Graduate profiles

Chloe Miller Smith

Project Manager, Digital and Live Events - Royal Opera House

Chloe produces digital content and events for the world renowned Royal Opera House.

Her role sees her creating a diverse portfolio of projects – virtual realities, films, live broadcasts and music festivals. 

Chloe forged her career with Music in the Round as Education Assistant, and says that the university's partnership with Music in the Round played a key role in the development of her career.

Music graduate Chloe Miller

A typical day

There is no typical day really. Some days I'll be editing a film or writing scripts for broadcasts; some days I'll be in production meetings for new content or events, and other days I might be running an event or sitting in our broadcast suite trying to make sure a broadcast goes to plan. One of the most exciting bits of my role is being given a new project and working out how to take it into fruition.

Previous roles

After University, I went straight into a part-time job working in education at Chamber Music Organisation Music in the Round. I did this alongside teaching for Derbyshire Music Services on their Wider Opps programme and ushering at Sheffield Theatres.

I then moved to London to start as the Schools' Liaison Administrator at the Royal Opera House. Since then I've had a number of other roles:

  • Events Officer
  • Assistant Festival Producer
  • Festival Producer
Their time at Sheffield

My time at Sheffield has been key to the path I've taken. Music in the Round's partnership with the Music department meant there was a line of communication to them when the time came to look for jobs, and the job I had with them as Education Assistant was the springboard to getting my first job at the Royal Opera House.

University as a whole was also an incredibly important three years for me. I got involved in as much as I could, made great friends, built confidence, and fell more in love with the performing arts.

Advice

What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing a similar career path?

Be brave. I got my job at Music in the Round by asking them if there was anything available to me. 

Grab opportunities when they come near. I've had some incredible experiences and opportunities to learn new skills, outside of my job description, which have then led to a move into an exciting new position.

Finally, ask questions. If you, or whoever it is leading a project, can't answer why or how something should be happening it maybe means it shouldn't happen. Don't be afraid to challenge those up the ladder. Your views, whilst perhaps not the final decider, are as valid as theirs, and I think productive conversation is so important to making something happen well, and to getting yourself noticed.

What skills do you look for in graduates you recruit?

Someone who can work with all kinds of people. Someone who is creative, who has an eye for the finer details without being restricted by them.

What would you tell someone thinking about studying music at university?

Musicians are a special breed. They are willing to work hard and play hard. I made some lifelong friends at university.

I would advise any student to dive in, push themselves out of their comfort zone, and try new things.

Remember, too, that university isn't just about academic learning but also about growing up. It's the chance to live your life how you want to, which is an amazing privilege. That said, do push yourselves to learn and do well academically - it's a big leap from school where learning is more guided.

Daisy Swift

Head of Learning - Wigmore Hall

At Wigmore Hall, Daisy leads the learning and participation programe, managing a team of six.

The programme has been giving people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities opportunities to take part in music making for over 20 years.

Daisy began her career with Music in the Round thanks to the University's links with the organisation. Daisy says that her time with Music in the Round provided a foundation to her career.

Daisy Swift - music graduate

A typical day

It's a real mix of tasks. I manage events, write fundraising applications and reports, set budgets, and meet with artists, colleagues and stakeholders. I evaluate the programme, and most importantly have the chance to be creative and collaborate with colleagues and musicians.

Previous roles
  • Programme Manager: Schools and Early Years, Wigmore Hall (2013 - 2015)
  • Project Co-ordinator, Music in the Round (2011 - 2013)
  • Concert Administrator, Music in the Round (2007 - 2011)
  • Education Assistant, Music in the Round (part time, 2007)
  • Outreach Assistant (voluntary, 2006)
  • University Representative (voluntary, 2006)
Their time at Sheffield

It enabled me to forge links with Music in the Round, who were the foundation of my career – I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for that.

Advice

What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing a similar career path?

Explore every opportunity, take part, put yourself forward.

The skills and experience that are useful in my role are strategic thinking, problem solving, writing, budgeting and organisational skills. But above all else collaboration, creativity and an openness to try something new.

What skills do you look for in graduates you recruit?

Someone personable who will be a good addition to the team, with excellent attention to detail, excellent budgeting skills, excellent writing skills, a passion for music and the arts, and an interest in music education and/or community arts practice.

What would you tell someone thinking about studying music at university?

I would never regret studying Music, I did it because I enjoy it more than anything else, and now I'm in a job that I absolutely love.

To make the most of studying Music I would say take part and grab every opportunity that comes your way.

James Bingham

Choral Delivery Artist - Opera North

James works as a conductor for Opera North's education department, conducting various choirs in the north – from Newcastle to Leeds.

