Normally each November the RCS Guitar department gathers together alongside other students, musicians and audiences for “Big Guitar Weekend”, an annual festival packed with guitar related concerts, masterclasses, lessons and more.
Sadly we don’t have the physical festival this year, however the department is still staging an impressive line up of online events in their first Guitar DigiFest. Events include a talk by RCS alumnus Marco Ramelli, a masterclass with the RCS head of guitar Allan Neave, a celebration of Julian Bream with renowned guitarist Ian Watt, and more.
As he moves through his third year at RCS, guitar student Evan Dim shares his thoughts about his studies and the environment he has been fortunate enough to be able to work in for the past two and a half years (*insert clichéd “doesn’t time fly” line here*).
Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Evan Dim. I’m from Ontario, Canada.
What do you study at RCS?
I’m a 3rd year BMus (Hons) student studying Classical Guitar with Allan Neave and Matthew McAllister.
Why did you choose to come to RCS?
Coming from a small town in Southern Ontario, going to a study at a music conservatoire was unheard of – especially going abroad. The only reason I even heard about conservatories was from watching guitar videos on YouTube and reading where the player studied. Eventually I came across some video lessons by Matthew McAllister and watched them loads of times. That was the closest thing to a classical guitar lesson I had ever had!
I began taking guitar lessons with a teacher in my region who happened to be connected with Matthew. He told me about the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and after lots of research on my own, I was hooked on the idea of coming to study at RCS, even though I had never even visited before.
I was fortunate enough to participate in a few masterclasses with Matthew on one of his trips to Canada. The classes were incredibly memorable and when Matthew suggested I apply, I was thrilled.
What was it like coming to Glasgow? Was it a big move for you?
The cliché would be to say something along the lines of how it was difficult to move away from friends and family and learn a completely new area and culture… but the truth is I didn’t feel like the place I lived for so long was meant for me anyway. I think many art students know this feeling. In fact I have recently had a similar discussion with one of my students who also comes from Canada and also finds it challenging to discover like-minded people in a place with a very contrasting priority and value system to herself.
When I wrote my personal statement to apply to RCS, I said that one of the things I looked forward to most was meeting people who valued the same things as I do. I’m pleased to say that not only was I able to find a good fit for myself within the RCS community but I’ve found Glasgow itself is a good city for just about any student. The atmosphere was overwhelmingly friendly upon first arrival. Apparently I must have looked all sorts of lost because more than once a local would ask me if I was “doing alright pal?” or if I knew where I was going (pal).
I suppose “big move” is a vague term – was it significant? Yes. Important? Very. Regretful or difficult? Not at all.
How prepared do you feel for life beyond RCS? What’s next for you?
It’s always hard to say what is next for yourself as a musician and I don’t think it should be wrong to admit that – there’s always something unexpected in this career. What I am sure about though is that the professors here do everything they can to prepare me and other students for what we may come across.
What words of wisdom would you give to anyone thinking of studying at RCS?
I think the most important thing is to be open to new relationships and events. Applying yourself to opportunities that arise will always result in positive experiences – many of the amazing opportunities I have been fortunate enough to take part in have been as a result of strong relationships I have built in and around my school. However it is important in these cases to simply be yourself. By seeking real connections in a vibrant and busy community, such as RCS, opportunities will arise. You’ll also make friends and have much more fun!
You can find out more about the Guitar and Harp department.