Graeme Matthews: From Short Course to Production Degree

By Kath Hartley


Meet Graeme Matthews, a man whose life completely changed after enrolling on a Short Course at Leeds College of Music…

Graeme Matthews

Graeme began his LCoM journey with a short course in Songwriting last summer, swiftly followed with Introduction to, and Continuing to Learn Logic Pro X courses, Introduction to Audio Recording and the Jazz Improvisation Weekend.  Having reignited a passion for learning music, Graeme has now decided to undertake the Foundation Degree in Music Production, completely changing his career path.

We talked to Graeme to find out more about his extraordinary story...

What first made you want to study a short course at Leeds College of Music?

It all started when my partner said, “What would you do if we won the lottery?” I said that I’d want to do something like a Music Production degree, or study music in some way, shape or form. Then my partner said “Well why don’t you do that anyway?!”

I started to look into courses and some of my friends recommended Leeds College of Music. The first short course I took was Songwriting with Danny Cope and Ric Neale last July, and within 10 minutes those guys had me hooked. They were so full of energy and encouragement. They could communicate on anybody’s level and enthuse you about writing songs.

It didn’t matter if you weren’t fantastic at music theory, which I’m not, I’m rubbish. I believe that I have a creative streak that was really brought out on every level in the course – I just developed that creativity.

So aside from a creative streak, what was your musical background like before you came to the first course here?

I started playing the guitar when I was 15 and just did it because I enjoyed it. I had never thought of music seriously as a career at that time and ended up taking a different route into business, developing a career path related to that.

I still played music but I just found that time became less and less available to do it. That’s when I got that nagging feeling - that I wasn’t doing what I wanted and was getting more and more frustrated. So when my partner asked what I’d do if we won the lottery, that’s what kicked this whole thing off.

When I found out about the Music Production Foundation Degree last year, I made the decision that I was going tell work that next September I was going to take the course. So when I say coming to Leeds College of Music has been life changing, I’m not talking a small amount of life change! It’s going to be a complete, absolute life change and I just can’t wait.

So your first foray into Production was the Introduction to Logic course - were you completely new to it at that time?

I wasn’t completely new to it. I thought I had a handle on it until probably the second or third week when the tutor, John Cockram, started introducing how to mix down and I was thinking “Ah...I thought I was mixing down” but it turns out it was completely different!

Working with Alex Halliday was brilliant. I thought I was good but I obviously wasn’t and it was broken to me very subtly. The learning was all put across simply, and it was easy to understand. You could see everything Alex was doing and he always used good examples to back up what he was doing.

By the end of the course, how much had your skills, confidence and experience progressed?

Oh very much so. I knew by the end of the Introduction course how to use the synthesisers that were embedded in Logic and I had the confidence to program sequences, for example.  I have learnt and put into practice lots of skills from both the Production and Songwriting courses in the songs that I’ve been writing.

So next you plan to do the Foundation Production Degree - what do you plan to do after that?

My plan is to do the two year Foundation Degree and then go on to do the third year for the full Undergraduate. I also hope to do the MA. I don’t aim to be famous, I just aim to be the best that I can be.

I plan to concentrate on doing it well and getting it right, getting the best sound that I possibly can out of what I’m doing. I’m really inspired by producers like George Martin, and if I can get to even a fraction of that, that would be amazing. 

What would you think is the most important thing you’ve learned on the short courses you’ve taken?

Don’t take yourself too seriously and basically just get over yourself. If you put everything in place, then what you need to happen will come even if it doesn’t feel apparent at the time. You will get there and the resources are here to make that happen.

What has been the most inspiring aspect of the courses?

I think the thing that I found the most inspiring were the little chats I had with Danny (Cope). I’d write a song during the week and he would critique what I was doing. I think I’m pretty self critical, and Danny had told me that actually the song that I’d written was really good and helped me develop it. After that week, I wrote what was probably one of the best songs I’ve ever written. That was probably one of the best most inspiring things.

What are you looking forward to most about next year?

I’m looking forward to collaborating with people and learning how to produce a good sound. My mission will be getting the best possible sound out of those instruments, that sounds natural and realistic. If I can get that sound with all the integrity I possibly can, it’s going to blow people away and that’s what I want to do.

If you had any advice to give someone who is thinking about taking a Short Course but didn’t know if they had the skills to do it, what would you say?

Don’t hesitate, just pay your enrolment fee and get on the course - it’s really good value for money! You will find it’s a safe nurturing environment. There’s no threat, nobody trying to trip you up, they just want to help you be the best you can and be as creative as you can be.

Find out more about Short Courses at Leeds College of Music.

Find out more about our Foundation Degree in Music Production

By Kath Hartley

Perfect opportunity from the @ASurteesTrust for students and @LCoMAlumni whose work is rooted in, or influenced by,…
UoH-Logo.png (2) tef small.png QAA logo Conservatoires UK logo Partner_1.png AEC logo Roland logo prs-keychange-logo_red-blue_pantone-c (fine to use).png Luminate_Education_Group_Logo (small).png