Student profiles

Learn how current students are integrating music into their university experiences

Creating Balance - Deepening a Relationship with Music - Scholarship Support Opens OpportunitiesFinding Harmony with Music and Language - Exploring Studies with a Sense of Freedom - Complimenting Disciplines - Interdisciplinary Option - Mental BreakVersatility of Application & Expression - Creating Music is a Joyful Experience - Growing as a Musician

Lila H. 

Lila H4B, Joint, Combinatorics & Optimization Honours Co-op, Computer Science Honours

Music is better together, and Lila adores violin for this very reason. She began playing the instrument in her city's Youth Orchestra throughout secondary school, and by the end of her high school years she taught both the violin and piano to fellow students. When Lila enrolled at the University of Waterloo for Computer Science and Combinatorics & Optimization double-major, she was happy to learn that Conrad Grebel University College offered a variety of ensembles for her to participate in for credit. 

Since enrolling at UWaterloo 4 years ago, Lila has played violin and viola in the orchestra@uwaterloo and instrumental chamber ensembles at Grebel. This was Lila’s first time playing chamber music—before her interests were more aligned with orchestral and solo violin works, but the chamber ensemble at Grebel introduced her to a new world of song. “I’ve found chamber to be especially fun, since I got to meet new people who share this common interest in music and work closely on exciting pieces with them,” Lila said. “The small group size makes it easier to plan around everyone’s schedule, hear each person’s opinions, and go more in depth on pieces.” Music will always hold a place in Lila’s heart. After graduation, she hopes to participate in community ensembles and continue to play music with her friends.

Zhuoyun (Olivia) L. 

Zhuoyun L.3A, Biomedical Engineering Honours Co-op

There is freedom in music. “I remember back in January 2020 when COVID-19 just started to spread,” Zhuoyun began. “I was afraid, lonely, confused, and at times I felt utterly helpless. I was on co-op, and would practice my cello every day after work. It was like I could no longer feel all the mixed emotions when focusing on the techniques and dynamics of a certain piece—I felt free.  Music gives me a way to escape.”

Zhuoyun was first introduced to the cello when she was young, and as she got older, she discovered a knack for mathematics and engineering. In 2014, she left her home in China to live in Toronto, and when it came time to apply for university, she found that Biomedical Engineering at the University of Waterloo appealed to her interests. Due to co-op and having family in another country, Zhuoyun spent a lot of time moving from place to place. And because of this, she found it difficult to find a music group where she could continue to perform on her cello. “I was quite excited when I found out there was an orchestra here at UWaterloo,” Zhuoyun said. “It offered me a chance to keep playing, while bringing together a great group of like-minded people.” Since enrolling at Waterloo, Zhuoyun has played cello in the in-person orchestra@uwaterloo, and now the Integrated Online Instrumental Music Ensemble.

Justin S.

2A, Mechanical Engineering, Honours Co-op, Music Minor

Justin is a second year student majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Before attending the University of Waterloo, he performed in the Canadian String Orchestra and the Ontario Strings Association of Youth Orchestra. These ensemble groups gave Justin a strong sense of belonging, and he wanted to pursue similar opportunities in university. When the first opportunity arose, Justin joined the orchestra@uwaterloo and signed up for as many Music courses as he could at Conrad Grebel University College. Now, he has a minor in Music and participates in the winter 2021 online ensemble.

Sara Brown4B, Arts Honours: Music with an Intensive Music Specialization

Freedom, family, happiness—music means all this and more to Sarah. She was drawn to Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo because she wished to surround herself with music and embrace her passion wholeheartedly. Not only did the Honours Music program do just that, but Grebel offered a variety of ensembles and musical leadership opportunities for Sarah to take advantage of. Throughout her degree, she participated in the Chamber Choir, led as the student ambassador to the 2018 Grebel Sings initiative, worked as an Arts ambassador for the Music Department, and as student outreach at university fairs.

Before deciding to fully pursue music, Sarah started out in acting and stage fighting. She always enjoyed performing in front of others, sharing her wide range of talents with excited audiences. In Sarah’s final year of high school, one of her long-term castmates bet that Sarah would not be able to join her choir. Sarah took this as a challenge, auditioned successfully, and soon found herself in a new world of possibilities. “I found out really quickly that I loved choir as a performance method far more than anything I had done before,” Sarah said, “and am immensely thankful for my younger, more spontaneous self for trying new things.” From that moment, Sarah knew that she wanted to pursue music—to continue to sing and perform.

 Ashley J.

Ashley Johnson3A, Joint, Honours Biomedical Science and Honours Music

Music means everything to Ashley. “Everything. I don’t know how I could live without it. I just HAVE to sing. Music lets me express anything and everything.” As enthusiastic as Ashley is about music, it isn’t her only passion. She “loves” the challenge of science and chemistry, and “could not live without music” in her life, so she decided to pursue both her interests. At first, the thought of a Music minor crossed her mind, but Ashley realized that she wanted no limit on the Music classes she could take. So despite the intense schedule, Ashley was excited to pursue a joint Music and Medicinal Chemistry major.


tessa3A, Honours Arts French, with Music minor

Tessa is a second year Arts student specializing in French Teaching with a Music minor. She enjoys learning languages and her dream is to become a French immersion teacher. At the same time music has always been an integral part of her life, which she hopes to incorporate into her teaching. At Conrad Grebel University College she seized the opportunity to take part in various University of Waterloo Music courses, Voice Studio, Chamber Choir—both in-person and virtually—and is currently a member of the Chapel Choir.

Rachel C.

Rachel smiling4A, Honours Arts Legal Studies, with Music minor

Rachel is a third year Arts student majoring in Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo. As a result of her childhood musical experiences, she was drawn to minor in Music offered at Conrad Grebel University College. Rachel began taking music lessons at a young age, starting with the piano and branching out into the flute and voice later on. Since coming to UWaterloo, she has been a member of the Chamber Choir and is currently part of the Chapel Choir. As time goes on, she plans to continue singing in choirs and possibly pursue a path in teaching music. 


Joint, Honours Biomedical Science and Honours Music

Currently in her second year, Amanda is proving that you don’t have to be in the arts faculty to pursue your love of music. Amanda is an Honours Biomedical Science student with joint Honours in Music, and is heavily involved in the ICE ensembles where she plays violin. She grew up adoring the music of Natalie McMaster and Leahy’s, and it was after attending a Natalie McMaster concert that Amanda knew she wanted to play the violin. She received one that Christmas. Amanda was heavily involved in music in high school and is glad to continue her musical passion into university, as a member of the Instrumental Chamber Ensemble (ICE).

"ICE ensembles are influenced by your decisions and what you want to play. You can choose your own music, and rehearse with your group members on your own terms, which is great if you have a busy schedule like I do,” Amanda said. “Each term the groups are different, giving you opportunities to play with different people and different instruments."