Student profiles

Flexibility and diversity | Ideas start here! | Small community - broad experience | "Songs of Struggle" | Integrating music with math | Flexibility with joint-honoursWhat I loved most while studying voice | Teacher's college and beyond

Flexibility and diversity

SophiaDrawn to Waterloo’s flexible approach to studying Music, Sophia is exploring a variety of disciplines while still focusing on her passion for music. She loves the chance to expand her musical skill set with opportunities to join the University Choir, Stage Band, Instrumental Ensembles, and other groups. And while immersing herself in music, Sophia has the freedom to follow her other interests and take classes in different faculties like biology, kinesiology, psychology and English. Pursuing her interests led Sophia to an interesting research project involving ancient neumes and the transcription of them into modern notation.

The wide array of courses in the Department of Music gives Sophia the advantage of being able to sample all areas of music - from traditional history and theory classes, to Music and Film, Music and Technology, and Introduction to Jazz. Sophia credits this variety for her growth as a musician and as a student, as it has helped her determine her strengths and areas of improvement. She is even going on a school exchange to study in Paris for a term.

One of my favourite things about Grebel is the home it provides on the huge campus at Waterloo. The Atrium and cafeteria are some of my favourite places to escape busy campus life and comfortably study, eat, and meet up with friends!

Housed at Grebel, the smaller size of the Department of Music fosters a strong community between students and faculty, allowing for personal relationships that facilitate learning in an encouraging environment. Based on these relationships, Sophia is confident that her experience at Grebel will give her a strong foundation and wonderful support for whatever her future holds.

"Ideas start here!"

KyleKyle has always been an interdisciplinary kind of guy. In high school he was a performer, a creator, and a teacher of music, so it just made sense for him to study music more formally. He was drawn to Waterloo because music students can get a broad education and take other subjects outside of music. For Kyle, Music and Business were the perfect combination!

In his second year of school, taking the advice of his entrepreneurship professor to pay attention to the resources around you, Kyle realized that he was surrounded by a wealth of talented but cash-strapped musicians. Pitching his idea to his fellow students, Kyle recruited a number of aspiring and qualified teachers ready to give lessons in piano, guitar, percussion, violin, and vocal music. He set up a website to connect the teachers with young students.

One of the things that Kyle likes best about taking music at Grebel is the diverse and close-knit community. He loves how the class sizes are small and the professors and studio instructors are top-notch. Through both his business and Music Society, Kyle’s gotten to know lots of students in upper and lower years. He feels incredibly supported by the Faculty of Music who have given him advice, encouragement, and even workshops for the teachers in his business. Beyond the practical knowledge and skills that he is acquiring through his classes and studio time, Kyle is connecting with the entire music community.

Crediting the freedom in the music program as the primary reason for dreaming up his business, Kyle plans to continue growing it after graduation – and maybe tour, and perform, and study, and teach! Kyle doesn’t need to narrow his interests – not in the music program, and not for his future!

Small community - broad experience

LaurenLauren was initially attracted to the flexibility and interdisciplinary approach to studying Music at Waterloo. She has continued to enjoy the amazing community of the music department finding the professors and students alike are encouraging and welcoming, making her feel like an important part of the program.

The Department of Music, housed at Grebel, maintains small class sizes and a diverse range of courses that have allowed Lauren to explore a variety interests. She has been profoundly impacted by courses such as Twentieth Century Music Theory which combined her theoretical knowledge of music with practical application. Music Studio courses have influenced Lauren in a positive way as she studies alongside a highly skilled instructor who cares about her personal success. Outside the classroom, she is gaining practical knowledge and experience from choir, weekly noon hour concerts, student recitals, and approachable professors.

Knowing she will receive a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Lauren is excited about the possibility of furthering her knowledge and education at Waterloo. With the expansive education she’s able to get in the Music program, with an English minor, she is confident she will have diverse career options and is interested in pursuing teaching.

The encouragement and friendly nature of people is always felt in Waterloo’s Music program.

  "Songs of Struggle"

AlinaAlina Balzer-Peters studied Women's Studies and Music during her time at UWaterloo. While focusing on voice studio and after taking a recent trip to South Africa, Alina has developed a keen interest in the power of words through song. Her paper, "Songs of Struggle – Anabaptists in the Apartheid?" focused on several powerful African women of song who have overcome extreme hardships and triumphed over daunting circumstances and who have crafted songs evoking strong emotion from South Africans and people around the world.

Integrating music with math

PeterPeter Gibbs, Mathematics and Music joint-honours co-op student (class of 2009), originally came to the University of Waterloo to study mathematics:

What initially attracted me to the university was the reputation of the Faculty of Mathematics, as well as its reputation as a whole as one that would offer a valuable and recognizable degree.

After studying piano through the Music Studio program and participating in University Choir, Peter soon decided to expand upon his musical interests by pursuing a joint degree:

Initially, I decided to study music at Conrad Grebel because I wanted to expand the focus of my studies to create a more varied and unique viewpoint. What is always interesting to me is the relationship between mathematics and music on social, psychological, and also spiritual levels. Integrating music into my studies has allowed me to continue with what is important to me as well as pursue a degree that I believe will be unique and valuable. My degree has given me an opportunity to participate in the cooperative education system at the University of Waterloo. As part of this system, I currently work as a music instructor for the summer ACE (Arts Computer Experience) camp run by the university.

Peter cites the following as what he likes best about the University of Waterloo Department of Music at Conrad Grebel University College:

The tight-knit community at Conrad Grebel is always welcoming and friendly. The staff and professors are approachable and know the students by name.

