Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Oliver Searle

BEd (Mus), 1999
From Aberdeen to Royal Conservatoire of Scotland


Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
Aberdeen had a great reputation as a place to be a student.

Why did you choose your particular course?
The diverse range of musical activities really attracted me to the course, and I had received a lot of good feedback from individuals who had studied on the course previously.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
I joined most of the music ensembles on offer at the time, which included Gamelan, Big Band, Contemporary Music Ensemble, Choir, Salsa Band, Steel Pans, Soca Band and Orchestra; I also joined (and helped form) Soul bands, which offered fantastic opportunities to perform around the city and elsewhere over the years.

If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
The swimming club was hugely beneficial to my physical and mental health, and a great distraction when I needed a break from music.

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
Meet as many people as you can, and don't be afraid to throw yourself into a range of activities (musical and otherwise!).

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Lecturer in Music

What did your first role involve?
My first proper role was a part-time lecturer post at Aberdeen College (now the North East Scotland College); I delivered a number of classes in musicianship, music theory and performance, as well as teaching piano.

Who was your first employer?
North East Scotland College

What is your current job title?
Head of Composition

Who is your current employer?
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

What is your current role?
Running the Composition Department

What is your current location?

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
I spent a couple of years working at the College, playing in various gigs as a freelance musician, and working at Bruce Millar's Music Shop (now unfortunately gone!), before completing a LLCM diploma in Piano Performance (which was supported by lessons, with a scholarship, at the North East of Scotland Music School). I then applied to various institutions, and ended up moving to Glasgow for a Masters degree in Composition at what was the RSAMD; this then allowed me to continue onto a PhD. Following this, I worked as a classroom music teacher (in schools in Glasgow) and freelance composer, before starting a post as a lecturer in what is now the RCS.

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
The transferrable skills I gained as an educator have been invaluable, and the advice and feedback I received from the staff during my degree have undoubtedly helped with my career path since.

One Top Tip

Please share your one top tip that you think is most important for our current students or recent graduates that will help them when starting out on their career paths.
Be flexible, be curious, and be open to working in a variety of ways.