Violinist, Fourth-Year student at the Ole Bull Academy, Voss, Norway


How did you go about choosing a course?
I didn’t know what I wanted to study after high school. I wondered about studying biology, but I knew about the Ole Bull Academy at Voss so I applied. I was very happy when they accepted me — I didn’t expect to get in, since they only accept eight students every other year.

What attracted you to the course?
For me it was very important to be able to choose my own teacher. My tutor Egil Syversbråten is a bit strict and he demands a lot from me, but I need a teacher who expects progress.

How is the curriculum organised?
All the students in the class play different instruments. We all come from different musical traditions, depending on which part of Norway we’re from. I’m from Hallingdal in the middle of Norway, where the folk music is very rhythmic — the tunes were originally for dancing. Each student gets 50 lessons a year with their main teacher and between 5 and 15 lessons on a second instrument. We play together, and study European music history as well as arrangement. The academy is more practical than theoretical: it’s mainly about performance. Most of the students play only by ear. If we’re going to learn something new, it’s usually much quicker playing by ear than reading the music.

What is an average day like? How much free time do you get?
I have a lot of free time, which I use to practise or take part in concerts. It’s an advantage if you are quite disciplined, so you get to practise a lot. After all, it depends on how brilliant you want to be!

What was your first week on the course like? Were there any shocks or surprises?
I was the youngest student on the course, and the only one who had come straight from high school. This was quite tough at first, but I also believe it was an advantage. I learnt so much from my fellow students. Because there are so few places on the course, the standard is very high. I needed some time to understand that the only thing we were going to talk about at school was music.

What’s the atmosphere at the college like?
The atmosphere is great because everyone knows each other really well. After four years we’re almost like a little family. When I graduate this spring, I’ll miss the atmosphere and the people.