Freelance Violinist and Teacher | Pupil Support Assistant BMus (Hons) Music Graduate
Instagram: @andreajardine_ and @andreajardineviolin
Hi! My name is Andie (she/her), I’m 22 years old and a Music BMus (Hons) 2020 graduate from Edinburgh Napier University, with violin being my principal study. I am currently working as a pupil support assistant at a primary school in Edinburgh in addition to doing freelance music projects and violin teaching online.
I have always been a very imaginative and creative person for as long as I can remember; I began learning the violin when I was eight years old, and I was incredibly fortunate to receive free violin and music theory tuition from primary five until the end of high school. These took place every Saturday morning at a high school in Dumfries where I’m from and at the end of each term, we would put on a concert with the other students who played string instruments in Dumfries and Galloway – it was a great way to make new friends and create music together! I also attended residential courses where I met other people in Scotland who also played these – I’m still in touch with some of the friends I’ve made through these and some are also still pursuing music which is lovely!
Growing up, I often gave up hobbies very quickly, and violin was one that I started to take seriously in my first year of high school when I had a fantastic teacher! It wasn’t until receiving my exam results for my Higher’s that I decided to apply to study music at University.
I attended Edinburgh Napier University which was my first choice as the course was equally split between performance and academia, meaning that in my first two years I could try a bit of everything – which was really beneficial as I had no idea what career I wanted to do after graduating! I was actively involved in Napier’s Orchestra Society, being secretary in third year and president in my final year – where I successfully organised and managed a concert with the rest of the committee in November 2019!
In my third year, I undertook a module in music therapy which I found so fascinating and I am aspiring to do a master’s in this and become a qualified music therapist working with children in an educational setting. What really drew me to pursuing further study in this field is the mix of playing various instruments and the research aspect (I really love writing and researching!). I am also very interested in the relationship between music and mental health, and my dissertation was focused on exploring the impact of community choirs on mental health and wellbeing where I set up my own choir that ran for 2 months.
I achieved a 2:1 overall and honestly it was not easy to finish my degree from home – but I did it!! It was really heartbreaking to not have a proper graduation ceremony due to coronavirus but I know when I eventually do a master’s I’ll get my ceremony then. I always tell myself now that if I managed to get a really strong classification during a global pandemic then I can do anything! I am currently teaching violin online and I also did my first online performance (pre-recorded) in November which was my first paid gig since March 2020 and I have some music projects in the works which is really exciting!
I started working as a pupil support assistant in December, after applying for over 60 jobs between June and October. I chose to take a few years out before applying for a master’s in order to gain more experience working with children and to gain new skills and life experience (as cheesy as that sounds!). I’m able to transfer the skills that I have gained from teaching violin and music theory into a more general setting and I am always learning new skills and approaches to providing support every day.
What is a piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to get into music?
Definitely learn to give and take constructive criticism! Music is very competitive and it is so easy to get disappointed if you have an unsuccessful audition/performance you think could have gone a lot better. Being open to constructive feedback is so essential as it helps us identify our strengths that we can develop further and also any weaknesses to focus on improving. Having the confidence to also give feedback is vital as we are helping fellow musicians to improve their playing further. Being kind and supportive is also another piece of advice I would give- we’re all in the same field and it’s so important to have a supportive community and network.
I strongly advise joining a lot of Facebook groups for musicians in Scotland/U.K. I’ve lost count of the number of music Facebook groups I’ve joined, but I’ve managed to get a lot of performance opportunities from these!
Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to unpaid performance/teaching opportunities – it’s our profession and, for a lot of us, our main source of income! We wouldn’t hire someone to do maintenance work in our home for free, so why should we play at somebody’s wedding in exchange for exposure?
Another piece of advice is to get your name out there and create a strong online presence! I created my website in September and Facebook page in October to advertise teaching and performing, which seems very optimistic but I’ve been really fortunate to gain new students and get asked to collaborate on projects as a result of these! Be open to new and various music opportunities, and make connections on social media with other creatives in addition to musicians such as filmmakers, dancers, actors, writers etc. to really broaden your horizons for opportunities and to get your name out there.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
The future is very unclear right now for recent and future graduates due to the pandemic. That being said, I am feeling fairly optimistic that things will slowly return to a somewhat ‘new normal’. In ten years’ time, I see myself as a qualified music therapist working with primary school children, and I’d love to have done some work in an orchestra such as the management side in addition to playing!
If you were an interviewer, what do you think you’d want to hear from someone applying for your role?
That’s such a hard one! If I were an interviewer, in terms of performing and teaching, I would be very interested to hear about their experiences in these fields, and what they gained from it. I would also want to hear about any struggles that they have perhaps faced in music and how they managed to overcome these in addition to hearing their skills and qualities outside of their field as well to really get to know them as a person.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your education/career, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge that I have faced during University has definitely been my mental health and managing it. I was diagnosed with anxiety as a teenager, and music has helped me to manage symptoms of this, but it has also had a negative impact. In my second year of my degree, I really lacked self-confidence and developed performance anxiety; I was constantly comparing myself to others and would be so hard on myself if I didn’t play perfectly, even when I was practicing. I actually failed a performance exam which triggered a breakdown and resulted in me getting signed off from doing work for a little while. This taught me to put myself first, especially my mental health, and I managed to overcome this by being a lot more open with my anxiety and low mood with my lecturers, friends and family, and through cognitive behavioural therapy sessions (I have lovingly and jokingly been told that I am “annoyingly open” about my mental health by my closest friends!)
I was incredibly fortunate with the high level of support from my lecturers by having regular meetings with my personal development tutors and getting extensions for assignments if I needed them. I also took part in various orchestra concerts and playing in show bands for musical theatre productions in order to build up my confidence in performing as these were for my own enjoyment and not just working towards exams – this really built my confidence up and reignited my love for music again. It is hard to not compare yourself to others overnight – this is still a work in progress for me! I follow a lot of violin practice accounts on Instagram along with sharing my own snippets of pieces and some practice videos on my music Instagram (@andreajardineviolin) to document “the good, bad and ugly aspects” of my practice in order to help me with my own perfectionism and also to hopefully help at least one other person who also struggles with this!
What would you sing at Karaoke night?
My go-to karaoke songs are definitely 90s/early 2000s pop songs – especially Britney Spears! Also some of the older songs by Taylor Swift – I have always been a huge Swiftie! When I was in primary four, my friends and I wanted to become a girl band (which was a big reason why I started learning the violin) and we made up a dance routine to the chorus of “Oops! I did it again” which we performed at golden time! I have been known to go for “Hit Me Baby One More Time” on karaoke nights, right now I’ve just been belting out Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Shakira and so many others in preparation for the big karaoke night post COVID-19.