Ben Curry attended the School of Music as an undergraduate between 1993 and 1996 before embarking on a successful teaching career. He was drawn back to Cardiff a decade later to begin a PhD on music and meaning…
My first impression of Cardiff was formed at an undergraduate open day. I remember walking into the Concert Hall and seeing a student practicing Shostakovich’s first violin concerto for a concert later that year. The whole School of Music had a vibrant atmosphere that really appealed to me, and I liked the feel of the bespoke music building with its own library just next door.
As an undergraduate, I specialised in composition and had three of my pieces performed. However, as much as I enjoyed composing, I also developed a real love for writing and thinking about music.
I left Cardiff in 1996 and, following the completion of my PGCE, taught music at The Blue School in Wells for five years, which included three and a half years as Head of Music. Cardiff prepared me well for this role. I found the A-Level curriculum particularly rewarding to teach and was able to draw on the broad range of courses I had taken at Cardiff.
I returned in 2006 to begin a part-time PhD. Cardiff was the obvious choice as I’d had such a great experience there and, as an undergraduate, had had a good working relationship with Dr Kenneth Gloag who always encouraged me to study further and now agreed to supervise my research.
In 2002-03 I completed an MA in Film Composition at Bristol University and took on some work as a freelance multimedia composer. I also began to develop my teaching profile by working with both further education and higher education students, first at Bridgwater College and later at Weston College.
I’ve always enjoyed research and had been fired up to study at a higher level since my undergraduate days. I found myself starting to miss academic life so I returned to Cardiff in 2006 to begin a part-time PhD. Cardiff was the obvious choice as I’d had such a great experience there and, as an undergraduate, had had a good working relationship with Dr Kenneth Gloag who always encouraged me to study further and now agreed to supervise my research.
My PhD explored the semiotics of music, an interest of mine that was sparked during my second year as an undergraduate. I benefited from a fees studentship and from departmental financial support for research activities. This allowed me to do eight conference papers which, in turn, lead to four publications.
The teaching opportunities provided during my PhD will, I am sure, stand me in good stead for my appointment as Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University. I’ll be teaching popular music and music production there from January 2012.
The School provides a great research environment; it is friendly and well run. It’s got a fantastic library and the staff have strong academic credentials and a passion for their subjects. The undergraduate teaching has always been particularly well organised. It still serves as a reference point for me in my own teaching. I often find myself thinking: ‘how did they manage to teach that so effectively at Cardiff?’