Tag Archives: graduation

Parting Thoughts (Dreams Can Come True)

I have graduated.


Graduating felt so good that honestly, I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t want to attend their convocation. Okay, I can imagine a few, but the feelings of pride, happiness, accomplishment, and fulfillment was so overwhelming that two days ago I actually starting crying a little bit after I walked across the stage. Being recognized for all your hard work and shaking the hands of your favourite professors who are so proud of you is just so powerful.

As I sat in the Chan Centre on Wednesday, I thought about all the things that have happened in that hall. Hearing the Dean of Arts speak on Imagine Day and chanting our faculty cheers. My first orchestra rehearsal in which I was so scared I missed pretty much all of my entrances. Playing an opera in second year. Playing my very last orchestra concert, Mahler’s second symphony, receiving two standing ovations. Convocation. And later in the evening, playing a solo in the Baccalaureate Concert.

It has been such a wild ride here at UBC. If you’ve kept up with my blog, you’ll know that there have been bad times, including homesickness, disappointment, injury, and anxiety. But so many of the things I wanted from UBC came to me. I wanted to go abroad; at first I thought I wouldn’t be able to but was given the opportunity to go to Belgium for two weeks with the UBC Laptop Orchestra. I wanted to make the lifelong friends that everyone talks about making in college. It took me about six months but I found the friends that have been like family the last four years and who I am sure I will stay friends with for a very long time. I’ve always sort of imagined in the back of my head what it would be like to be a valedictorian, and although I wasn’t one, I was asked by the director of the School of Music to give a short speech at the music reception after the graduation ceremony. And since the first time I saw a picture of the Chan Centre, I wanted to play a solo on that stage. And I did on Wednesday night.

I would like to end this final post with a message to incoming students, or anyone who is a few years along and maybe feeling a bit lost:

Your time at UBC will be many things. It will be hard, it will be fun, it will be challenging, rewarding, lonely, and full of friends. There will be lows, yes, but there will also be such amazing highs! UBC really is a place where you can make your dreams come true, as corny as that sounds, if you know what you want and go for it. You might be homesick, or lonely, or be struggling with your schoolwork; you might even decide that UBC is not for you at all. Whatever your situation is, UBC has resources to help you and things always get better. There is so much opportunity for growth here; enjoy it while you can because it will be over before you know it.

When I arrived at UBC four years ago, I didn’t know a soul in the city and I was homesick and so scared I could barely eat. At my Imagine Day rally, President Toope said that he hoped UBC would become our home, or at least our second home. I thought, “That is NEVER going to happen.” Well, it did. It did, and now it’s time to say goodbye.

So long, UBC. It’s been rad.


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I’ll Miss You, Vancouver

I will be moving back to Winnipeg at the beginning of June. The thought fills me with many feelings, some good, some bad. So I thought, why not make a list? So here it is: Things I’ll miss about Vancouver, things I won’t, and things I’m looking forward to back home.

Things I’ll Miss About Vancouver:

  • The warm, green winters. Not sure how I’m going to deal when next March Winnipeg is still under snow.
  • The huge amount of small businesses and variety of independently owned restaurants and shops.
  • The cherry blossoms. And rhododendrons. And magnolias.
  • The transit system. People like to complain, but we generally get a lot of bus service for a reasonable price! Winnipeg’s transit system isn’t nearly so nice.
  • The mountains and the ocean.
  • The lack of potholes on the roads.
  • How active everyone seems here.
  • Seeing the skiing trails lit up against the night sky.
  • BURGOO! And Dentry’s. And Grounds for Coffee. (Those cinnamon buns!!)
  • My friends. Although; my friends are all actually moving away from Vancouver this year as well, so it’s not like staying would fix this problem.
  • How well dressed everyone is here!
  • How walkable the city is.
  • How much cheaper the produce is.
  • No mosquitos!

Things I definitely will NOT miss:

  • The rain. I hate rain. So much.
  • How much it costs to live here.
  • The fact that everything I want to go to is so far away. Seriously! It takes so long to go anywhere!
  • Getting passed by the bus.
  • That wet, wet cold.

Things I’m looking forward to back home:

  • Prairie sunsets.
  • Prairie autumns. I haven’t been home in the fall in FOUR YEARS and I am so excited for this September! Fall on the prairies is the best.
  • Snowy Christmas season.
  • Reconnecting with old friends.
  • Having my boyfriend in the same city.
  • Not paying rent and saving money by living with my parents.
  • Having a tub-shower (in my apartment they are separate and I don’t like it).
  • Having actual natural light in my bedroom (again, my room here is very dark).
  • Some of my favourite Winnipeg haunts.
  • Being able to take gigs because I’ll have access to a vehicle.

I’m sure there’s more that I can’t think of at the moment, but I think you get the picture; leaving a city and moving back to another is a mixed bag of emotions.

