Martha Hayward Kris Branigan

Photo Credit: Kris Branigan

Course Studied: Master of Music (Performance) MMus

Year of Graduation: 2015

Top Career Achievements:

  • Singing solo for Prince Charles in Holyrood Palace with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus
  • Being a backing singer for Clean Bandit with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Touring the Victorian Christmas Songbook around the UK with Matthew Lazenby

Despite deciding to pursue a career in music relatively late on by comparison to her peers, Martha Hayward now fulfils a busy schedule as a soprano, workshop leader and vocal tutor.

A former student on our postgraduate degree programme, Martha discusses the emotional impact of music and some of the performance opportunities which have been on offer to her since her move to Yorkshire.

You had quite an inspirational journey building your career in music: who and what encouraged you to study music?​

Unlike many of my colleagues, I didn't pursue a career in music until relatively late on. For personal reasons and following the passing of my Dad, I left home shortly after my sixteenth birthday and began singing lessons shortly afterwards. If I hadn’t left home, I wouldn’t be singing or teaching. It’s made me really determined, and strong. Singing quickly took over my life as it offered a creative outlet, many wonderful friends and an incredible support unit. Personally, I saw how much of an emotional impact music could have and vowed to use my talent to help others.

In terms of encouragement, my grandma had studied music at college and was a great support for my singing. My godfather was also an inspiration - having been lead tenor with ENO and Scottish Opera numerous times. 

What attracted you to Leeds Conservatoire to study for a master’s degree?

I studied my undergraduate degree at Aberdeen University but I knew I wanted to do my postgraduate degree south of the border. I set up auditions in a few conservatoires but as soon as I arrived at Leeds Conservatoire, I felt completely at home and cancelled my other audition slots when my entry was confirmed.  

What was your favourite thing about studying and being a musician in Leeds?

The best thing about studying in Leeds was the incredible variety of music-making and opportunities around. To name but a few of the amazing things I've done - I have performed with a vocal ensemble in a cave, sang solo in a boxing ring to open a boxing match (the Dave Pearce remix of the Gladiator Theme), done backing vocals for Clean Bandit and many charity concerts in some of Yorkshire’s most beautiful buildings. I’m now working on a collaboration with a local videographer to explore the unique acoustics of places in and around Yorkshire.

What has your career been like since leaving Leeds Conservatoire?

I have a huge portfolio career which includes over 50 singing students alongside professional performances around the country for recitals, concerts, weddings, funerals, and special events. I have also worked for Music in the Round and lead workshops for young voices across Yorkshire. Currently, I’m performing the role of Jenny Lind with Maltby Musical Theatre Group for their upcoming production of ‘Barnum’.  

My goal eventually is to join a professional opera group but I am currently sole carer to my Grandma who is now sadly suffering with Alzheimer's disease. Family comes first and I am glad that she can still enjoy my singing. Without her support at the beginning of my musical journey, I would not be where I am today.

If you had one piece of advice for prospective students, what would it be?

Never give up on your dreams and never be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone!


Find out more about Martha and her career via her website

Alternatively, learn about postgraduate study at Leeds Conservatoire

Find out more about what our successful graduates have been up to in our Alumni Profiles

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