Music is Instrumental to Many Waterloo Students

Students choose to integrate music into their university life for various purposes—to pursue their musical passion, be part of something bigger than themselves, or to build meaningful friendships. We asked a group of students from all faculties at the University of Waterloo to tell us how Music connects with their other academic pursuits. Their answers reveal that Music has contributed to a stimulating interdisciplinary environment, revealing surprising partnerships between different fields of study.


Jewel Reyes playing the pianoJewel chose the Music Program at Grebel because she was “always arts-oriented growing up” and she wanted to continue her passion in music throughout university.“I love brainstorming ideas or finding solutions to complex matters. Arts and Business effectively combines both of my passions into one program,” shared Jewel, who just completed her final term, majoring in Music and minoring in Human Resources Management. She used her co-op program as an opportunity to explore careers that combine her interests as seamlessly as her studies do.


Ashley Johnson singing beside pianoWith heavy workloads, students have found that adding music to their degrees provided an essential balance in their student life. “I could not think of my life without music. Even in university, I craved the balance between creative arts and logical science,” said Ashley Johnson, a fourth-year Medicinal Chemistry student with a Music minor. “Music provides a wonderful break for my brain from all the equations and molecules and uses it in a different way.


Students performing Gamelan on stagePractising music together in ensembles gives students the chance to learn from a diverse group of talented peers and staff, and find themselves part of a welcoming community. “I was able to meet so many different and unique people who I share common musical interests with through ensembles,” said Brandon Lee, a third-year Honours Arts and Business student who plays with the Balinese Gamelan Ensemble.


Student playing violinShayan's personal philosophy is that university is a place to seek out passions and discover what you are interested in. “Music is a large part of my life, regardless of my career,” said Shayan, who is in his final term of Computer Science with a minor in Music. His interest in computer science was planted when he took a programming course in high school, but he also grew up loving and appreciating how playing music fosters social connections and community building, especially in the Bahá’i faith community in which he grew up. “Having musical knowledge to any degree is a very useful tool in social contexts; it has a strong power of bringing people together and making connections with others,” he added. Shayan has been enrolled in Orchestra@UWaterloo for eight terms and participated in the Instrumental Chamber Ensemble as well. “My student life absolutely would not have been the same without ensembles. The CS program stimulates certain parts of your brain, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Having music as a creative outlet is very beneficial for my mental health and overall motivation because of the variety of challenges that it involves,” he shared.


Student standing playing saxaphoneWhether exploring music for personal fulfillment or credit, being in ensembles is often an artistic escape for students. Although Kinesiology and Music are seemingly different disciplines, Ana Hill finds beauty in how they intertwine. “Music is naturally a fantastic way to initiate movement, from tapping your foot to full-on dancing! It motivates us while we exercise so that we can increase our stamina and improve overall performance,” she said. Ana plays alto saxophone in the Jazz Ensemble and is grateful for the space she found at Grebel. “Weekly rehearsals are a great escape and provide a sense of community and creativity in a welcoming environment.”


Student standing holding open book of music scoresParticipating in ensembles helps students from all corners of UWaterloo to connect with others who share their love for listening, playing, and exploring music. That is one of the reasons why Hannah Rivers, a fourth-year Systems Design Engineering student minoring in Music Studio for voice, would not change her experience for the world. “One of my favourite things about making music in classes, Chamber Choir, and University of Waterloo Choir is the quality of the musicianship. In other facets of my life, I’m lucky to find a few people who are musical to sing or play instruments with, but at Grebel, so many people are such great musicians!” she explained. “It really is a pleasure to work as a group and create something beautiful.”

Through Music majors or minors, classes and ensembles, music is a vibrant and powerful tool to bring people together, to inspire one another, to foster a sense of unity and connection, and to make lasting memories.