Meet our students
Scroll down to view a selection of current students and recent graduates of the music school:
Ruby McKinnell – Year 4, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: composition
When I started at Edinburgh Napier University in 2013, I entered the course as a composer. This was the principal study throughout my first and second year, which I attended weekly classes in and learnt vast amounts over the two-year period about compositional techniques, receiving expert advice from my tutors on a one-to-one level.
At the beginning of my third year I decided to drop composition in order to give more focus to other areas of music, such as business, teaching, performance, world music, community music and music therapy. I have thoroughly enjoyed broadening my selection of modules and, as a result, I have not only been provided with opportunities to pick up new instruments (I started playing the bass for a Jazz module and consequently took part in the Jazz Summer School this year), but also realised what route I may like to take as a potential career path.
I am particularly interested in community music, and I hope to focus on this for my Major Music Project this year. I was lucky enough to observe and take part in a few sessions at Drake Music Scotland recently, which confirmed my passion for this type of work. This was an opportunity, along with many others over the last three years, that I would not have been presented with had I not come to study at Napier and met the contacts I have in the music department here.
Annie Booth – Year 4, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: voice
Beginning my studies in 2013, I am now in my final year of the Popular Music course at Edinburgh Napier University. Over the last few years I have met a fantastic array of people and learnt an invaluable amount about my craft and the music industries.
With the support and expertise of my lecturers I have experienced a variety of subjects such as performance, business, teaching, world music, and film/TV music composition, allowing me to explore multiple strands of a musical career. I have also developed as a vocalist, singing in a diverse range of musical styles and strengthening skills in stagecraft and arrangement. I have greatly appreciated the course’s emphasis on practical application and discipline whilst still maintaining a strong academic underpinning.
I have been presented with various opportunities to perform within the university, including playing my original songs as part of Napier’s Degree Show and at the Student & Alumni Achievement Awards. I was also able to form a band with fellow course mates, gigging frequently around Edinburgh and Glasgow; this experience of networking helped me meet new contacts, leading to performances at T in the Park, Belladrum and the BBC’s Quay Sessions with local band Mt. Doubt. In addition I have staged gigs for up-and-coming bands in the city as a founding member of promotions group Electric Red Events. Moving to Edinburgh to study at Napier is a decision I am extremely grateful to have made, with the course increasing my network, heightening my musicianship and displaying exciting opportunities for the future.
Toni Mcvey – Year 2, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: drums
I am an Edinburgh/Glasgow based Drummer/Percussionist studying on the Popular Music course at Edinburgh Napier University. Currently I have just progressed into 2nd year and during my first year I learned so many new skills that expanded my love and knowledge for drums.
I picked up drums when I was 11 and have been largely self-taught until enrolling at Edinburgh Napier. To broaden my musical abilities, I studied Percussion and Piano and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland during my last 2 years of high school. I participated in many orchestras and ensembles throughout my time there. I currently play for a number of artists and bands such as singer/songwriters Robbie Hutton and Ruth Gillies. In addition, I also play for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (Access) who I toured with during the summer playing sold out concerts in Sabhal Mor Ostaig as part of Skye’s Music Festival and at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.
Edinburgh Napier has already taught me so much and helped me to pursue my role as a session musician outside of University. The incredible facilities really make the University experience really enjoyable.
Jamie Woods – Recently graduated, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: bass
I am an Edinburgh based bass player, musician and sound engineer studying Popular Music at Edinburgh Napier University. During my studies I have developed skills on the bass guitar and nurtured my passion for the instrument.
Having always had a love for music, I studied the saxophone and piano while still in primary school. It wasn’t until 2004 that I first picked up a bass and I was soon desperate to learn more. I developed my skills, through the influence of artists such as Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Now studying music at university level, I have developed and adapted those initial skills to suit varying styles, including Motown, Jazz, Pop and rock. These influences can be heard in my playing as I continue to play in different settings and ensembles.
I am currently a member of the band Old Town Rituals and can be seen playing regularly in and around Edinburgh with the outfit. The band recently recorded at Scotland’s Castlesound studios. Having studied Sound Production at HND level, I am also a keen sound engineer, and play an active part in the St Pauls and St Georges tech teams.
On completion of my studies I am looking forward to working in the wider music industry, being involved with new projects, and developing skills as my career unfolds.
Sarah Lucy Penny – Year 4, BMus (Hons)
Principal study: voice
There are so many opportunities at Edinburgh Napier University, both as part of your course and extra-curricular to develop various aspects of your musicianship. From Vocal Class, where you learn alongside fellow singers throughout the Music School, to more independent experiences of creating and working in a student-run ensemble, there is always a chance to grow and establish yourself as a musician. The focus on character work, stage deportment, musicianship and self-assurance has been invaluable. Since studying at Napier I’ve discovered how much I enjoy choral and ensemble performance; from that I’ve been able to perform regularly not only with the Edinburgh Napier Chamber Choir but with a variety of church choirs, the SCO chorus, SVE singers and Vox Coelestis.
