From education to employment

Return to Coleg Menai helps past student break into music industry

Former Coleg Menai student Aron Griffith

Former Coleg Menai student Aron Griffith says returning to the college to work has given him opportunities he couldn’t have imagined in the music and film industries.

He is now a creative media technician at the college where he developed the confidence to write his own music.

Aron achieved a triple grade distinction in his BTEC Level 3 extended diploma in Music in 2018. He went on to gain a 2:1 in Popular Music from the University of Liverpool, and last summer completed his Masters in Film at Liverpool John Moores University.

However, after returning home to Bangor, he found work in the creative industries hard to come by – until last December, when he hooked back up with his former lecturers to start his current job.

As part of his role Aron at Coleg Menai, Aron has worked as a sound technician in Pontio’s Theatr Bryn Terfel in Bangor, has mastered equipment used across the creative industries, and has gained experience of live-editing performances using a vision mixer.

He has recorded, mixed and mastered music for use in shows, and was the sound mixer for his own performance in this year’s Creative Media Showcase in the Pontio Foyer.

Aron has also been offered freelance technician work, and made contacts in the film industry.

He said: “Being an ex-Coleg Menai student has helped me in more ways than I could’ve imagined.

“After finishing my Masters in Liverpool, I moved back home and I struggled to find work in the creative industry in any form. I phoned loads of people trying to volunteer or get any small piece of experience I could get, whether that was carrying cables, setting up PA etc – but no-one gave me the chance.

“But Coleg Menai and my ex-lecturers in the music course gave me that chance and have opened the door for me into the industry as both a musician and full-time technician. Now a few months later, I’ve worked with so many different interesting people from across the creative industries who I can call friends.

“I’ve worked in theatres bigger than I would ever have imagined. I’ve made very useful contacts in the film industry with ties to the BBC who are keen to get me involved in future projects. I’ve been offered freelance tech work outside of the college through word of mouth and so much more.

“This job has made setting up PA for live performances a weekly habit, which in turn has made it feel like second nature to me. A few years back, I thought it was a pipe dream to have that mindset but now I am actually feeling like I can attain a lot more through this role and the knowledge I’ve already acquired. This job has got me a foot into the creative industries that a lot of people struggle to get, and I am extremely grateful to Coleg Menai for that.

Aron has had opportunities he couldn’t have imagined since he returned to Coleg Menai to work

“It’s a dream come true and I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today with the opportunities I have if it wasn’t for the Coleg Menai music course and the lecturers there.”

Aron has fond memories of his course at the college, where he had the ideal grounding for his career.

“What was most useful with the music course was, it’s very hands-on,” he said. “As opposed to just thinking about situations and writing about them, you actually do them.

“You get put into events where a PA is needed and a performance is needed in front of a live audience, and treated like a proper tech/musician. Those experiences are priceless in preparing students for proper work in the creative industry.”

Aron added: “I remember the college having the perfect attitude towards learning and how a learning environment should be, it was all so relaxed. They understand that you learn more by doing. It was very hard to not be content and happy when I was there.

“I felt supported and encouraged to pursue my ambitions and goals. The lecturers always pushed me to better myself, to view issues and challenges in a positive way. They gave me the confidence to go out and put myself out there, to start writing my own music – giving me the knowledge to make those songs a tangible good quality recording that I can be proud of.

“I wouldn’t be the technician and musician I am today without the people I met in Coleg Menai.”

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