Cambridge Graduate Elevates Shrewsbury's Music Department as New Intern


Amber Coxill is the new graduate intern for Shrewsbury’s Music Department. She graduated from Cambridge in the spring of this year and accepted this

postgraduate position to apply the knowledge acquired during her university studies and gain relevant experience for her music career.

Amber’s passion for music began at the age of eight when she first started playing the French horn. She learned with her classmates in a program similar to Shrewsbury’s Year 4 Ensemble, and from there, she had numerous opportunities to continue learning within various youth orchestras and brass ensembles.

“It was in these communities that I grew to really love music and understand it from both practical and theoretical perspectives,” Amber said.

During her youth, Amber served as Principal Horn for the Shropshire Youth Orchestra and Shropshire Youth Wind Orchestra during an international tour in Germany. Additionally, she began composing musical scores for short films at the age of 14, discovering her deep love for composition.

“I played in ensembles and orchestras for a long time before I ever really considered myself a musician,” Amber said. “It was only when I began to understand the music itself that I truly found my love for it, and that was catalysed by me starting to compose.”

Amber continued her compositions in her Senior years of school, receiving full marks on both her GCSE and A-level compositions. She began to see music not just as her present but also as her future, exploring university degrees in music. She applied to Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, and Royal Holloway. When offered a place at Homerton College, Cambridge, in January 2020, she knew this was where she wanted to study.

Amber attended Cambridge University during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, causing her significant ups and downs at the start of her higher education in music. Due to pandemic shutdowns, Amber was disconnected from her musical community in many ways. However, once lockdowns eased, Amber flourished and grew exponentially as a musician. She began singing in the renowned Homerton Charter Choir and ran a successful recital series at Homerton College in her second year. In her third and final year at Cambridge, Amber was elected President of the Homerton College Music Society.

“It was a very special experience to be involved in restarting all the musical activities that had shut down for two years and to approach them all with fresh eyes.”

During her time at Cambridge, Amber participated in numerous orchestras, including those at Jesus College, Queen’s College, Selwyn College, and Homerton College. She also opened at the Minerva Festival, a Cambridge-based festival that promotes the study and performance of music written by women. Amber also has a background in vocal performance and was awarded the title of Choral Scholar at Homerton College during her time singing with the Cambridge Chamber Choir. She sang weekly Evensongs, went on tours in Gibraltar and Iceland, recorded a CD of psalm-settings, sang at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and performed some of her original compositions.

In terms of her studies at Cambridge, Amber developed a wide range of musical knowledge. She studied music history, tonality application, musicology, music philosophy, and composition, to name a few. She also developed keyboard skills, translating into her present-day proficiency on the piano. In her final year, Amber elected to take courses in tonal skills and film music, musical modernism and new media, popular music and protest, and music, sound, and decoloniality. She also chose to write compositions and a dissertation for additional coursework. Her dissertation focused on hypertextuality in music, specifically looking at a case study of Madonna’s 1984 hit song “Material Girl.” She analysed how the song proliferated into an intertextual cultural edifice and commodity due to its intertextuality. The challenging nature of Amber’s coursework instilled in her a wealth of knowledge that will propel her into a lifelong career in music.

“The main takeaway in my experience was how important it is for a musician to have a stellar understanding of music situated in cultural, historical, societal, and tonal contexts to truly be a good performer, composer, or musician,” Amber said. “The ability to play the notes on the page is only a fraction of what good musicianship is.”

Amber never imagined herself going into music education after university, but when she saw the job posting for an intern position at Shrewsbury, she could not resist applying.

“It's been a whirlwind so far, with so many incredible music events that I've been able to help out with,” Amber said.

Over the last few months of working in music administration, Amber has found a new passion in the field and hopes to pursue it further as a career. She likes the idea of planning music festivals one day or pursuing a career in composing film music, a lifelong dream of hers. Since a young age, Amber has wanted to compose professionally, and she has already orchestrated several original pieces.

In addition to her administrative work and event planning, Amber provides support in the classroom, using her well-refined musical skills to impart knowledge to Y4 and Y5 music students alongside our other highly trained staff members.

“The opportunity to be involved in classroom work has been both rewarding and challenging. The students here are so polite yet engaging,” Amber said. “The busy nature of the Shrewsbury music schedule definitely proves challenging at times, but I'm very lucky to work with such a helpful and efficient department who all lend a helping hand.”

Amber also participates in various music events that take place at Shrewsbury, playing the French horn for Junior assemblies and bass guitar for various ensembles. Even more impressively, Amber played the horn and sang at the infamous Last Night of the Proms concert alongside students, staff, and other professional musicians. Additionally, Amber assists in smaller ensembles, such as the wind band, and she runs one of the Junior rock bands.

In her short time at Shrewsbury, Amber has quickly become an integral part of the music department, continuously contributing her indispensable expertise and talents to the flourishing community.

“It's been such an incredible experience to come out to Thailand and be around so many amazing musicians from such different walks of life. I'm learning a lot,” Amber said.

Whether helping to plan events, assisting in the classroom, or performing alongside students and staff, Amber’s contributions to the Shrewsbury Music Department are significant and quite invaluable.

Get in touch

+ 66 2 675 1888