Phoebe - "I can really shape my artistic identity here"

8 December 2022

Phoebe Rousochatzaki (23) from Athens is in the first year of doing her Master in Classical Music Violin. Having also done her Bachelor's here, she knows about the opportunities and possibilities available. Bursting with ambition, passion and perseverance, she talks about her time at the Conservatoire and how it's helping her to innovate, pioneer and excel as a musician and entrepreneur.

It's no secret that the teachers at the Royal Conservatoire (RC) are one of the main reasons many study here. This was also the case for Phoebe. "For me, that was Joe Puglia, and I really wanted to be taught by him. Studying an instrument is a personal experience, so it greatly affected my decision. He's a living example of what we are taught and want to achieve. He's still very active as a soloist and plays a lot of chamber music. Both match my future ambitions."

While the teacher may have been the deciding factor, other aspects also fit the puzzle for her. "I've noticed a more human and personal approach to teaching and studying, which is rarely seen elsewhere. We get weekly coaching sessions with top pianists -accompanists- that go out of their way to take your performance to the next level. I feel valued as a person and an artist in the making. Not just looked at as any other student. They genuinely care about you.

That's also reflected in the curriculum. It's personalised, and you can do as much as you'd like. To explore Contemporary Music, Baroque, Jazz and much more. Work with other departments and discover new avenues. Trust yourself and create something important to you as an individual. We're highly encouraged to try new things, innovate and pioneer. It all comes down to creating your artistic identity."

Artistic Research
Phoebe is in the first year of her Master's, which means picking a research topic. "I have a big passion with regards to artist research, and the lessons we get that are specifically based around that are inspiring to me. My Master's subject revolves around Physics and Music. It's a work in progress, I haven't narrowed it down yet, but I see interesting correlations between them. Having studied Physics and Mathematics previously, I'm looking forward to analysing pieces differently, maybe even introducing new aspects and collaborating with the Composition department to write new music. I'm not sure yet; there are lots of ideas brewing. I can shape and mould my artistic identity here, and I plan to take full advantage of that."

Playing with other orchestras.
For years, the Royal Conservatoire has had a close relationship with The Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century. Together they've created the Side by Side project, in which students can learn and play with the world-famous orchestra. "An extraordinary and unique experience, the biggest thing that's ever happened in my artistic life so far. To be able to play as a soloist with this orchestra was amazing. My baroque violin teacher Walter Reiter also helped me get a fantastic period violin and bow to play on during these projects."

Building a network
Being a professional musician means being an entrepreneur too. Your professional network is your most important asset. "It doesn't matter how well you play. If nobody knows about you, you don't get called. You have to be prepared and expose yourself to new people and opportunities all the time. That's how programmers find you. The RC coaches and prepares you for that. Violin professor Janet Krause mentored me throughout my studies and helped me form a string quartet with which we have been performing in festivals in the Netherlands. I am grateful for this network of people supporting my artistic and professional development. It's up to you to grab them, make the connections, gain the experience and use that platform."

Mental health
"The Royal Conservatoire excels when it comes to mental health. Performance anxiety is real, it's a fact, and they care about that. For example, I did the mental resilience workshop a year ago. It helps to know that you are in a place where you can talk about that because it's still a taboo topic. It's almost scientific, the way they approach it, which I like—teaching us about the importance of visualisation, for example—and showing us how your state of mind can interfere with your performance. That’s specifically applied to practice performing. It's been a real game-changer for me. I've learned how to trust myself more."

For the students, with the students.
"I don't know if it's a Dutch thing, but the RC takes student feedback very seriously. Student panels are in direct communication with the head of departments, and we're often asked to review or assess processes (curriculum, workload etc.) throughout the year! I feel that RC greatly values communication in general. It makes such a big difference to your overall experience to have that. Your opinions, input and voice matter. You feel heard."

Any messages for prospective students?
"You have endless possibilities here—access to fantastic facilities, instruments, lessons and much more. Everyone is more than happy to give more coaching so that you can create new ensembles, for example. It still fascinates me. It's more than a platform that the Conservatoire offers. I don't know. A home. A big home, a big family. I know, it's very cliche, haha."

Interested? Go to our 'Apply now' pages for more information about the Royal Conservatoire and Master Classical Music Violin.