The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) has pledged to increase its support for students through directing its 2018/19 Annual Appeal to supporting their health and wellbeing.
According to the Manchester conservatoire, recent changes within the music industry have resulted in young musicians facing ‘a fast-paced, challenging environment’, with the number of students reporting mental health problems across Higher Education rising sharply. Many students are living on their own for the first time, often facing acute financial challenges as well as the pressures of concerts and recitals and long hours of practice.
Launched on 26 November 2018, the RNCM’s Annual Appeal will greatly expand the conservatoire’s support for students in three ways:
- helping more students who are currently struggling, by providing extra frontline counselling sessions in evenings and at peak times when performance pressures are at their greatest
- identifying and preventing issues, by training all staff in mental health and expanding its team of mental health first aiders, making it easier to spot students who may be at risk as early as possible
- promoting wellbeing activities, for example by putting on more yoga sessions to help prevent injury, and by extending community outreach, so that more students experience the benefits of working with people in need
Such a difficult career can come at a physical and psychological price
Kathy Hart, RNCM Students’ Union President, said:
‘Every year, we welcome around 850 gifted students from over 60 countries. I know from my many conversations across campus that these individuals all share two things – a passion for music and a dream to become the best musicians they can be. I also know they wouldn’t be here without often more than a decade of dedication, sacrifice and hard work.
‘When I talk to friends, I see that the work needed to build such a difficult career can come at a price, both physically and psychologically. Like athletes, we must keep in peak condition to make the most of the opportunities we have fought so hard for. The more work we put in, the higher the stakes become – and the more devastating the impact if we are held back by injury or mental health struggles.’
The RNCM recognises the importance of health and wellbeing and already provides a wide range of care services and health activities for students. It has also taken a significant step forward by becoming the first conservatoire to appoint a specialist Lecturer in Musicians’ Health and Wellbeing.
‘We want students to learn how to live fulfilling lives as musicians and as human beings’
Sara Ascenso, a chartered clinical psychologist and trained pianist, who starts work at the RNCM in January 2019, will continue to develop the health and wellbeing provision across the College. She says:
‘Adding to lecturing and research, the vision for the role also includes carefully monitoring the specific wellbeing needs of RNCM students and staff and looking at how the most recent findings in this area can shape our planning towards optimal delivery across a wide range of initiatives.
‘We want our students to learn how to make music with excellence but also how to live fulfilling lives as musicians and as human beings more generally. This means that what they are learning is not only about doing but also about being. We want to maximise our efforts to make sure they experience what being well as a musician means during their time at the RNCM.’
To find out more about the Royal Northern College of Music’s 2018/19 Appeal, visit the RNCM website.