Well that was it – the end of another academic year. In 366 days’ time (give or take) I’ll cease to be a student and start being unemployed. Well…hopefully not, but it’s not at all unlikely. Work – any work – is not easy to get hold of by any means. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

The question is should I take whatever work I can get, regardless of the sector or the pay? Should I stick it out stubbornly and wait for that ideal arts job, with those lovely people in that plush, sophisticated office? Devote incredible time and effort to an internship without any guarantee I’ll get a return on my investment? Or perhaps I should just chicken out of the real world altogether and sink back into university. That’s not a bad idea – there is funding out there if I work for it – and a Masters in marketing or management would certainly serve me well when I do find myself in a job.

Suggestions on a postcard and/or in a comment, please!

I hear you, Princeton and co.

Yesterday was a bit of a slog. Here’s a quick breakdown of why:

  • 0900-1030: Revision for Friday’s Arts Administration exam. Some of it was current and exciting; a lot of it was tediously academic.
  • 1100-1205: Music Society committee meeting. Whilst I’m very excited about Estival, our annual four-day musical extravaganza, I’m not so excited about the ins and outs of the Personnel Policy.
  • 1230-1500: More revision. And some Facebook.
  • 1515-1745: Orchestra rehearsal. It felt like we spent two hours on the same dull few bars of Glazunov’s Violin Concerto…not one of my Desert Island Scores at the best of times.
Then, after a quick cheese toastie, I headed off to Stockport for band practice. Expecting to be far too tired for yet more rehearsing. But I was so wrong! Within minutes of playing, I found energy to play out of nowhere.

I owe it all to the sheer euphoria of Sparks, our incredibly exciting new anthem. Building from a simple opening to a rousing finale, this song is the ultimate cure for tiredness!

Have a listen to the first verse – but ignore the intro, as filmed by Zeb…

Manchester-based company PZ Cussons cannot stop giving me free shower gel, it seems. I came out of a Hallé concert a few months ago and was handed a free bottle of Imperial Leather shower gel, produced by Cussons, their new sponsor. I picked up a free copy of the MEN in April and was handed a free bottle of Sanex shower gel. (Guess who makes it…?) And tonight I got another bottle of Imperial Leather. And a bottle of Morning Fresh fabric conditioner. And a Carex soap dispenser. That’s right, the company that rules your bathroom is now ruling my life.

PREAMBLE OVER. The reason I keep being given soap by these people is that PZ Cussons, a Mancunian business through-and-through since its foundation in 1879, is zealously and sincerely keen to be an important part of Manchester’s community and culture. And more specifically, the reason I got a bag full of their products tonight is that I attended a launch event for Manchester International Festival volunteers. The aim of it was to get us all excited about the biennial festival, which takes place from 30th June to 17th July this year. And it worked because I’m now even more excited than I was before! I had a great time – lots of lovely people, lots of lovely food, and lots (and I mean lots) of lovely wine. Plus lots of surprisingly lovely speeches from various important people.

One of these people was Sir Richard Leese, the Leader of Manchester City Council. He said that while a lot of people talk about modern cities becoming more and more similar – the term he used was ‘homogenised’ – if MIF demonstrates anything, it demonstrates that ‘Manchester is different’. I can’t wait to be part of this amazing event – after tonight, summer feels one step closer…

When the rain falls
They talk of Manchester
But when the triumphant rain falls
We think of rainbows
That’s the Mancunian Way

Lemn Sissay

My last essay of the year is done, my last composition of the year is hot on its heels, and my Arts Admin exam – well, let’s brush thoughts of that under the carpet for now. My point, anyway, is that summer is not far away, despite this deceptively dreary Manchester weather.

The Dickensian view from my bedroom window

It’s starting already, in a way. I’d signed up to volunteer at Manchester Jazz Festival this July, but on Thursday, thanks to a series of coincidences (long story) I found myself getting involved earlier than anticipated, helping out at a glamorous event for potential corporate sponsors. It was a good laugh and I learnt a lot about arts organisations and their reliance not only businesses but also on board members. Plus, I’m slightly ashamed to say, it filled me with an enormous sense of self-importance: among those present were an MP, an MEP and John Helliwell, although I wasn’t informed until after I’d finished chatting to him that he was the saxophonist with Supertramp. As Mum pointed out though, it’s probably for the best that I didn’t know who he was.

Enough of that – bring on the summer!

'Find your jazz'

The blog posts are going to have to be a little more sporadic at the moment, folks – that’s because we’re in the middle of May, that time of year when students’ attentions suddenly turn towards their degrees, and away from everything else. Of course, it’s not quite that simple in a music student’s world: for one, last Thursday saw my band Always Awake‘s live debut. It was very successful, very well attended, and very good fun; I can’t wait for more of the same! Oh, plus we launched a stonking new EP.

Meanwhile, we’re edging ever closer to Estival, the Music Society‘s week-long annual music festival. It’s a huge undertaking, especially given how close it is to the climax of the academic year. I’ve got a lot of concert managing to do, but with the combined forces of the outgoing and incoming concert manager teams to work with, we can’t go far wrong. More about this soon, but for now just trust me that it’s going to be great!

In other news, I was looking forward to having my good friend Caroline alongside me during my crazy summer of work experience/volunteering, but she’s gone and got herself a real job, the rotter. While it’s a shame to miss out on her company, I’m really pleased for her, plus really encouraged that it really is possible for someone in my position (which is remarkably similar to Caroline’s this time last year) to go straight into an arts job immediately after the end of uni.

Anyway, back to that degree…

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