Clint from Trinidad and Tobago, BA in Music
‘Music is something that is very subjective... In terms of style, I can make it my own. I can meet classical students, pop music students – being here encourages us even more to come up with our own style of music.’
Clint Harewood came to the UK from Trinidad and Tobago, and is currently in his third year studying for a BA (Hons) degree in Music (Jazz) at Leeds College of Music. Clint also serves as Leeds College of Music Students’ Union Equality, Diversity & International Officer.
Here, he tells us about his experiences, his views on creativity and his advice for aspiring music students.
Want to study music
Why did you choose to study in the UK?
‘I chose a UK qualification because in Trinidad we use a lot of British systems, so it’s easier to get a degree from the UK and go back home –
I know my UK degree will be recognised back home. If I went to America or Canada, for instance, I’d have to find out if it’s validated. I think it was just a matter of having that ease of being able to get a job whenever I go back home, without having to worry about my qualifications.’
What advice would you give to future students applying to your course?
‘I would say to them, work hard throughout your three years. Don’t take constructive criticism personally – you have a three-year period where you try to be the best you can be, and your college and the lecturers are trying to push you to get to that level.
‘So work hard, have fun and make sure that at the end of it, you get what you want out of it. Particularly because music is something that is very subjective, and you can shape it in whatever way you want it to be. Yes, you have to learn scales, and you have to learn chords, and harmony and composition. All those things are applicable, in their own little bubble – but at the same time, you can take something and make it your own.’
Is there a memory of a trip, a workshop, a course or a speech that you attended that really stands out? Why?
‘One masterclass that particularly inspired me was Jamiroquai’s rhythm section. The band's bass player, drummer and a guitarist came and spoke to us about how they approach gigs, how they prepare and how they think about music. What inspired me was their approach to music. They’re not ashamed to say that when they’re off from Jamiroquai they do things that you might not expect, like function gigs. So I think that in itself taught me that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing; if you put in a good effort you can get a lot out of it at a higher level. They do fantastic celebrity function gigs and I think it’s because of their level of musicianship and their reputation.’
What do you like the most about the teaching methods and styles you’ve experienced?
‘Coming to Leeds College of Music, I have one-to-one lessons. I like my electric bass one-to-ones with the musician Zoltan Dekany. I think he’s the ideal teacher that you’d want as a student. He has his strict ways, but he never lets the class get tense. Just his personality contributes to that balance of productivity and fun in the classroom.
'The teaching doesn’t streamline students into one thing. In terms of my style, I can make it my own. I can meet classical students, pop music students – being here encourages us even more to come up with our own style of music.’
Have you joined any bands here, and if so, what creative expectations did you bring?
‘Yes, I’m in a band now. When we formed I don’t think we had any specific thing in mind, but we did know that we wanted it to be a bit of jazz and a bit of hip-hop. And then we got in and we realised that everyone brought something else. You can’t have preconceived notions of the type of music you’re going to make, because everyone has a personality and when they contribute it will change the shape of the music.’
You and your band are sometimes on the same bill as some of the teaching staff – what’s that like?
‘You know how sometimes you have the dream of being on the same gig as your lecturer? Rob Mitchell, he’s one of our lecturers and he’s a really sound guy. Just the experience of having them give you that nod to say, “Yeah, that sounds good. You’re doing what you intend to do and it sounds good” – that support, it means a lot.’
What was the biggest gig you had before you came to Leeds?
‘The biggest gig I had before coming to Leeds College of Music was the Olympics in 2012. My band, 3 Canal, did the cultural villages around London. It was a really amazing experience considering where I’m from and where I was playing at that time, and the nature of the Olympics. It was just amazing to play in front of thousands of people.
‘You go into these things sometimes thinking, “Well, how are these people going to receive me?” because everyone has their own idea of what music is, from where they’re from. But because you’re in that type of environment, people are even more accepting and welcoming. It’s the nature of the event. You meet people and you just let go.’
What are your ambitions for the future?
‘At the moment, I am planning to do a master’s degree at Leeds College of Music. I usually make three- to five-year plans, so that when one is done I have another one to look ahead to! So as my undergraduate course is finishing, I have a master’s and maybe some teaching experience within the next three to five years.
‘I’d also really like the band to continue, and everyone is staying in Leeds. I think it’ll be good to see where that leads.’