Suzanne Parry

Suzanne is a self-employed composer, and PhD student at the University of Edinburgh.

The following text is a transcription of a career story collected by interview.

"My name's Suzanne Parry, I'm a composer and I am doing a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. My portfolio involves about eight pieces and the total length of it will be about two and a quarter hours of music. I was at a point of my life where I needed to do something different and I needed to push forward with being a musician and the PhD seemed like a really good way to do that. It's a really good community of people that can help you and support you and give you some motivation.

"I was floundering because I had just left the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where I had a really amazing time. I did get a first class degree and I did get a distinction for my Masters, so I had good pedigree from a good, from a good college. Then I was very lucky to, to be Associate Composer at Music Theatre Wales, and do some work with opera and dance through them. And when that residency finished I was finding it very difficult to keep afloat and find opportunities because, at an early stage in your career I think that being part of a network or a hub is really crucial and I'd lost my hub and I needed a new hub and Edinburgh is that hub. I have a full maintenance scholarship to come to the University of Edinburgh, which I was very lucky to get. I was unemployed and wanting to be a working musician and also wanting to keep a roof over my head, and a PhD offered me an opportunity. And at the end of it I get to be a doctor. So, that's a pretty good deal.

"I arrived on my first day here in Edinburgh, thinking it would all become clear straight away. What I had to do, I would be given a task, I would complete that task, and then I'd be given the next task, and in fact you're left completely to your own devices, to create over two hours of music, erm, with just the instructions that it has to be of publishable quality and it has to be diverse.

"The advantages of doing a practise-based PhD means that I've been forced to produce a portfolio of work which is excellent in quality and production and that is my calling card now, anytime that maybe a commission or an opportunity for a residency comes forward I'm now in a position to present a very good quality portfolio and a very good quality CV. I'm never going to be an academic, I'm not an academic, I'm not much of a thinker I am much more of a doer. I'm a practitioner. There is more space than I thought at a university for a practitioner like myself, for somebody who's not researching and writing papers.

"I wish that I was a person that was more able to understand research more easily, but I'm just not. But that doesn't exclude me from, from the world of PhDs and academia apparently, so, I thought that it would, but it doesn't. I have transferable skills, I could go and do a lot of jobs I am sure and I'd probably be very good at them. So if I really, really wanted out, if I really decided I wanted a new car and a big house, more than I wanted to be who I am, I will go and do it.

"My PhD's given me a network, it's given me a lot of support and a lot of direction, it's, it's, a university is an incredible resource. You can use it to your advantage and it could be a really exciting place to be. Um, the advice that I get, um the opportunities that I get to get my work played, the network of composers and performers I meet, and, the other people with their research that, and ideas and concepts that you never knew existed, its just really exciting and I think it makes you a much more well-rounded professional."