Molly Darley Headshot

Photo Credit: Brendan Ashmore

Course Studied: BA (Hons) Music (Classical)

Year of Graduation: 2019

Top Career Highlights:

  • Performing at Leeds Town Hall leading the saxophone section in Gershwin's American in Paris with Airedale Symphony Orchestra
  • After 3 months working at the RNCM, I helped to organise and host the first online open day
  • Assisting with managing a team of over 120 Student Ambassadors

No stranger to hard work, Leeds Conservatoire graduate Molly Darley has landed her dream job at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Having graduated from Leeds Conservatoire in 2019 with a BA (Hons) Music (Classical) degree, Molly has led the sax section of the Airedale Symphony Orchestra, and has gone on to work at the Royal Northern College of Music as a Student Recruitment Marketing Assistant.

What was your earliest musical experience?

This is really difficult actually. Unlike most people, I never had a standout 'I want to be a performer' moment. Throughout my childhood, I was surrounded by theatre, be it narrating a primary school nativity or singing in school musicals similar to any child around the world. I'd go as far to say that music is a part of everyone's life whether they know it or not and I didn't think about it being a significant part of my life until I was much older. I'd say the first substantial musical experience would be playing as part of a recorder group accompanying my prep school show of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, conjoining my love for musical theatre and new found passion for music.

What attracted you to studying in Leeds and what do you think of the musical community here?

I'll be honest and say I didn't go to any open days (sssh - probably not something I should admit). A friend of mine was studying classical saxophone at Leeds Conservatoire and did a performance at my secondary school. Her talent and enthusiasm talking about her experience as a then second year student made Leeds the first choice on my UCAS Conservatoires application. Sarah Markham, the 1-1 saxophone tutor, also came highly recommended, I did my research and as well as knowing she is an incredible saxophonist, I was told that we would work well together, so that only solidified Leeds being my first choice.

The musical community in Leeds in something else, the conservatoire is located next door to BBC Radio Leeds and across the road from The Wardrobe which is an underground music venue. They are just two of the options literally on the doorstep. Leeds has an array of musical venues and opportunities for all genres, something which I don't think has been fully captured anywhere else outside the capital.

Molly Darley Performance Image

Photo Credit: Brendan Ashmore

Could you briefly tell us a little bit about your career to date?

After graduating from Leeds Conservatoire, I began working in the Short Courses department on a fixed term contract as a Short Courses and Community Ensembles Administrator. This role showed me the administration side of music which was something that I really enjoyed and it was great to see the other side of life at Leeds.

As well as working at the conservatoire 2 days a week, I also split my time by working at Leeds City College as an ESOL 16-18 Student Liaison Officer (there's something about me and long job titles!). In April 2020, I started working at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester as the Student Recruitment Marketing Assistant, planning open days, outreach, co-managing the student ambassador scheme and assisting with anything related to the application process at the RNCM.

How did studying for a degree at Leeds Conservatoire prepare you for your current career?

As cringey as it may sound, I don't know where to start. Leeds prepared me more than I could ever have imagined, not just through academic lessons or extracurricular ensembles but from the opportunity to represent your course at meetings, represent the students' Union locally and nationally, work as a Student Ambassador, Digital Mentor, Leeds Junior Conservatoire Cover Student Supervisor and so much more. Studying at Leeds allowed me to find out who I was at the time and who I wanted to be, I never felt pushed in any particular direction but the sheer number of opportunities available provided me with the chance to understand the industry better both professionally and musically.

I was taught not only how to successfully market myself and be a professional musician but I also learnt how to manage a team (teams are the hardest to manage when they're also your friends), how to talk to people at the top of their career and how to 'grab life by the horns'.

Tell us about your most memorable experience during your time at Leeds Conservatoire

External to my studies, working on open days was always a highlight. We would spend all day talking to excited prospective students who were about to embark on the some of the best 3 or 4 years of their life. On one open day, I was honoured to be asked to perform before the welcome talk as guests were arriving. I glanced at the audience after my performance and the entire venue was buzzing with excitement.

I can never just pick one, so my other memorable experience would have to be my final recital. After I played my final note and took my bow, I left the stage to put my instruments away. When I came back on stage to back up what was left, my friends and family were sat there and gave a second round of applause, both the relief that it was done and love from my family, friends and colleagues at that moment really touched me.

Molly Darley Graduation Ceremony

"I am so grateful to Leeds Conservatoire for the opportunities I was given throughout my time both as a student and a member of staff. Without the Student Ambassador Scheme and the support of the staff, there is no way that I would have discovered where my real interests lie"

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get their 'foot in the door' in the industry you're in?

'You will never know if you don't try'. In my first year, I studied 'Working in the Creative Industry' where I was tasked to write down my future career goals. One of which was to work in student recruitment, managing a Student Ambassador Scheme. When I saw the job at the RNCM advertised, it was exactly what I had described in my assignment but I thought I was too young and inexperienced, but I pushed myself and went for it. I'm so grateful I had that moment of self confidence.


Read more about our BA (Hons) Classical degree

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