We caught up with FdA Musical Theatre student Courtney Munro to learn why she travelled from her home in Ireland to study a degree at Newcastle College University Centre.
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Why did you choose to study at Newcastle College?
My dance teacher previously studied at Newcastle College and told me about the Musical Theatre course. Through his recommendation, I applied straight away and came over from Ireland for an audition. I really loved the routine and style of dance I had to perform which convinced me to choose the College when I was offered the place.
Why did you choose to stay at Newcastle College? (applicable if they’ve previously been a student at the College)
The College has a good reputation, and people back home in Ireland had heard of it as a College that offers degree courses. Musical Theatre is offered as a degree course here, which not many places provide.
Why did you choose the course?
The audition really sold the course to me. I really enjoyed the process and the style of the routines that I had to perform. It showed me what I had to look forward to as part of this course.
What are the facilities like at the College?They’re really great, especially with the amount of studios that are available to use. The Musical Theatre course has three, and Dance has three, which we’re able to use. The size and space of the studios are great too, they all have ballet bars, centre bars and curtains, which are useful when practicing for upcoming performances.
Did you attend an Open Day prior to starting at the College? If so, did you find it useful?
No, I just attended an audition.
What do you enjoy most about your course?
The friendship I have with my course mates, we’re all a tight knit group, we work together every day, so you’re with the same people a lot of the time. We do things as a group a lot, and I really like how close we all are as a class. I also like how intense the course is and how the standard of training we receive from all of our tutors is high.
Do you like the fact assessment is not all based around exams?
Yes, I really like that all the assessment is split up throughout the year. We do a range of written assessments alongside our practical.
What inspires you?
Last year when I was a Level 4 student, the year above me were really inspiring, and I knew if I worked hard enough I could be on their level, so they really inspired me to be better. We have also had guest lecturers come in for workshops, such as performers from the West End and hearing their stories, the shows they have performed in and the advice they gave has inspired me too.
Have you had the opportunity to go on a work placement as part of your degree? What skills do you feel you gained?
Not yet, but I want to stay on this degree and continue on as a Level 6 student, where I will be given the opportunity to go on a work placement. I hope to gain the skills that will support me when I finish my degree and start working in the industry.
Have you worked on any projects/live briefs as part of your course? If so, what skills do you feel you’ve gained?
As part of my degree, we have a work related learning module, in which we become a member of The Company and are allocated roles to support the running of a show. Last year my role was hair and makeup, and this year my role is company director, which has meant I could work closely with my tutor and learn a different side of Musical Theatre. I’ve never directed before, so it’s a good skill to learn.
Has there been any guest lectures from industry? If so, have they been useful?
We have had a lot of industry-experienced guest lecturers come in for workshops throughout the year. We’ve had a range of actors from the West End as well as directors come in. The workshops have been useful, as we use these opportunities to ask the questions that will be helpful for when we go into industry and held mock auditions, which was good to get experience of.
How do you think learning from industry-experienced tutors benefits you?
We all draw inspiration from the tutors, especially as they have experience in the industry. Our tutors know what we need to work on in order to prepare us for our careers, which is beneficial for us as it inspires us all to work harder.
How would you describe the staff at the College?
Really lovely, all the tutors on the Musical Theatre course are great. They all do a brilliant job in teaching and supporting us and we all get along really well. I know if I have any problems or need extra support with my work, that I can easily chat to them about it and get help straight away.
Do you live in student accommodation?
Yes, I live with five other people, one of which is a friend on my course and we all get along really well. Newcastle as a city is really great to live in, a lot of the times we head into town and do things together. There’s a lot more to do in terms of activities than there is in Belfast, so I really enjoy living in the city.
How do you think your degree has prepared you for employment?
This degree course has given me many specialised skills, especially in perfecting my singing and dance techniques, as well as creating new skills from working as a member of The Company, where my role as company director has given me the appropriate leadership skills.
What are your plans after your course?
I want to teach, so will stay at Newcastle College to get my full degree in Musical Theatre as the Level 6 caters more specifically towards teaching, which is exactly what I want to pursue. After I finish my degree, I would love to perform in holiday parks and eventually teach at a BTEC level.
Any words of advice for any student considering studying at Newcastle College?
I would advise students to choose Newcastle College as I had a really amazing time last year and even more so this year. I knew in September I was coming back to all of my friends, which made the experience here better. It’s a really great College, there are so many places to go on campus, such as the HE Hub which we go to every lunch time and Lifestyle for all the facilities available there.
Describe your experience in 3 words.
Intense, life changing and exciting.