Music & Culture: Student Testimonials

Carren Ku

Majors: Psychology and Music & Culture
 

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

I chose Psychology and Music because I enjoy learning about human growth and performing/ composing music. I also have a strong interest in becoming a music teacher and music therapist, so these two programs work really well to bring me the necessary skills and knowledge. By understanding human behaviour and engaging in the expressive arts, I knew that I could become a better communicator in many areas of my life. For example, the skills that I gain from Psychology courses would allow me to interact meaningfully with others and solve problems effectively in various social contexts. Music, which brings happiness to other people, is a practice that involves discipline, concentration and collaboration. By engaging in music, I will develop more creativity, courage and holistic awareness of my present surroundings. These skills are valuable to me and I chose my program areas to learn and improve them.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

The Psychology program is composed of different topics that students can choose to study. Some of the major areas are personality, cognition, mental health, child psychology, social psychology and neuroscience. There are also mandatary courses that help students develop research and data analysis skills. I loved this program because many of the professors spoke of their experience with clinical patients and how they used various assessments and techniques to help their clients. I also gained strong critical thinking skills from reading and writing research papers. The Music and Culture Program is very engaging. Not only are students given the opportunity to learn about music from various cultures and time periods (such as Indonesia gamelan, jazz or music of the Romantic era), they learn music theory and how to compose pieces for different instruments. Moreover, there are wonderful music ensembles on campus such as the UTSC Strings, Band, Concert Choir and Small Ensemble. These courses allow students to improve on their techniques and work with other musicians to develop stronger performance and musicianship skills. I particularly liked that there was individual coaching with professors and that made a big difference in my learning experience.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

1) Be open-minded and try new courses. Apart from studying within your programs, try to explore other subject areas. It may be a new language, writing or science course that you were always curious about. This will help you learn more about yourself, your strengths, and what your interests are, that may be different from what you originally had in mind. It also broadens your knowledge and helps you develop new skill sets.
 
2) Stay active and involved on campus. University is a great time to meet new people and try new things. There are many clubs and events that you can join throughout the year. You may also find relevant volunteer, research and leadership opportunities by connecting with professors and going on to the Career Learning Network (CLN). To stay healthy and maintain a balanced lifestyle, I went to the Athletic Centre often and joined their drop-in programs and yoga classes. It was really a lot of fun and I encourage everyone to be active while pursuing their studies.
 
 3) Plan ahead and use campus resources. It is so important to keep an organized calendar because University life can be really busy. Make sure to mark in your planners when each assignment is due and the date of your tests so that you can manage your time better and arrange other events without overbooking. Throughout your journey at UTSC, there may be moments when you need assistance in writing, coursework or career planning. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the resources available to you such as the Writing Centre, departmental office hours or the Academic Advising and Career Centre.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
With a degree in music and psychology, there are many career options. One could study music therapy, music education, counselling, social work, research, etc. I hope to become a piano teacher and continue lifelong learning in music. I also plan to apply to some Master programs or college courses related to teaching and counselling.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
First year was the time when I learned to navigate through the University and become accustomed to the lecture hall, general course structure and workload. I explored my interests by enrolling in various subject areas and was mainly focused on keeping a consistent study schedule. In my second year, the Psychology courses became more specific and I developed better note-taking strategies. I worked on assignments together with a partner and made many new friends. I also started to join programs at the Athletic Centre and make appointments with a Career Counsellor to discuss my future career options. As I got into third year, I joined the Music & Culture Program and it really transformed my life. I went to rehearsals and coaching every week and composed several ensemble pieces. I also learned about different composers’ lives and analyzed their wonderful compositions. This was also the time when I joined more clubs on campus and kept a balanced workload of reading music vs. reading psychology papers. In my fourth year, class sizes became much smaller and there were some seminar courses. Professors encouraged us to think more critically and actively participate in class discussions.

Eunillyne Tan Lazado

Specialist: Arts Management
Minors: Music & Culture and Theatre and Performance Studies

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!