His role involves visiting primary schools and choirs. In an average week he conducts around 1000 young people.

Whilst studying at Sheffield, James was involved in conducting orchestras and chamber choir. He says that these opportunities were instrumental in starting his conducting career.

Music graduate James Bingham

A typical week

In a typical week, I spend three days visiting primary schools involved in Opera North's InHarmony project. Throughout the day I run group singing sessions with the majority of the children at the school.

On my other two days I lead rehearsal with Opera North's childrens' choirs in both Newcastle and Leeds.

Previous roles
  • Education Project Coordinator, Glyndebourne
  • Team Captain, Only Boys Aloud
  • Assistant Conductor, National Children's Choir of Great Britain
Their time at Sheffield

The degree of flexibility and variety in the course was invaluable. I personally find musicians who have a greater sense of the art form beyond their own practice much more interesting to work with.

The opportunities to conduct the orchestra and chamber choir also gave me a start in my conducting career.

I would not be doing what I do now without the support network and quality teaching at The University of Sheffield.

Advice

What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing a similar career path?

I have been asked frequently by teenagers loooking to study music as to whether they should attend a conservatoire or university. From my own experience I found the diversity of a university course a real benefit in my work professionally.

What skills do you look for in graduates you recruit?

Although I don't have any personal responsibility for recruiting at Opera North, I think an enthusiasm for music is key.

I love working with musicians who are constantly striving to learn new things about music through their practice. The invidividual sense of responsibility students have for their work absolutely helps foster this process.

What would you tell someone thinking about studying music at university?

Soak up as much as you can. Get involved with as many ensembles and set up your own if you need to.

Talk to as many people in the department as you can, undergraduates, postgraduates and teaching staff.

Make use of one-on-one session with your tutors.

Is there anything else you could like to share with prospective students?

Alongside my degree I sang as a choral scholar at the Cathedral. This was equally as invaluable as my time University as it allowed me to really push the practical application side of my learning.

Polly Ives 

Self-employed Musician/animateur based in Sheffield

Polly runs her own concert series for babies, toddlers and their grown-ups in the region called Concerteenies - it now has 5 regular venues as well as pop-up concerts with arts and culture partner organisations and upcoming festival appearances.

She is also a freelance concert presenter, children's workshop leader and trainer with various organisations regularly Music in the Round (Sheffield), London Philharmonic Orchestra (Southbank Centre), The Big Malarkey (Hull). She specialises in music for 0-8 year olds (often specifically designed to develop speech and language), children with special needs and their parents, teachers and early years’ practitioners.

As a freelance cellist she performs regularly with Simply Strings Trio, Escafeld String Quartet and various orchestras, bands and artists including TV appearances of BBC's 'Billionaire Boy' alongside Bryn Terfel, alongside Vanessa Mae in the film Fantasy Violin and ITV's Stars in their Eyes!

Polly

A typical week

Every day is different. One day Polly may be presenting a concert to 2,000 children, another day she may be a guest lecturer or be at home designing a new workshop for babies or children with special needs.

Previous roles

Polly has continued to build up her career within several different roles (workshop leader, project manager, presenter, conductor, teacher, voice-over artist) with lots of different organisations including:-

  • the Royal Opera House
  • CBeebies
  • National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain
  • Beatrix Potter Attraction
  • European Brandenburg Ensemble.
Their time at Sheffield

Polly enjoyed many wonderful performance opportunities including solo, orchestras, chamber choirs, ensembles, playing for musicals etc.

She also took the Music, Arts and Administration module with the wonderful David Patmore, which included a guest lecture by Tracey Shibli, the administrator for Music in the Round at the time. She began volunteering with them and her career began to form. Polly says she has lots of wonderful contacts from Sheffield University and has continued to be involved with events there in the last 17 years!

Advice

Polly's advice for someone thinking of pursuing a similar career path?

It is a wonderfully exciting and eclectic career - it is very hard-work and you have to really enjoy it to keep motivated by some of the challenges. I suggest making the most of as many opportunities as you can or go out and find them. Be positive, punctual, reliable, enthusiastic.

Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective students?

I was on the Sheffield University Music festival committee and social societies - when I was there, there were only 30 students per year and we were up at Taptonville House/ Pisgah House so everyone knew everyone and it was a really close-knit community. I also played in the university netball team (including touring to the Isle of Man and Barbados!). I also took French and Spanish modules at the Modern Languages Teaching Centre (including a 3-week exchange with the University of Oviedo).

I am so grateful to the University of Sheffield for so many opportunities they gave me for preparing myself for life after University!!