain lots of different experience during the semester. For those who enjoy singing these are wonderful opportunities and are not exclusive to music majors at all.
Around the city there are hundreds of musical opportunities. The pubs are filled with live Irish music nightly, which is fun to congregate with locals and tourists and sing along to all the classics. Being in Ireland it is important to learn a bit of Irish music, and these are the most authentic places to go. The churches are filled of course with all different choirs of age and voices, and offer choral services through the week. This allows you to sit in beautiful buildings while listening to beautiful music and lovely organs. Finally, the different concert halls and arenas offer an abundance of concerts each month, in a variety of genres.
There are a variety of musical experiences in Dublin, and I am beyond thankful to have continued my music education for the semester at Trinity. For those music majors looking at experiences for study abroad, know that Trinity offers a great experience in and out of the classroom that will only broaden your horizons.