Joint Honours Music and German, 2007Alicia

As many do, Alicia Turman discovered that the program she was in was something she actually wasn’t interested in learning. She had been highly involved in music in high school, but once she came to university she focused on other subjects. “I spent the first semester in courses that weren’t really speaking to me and I thought to myself I have to take a music course next semester.” Once she had music back in her life, starting first with an interest in joining choirs, she felt complete again. From there, Alicia decided to switch her plans and became a joint music and German major, with a focus on vocal studio.

This decision to change ended up being a life-changing one, and Alicia reflects on the good memories she gained because of it. The small size of the department made it easy to know all her classmates, and to become a part of the music department family. Alicia remembers the efforts professors made to make classes a community as well. She felt the professors were building a community as if to say,

…this is where you’re supposed to be, we’re here to support you.

It was in this environment that Alicia discovered what she wanted to do after graduation. While being a teacher wasn’t always something Alicia had planned to do, looking back at her life, it’s something she feels was always meant to be. It was present in her personality and activities. During her undergrad, she even took private students to teach music. Upon graduation in 2007 with a Bachelor in Joint Honours Music and German, Alicia headed off to Western University to start her journey of becoming a teacher.

After graduating teacher’s college, Alicia had the opportunity to teach in Sweden. It was an International English school, which is similar in concept to the Canadian idea of French Immersion schools, “It’s a very different system, but they value music. Music is taught to everybody up until grade ten. So it’s not an optional course.” She ended up teaching music to a whole school of children. While you may be quick to assume that it would be difficult to teach to children whose native language is very different from your own, Alicia felt that the universality of the subject allowed students to understand despite any differences in language. She enjoyed being a part of a system where music was so highly valued; in contrast to the Canadian system, Alicia felt that the Swedish style of teaching music up until grade ten allowed students to be more well-rounded. Of the Canadian System she says, “You don’t always get to see that grade nine student who is great at music in grade twelve.” She has returned to Canada and is currently teaching in the Waterloo Region at a Catholic Secondary School, where she teaches music. Alicia loves what she does, she gets to see a side of students most teachers often don’t. Subjects in the arts need a unique safe space to allow for creativity and the innate vulnerability that students are required to show.

Looking back on her undergrad Alicia, like most, wishes she would have practiced more. Hoping other students can learn from her example, she encourages students to take some risks with their courses. From the experiences she has had, she also emphasizes the importance of exposing yourself to as many tunities as possible. “The music world while quite big is also quite small, the connections you make in university will last you a lifetime and they will come in handy.” Alicia’s experiences allow her to be amazing teacher, and her passion for her job is exactly what students deserve.