A Shropshire student who began his educational journey at Telford College has been described as an inspiration to others, after progressing onto a PhD course at a top university.
Billy Price, from Apley, is now studying towards a doctorate in music at the University of Liverpool, having already graduated with first-class BA honours and Masters degrees.
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He is striving to become a university-level music lecturer – and says none of this would have been possible without his first exposure to music education at Telford College.
Billy’s music studies began when he left Charlton School to join a level two BTEC music course, which he followed up with a level three qualification in performance, composition, and events management.
He said: “Never underestimate how important college is; it was my stepping-stone to university. Without Telford College I probably wouldn’t be studying for a PhD now.
“My classmates and tutors all shared a real passion for music – they gave me some of the best days of my life.
“Upon leaving school I struggled with a lack of motivation, but my college teachers made music an incredibly rewarding subject to engage with. It was always welcoming, and the right environment to learn in. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had lots of great teachers through my education.”
Among Billy’s fondest memories of his time at Telford College was his final year performance project.
He said: “The whole experience was loads of fun. Instead of just performing, we had to market and host the entire event by ourselves. It really opened my eyes to the level of work that goes into the live music industry.”
Andy Turner, Telford College creative and music learner manager, said: “Billy’s journey is really inspiring for other young people looking at studying music in Telford.
“As a student he was always a brilliant guitarist and drummer, and got involved in all the events and projects we did at the college.
“The other music teachers and I are really proud that he has not only gone into university, but done a masters and now a PhD.
“For a student that started with us on level two music and GCSE maths resit, this is a fantastic journey, and I know that he will achieve his goal of lecturing at a top music university.”
Billy’s main instrument is guitar, but he is also a self-taught drummer, using YouTube and learning by ear.
He became lead guitarist of progressive rock band Mal Hijo, which will release its debut album this year, and has also developed as a session guitarist, arranging guitar parts and performing in recitals.
“I love all types of music,” he said. “I’m always trying to broaden my horizons. I enjoy meeting people with different tastes and styles that I haven’t engaged with before. It has really opened my eyes.
“During university I took lessons in jazz improvisation from John Bailey, who plays guitar for Russell Watson, which was really insightful. I could really relate to him and he helped develop my interest in playing different styles of music.”
Billy has a particular interest in how technology has an impact on the industry, and his ambition is to go into lecturing at a university level.
“I was always a performer, but discovered while doing my masters that I also love research. That’s why I want to go into lecturing; you never stop learning in this role, you’re learning as much as you’re teaching.”
And his advice to other music lovers looking to follow in his footsteps by enrolling on a Telford College music course?
“Take risks. Don’t hold back from going to new places and meeting new people. You’ll quickly settle in – I didn’t know straight away that I wanted to go to university but as I progressed through college, I realised I wanted to explore music further. When you’re truly passionate about something, nothing can hold you back.”