Lydia Johnsen graduated from The Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts (LIPA) in spring, 2006. She is sharing her experiences as a Norwegian student in the UK with www.EducationUK.no
Back in Norway after three years, are you well ahead with your career? It's been great, I played at By:Larm (Norwegian music festival) in February. That was very exciting and a really good experience. Now I'm recording my debut album.
The Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts. The Institute has programs for most fields in the performance business. There's a sound technology, light and stage design, dance, acting, music and management course. LIPA educates the people on and behind the stage.
LIPA is an institute that encourages their students to make projects of their own and also join others. The education becomes what you make of it. You can spend three years with a minimum benefit or you can make the most out of everything and get a fantastic experience that you'll never forget.
The students are mostly able to study the musical genre they prefer, LIPA puts a lot of weight on the actual performance. There's not a lot of music theory, which suited me well as I prefer doing practical assignments, rather than studying the rules. I had the opportunity to do the projects I wanted to do and I learned a lot! I had classes in composition, songwriting, production and music business and this made it easier to see how it all comes together, the bigger picture and what I prefer working with. I think it can be frustrating to be on that course if you're only interested in singing/playing and don't want to write music. It's built up in such a way that you have to do a bit of everything.
I was home in Norway at Christmas, Easter and summer holidays. International students were given a diagram to explain how moving back and forth, from one country to another, can affect you. When you start to get used to living in one country, you go back to your home country where the environment is different. But for every time you go back and forth, the change is less noticeable as you start to appreciate your life in both countries. Britain isn't that far away, but it still took me a while to feel at home there. I remember missing my family and friends the first year I was in Liverpool. By Christmas time, I considered not going back for the second year. Now I'm very happy that I made the right decision to stay, because the second and the third year was a fantastic experience for me. Things that didn't seem like that much fun to begin with, turned out to be very valuable experiences after all.
I lived in a student apartment five minutes from LIPA, there were six girls all together. In my last year I lived with three British girls, one girl from Switzerland and one girl from Columbia. When we were told that we had a place at LIPA we were given a list of different student homes that they recommended. The apartment was ok. During the first year I learned who I didn't want to live with for the next year and we went through a couple of adjustments for the second and third years there. All together, it was alright.
It feels like a different business in Norway, maybe because I know the culture a lot better and it's smaller than in the UK. I think that in the music business it's not where you've studied that is the important part, it's what you can do. I'm very happy that I've had the chance to try and fail and make up my mind about many things while I was at LIPA, things that I can put into reality back in Norway.
I think it's important to remember to take care of your contacts back home while you are away. At LIPA I got to know a lot of Norwegians as well as British and foreign students, people who I'll keep in contact with back in Norway. You get to know and work with people from all over the world.
You won't get more out of the music business than what you put in to it, I feel that LIPA works in the same way. There have been ups and downs but when I look back there is no doubt in my mind that going to study at LIPA is one of the best decisions I've made. I wouldn't be without it.