21.11.2023: Scottish musician and composer David Grubb on how investing in music education can help build sustainable careers.
David Grubb is a Scottish performer, composer, string arranger and recording artist, residing in Cardiff, Wales. Primarily a violinist, he works in a plethora of genres and has collaborated with artists such as Novo Amor, Lowsimmer, and Jim Ghedi. David is a good example of how investing in music education can help build sustainable careers, and how well targeted grant funding can help expand those careers over time.
What was your early years music education like?
I first picked up the violin at the age of eight. I am from a small collection of villages in Fife, Scotland called the Wemyss, and attended a small primary school of 52 children. Within Fife music education
at the time, primary schools were structured to feed into secondary, different schools fed different
instruments to build a diverse orchestral collection of young musicians.
My school offered violin and piano, so I chose violin. I fell in love with the instrument instantly, to the point where I envisaged a career as a musician before moving on to high school. My parents were working class, both working for the council.
Through schemes available to them at the time, lessons were heavily subsidised to encourage the uptake of music. It was widely understood that healthy participation in the arts promoted educational development.
What was music education like for you in secondary school?
Moving into secondary education, subsidies for music continued, supporting families like mine
and promoting a bustling music scene in Fife.
Opportunities to participate in regional ensembles and orchestras developed my collaboration skills, and introduced me to different musical genres and eras, including folk and jazz.
In my latter years in high school, I auditioned for and was accepted onto the music excellence scheme, which gave me access to advanced music theory classes and free instrumental lessons.
This propelled my understanding of music and pushed my playing ability to new heights, eventually leading to a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Junior Academy (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland).
I studied here for two years under Angus Anderson of Scottish Opera, travelling to Glasgow on Saturdays to take part in lessons, ensembles, and workshops.
Did you continue to study music after you left school?
I finished school and spent a year studying HND Music at Edinburgh Stevenson College where I development skills in folk music and recording techniques that I use to this day.
After auditioning at various conservatoires across the country, I eventually settled on Cardiff, and spent four years at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, studying the BMus course on violin.
How did you build your musical career?
After completing my studies, I was keen to explore other avenues in the arts and worked on a small independent theatre show called Hiraeth. This toured the UK and New Zealand over the course of three years.
From here I attended jam nights in Cardiff to network and make a name for myself in the Welsh scene.
I played for a few bands, that ultimately led to collaborating with Novo Amor. This involved arranging and recording strings, as well as touring internationally with the live band.
I’ve since worked as a recording artist and performer for a plethora of bands across genres (indie, pop, bluegrass) in the UK scene, including Lowswimmer, Jim Ghedi, and Toby Hay.
Music education has enabled me to build a thriving career as a musician and artist, but I also had to demonstrate my talent and potential, pass auditions and work extremely hard over many years to get to this point.
How does grant funding help you develop your career?
Even now that my career is established, grant funding can help develop my career in new directions and this stimulus helps create economic as well as cultural value.
On top of my many collaborations I also compose and release my own music. My most recent project Circadia has received backing from Help Musicians to help fund a successful PR campaign and grant me access to guidance from industry professionals. A vital resource to the developing musician who wants to make the most impact in
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) supported me through what was an extremely difficult period for freelance musicians and artists.
It allowed me to stay on my feet and continue working in the UK arts scene as the world emerged from COVID-19.
Opportunities presented to me throughout my musical career have been vital to my musical development and have helped shape the musician I am today.
From the education system to supporting professional artists develop their careers, the backing I have received over the years has enabled me to build a successful and sustainable career.
Read UK Music’s This Is Music report for more information on the state of the music industry in 2022.Back to news