What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
In high school, I really enjoyed my theatre classes and being involved in my school’s music program such that I wanted to learn more about them in university. All history, theory, culture and performances aside, I really wanted to learn how both of them intersect in interdisciplinary art. Therefore, it became important to me that I do both together. All of the universities I applied to would not allow me to do both, so when Professor Barry Freeman from the Theatre and Performance Studies program said that I can do both at UTSC, I decided to accept the University’s offer. I started my first year with the intentions of doing a double major in Music and Culture, and in Theatre and Performance Studies programs within the Department of Arts, Culture and Media (ACM). I heard about the Arts Management program from my fellow musicians in the UTSC Concert Band. I heard that it was quite intensive, required a lot of reading and writing, and a fast-paced program. However, what made me interested is that I could combine both art and business, which I wished I explored more in high school, in the program. Also, I knew that if I were to find a career, I would want to work in a field that I could see myself enjoying and holds value for me. I applied to get into the program in the summer of my first year, and here I am now in my final year!
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
Entry to the Arts Management program is quite competitive. What I really like about this is that all students in the program have their own major interests; therefore, undergraduate experiences in the program are quite customized for each student. I’d like to think that being an arts management student, I get to have the best of both worlds because I’m not ‘stuck’ in one specialist, but I get the chance to float around and learn more about music and/or theatre. However, don't be fooled: Arts Management is quite intensive, requires a lot of work, and is competitive - it's all worth it, though! :) Similarly, the Music & Culture program is its own community within ACM, as well! With the changes in the Calendar, the program is more flexible than ever! There are three streams of studies: Music and Society; Community Music; and Music Creativity and Technology. You can create your learning experience in music and your course selection based on your interests in these three streams. On top of that, you may pair your Music Major (or Minor) with other disciplines. Many of my peers in our performing ensembles (UTSC Concert Band, UTSC Concert Choir, UTSC String Orchestra, or Small Ensemble) pair their Music Major with studies in computer science, biology, and management, to name a few.
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
1. Keep an open mind and be prepared to learn. We all come to university with our own way of thinking, and attending classes and participating in discussions may or may not change the way we think. Be open to these thoughts, to new ideas, and try your best to apply critical thinking. Most importantly, as a professor of mine ALWAYS says: "Write it down!" Write your ideas down, no matter how small or unimportant they may seem to you, because you never know when you'll need them. Always come prepared to class, and make the most of the resources around you!
2. Seek help when you need it. You don’t have to go through all of your undergraduate career alone! ACM has the most helpful staff, who will help you when you need to book a rehearsal space, or rent out the AV equipment you need for class or a project. The faculty is superb and friendly; and they have a lot of experience working with not only their research, but also the classes you are taking. Most importantly, they want to help you! Don’t be afraid to say “hi” to them - get to know your professors and visit them during their office hours! One of the things I learned throughout my undergraduate career is that professors are more likely to help people who are proactive in their learning and experiential experience, so take the initiative, and start conversations with them!
3. Have fun! University is a place to explore, learn and gain more in-depth knowledge on your interests, so use it as a safe space to experiment and step out of your comfort zone. Join student clubs, or even start your own! Gain experience through the work-study program, and see if there’s a way to work with the professor, or department of your interest! Take advantage of all the available opportunities, and use them to shape your own undergraduate experience, because university is more than just hitting the books - it is also about the experience. Get involved, take it easy, and know that you have a support system with you when you need it.
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
This past year, I have been taking a very interesting course on Community Music and how music is being used as a tool for developing communities in various lenses, such as in adult education, social justice, and community music therapy. I have been getting more and more inspired by what I am learning that I am currently applying to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) for the Master of Education program in student development, as well as community development. I want to investigate how I can use arts-based approaches to develop stronger communities and engagement in higher education, and with the community partners that the institutions work with. On a completely different (but slightly related) note, I would really love to work in developing educational programming for schools within performing arts organizations, such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Stage.
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
My academic journey is quite different than how it might have looked like, had I applied to the Arts Management program directly from high school. Therefore, my journey was quite unconventional. I started my first year with the intentions of doing a Double Major in Music & Culture and Theatre & Performance Studies, therefore, my first year consisted of taking the introductory courses I need for both programs, such as Introduction to Theatre, Listening to Music, Music of the World’s Peoples, and Materials of Music. I also used my first year of university to satisfy my breadth requirements in the Natural Sciences and Quantitative Reasoning categories - I found that the earlier I was to do this, the better, because they are meant to be exploratory courses for first years, and if I already thought of doing further studies after my undergraduate career, it would not affect my final GPA as much. My second year was quite complicated. When I was accepted in the Arts Management program at the beginning of my second year in undergraduate studies, I started taking my introductory arts management courses, such as Introduction to Arts Management and Audience and Resource Development. In addition to these, I also took two introductory management courses from the Department of Management. Because Arts Management is a specialist program, it was not recommended for me to do a Double Major due to heavy workload. After speaking with my program director, we have agreed that I will be doing a double minor instead to satisfy the Arts Requirements within the specialist program. This was a great compromise because I was able to do arts management, and still practice both of my artistic disciplines. With her permission, I was also able to take a few B-level arts management courses due to my previous experiences. I also continued taking music history and theatre history courses to satisfy my double minor requirements. In my third year, I took the majority of the B-level and a number of C-level courses in Arts Management, such as Principles and Practices in Arts Management, which was one of my favourite courses because I had the chance to go on a 30-hour placement with an arts organization. I had the chance to learn about and work with the Toronto Children’s Chorus, one of the world’s finest treble choirs (after finishing my placement, they immediately hired me for that summer. I am currently still in touch with the organization since I joined their Youth Choir). Some of the senior level classes I took during the year were the Legal & HR in Arts Management and Arts Marketing. In this program, most classes are cycled through every two years, therefore it is important to take required courses as soon as they are offered in the year, or you might have to wait for two more years to take it. I also took my senior Theatre and Performance Studies classes, and participated in the annual theatre production, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. After that winter semester, I successfully finished my minor in theatre. Last fall, I completed my requirements for my music minor. A fantastic aspect of both my minor programs is that they are very flexible, and it is up to the student to shape their own learning through the choice of courses. To fulfill my requirements in music, I took courses that included Jazz; Music, Movies, and Meaning, and Introduction to Community Music. At the moment, I am on my way to finishing my degree. I am currently taking two senior Arts Management courses: Fundraising and Development in the Arts, and the Senior Seminar in Arts Management (or simply Senior Seminar). Senior Seminar is a capstone course of the graduating cohort. It allows students to apply what they have learned throughout the past four years in the program into the creation, planning, and execution of a project that is of value to everyone in the class. In addition to these, I have been taking the course, Exploring Community Music, which is a continuation of the introductory course from the fall, which allows me to learn more about community music, and explore other interests/areas of studies in music that is beyond performance and teaching. The past four years have been quite intensive and busy, but I am thankful for the challenges I have encountered throughout my undergraduate career. From interesting course structures, through the experimental things I have done, I even made it through all the calendar changes in all of my programs! It requires a lot of planning, organizing, and road mapping your path every single semester, and the following semesters ahead. I`m glad I came to UTSC, and I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to study what I love, and learn more from it beyond the readings and the walls of the classrooms. I hope you find a home within the community of people you are learning with, no matter which program you choose, and know that there is help all around!