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Mahler 2

Mahler’s second symphony, “Resurrection” is one of the most epic and moving pieces ever written for orchestra. It is an hour and a half long, is very complex and difficult to play, and requires a huge orchestra and choir. The UBC Symphony Orchestra and Choirs played it, twice, this past Friday and Saturday and I was lucky enough to be seated on stage playing the second harp part.

It is difficult for me to articulate how wonderful it was to be able to play Mahler 2; the music is so beautiful and interesting and the harps can actually be heard and when the choir sang, I got shivers, every time.

It’s not a piece that is performed often, even by professional orchestras, so the fact that we did it here at UBC is not only a milestone for the school, but a privilege that I have been able to play it as part of my university career.

Saturday night was a little bit emotional for me; for all I know, it could be the last time I play in an orchestra; it will probably be the last time I play with my friend Vivian, who has been my harpist friend since first year when we both entered the program; and what a symphony to be the last I would play at UBC! What a symphony to accompany my graduation.

I am sentimental now that I am leaving UBC, and although there is a little sadness, I am once again filled with the awe that I felt when I first toured UBC and first began taking classes. I actually went here. It was mine. It still is, for a little longer. I am a student at one of the best universities in the world. I have been awarded amazing opportunities such as travelling to Belgium and playing Mahler. I have also formed meaningful and lasting relationships with my professors and peers that I am sure will last going forward. I have also grown tremendously, academically, musically, and personally.


Tuum est.


It is mine.

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Yep, I’ve got it bad. I feel lazy and unmotivated and I used to think I had the dreaded “senioritis” in second and third year, but boy, was I wrong. I just feel so done with everything to do with school. I haven’t even been writing on my blog!

After three years, I guess at this point I’m feeling tired. Tired of feeling restricted by expectations and course requirements, tired of feeling judged. I’m tired of the mentality of trying to play music in order to get good marks, or to impress someone. I’m looking forward to getting out of school where I can get back to basics: making music to share and connect with others.

I think in a way I feel like UBC no longer belongs to me. I feel like I belong at UBC, but UBC is a place for growing. I have grown, and now I am ready to fly the nest. UBC belongs to all the new faces just getting started, who will get to enjoy all the new buildings and not just the construction detours (I’m not bitter, I swear).

I’m excited to graduate. (Let’s ignore the fact that I’ll be leaving all my friends here, for a moment.) Earlier this summer I was scared thinking about what I would do for money directly after graduation, but at this point, even a mundane job not relating to my degree sounds like a nice change of pace.

For the time being, I’ll try to still get all my assignments and practicing done despite my lethargy and hold on for just a few months more.

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My Plan

I thought I’d take a bit of time and talk about some of the dreams I have for the future; hopefully that’s of interest to someone. This may end up being a long post; I have a lot dreams and plans for the future.

What can one do with a degree in harp performance? Usually people assume that I want to play in an orchestra, but although I’m not totally closed to the idea, I really don’t see myself doing that as a career. Before I actually played in an orchestra I thought that that was what I wanted to do, but I discovered in the last two years that I find playing solo music in performance and in my own home more rewarding than playing in orchestra. Plus, I want to live in Winnipeg (since my family, many of my friends, and my long-term boyfriend live there), and being set on orchestra playing would mean I’d most likely have to move somewhere else. So basically, if the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra had a spot, I might try out for it, but that’s about it for orchestra.

Once I graduate, I hope to go to Chicago for a year to the Lyon & Healy harp factory and do an apprenticeship to learn how to do harp maintenance. That way, I can maintain my own harps, fix other peoples’ for money (there isn’t anyone in Winnipeg or the prairies that I know of that does maintenance), and potentially travel to Vancouver to service the many harps in the city and visit my UBC friends at the same time.

That won’t be a lot of income though, so I plan on doing a lot of gigging; that is, playing at weddings and private events, etc. That means I get to play fun music. I get to pick the songs I play (for the most part, anyway). And the appreciation people give for your playing in those situations is just so gratifying and it makes it incredibly meaningful. And in case you were wondering, there is actually quite a lot of this type of work for harpists, and since there aren’t too many of us it shouldn’t be too hard to get hired!

I also see myself doing a lot of teaching. I’ve loved the teaching I’ve done in the past, I love connecting with students, and I loved the idea of being my own boss. I have this dream of buying up used harps and renting them out to people – many of whom could be my students. The harp is an expensive instrument, so renting them will make it more accessible to those who want to learn, thereby drawing in more students, and also bringing in revenue for me without trying too hard.

One other thing I’ve been doing is making harp arrangements and posting videos of them on Youtube. I’ve started to get a bit of a following, so I’m excited to see where this takes me in the future as I continue to make more videos and (hopefully) improve as I go along. Once I garner enough arrangements, maybe I’ll publish a book of them! Or a book of my own compositions, or a teaching book! Or maybe I’ll be able to record an album and sell it on iTunes, or go on tour! There are so many possibilities and it’s so exciting!

So no, playing in an orchestra is not the only thing you can do as a musician. That’s my plan and dream for the fear-inducing “after graduation” that everyone seems to dread. Except that for me, I’m really quite excited.


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