Edinburgh Napier also helps to bring out your skills in other instruments or fields of music; I’ve been able to work, and have great fun, as part of a Percussion Ensemble during my time, as well as having the opportunity to work on my conducting with the Chamber Choir during one of their Carol Services.
I’m thrilled that I made the decision to come to such a vibrant University in such a thriving city.
Rebekah Donn – Recently graduated, BMus (Hons)
Principal study: piano
I began my studies at Napier in 2012 as a principal study flautist, and for two years I studied flute with Andrea Kuypers. At the beginning of my third year I made the decision to become a principal study pianist and I now study with Nicholas Ashton.
During the last three years I have taken advantage of the diverse performance opportunities on offer at Napier and in Edinburgh. I contribute regularly to the Napier Lunchtime Concert Series both as a pianist and as part of the Edinburgh Napier Flute Ensemble. I also play in the Edinburgh Napier Recorder Consort and was a member of the University Chamber Choir for my first two years. Since joining Napier I have been encouraged to perform in numerous different capacities in places such as Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Holland, France and Malta!
Studying at Napier has provided me with many opportunities in the area of performance, but my favourite characteristic of the BMus course is that our performance studies are backed up by academic rigour. Although we are encouraged to spend lots of time practising we are also able to use our broader musical knowledge to inform our interpretations of what we play. This year, I am studying (alongside performance) the fascinating subject of Music Analysis and have chosen to take a module in instrumental teaching. Not only are these subjects interesting in themselves but they have enhanced my playing in ways I never would have anticipated.
Simon Toner – Year 4, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: composition
I play bass for a number of bands, the majority of which are made up of students from the BA in Popular Music course. Recently I played a gig under the column in St. Andrew’s Square as part of a Spa in the City Festival with Lunir to people sitting out in the sunshine. I played for Georgia Gordon’s EP launch and recently recorded an AB-side single for Soufon Fang. I began studying Bass under the tutelage of Mario Caribe and Andy for the first year and a half of the course before switching to Composition last semester.
As my portfolio piece and in a partnership with the Westminster Film School, I composed the music for their short film. I aspire to be a part of the creation of music for film whether it be as a copyist, musician, orchestrator, conductor or composer. As part of my study of composition last semester, I composed a piece for string quintet and acoustic guitar called Scordatura which I recorded with Masters student Graham Coe. This was made possible by the fantastic musicians of Edinburgh Napier University, exemplified in the quartet of players I made up from the Edinburgh Napier University Orchestra in which I play Double Bass.
Since composing my first film score I founded Red Hat Music Productions. With various projects I have learned to be a man of many hats. At the moment, I look forward to starting production on an animated film I am creating alongside Duncan Jones called Buzzkill. Over this next year I will come to define the style of composition I hope to be known for.
Laura Cioffi – Recently graduated, BMus (Hons)
Principal study: flute
My experience at Edinburgh Napier University has been very diverse. I have performed with the Edinburgh Napier Chamber Orchestra (both as a flautist and a solist), with the Contemporary Ensemble, the Chamber Choir and the Napier Flute Ensemble, a student-led ensemble. As a founding member and president of the Edinburgh Napier Orchestra Society. I also gained relevant experience in the music administration and promotion field. Thanks to the Student Initiative Grant at Napier, the Napier Flute Ensemble organized a tri-concert festival in Malta that focused on contemporary works by Scottish and Maltese composers.
During my time in Edinburgh I have tried to immerse myself as much as possible in the local music scene. I have performed with Tinderbox Orchestra, Flute Unlimited flute choir, Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and Scottish Opera Connect. After finishing my degree I will be working with Scottish Opera before starting an MMus at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Drama. I also hope to continue working on my duo project with fellow Maltese flautist Clara Galea – Duo Aulos. My studies here have been made possible thanks to the support of the Ian Tomlin Malta Music Scholarship Trust and the Malta Arts Scholarships Scheme.
Anita Okienko – Year 4, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: voice
Studying at Edinburgh Napier University has been a great experience for me. Coming to Scotland from a different country means you have to do your best and look for opportunities. As a vocalist and flautist I had chances to get involved in various music projects including playing with the Tinderbox Orchestra, voice tutoring for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra VIBE Project and also performing with the Edinburgh Napier Chamber Choir. The diversity of the curriculum – voice teaching, arranging, theory, community music, business and many more to come – has broadened my horizons as a musician. I feel I have matured as a vocalist thanks to the support of teachers and the opportunity of singing in different music styles from pop/rock through musical theatre to jazz/fusion.
Good networking between students and staff members has been fruitful for me as I am a voice/music theory/flute and piano teacher for Most Entertaining, an Edinburgh-based music tuition company and a vocalist in Banana Row Studios’ function bands. Another valuable experience was performing in various venues as a singer in a jazz duo. Being part of the music community at Edinburgh Napier is a wonderful experience – coming here was one of the best decisions I ever made!
