Raphael Clarkson
Freelance musician and educator

  • BA in Music (2008)

How did you find your way into your current position?

Upon leaving York I embarked on an MPhil in music at Oxford University, from which I graduated in 2010. During these years I began to teach trombone privately and in schools (in Oxford and London), as well as establish a portfolio performing career spanning jazz, pop/soul, salsa, contemporary classical and early music. After I left Oxford I moved back to London and continued to develop this career. Key performing and education work revolved around and came about because of connections I had made at York and Oxford; I have played with WorldService Project since leaving York (a band established by fellow alumnus Dave Morecroft ), and I co-founded the Be Creative Music Workshops in schools with fellow York student Phil Merriman. This network, first established at York, has now grown for me in London and I still perform and work alongside many York alumni. The one key development for me has been a move towards creative workshop leading as my main educational focus (as opposed to instrumental teaching).

What are your strongest memories of your time at York?

The unique day-to-day atmosphere of the music department- the way in which practical, creative, exciting music making took place directly alongside and very often in collaboration with philosophical and academic enquiry. The mixture between disciplines, between staff and between students (1st, 2nd and third years often studying together in projects) was something very special.

How did York prepare you for your career?

It introduced me to my first, primary network of colleagues and collaborators- so many of whom I still work with closely. It opened my mind to what is creatively possible in music, allowing me to fully explore my musical interests without restriction, definitely providing me with the right attitude to fully enjoy and commit to a professional life in music.

What advice would you have for current students?

There is so much available to you at York- crucially not just the tuition and opportunities that form the requirements of your degree. Get as involved as you can in music making with a variety of ensembles (York supports a fantastic range of ensembles from varied musical disciplines), organise your own projects, whether compositions, performance, education or administration based (putting on a concert series for example)...it is worth giving everything a try, to inform your future career. Don't limit yourself- let York fully broaden your horizons!

Raphael Clarkson