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Student story

Sarah Pownall

20 July 2023

"I feel that I am going to graduate with a well-rounded knowledge of music..."


Bachelor of Music in Performance

Sarah’s passion for singing lead her to move across the world to formally study Performance. Originally working as an accounting technician in the UK, Sarah was inspired by a friend living in New Zealand and recommending UC’s School of Music programme, motivating her towards a career and lifestyle change.

"I have never looked back," she says. "I love the fact that I get to sing every day and am learning some amazing repertoire whilst working with some fantastic tutors, both in-house and visitors. In addition to performance I have learned about theory and musicianship, music technology, teaching methods and the history of music.

"I feel that I am going to graduate with a well-rounded knowledge of music and am really going to miss the department when I finish here."

Having been singing on and off since high school, Sarah was at first worried at taking on university Music studies, but quickly found the community at UC to be welcoming.

"I thought my lack of knowledge in music theory would let me down but the lecturers are so supportive and thorough that I didn’t have a problem with it. The Music department is small and friendly so everyone knows each other and I have made some great friends. It has also been great to be able to study at the newly opened City Campus too.

"When I first started at UC I took a couple of courses run by the Academic Skills Centre as it had been a while since I had written an essay, let alone an academic one. They were very useful and I thoroughly recommend them."

The support has been reflected in two scholarship awards in her first and second year, with the Leigh and Judith Pownall Prize in Music (no relation) for her music history courses.

Much of Sarah’s studies focuses on voice, including choir and solo singing, and courses in musical culture and analysis.

"Most of my time is spent working on vocal technique, practicing my repertoire, learning words, translating my foreign songs and working on interpreting them. I also perform regularly in concerts at the new City Campus. In addition to this, I am a member of Consortia, the university’s auditioned choir, which I am taking as a paper."

As part of her final year, Sarah is also taking an internship course with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, involving assisting with the Secondary Schools Orchestra Festival for September 2017.

"Glenda Keam is a fantastic Head of Department and goes out of her way to make sure we have some great opportunities, as do all the staff in the department. It is a great experience and I think it will be a great asset in helping find a job in my chosen field."

Sarah’s time with UC has certainly inspired her to stay in New Zealand, and become a part of its vibrant music community.

"UC is a great place for students; young and mature, local and international. I have been made very welcome and have really enjoyed my time here," she says. "I want to remain in New Zealand after my degree and am hoping to work in arts management with some performing and singing teaching on the side."

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