Amy Illingworth

Note: Amy completed our BA (Hons) in Music (Songwriting) in 2020.

"I have been pleasantly surprised by the huge community feel of being a part of is very easy to feel at home here"

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Amy Illingworth - BA (Hons) Music (Songwriting)

Meet Amy Illingworth, one half of the singer-songwriter duo, Sunflower Thieves. Amy is currently a second year student on our BA (Hons) Music (Songwriting) degree.

What made you choose Leeds College of Music?

I'd visited Leeds several times in my gap year before I applied to uni as a few members of my band attend LCoM, and I have friends at some of the other Leeds universities and colleges. Leeds is a vibrant, growing, fantastic place and the staff and students at Leeds College of Music made me feel welcome from the start. The Songwriting course is unique to other courses I looked at, at other institutions, and very much suits me as a creative looking to learn more specifically about writing than about performing.

Has anything been totally different to what you expected when you started at LCoM?

I have been pleasantly surprised by the huge community feel of being a part of LCoM. I always expected LCoM to be a safe, positive environment to be in, but this has surpassed my expectations, and it is very easy to feel at home here, with the support systems, the students and staff, and individually. There is a huge support network of collaborations, attending gigs and promoting each other, in an environment full of creatives, which could alternatively be very competitive and intimidating.

What is the most mind blowing thing you've learned so far at LCoM?

I have learned so much about the vast variety of opportunities and pathways I can take working in this industry. You are often told that working in music and creative industries, you will never be successful or earn a steady income. However, an overwhelming amount of options are out there, from commercial songwriting, to events management, to music therapy, and you don't have to just do one. LCoM has shone a positive light on hidden opportunities, and I am now excited to see the projects and areas I will work in in the future.

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What do you get up to outside of LCoM?

I spend a lot of my time focused on my band, Sunflower Thieves. I promote our music and gigs, write new material, update our social media channels, apply for festivals, book gigs and build positive working relationships with other musicians, promoters, venues and creatives. I also book solo paid function gigs, and promote myself separately for those to earn money. Going to gigs, socialising with friends and discovering new independent coffee shops, art and lifestyle shops take up most of the rest of my time!

Is there anything that has really made you push yourself as a musician or anything new that you've not tried before?

Performance and composition-wise the band module of Pop/Songwriting in first semester can be a real test, working with several musicians you may not obviously share many common interests with. This taught me how to work better with new people, in unfamiliar genres, and manage the intensity of producing new material very regularly. I think this also helped me understand how to be selective about the type of work I am good at, and want to do in the future. Used to being a singer-songwriter/performer at the front of a band, I took the role of playing keyboard in the rhythm section of my band, which was unfamiliar to me, and something I hadn't imagined myself having to do before.

What projects / performances have you worked on so far in your first year?

I have enjoyed building up my portfolio throughout the year for my end of year deadline, alongside my peers and tutor. Having never worked on a project like this before, I was able to experiment with recording the writing I did throughout the year, and for the first time, see what a complete body of my work sounds like, and receive feedback during and after this process. I am looking forward to creating an improved collection of music in a year's time. I have also had my first experiences of commercial songwriting to a brief, which is a really useful and exciting skill to be improving over the next two years.

What sort of accommodation are you living in? What advice would you give to new students about accommodation?

I lived in student halls for first year, and have moved into a rented house for second year. Get to know your flatmates in first year, and do your best to co-exist peacefully - you have to share your accommodation all year! Take your time making the decision about who to live with in second year, you don't want to decide too early and end up regretting your decision by the end of first year, before even having moved in! Also be sure to get advice from college, peers, or from trusted housing organisations such as Unipol, before signing for a house/flat.

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What is the best thing about living and studying in Leeds?

I love the potential Leeds has for independent musicians and creatives. There are many opportunities to collaborate with and get involved with other peoples' projects and ideas and to offer this to others too. There are tons of venues and cool performance spaces. This also means you are never short of something to do, with all the events going on, and cool new places to discover, as well as old favourites.

What advice would you give to a new student about to start at LCoM in September?

Be friendly and welcoming to everyone you meet, and be as sociable as possible. Join in, get out of your comfort zone and you'll surprise yourself! Try not to compare yourself to others around you - what you do is unique to you, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Be inspired by others, not disheartened, as this will help you improve and grow as a musician and open up new opportunities.

How would you describe your experience at LCoM so far in three words?

Motivating, Fun, Sociable


Study Songwriting at Leeds College of Music

Find out more about the Sunflower Thieves: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook 

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