Students talk to Zoe Thomas from Sky.

As part of their vocational music course, Year 12 students take a unit called ‘Planning a Career in Music’. This involves them networking and collaborating with music professionals, all with the aim of providing insight into how the industry actually works. This suits the four students to a tee, as all four have aspirations of joining the industry one day. Some want to be involved in music photography, while others are interested in performance and production. This course, then, is perfect.

During January, Head of Music Mr McKeever used his own connections to invite four professionals into school for a series of fascinating sessions.

Adam Dixon – 11 January

The first was sound engineer Adam Dixon, a former school student of Mr McKeever. Professionally, he is best known for his work with rock bands Muse and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. As a freelance sound engineer, he works all over the world! During this hour-long session, Adam introduced himself and his journey, discussing his difficult pathway into the industry and the lessons he learned along the way. Students were given the opportunity to ask some burning questions at the end, too.

Ronan McManus – 15 January

Just four days later, we had a fantastic Zoom call with Elvis Costello’s younger brother, Ronan McManus! He was very gracious with his time, talking for an hour about maintaining a balance in his creative career. This particularly related to juggling what they call “cover gigs” (performing the music of others) versus playing your own original music. This was of particular interest to Year 12 Ellis Madle, who harbours ambitions of live performance!

Jay Mistry – 19 January

Then, we welcomed Jay Mistry, the CEO of JMC Music Services. Jay’s company focuses on business and creative solutions for music within media. This fascinating hour-long session focused on music publishing and production, as well as composer management and music contracts. Jay is actually a former student of the school, as well as the father of one of our Year 11 boys!

Zoe Thomas – 27 January

At the end of journey, we welcomed the Head of Music Licensing at Sky, Zoe Thomas. She came into school to discuss the music licensing industry, which is more complicated than it sounds! Simply, she works on the legality of including music in Sky productions, as well as liaising with copyright owners regarding royalties. She also commissions original composers to make music for adverts. This fascinating in-person session discussed how she got into this career pathway as well as ways that young composers can be recognised. It was a unique talk, discussing an area of the industry that students hadn’t thought about before!

We loved running these sessions, which were immensely useful. If anyone reading this has an interesting story from their career that they’d like to discuss with students – from any department or area – please do get in touch!


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