Flexibility with joint-honours

HingmanHingman Leung demonstrates the flexibility of Waterloo’s Music program very well. When she graduates, her diploma will read "Joint Honours Co-op: Environment and Resource Studies and Music." She is currently working on her thesis entitled “Music and Nature." Through her work, Hingman aims to draw together links between the environment and music in order to build a basis for the combined study of the two fields. 

Besides her undergraduate thesis, Hingman is taking the following courses this term: Music Theory, Aesthetics of Music, and Development of Environmental Thought II. Hingman’s main instrument is viola and she is a member of David Rose’s viola studio. In addition to private instrumental study, Hingman participates in Instrumental Chamber Ensembles, her own string quartet, and is the principal violist of "Orchestra@UW." She chose to study Music at Waterloo after participating in Waterloo Instrumental Chamber Ensembles:  

Through Waterloo's Instrumental Chamber Ensembles, I met a variety of students who are involved with music at various levels through Conrad Grebel and saw that I, too, could bring music into my studies as a minor. After taking a few Music courses, I found that Waterloo offered many opportunities for Music students both in and outside of traditional classes. Finding much enjoyment in the Music program at Conrad Grebel, I decided to stay for an extra year to change my academic plan from Music as a minor to joint honours. 

Hingman cites the sense of community as her favourite thing about being a UWaterloo music major:

I really love the community spirit within Conrad Grebel and its Music program. Ever since becoming involved with music here, I have felt like I was part of a diverse family centred by music. It was great to see that like the Environmental Studies faculty, our teachers at Conrad Grebel are genuine and down-to-earth and interact with us on a first-name basis. 

In addition to music, she enjoys debating with her roommates, knitting, and playing with her cat named Schrödinger.

What I loved most while studying voice

LauraWhile at Waterloo, Laura Wallace's Bachelor of Arts degree included a major in honours music with two minors - Psychology and Church Music and Worship. In addition to performing her senior voice recital, Laura took Soundtracks: Music in Film, Peace and Roots of Conflict, Violence and Peace, Dance, University Choir and Religious Studies in her final year of study. Laura chose to attend the University of Waterloo because of its strong reputation, the opportunity to customize her degree program, and the flexibility of being able to work while still completing coursework. Laura cites the following as her favourite aspects of her experience in the Department of Music:

One of the things I've enjoyed the most about my experience with the Music department is the many opportunities to work closely with our professors. The professors here are all eager to see us succeed and do whatever they can to encourage and support us to that end. Also, there is a deep sense of community among the students in the department, especially the vocal students. Although there is a healthy sense of competition, it does not outweigh our enthusiasm to encourage one another and celebrate our successes together.

Perhaps my favourite music course was Aesthetics of Music, a seminar course I took in winter of 2007. I think it was the very self-directed approach to the material that appealed the most. Also, each person came to the course with a different music perspective - everything from music therapy to the connection between math and music, and the history of blues music. It was a very inspiring course, allowing all of us to explore our own connection to music. The other two courses I especially loved were Opera and Art Song, as I found the material covered in both particularly relevant to my studio classes in voice.

I feel my degree gives me many options to pursue in the future. My long-term goals include attending graduate school in music therapy, and continuing to perform. However, I'm very thankful for my broad Arts degree which allowed me to not only study music but also a wide range of other subjects.

In addition to participating in University Choir and Menno Singers as a soprano, Laura enjoys reading novels, dancing, discussing and debating social issues, and spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors.

Teacher's college and beyond

AliciaAlicia Christie is a 2007 graduate of the University of Waterloo with a joint-honours in Music and German. Alicia cites the following as some of her favourite aspects of her experience in the music department at Conrad Grebel University College:


Well, the obvious answer is the people. You feel like you are part of a community when you are in the Music department. Everyone wants you to succeed and everyone is more then willing to go the extra mile.

I also valued the music courses I took. Being a vocal major, Opera, one of the first courses I took at Waterloo, lent itself to being one of my favourite courses. The presentation of material was always interesting, and the professor was always available to answer questions or just discuss the ever- evolving plot lines. Aesthetics of Music was one of the last courses I took at Waterloo, and it was by far the most interesting course I have taken to date. Seeing and understanding music from a more philosophical point of view really made my understanding of music grow deeper. Finally, Music Studio was a particularly exciting course. It involved much independent study, but the rewards were indescribable. Not only was I given the opportunity to grow as a performer, but also I was able to learn from seeing the growth of others who took studio with me. Overall, working with professionals who knew their craft and were able to transfer that knowledge onto their students was an amazing experience. The friendships gained through my music coursework were also very important. I find that my knowledge of music history, ear training, and performance practices gained from these courses has helped me in teaching my own students on a daily basis.

During teacher’s college, Alicia describes how her dual degree gives her an advantage:

At Waterloo, I was able to join my two passions into one degree. Had I gone to any other university, I’m not sure that would have been possible. Now in teacher’s college, having the combination of music and a language is an asset. Not only was I able to learn more about two of my passions but I am now given the opportunity to teach music and German and share my passion with others. In fall of 2009, I will be going to Europe to teach music. I am extremely excited to begin this experience.

Alicia is now back at Waterloo to work on her masters in German.

Flexibility and diversity | Ideas start here! | Small community - broad experience | "Songs of Struggle" | Integrating music with math | Flexibility with joint-honoursWhat I loved most while studying voice | Teacher's college and beyond