"There are so many people from many different walks of life, all with different skills and areas of expertise. No one is out of place here."

What made you choose Leeds Conservatoire?

Initially I attended an Open Day as I'd heard lots of good things about Leeds, and especially about Leeds Conservatoire. From the Open Day I knew this was a place I needed to apply for! The equipment, studios, practice rooms and performance spaces were all so professional, and the staff were really kind and welcoming. It was at the audition that I decided I wanted to study here - it was a feeling I suppose! After my interview, I decided that if I got a place then I would go here, and I did!

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

Leeds Conservatoire is so much more relaxed and friendly than I imagined. Generally, conservatoires have been stereotyped as being competitive and stressful, especially among peers on your specific instrument. This is definitely not the case! Leeds Conservatoire is so chilled and has such a positive vibe to it.

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

The more relaxed you are, the faster you can play, and this applies to any instrument.

Is there anything that has really made you push yourself as a musician or performer?

My 1:1 drum lessons have really pushed me as a drummer and performer, keeping me motivated to learn more complex techniques, as well as dealing with more real world situations like prepping for gigs. The 1:1s have been a specific highlight of my time here!

What was the best piece of advice you've had since starting at Leeds Conservatoire?

The only person you are competing with is yourself. Don't stress about what your peers are doing, just focus on bettering yourself on your chosen instrument.

What is your best memory from Leeds Conservatoire?

For me this would be the group study performance in The Wardrobe at the end of my first year. The place was packed with familiar faces, and the atmosphere was electric. There were multiple bands on, which were all amazing, and the night was so fun. Whilst it was assessed, when we were on stage we basically forgot the assessment, and it felt like a proper gig. The feeling of playing live in front of an audience is just incredible!

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

So in first year I chose to live at One Mill Street, which I highly recommend! The rooms are pretty big (I easily fit my drum kit and all my drum gear in it) and the lounge is well furnished, and has a TV, washer/dryer and comfy sofas. In other accommodations you have to pay for washer/dryer services, so I really appreciated having it included. I would highly recommend staying in a Unipol property, as it's a charity so they're not making a profit out of students. For my third year, I moved into their New York Street building, and it has been great. Maintenance has been done swiftly when needed, the location is ideal, and the flat is fully equipped for our needs.

What do you get up to outside of studying?

Outside of studying I was part of lots of different musical projects. I have played in bands ranging from bedroom pop, to rock, to synth, to folk, playing at numerous venues across Leeds. I also have done recording sessions for other bands and solo artists, and have had some stuff released on streaming sites.

The most rewarding extra-curricular activity I got up to was certainly drum tuition. It's so rewarding to see students progression over the course of our lessons together.

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

The best thing about living in Leeds is probably the compactness of the city centre. Everything anyone would need can be found within a ten minute walk, such as restaurants, venues, clubs, public transport, supermarkets etc.

A close second would be the variety of different music venues across the city centre, from jazz at The Domino, to indie rock at Headrow House or Brudenell Social Club.

What advice would you give to a prospective student thinking of applying to your course?

Do it! There's so many people from many different walks of life, all with different skills and areas of expertise. No one is out of place here. What's the worst that's could happen if you apply?

What are your plans for after you've finished your course?

I am planning to continue teaching 1:1 private drum lessons through my drum tuition business, DrummingWithOli, which I set up at the backend of 2020. I will also begin peripatetic drum tuition in schools across North Yorkshire from September.

Aside from instrumental tuition, I will be playing in a few upcoming musicals and shows, with the first one being a show called 'Plague' coming to Leeds Carriageworks Theatre in September.

I am hoping to start regularly gigging from the end of summer too, with restrictions easing, and I will be starting up my own band for my solo music, under OLI.

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

Motivating, inspirational, fun.

Listen to OLI on SoundCloud, or follow DrummingWithOli on Facebook

Read about our BA (Hons) Popular Music programme

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