Maria Carlsson is a professional singer with over 10 years of experience in teaching music and ensemble. We are lucky to have her at DIS Stockholm as one of the coordinators of the Music Exploration Living & Learning Community, as well as the faculty member teaching the Songwriting Workshop: Swedish Pop Music elective course. Get to know her here, and find out why music has a special place in her heart and in Sweden:
DIS: Hi, Maria! Thanks for interviewing with us here on the blog. Can you start out by telling us about your background prior to joining DIS?
Maria Carlsson: I grew up in a very small village on the southwest coast of Sweden. I started singing when I was a toddler and I have been singing since — solo, in choirs, and in several bands. Ten years ago, I moved to Stockholm to study music. First, I studied an artistic education at Kulturama for two years, and later, at the Royal College of Music for five years. I have also worked as a teacher for many years. I love to inspire people musically and that’s why I studied to become a vocal coach and music teacher. Now I get to combine my two favorite things: teaching and freelancing as a musician.
DIS: You are a professional singer. What is it like to perform for an audience?
MC: For me, singing in front of an audience is the best feeling in the world! I don’t think I can compare that feeling to anything else. I love making other people feel emotions through my performance and I love to entertain.
DIS: When did your interest in music start?
MC: My parents love to tell the story from when I was about three years old and woke them up in the middle of the night by standing in their bed performing “Blinka Lilla Stjärna” (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star). I remember being a kid begging to be a part of the children’s choir in my hometown even though I was too young. I don’t really know when or why I developed such a strong interest in music because I don’t come from a musical background really. I think my interest grew even stronger when I started school because I had great music teachers who encouraged and inspired me to keep singing. It’s important to realize that you don’t have to come from a musical background and also that it’s never too late to start making, playing, or getting involved with music!
About the Music Exploration Living & Learning Community
DIS: You coordinate the activities of the Music Exploration Living & Learning Community (LLC). What events have students attended this fall?
MC: I share the Music LLC with Max, a cool young DJ, who brings the students to a lot of exciting concerts in Stockholm. The combination of Max and me has given the students a wide perspective on music and culture in Sweden and Stockholm.
Since I have studied and worked with music in Stockholm for ten years, I have a big music network in the city, which gives us opportunities to integrate with musicians. Last Thursday, we visited the Royal Opera where we walked around all the secrets places and learn the amazing history and all the fun facts about the opera in Stockholm. We also had the opportunity go backstage to meet the opera stars and see how they get prepared to go on stage.
The most fun event was when I gathered 50 of Sweden’s most competent folk music musicians for a jam session at a restaurant in Gamla Stan, the Old Town in Stockholm. The students learned about the very interesting history, tradition, and culture of Swedish folk music. The musicians talked about their instruments and the students got to try them out. The highlight of the evening was when the students sang a famous Swedish folk song (in Swedish!) that I taught them together with the folk music orchestra – it was an amazing experience!
DIS: What is special about the music scene in Stockholm?
MC: On one hand, the music scene in Stockholm is small and accessible to everyone, but on the other hand, it’s big with a huge variety. I believe that it’s easy for unsigned artists to play in the city, and therefore, as a music lover, you can take part in new and exciting music for free every day.
DIS: What backgrounds or experiences in music do the students have that live in the LLC?
MC: The students don’t need to have any experience in music at all! The important thing is that they have an interest and a curiosity for music. Everybody is welcome to join and the fact that we all have different backgrounds and interest makes the events and conversations more interesting.
DIS: What’s it like to create a community around a shared passion for music? How have students experienced that this semester?
MC: It’s been a wonderful experience to get together with the students and share my knowledge and passion for music. I really think that the Music Exploration LLC is one of the best ways to integrate with the culture in Sweden and be a part of it.
On your new elective course, Songwriting Workshop: Swedish Pop Music
DIS: How will you bring your background to the classroom when teaching the Songwriting Workshop: Swedish Pop Music elective course next semester?
MC: Since I am a musician, a performer, and a music teacher, I teach from a wide perspective making sure all the students get what they need to develop their music skills. I have a lot of experience working in a master class which is a great opportunity for the students to work from their own level and also learn and get inspired by each other. I have put together my dream course and I can’t wait to get started!
DIS: DIS is located in the same building as the Royal College of Music. How will DIS students interact with the music students just down the hall?
MC: The Royal College of Music offers about 360 free concerts every year in all different genres and there is a lot of exciting music events going on all the time in the buildings. The school buildings and music scenes are brand new and totally amazing in so many ways.
The Royal College of Music is ranked number six amongst all esthetic educations in the world. DIS and KMH students are integrating, sharing lunch restaurant/cafeteria, sports activities like yoga, and evening activities like pub nights. If you are interested in music, it’s a great opportunity to come to DIS Stockholm to study side by side with the next generation of professional musicians of Sweden.