Learning in lockdown

Danielle Gill is a Music Performance student at Access Creative College, Lincoln. When it was first announced that schools and colleges were closing, like a lot of people, she was worried about the effect it would have on her learning. However, it wasn’t long before she was emailing the Centre Manager of Lincoln to let him know how fantastic ACC and her tutors were doing during these unprecedented times. With such a great response from students, we wanted to find out more about her and her experience.

Who is Dannii?

My name is Dannii, I’m 20 years old and I study Music Performance Level 3 at Access Creative College in Lincoln. Music has been a huge support to me throughout my life. I create my own music under the name of Dannii Sara and release them on Spotify and other streaming services. I am a huge fan of Post-Punk and Goth music and like to include these elements within my songs, I love creating something unique and very individual. My goal is to become an underground artist in a Post-Punk band, creating new sounds and showing the world it’s okay to be you and to be raw.

Why did you chose ACC?

I chose to study at ACC for many reasons. I studied Music and Performing Arts at Sixth Form in my town but the course was very restrictive and didn’t teach me about careers in music. It didn’t inspire me so I left to study A- Level English Literature, History and Sociology in Lincoln College. I left after a year there also as I felt lonely and out of place because even though I enjoy academic subjects, I was creative. I worked part time for a year and this is when I realised that my heart was still in music. A friend of mine had studied at the ACC Lincoln and told me how amazing it was and the creative freedom that he experienced and instantly I knew I had to join.  After looking around the Lincoln campus, I felt a connection with it, all the staff were lovely and down to earth and I made friends instantly on the open days. I knew this would be the place to go. The course is inspiring both creatively and professionally, I feel like I have gained so much knowledge in the past year.  I didn’t look anywhere else to study because I had a gut feeling that this is the perfect environment for me and I’m so glad I joined.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard colleges had to close?

We were all in a room when we were told that our college was having to close. I was crouched on the floor because I knew it was going to be said and I knew I wasn’t going to react well. Instantly I felt upset, college became my safe space, I was comfortable, proud of the grades I had been getting, I’m friends with so many people there too and just like that, the perfect routine had to stop. It was the unknown that upset me, and the staff looked upset too. We didn’t know how long this was going to last for, and what about our end of year gig and final performance we had been working so hard on?

We had to finish work that needed to be done for assignments that can’t be done at home, and when I finished I met my friends in the rehearsal room for the last time and we didn’t leave until the college was closed because we wanted to spend those last moments together. We even played a fire on YouTube and dimmed the lights. It was a really nice final moment to have.

How do you think ACC has handled the situation?

I think Access Creative College has been outstanding when it comes to teaching during the pandemic. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have been. This is because I was cautious about how we would approach the practical sides of learning and how the college can create the classroom environment for us at home.  

The lessons so far have been amazing, the Google Meet sessions allow us to feel like we have a close connection with our teachers and classmates which makes it so easy to learn and calms any anxiety about learning from home, as help is so easily accessible. The self directed studies mean that we have the freedom to research and create and help us carry on having the independent drive during quarantine. I particularly love the online sessions with Leanne Weeks, where the work is researched based with up to date topics and trends happening within the music industry now which is helping us learn more and more about the industry, even though it seems like it is all on pause.

ACC has kept us inspired during these times and the focus is what is best for the students and our individual learning. We all feel safe because we are still connected and we have a college, and teachers, who can guide us so professionally. I don’t think online learning would’ve been as successful if it wasn’t for the teachers and the amount of effort they have put in. They have gone way over our expectations and I want to thank all of them on behalf of the students, you are helping us towards a brighter future even though the whole world is on hold. Thank you.

Do you think this will affect your next steps?

I think that this experience has only affected my next steps positively. With all the work we have been doing about music marketing, logos, websites and the music economy, I have felt much more focused on my musical career and more comfortable with planning for my future within the industry. 

I’m really lucky that I am only in my first year of Level 3 as I can return when the pandemic is over and it has shown me that I should make the most out of every experience at college and all the amazing facilities. Due to the online lessons, I actually feel more comfortable and connected with the tutors which means that I am now more comfortable asking for help when I need it and also making the most of having professional musicians with all these skill sets to hand. 

I’m excited to see what it will be like for us to return to college. I think this experience has made everyone feel how important education is and following your dreams and working hard towards them. This can only mean that when we return, drive will be boosted, morale will be high and creativeness will only get stronger.