Ross Campbell – Year 4, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: guitar
In the first two years of my studies I have learnt a vast array of valuable skills as a musician that I know I could not have learnt without the help of the lecturers here at Edinburgh Napier.
I love to perform and will be carrying on with instrument and performance ensemble studies in 3rd and 4th year. Studying my instrument at an academic level has made me push myself to practice music far more than I ever would have had I not come to University. The knowledge and skills I have gained whilst at Napier have opened up many doors for me; I now have a clearer idea of the various ways in which I can potentially make a living from doing what I love.
Since moving to Edinburgh and starting at Edinburgh Napier I have had several opportunities to gig around the city with my course mates. The fact that the rehearsal facilities are open 24/7 gives us the freedom to organise practice and recording sessions at any time of day. The best thing about studying here for me is that we are encouraged to work with each other – everyone has something different to offer and you can learn so much from simply jamming with your peers.
Clara Galea – Recently graduated, BMus (Hons)
Principal study: flute
Coming from a different country to study at Napier University has been an exciting and fulfilling experience for me so far. My three years of study have presented me with countless opportunities to put into practice and expand on what I have learned from the course. The BMus (Hons) course at Napier strikes the perfect balance between the practical and academic aspects of music, with great facilities and resources on campus supporting both in an extremely helpful and supportive environment.
I have been lucky enough to perform with the Edinburgh Napier Chamber Orchestra, Chamber choir, Flute Ensemble (run by us students), Contemporary Ensemble and in various other projects and workshops organised by staff and students alike. I have also had the chance to take part in numerous workshops and masterclasses organised for the wind department. These include sessions with Katherine Bryan, Sarah Newbold, Pete Furniss, Roger Foxwell and some very helpful yoga sessions with our flute teacher Andrea Kuypers! The course has also allowed me to develop aspects essential to a musical career such as instrumental teaching, self-promoting and taking on organizational roles such as being secretary to the Orchestral Society’s student committee.
Michael Ready – Recently graduated, BMus (Hons)
Principal study: flute
For the first term of my third year at Napier, I decided to take a leap and study at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) in Finland. It was my flute teacher, Andrea Kuypers, who first gave me the idea of going away because she thought I would really take advantage of it and enjoy my time there. And she was completely right! It opened my eyes to the possibilities out there because, on our island, we don’t find out a lot that’s happening offshore.
The University is a very practical one and a lot of the courses offered focus on what you’ll be doing in your future. I played in many different ensembles there and took full advantage of the amazing music scene, both in Tampere and Helsinki. And of course, all the new friends I now have will stay with me for a long time yet. Now that I’m back in Scotland, a lot of people have asked me “why Finland?” and the reason for that is that the music department at Napier already has connections with TAMK. Also, Finland is a beautiful country, stuffed to the brim with culture.
Anna Wright – Recently graduated, BMus (Hons)
Principal study: saxophone
As a saxophonist I have been given many opportunities through my studies at Edinburgh Napier to develop (such as through performing solo with orchestra, in theatre productions and gaining experience in smaller ensembles playing new music with the contemporary music ensemble), but I feel that it is equally important that Napier provided me with a broader musical education.
I am currently involved in not only university ensembles on my main instrument, but have also recently discovered a love for singing during my time on the course. I perform regularly with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as a Chorus member, and sing in services with the choir of St Andrews and St Georges West and The Robin Chapel. I hope to pursue a career in saxophone performance and begin postgraduate study after I graduate, though I will not stop singing!
Corin Anderson – Year 3, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: composition
Working under the name CoriAnder, I am an electronic music producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ. Since October 2010, I have written and co-written over 40 songs, produced and remixed other artists’ work and released four amateur albums. I have also been interviewed and had three of my songs played on BBC Introducing.
Having decided in my fourth year at high school that Napier’s Popular Music course was the one for me, in order to secure a place I spent the next three years working towards my audition. This included taking on lead roles in musicals, going back to my old Primary School to write and record music with the P6 class and achieving 98% in my Higher Music (placing me in the top 0.2% in Scotland for that year).
Whilst at high school, I was also keyboardist and arranger in a ceilidh band which represented Scotland in two international music and dance festivals. And the brass band in which I was a percussionist once performed on The One Show!
I am currently a percussionist and keyboardist in the Edinburgh Napier Big Band society and have just written a piece for the band. Since starting university, I have made it my goal to work with as many other musicians as possible.
Rebecca Di Rollo – Recently graduated, BA (Hons) Popular Music
Principal study: drums
Whilst studying at Edinburgh Napier University, I have secured a job as a coordinator with Edinburgh City Council’s Youth Music Initiative project Sounds Like Friday/Saturday. I have also built up a steady number of private drum kit pupils as well as setting up my own community youth music project at Goodtrees Community Centre over the summer with the help of Napier University’s Student Grant Initiative.
These achievements would not have been possible without the help and support of my tutors and peers at Edinburgh Napier University. The course is providing me with a range of skills I may apply to various sectors of the music industry as well as giving me guidance in relation to the kind of jobs and projects I would like to do when I graduate.