BA Music with German (2000)
Helen first came to public attention when she appeared on BBC2 in the National Keyboard Finals of the BBC Young Musician competition in 1998. She has since given recitals throughout the UK and all over Europe and is currently Professor of Piano at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
"I actually had a place at Leicester to study French and German but during my year out I was invited to a concert at Royal Holloway by a postgraduate composer. I didn’t know anything about the College then but as soon as I got here I was just struck by the high standards and I thought 'well this is fantastic I want to come here!'. I was keen to study a joint degree as I love languages and at the time I didn’t think I was into academic music. I wanted to develop my language skills and it seemed like a good combination to do Music with German as there is such a strong Germanic tradition in music as well. The advantage of doing a joint degree was that I could pick and choose a little bit; so I was able to create a programme of study that really suited me.
"My time here was very varied. As I had previously studied at a specialist music school with only 30 people in my year initially it was a little overwhelming – even though it’s a small campus – to be around 5,000 people. This made it very exciting too as I met so many people whose specialism wasn’t music and I found it a particularly enjoyable challenge to try and get them to connect with composers and pieces they had never heard before.
"The performance opportunities at Royal Holloway were very important career-wise and I was very grateful to the Music department as they arranged for me to do some external recitals. When I was a student I also began teaching. I saw an advert in the Music Department from a young girl who wanted to learn to play the piano so I applied, was successful and began teaching her and some of her friends. Soon I had built up a piano teaching practice. In terms of transition from student life to professional life I learnt a lot from Royal Holloway.
"It can be difficult (to make it as a musician) but it’s also exciting because you have to come up with your own ideas of how to combine your love of music with a career. My experiences have demonstrated that it doesn’t matter how good you are as a player, if you sit back no one will ever know. Being a musician is really about creating your own path and being innovative and creative. A music career is so varied you can do anything but you have to do it!"