Photo: Karoliina Pirkkanen

Julia Leskinen: Living the life of a musician is the best

Julia Leskinen began studying french horn at the Sibelius Academy in autumn 2018.


Who are you and how did you end up becoming a student at the University of the Arts Helsinki (Uniarts Helsinki)?
I ended up here at Uniarts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy, because music is my number one calling. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that it makes me really happy.


What was your entrance exam like?
I would describe my entrance exam experience with one word: success! The entrance exam for french horn studies consisted of a two-part demonstration, theory and aural skills. Compared to my previous experiences of entrance exams, I was now the most prepared and I even enjoyed performing to the five-member jury.


How did you prepare for the entrance exam?
I prepared for the entrance exam by practising a lot, of course. I also started mental training already during the autumn before the exam. It helped me to focus in the exam, but also when I practised.


What has your studying been like?
The study environment here is incredibly good. Students, teachers, and the staff have been really encouraging and reassuring from the very beginning. It’s been easy getting help for all the things I’ve needed. On top of this, the older students have been really warm and welcoming towards us new students. It’s hard to tell which year group the students belong to when you see them in the hallways.


What kinds of courses do you have this year and what is your typical day like as a student?
This year, I’ve obviously had instrument lessons and group lessons. I also have courses in music theory, aural skills, Swedish, English, music history, chamber music as part of a piano trio, wellbeing and orchestra playing. Independent practising is a big part of my daily schedule. I also have history and music theory lectures twice a week. During my free time, my friends are the most important to me. Exercising is also a nice and effective way to spend time.


What is the best aspect of your studies? What about the most challenging aspect?
The best thing about my studies is that I get to play music full time and live the life of a musician. I also really like the fact that I can take the time to develop myself. Working with professionals professionally in different kinds of projects is also “super cool”, so to speak.  What’s challenging is scheduling my everyday life and maintaining separation between work and free time and on the other hand, keeping up to date with the limitless opportunities we have; there is a countless number of projects available, but you can’t say yes to each one.


What kind of advice do you have for future applicants?
My advice for french horn applicants is that the most important things are determination, working hard and having a healthy common sense. When practising for an entrance exam, I’d say that the age-old wisdom “Quality over quantity” is a good principle. Ps. Learn to split a note with style ;)