The Lawrence University London Centre boasts many attractive amenities. Its location in an exceptional city—the capital of the United Kingdom—brings opportunities to visit free world-class museums, revered landmarks and other famous sites. Academically, the program has advantages as well: Lawrence’s off-campus program in London functions on the trimester system with Lawrence classes, so students do not have to worry about transferring credits or working on a different schedule. The Lawrence University London Centre is also one of the most affordable study abroad programs, with scholarships and grants available to assist with program costs. However, many students may be unaware of the London Centre’s benefits for music students, which I experienced when I studied abroad there for Spring Term 2018.
The London Centre sometimes offers an upper-level musicology course that counts towards a Bachelor of Music degree. During my time in London, I took “Perspectives on Genius: The Life and Music of Beethoven” with Professor Terence Charlston, who is faculty at the Royal College of Music and an accomplished organist, harpsichordist and clavichordist. This class afforded students the opportunity to see concerts by distinguished artists and ensembles throughout the term for free. For this class, I experienced performances by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, the Czech National Philharmonic at Cadogan Hall, the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall and more.
The London Centre also allows room in the budget for students in music classes to attend a few concerts outside of class requirements. In this realm, I attended concerts by pianist Pina Napolitano at St. John’s Smith Square and the Chineke! Ensemble at Wigmore Hall. Furthermore, many concerts in London are free: with my Beethoven class, I attended two free concerts at St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, and I attended a free concert at the Royal College of Music featuring professors and students there. Many concerts are relatively inexpensive, and one can certainly find big-ticket concerts for a higher cost if that is what they desire. Both in and beyond the classroom, the concert scene in London is rife with opportunities.
The London Centre also offers music lessons for music students. Students can register for lessons and receive a stipend from the program to help pay for them. While many students contract one teacher in London for their entire spring term, others contract many teachers to gain a diverse experience. I studied with two faculty members at the Royal College of Music, Professor Madeleine Mitchell and Professor Mark Messenger; with renowned violinist Rachel Podger, who visited the Royal Academy of Music during my term abroad; and accomplished fiddler and teacher at the London Fiddle School, Pete Cooper. Each of these delightful instructors gave me a new perspective on music and playing, and I learned many different ways of looking at and practicing my music. All of my instructors are accomplished performers as well, and I had the opportunity to see one of them in concert. These experiences in London enriched my studies in music in a variety of positive ways.