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Taith: Supporting students' life-changing international experiences

Helping the College to play its part on the international stage, our partnership with Taith and study abroad opportunities open doors for students, providing funding for learners from RWCMD and across the world to take part in educational international exchanges.

Studying abroad: life-changing experiences

The Welsh Government’s unique Taith scheme enables our music and drama students to take advantage of a wealth of experiences across the globe, tailored to their studies and aspirations. 

This supporting funding for a range range of international activities helps open doors to transformational experiences, setting these students apart in their future careers within the global creative arts industries.

We talked to some of the students who’ve taken part in these life-changing experiences, developing their social, professional and intercultural skills: 

Study mobility: Toronto University

‘Study mobility’ is one of the key aims for Study Abroad - where studies are part of an international learning experience.

The College has a partnership with the University of Toronto and last autumn term three RWCMD music students went to Toronto, supported by Taith.

Director of Music, Tim Rhys-Evans visited there last autumn:

‘It was wonderful to see first hand how closely aligned we are in terms of musical ambition and a student-centred approach to learning. I could really get a sense of the feel of the department, share best practice and enjoy making new connections.

I could see our students in this new environment, witness how they've grown as a result of the experience, and how important it is that Taith enables this horizon-broadening, important work.'
Tim Rhys-EvansDirector of Music

For Vocal student Andrew Woodmass-Calvert the trip allowed him to immerse himself in a different musical scene. Challenging himself, he not only worked with the Vocal Department, but also with Masters students in an opera production with full orchestra, and with a Baroque ensemble as part of an historically-informed opera performance.

‘Toronto university was a lot like RWCMD, a really welcoming, inspiring community,' he said. 'It was a lot of work, but if you want the experience, we’re so lucky to have the link with them. And it was a brilliant opportunity for networking.’

Harpist Yasmin applied because one of her harp heroes, Judy Loman, is Professor of Harp at the University. As one of only two harpists there she got involved with everything, from the University Symphony Orchestra to the contemporary music ensemble, to the opera.

‘I couldn’t have done it without the Taith funding,’ said Yasmin. ‘It’s really broadened my musical knowledge and everyone says I’ve come back such a different person. 

I’m from the Rhondda and it’s really pushed me to become much more independent. It was a jump in the deep end, but I’ve made such great friends and it was great to have such a different experience. – I’m hoping to go back to study for my Masters next year.‘

Broadening and expanding musical horizons - with flexible options

The flexibility of Taith funding means it can cover different projects, such as summer schools, work placements, or two-week intensive learning exchanges.

Woodwind Performance post-grad Ella Pearson (Pea) and Ania Drewniok, on the Composer-Performer pathway specialising in Jazz singing, were supported for a two week trip to the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius. 

They spent the second week at ContemPLAY – a new international creative festival for experimental and improvisational music, with lectures and improvisation groups, jam sessions and concerts in different venues around the city, leading to a performance on the Friday.

‘Going for two weeks gave us time to establish ourselves ready for the intensive course of the second week. It really allowed us to develop our creative work and go deeper into our playing and performance.

As I’m an international student I didn’t want to be out of this country too long, and as a post-graduate a whole term felt like too much time out of my course.

But it was enough time to really experience and learn about their musical culture, and to broaden and expand my musical horizons and colour my palette – feeding into my EP, which is part of my course.'
Ania Drewniok

‘It was a completely different style of music to any I’ve done before,’ said Pea. ‘The concerts were insane, making sounds on instruments I’d never heard. There seemed to be no limits to the music at all. They were really pushing the boundaries – they didn’t seem to have any boundaries.‘

I get anxious travelling and being in unfamiliar places and so it was important to me that I have structure. They looked after us really well - it was really well planned and prepared. I’d definitely do it again – and recommend it to others.’

‘There was an amazing mix of international and local students from Lithuania,' added Ania. ‘I made real connections and friendships and have already invited some of them over to Cardiff!’

Supporting first steps into the profession

Taith enables different types of musical and cultural activity, working with students to create the best and most rewarding experience for them, with a pathway dedicated to supporting work placements.

As part of Christian Hey’s MA Opera Directing Industry Practice module he’s heading to Ireland to work on a placement as Assistant Director at Irish National Opera, touring three different Irish venues for seven weeks this March.

 ‘I love INO’s artistic vision to share opera with as many people as possible, and to really consider what a modern audience want,' said Christian. 'And to work in all these different local venues will be great experience for when I leave.’

Being engulfed in a different culture

Post graduate Vocal student Tara Camm is looking forward to indulging her love of German music, going to the Berlin Opera Academy in August, supported by Taith’s summer school funding strand.

‘This is an opportunity for me to be engulfed in German culture, at one of the best opera schools,’ she said. ‘Taith is helping with living costs and accommodation, which has helped me massively.’

She’s already been cast in ‘Soer Anjelica’ as part of the Berlin Summer Opera Festival, and her month abroad will include masterclasses, singing for agents and one to one training, as well as covering another role.

International students experiencing life at RWCMD

The College continues to support its international colleagues as part of its Study Abroad scheme. Belmont in Nashville is a project in its second year bringing students over to study at the College.

This year nine musicians and two actors have come over for a 16 week period. Their work is tailored to suit their needs, so although they come into the second year undergrad course they’ll go to first or third year classes as well, depending on their requirements.

Pastoral care, such as weekly support, is built into this model, making sure that Global Honours students have international learning as part of their training experience.

All the Belmont students on their first tour of Cardiff with SU President Natalie Roe.

Vocal student Kylie Hansen came over from Belmont to study here last year:

‘I felt very welcomed by my peers and the faculty. Everyone was so supportive and I felt I made huge progress in my artistry and was inspired on the daily not only by my fellow singers, but the instrumentalists as well.

It was a fabulous environment to really hone in on what I’m passionate about. I was able to quickly make friends and feel a real sense of belonging and purpose among such talent and artistry, and for that I am eternally grateful!’

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