“I hope I’m going to survive as a musician”. 

Interview with Theo Hillborg  by Gabriella Dogaru, Gy2

Theo Hillborg plays the saxophone and graduated last spring. This fall he’s started studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. I asked him about the differences between studying in Stockholm versus London.

Theo Hillborg
Theo Hillborg in a graduation hat

Hillborg: The biggest difference is that I live alone. I live in student housing and I will have a roommate, but he hasn’t come yet. My apartment is five minutes (walking distance) away from school and I haven’t been outside this area at all. When it comes to the education, it’s almost the same thing: more music and less of other subjects (for instance history and so on). I’m studying for instance Aural skills, Analytical skills, Music History, Conducting and Orchestra here.

Dogaru: How come you started studying in Stockholm?

Hillborg: My parents forced me to go there when I was six. I don’t remember quite clearly, but I don’t think I even wanted to. I didn’t know what it was all about, but my parents said it was a good school. Now I’m glad I went there. My teacher was Kristin Uglar. I studied with her from preschool through my last year of high school. It was a long time, but it was also a very good time.

Dogaru: How do you feel you developed?

Hillborg: A lot! However I wasn’t as committed to music at the beginning, I didn’t practice much. But I got more interested after a while. First I didn’t want to continue with music, I wanted to study science. It was not until middle school when I started thinking that I could continue with music.

Dogaru: How has your education influenced your career choice?

Hillborg: It’s just fun to play an instrument and master it. A lot of things like concerts and stuff happen, and after thirteen years you get so much experience of your instrument, you get to know it well. Which means it’s more interesting to continue with it.

Dogaru: There are studies which show that music helps us to develop our concentration. Do you feel you are helped by this? If so, how?

Hillborg: I don’t actually know. I’ve played music for such a long time and I don’t know what it would’ve been like if I had chosen something else. But what I can say is that I don’t have any problems with my concentration, so I guess it worked!

Dogaru: What do you think your life will be like in the future?

Hillborg: I hope I’m going to survive as a musician. As a saxophonist there aren’t permanent jobs in orchestras, so you mostly have to be a freelance musician. But I’m also totally fine with being a teacher. You can do both. When it comes to the country where I want to work, I don’t know. I think I’ll come back to Sweden, at least for a while.

Dogaru: Why did you choose to study abroad? And why did you choose London?

Hillborg: I chose it more for the school than for the city. I knew the saxophone teacher and I’d had some lessons with him before. He’s a good teacher, and if he’d been in Stockholm, I would have stayed there. So it’s not the city, but the teacher. Although London is a great city for students and especially musicians. There are concerts everywhere, every day. There are a lot of things happening, it’s such a cultural city. In Stockholm classical music is not as big.