In the second instalment of our 'student voices' series, we meet incoming President of the RCM Students’ Union, Laura Williamson, who shares her experiences of studying remotely, recovering from injury and her plans for her tenure. We also bid farewell to outgoing President Joel Wilson, as he recounts some of his memories from the last two years.
Laura Williamson, incoming President
I’m Laura and I’m just coming to the end of my fourth year at the RCM. I am a cellist and this year I did a resit of BMus 3 due to injury.
There were a number of reasons I decided to run for RCM SU President. The first – I wanted to stand up for the students and push for solutions on the things that matter most, so everyone can have the best possible time at College. The second – I hoped to use the platform in order to raise awareness around injury and illness. And the third – to challenge myself with something completely new!
I am really looking forward to taking on this new role and for the experiences that will come with it. At the moment I’m most excited to plan Freshers’ Week, as this (fingers crossed) will be the first big party everyone will have had in a while. I can’t wait to meet all the new students and welcome them to the RCM!
Recovering from injury
Studying through the pandemic has definitely had its challenges, but for me it was a bit of a blessing in disguise. Since March 2019 I have had pain in my left hand whilst playing. I was silly and didn’t do anything about it till October of that year where I was told I had to drastically reduce the amount I was playing to about 10 minutes.
Not being around friends practising for hours at a time allowed me to focus on myself without the underlying peer pressure sometimes felt whilst surrounded by amazing musicians. It was also nice to not feel like I was missing out on orchestral projects, which I would have otherwise had to pull out of or put myself through pain to participate in.
Coming back to College was definitely emotional. It was amazing to see friends again and even better to return to in person teaching for one-to-one lessons. Having to adapt to doing everything online has taught us all a lot. Whilst it has been an extremely hard time for some, I think it is important to reflect on what we have learned from this and remind ourselves that we should be proud to have made it out the other end.
Plans as President
I hope that next year we will continue to progress towards a more normal experience at College and that students will be able to make the most of what's on offer. I will do my best to communicate effectively from staff to student body in order to allow these changes to happen smoothly and ensure everyone is informed of what’s going on in the building.
As President, I hope to end the stigma around injury and illness, and encourage people who feel comfortable to talk openly about their feelings and how they are managing symptoms around their degree. I want every single student to know that I will be there to listen to them in their time of need and will do as much as I can to support them. If I am able to prevent even one person from going through what I went through, I would count that as a massive win.
Joel Wilson, outgoing President
After close to 10 years as part of the RCM community, the prospect of flying the nest certainly comes with a degree of trepidation. I have been extremely lucky to form long lasting friendships, hone my skills as a musician, and (I hope!) become a more thoughtful, conscientious individual, all from within the College’s warm and uplifting environment. I can only hope to move on to pastures as green.
A unique experience
It’s hard to describe exactly what it is like to work for the Students’ Union. Coming straight out the back of a performance degree at the RCM, I threw myself at the role with an abundance of youthful enthusiasm, but nothing could quite prepare me for what I had in store.
Those first few weeks planning, executing (and recovering) from Freshers’ Week were a real baptism of fire, and that was all before term had even officially begun! No two days are ever the same, and however hard you try to meticulously plan your schedule, the day inevitably throws a few curve balls. As with anything, the ups and downs can come quick and fast; thankfully there tended to be more ups!
So, thanks to the two years of my Presidency, I can truly say that I feel prepared for any challenges the world may have to throw at me. I look back to my time with fondness and pride. I thank both amazing teams I’ve had the privilege of leading, all the RCM staff that have always been so helpful and accommodating, and of course the students for being the most wonderful and passionate people one could work for.
Although the future path may not yet be clear, I look to it with a resilience and confidence that I did not realise I was capable of before my tenure, and I can only say; bring it on!
It is bittersweet, as farewells tend to be, to pass on the post of President, however it is made slightly easier to be doing so to Laura. I am really glad to be leaving the SU in her capable hands, and am excited to see what she has in store for the students upon their return in September.