A Day in the Life of a Graduating Conservatoire Student: Gonçalo Feijão

4 June 2024

Exam season has started and the energy at the Royal Conservatoire is electric! We'll be shadowing some of our most talented musicians and dancers. Dive into their daily routines, discover their study hacks, and witness firsthand the passion that fuels their artistic journeys.

Today, we take a closer look at a graduating musician's daily life: Gonçalo Feijão,, a bachelor student in jazz double bass.

Making music as a team

Gonçalo’s exam program consists of pieces that he composed and arranged himself. During his exam he will be on stage together with 13 of his friends from the jazz department. ('We are a team of 15, sound engineer included')

'In the preparation of my exam I focussed on setting up a good vibe between the musicians. I feel like when I'm playing, I'm playing with a team. And I have quite a big team behind me. I chose people that I can trust, so I'm actually quite relaxed.'

Gonçalo thrives on the collaborative atmosphere in the conservatoire it shows how everyone in the jazz department relies on each other.

Playing together: The heart of the Jazz Department

In the jazz department, playing together is crucial. Gonçalo, like many jazz students, finds himself participating in numerous exams. This year, he is involved in 10 different exams, down from 20 in previous years.

'Jazz is all about playing together. There is a bass player needed in almost every jazz exam, so bass-players are usually very busy playing in a lot of exams during these months.'

A regular day in a conservatoires exam period

Gonçalo's days are packed with rehearsals, classes, and personal practice.

'Today, I woke up and tried to sneak in a bit of a workout. Then I had a rehearsal, followed by a rhythm section class with Martijn, the guitar teacher. After that, I have another rehearsal for a Master's final. After this interview, I will have another rehearsal, then there is one hour to eat and relax a bit and then this evening I will have a gig in café September. It's a busy day, but typical for this time of year.'

The intensive schedule requires meticulous planning and dedication. Gonçalo often juggles multiple commitments, ensuring he dedicates time to both his own practice and collaborative efforts with other students.

'There are busy times and there are resting times. There's not must time to rest at all during this period. You're constantly running from rehearsals to performances, and then you go partying as well , so sleep becomes even more of a luxury. But because you know in July this will be over and it will be holidays and you will catch up by just sleeping 11 hous a day.'

Navigating the challenge of scheduling and organization

For Gonçalo, one of the biggest challenges is navigating the complex web of scheduling and organization the rehearsals for his own exam.

'Past months I was writing all the arrangements, making sure everything was prepared. Now the challenge is the organisation of everything, scheduling rehearsals, making sure everyone can make it on time.
Since everyone has a busy schedule, I try to be as efficient as possible with my fellow musicians' time. A big part of my preparation involves sending them written notes and sketches outlining exactly how I envision the music to sound. This way, when we rehearse together, we can dive straight into the heart of it.'

Don't miss Gonçalo's jazz double bass recital!

Gonçalo’s upcoming exam is more than a test: it's a celebration of his journey and achievements. With a large ensemble supporting him, he is excited to share this significant moment with friends, family, and fellow students.

'I'm not particularly nervous about my exam. I trust the people I'm playing with. It's going to be great.'

Just like all other students' exams, Gonçalo's is open to the public and completely free.

Click here for more information on all the exams

Gonçalo’s exam will be on the 17th of June at 16.15h in Studio 7.