I’ve applied to a graduate program! What now?

By Katherine Evans, Admissions Manager

Congratulations to all those who have pressed submit on their application for graduate study at UBC Music!  Our faculty are looking forward to reading the materials you have provided, and excited to hear performance applicants audition in person or via video upload. Below is a quick reminder of some deadlines, and a few tips.  

Dec. 1st: Application deadline. If you are interested in a late application, please contact Juliet at music.gradadmissions@ubc.ca.

Dec. 15th: Submission of additional documents:  If documents were requested of you in your application that you haven’t uploaded yet (i.e. transcripts or English proficiency scores) you can upload them to your application by December 15th by logging into your UBC Student Service Centre.  When you log in, you will be able to see a list of the possible documents you can upload.  If you know you have not submitted a specific document, but it isn’t on the list as possible to upload, please contact Juliet; she may be able to help.

Dec. 15th: deadlines for references, either eReferences or the arrival of hard-copy letters. Reminder about references: a reference MUST use an institutional email address in order to use the eReference system.  If you need to change one of your references’ email addresses, please email Juliet and she will update it so that an eReference link can be sent out to them.

Jan. 3rd: upload of video auditions for performance applicants | submission of composition portfolios: hard-copy scores must have arrived at the School of Music and audio/video of the associated recordings must be uploaded into CLAS. If you have trouble uploading into CLAS, please contact me at katherine.evans@ubc.ca

*Reminder about references: a reference MUST use an institutional email address in order to use the eReference system.  If you need to change one of your references’ email addresses, please email Juliet and she will update it so that an eReference link can be sent out to them.

Jan. 12th/13th: is the in-person audition weekend for instrumental and voice applicants (except for clarinet)  You will receive an audition date and time via email with instructions. If you have questions about audition requirements or specific selections, you can contact us.

This post was originally published on Dec. 8, 2017. It has been updated to reflect 2018/19 deadlines.

Thinking about applying to a graduate program? Here are some tips ahead of the Dec. 1 deadline

By Katherine Evans, Admissions Manager

  Photo: Paul Joseph/UBC

Photo: Paul Joseph/UBC

The graduate application deadline is approaching! Dec. 1st is the last day to submit your application to the UBC School of Music for MMus, MA, PhD or DMA programs.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to apply — if, for example, you’re not sure you’ll be ready to audition in time, don’t know your prospective advisor well enough, and so on — I encourage you to reach out to us!

You can contact me and I can help you get in touch with faculty members if you have program-specific questions. We want to help you know that you are well matched with a program here and make sure that you have all the information you need.

Our graduate admissions system is generally very quick and reliable, but as with any system, there are occasionally quirks that can cause confusion for a few applicants each year. Below are a few things to be aware of:

References: “The application system says my reference hasn’t arrived yet.”

a.     Please confirm with your references individually and make sure that they received an email from the UBC graduate system inviting them to submit a reference for you.  If they have not, there could be a typo in the email address you provided to the graduate system. Contact Juliet O’Keefe to resolve this issue.

b.     In order for your references to be able to submit their letters online, the email address you give for them has to be from a paid service — an address hosted by their university, company of employment, or a company like Shaw or Telus, NOT a free email service like Hotmail or Gmail or QQmail.  If a reference only has a free email address, they will receive an email from our graduate system that invites them to can post a hard-copy reference form directly to the School of Music, to be received by December 15th.

c.     Here are the detailed requirements for both forms of reference. Please note that for a hard-copy reference the envelope has to be “sealed and endorsed.”

Supporting documents: “Why is there a document deadline of Dec. 15, separate from the application deadline, and what documents do I need to submit by that date?”

I am so glad you asked! Between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15, you can upload transcripts and English proficiency test scores. The admissions system will send you an automatic checklist of any items missing from the UBC central graduate application system, but might not remind you about Music-program-specific requirements such as repertoire lists, academic writing samples, etc.  Those need to be uploaded with your application by Dec. 1st. (If, however, you realize that you omitted something from your application and have already submitted it, there is still hope!  Contact Juliet. She can upload most documents into your application after the deadline).

Video auditions: “How can I submit my video audition and what is the deadline? I see that different programs have different deadlines!”

If you are applying into a performance program and cannot audition in person, you will need to upload video files of your audition onto the CLAS platform. UBC’s CLAS platform ensures that your video audition materials can be submitted securely. Composition applicants please note: after sending hard-copy scores to the School of Music, you must also submit corresponding audio/video files of your portfolio online through CLAS. 

The audition/portfolio submission deadline is Jan. 3 for most programs, but the deadline for applicants to the Conducting program is Dec. 15th  for submission of the pre-screening video. Extensions are sometimes possible. Upload instructions will be sent to Composition and video-audition Performance applicants between Dec. 1 and Dec. 10.  If you run into any technical issues when submitting, please contact me directly.

Thanks and good luck! 


Updated from a blog post originally dated Nov. 28, 2017.

 

Video: Jazz visionary John Stetch on going back to school

Six-time Juno nominee and graduate student John Stetch talks about his restless, path-breaking career, the excitement of re-envisioning classical music through a jazz lens, and his decision to return to school 

Text by Tze Liew
Video by Colleen O’Connor

Over the past three decades, John Stetch has made a name for himself as one of Canada’s most innovative jazz pianists and composers. He has performed with contemporary greats such as Mark Turner and Chris Cheek and has recorded sixteen albums, including his most recent release, Ballads. Yet in the middle of a successful career that has earned him critical acclaim and half a dozen Juno Award nominations, he made the extraordinary decision to come to UBC to pursue an M.Mus in Composition.

Part 1: John Stetch talks about his decision to go back to school and the importance of community.

“I wanted to get a Master’s because the nature of work and teaching [in music] has changed in many places, and often requires more than just a Bachelor’s degree. I knew I was going to be living in Vancouver, and I’d heard of UBC and its beautiful campus. There wasn’t really a jazz program around, so I thought a Composition Master’s would be a great fit, since I’ve been starting to write some classical chamber music, not just jazz,” he says.

Stetch is no stranger to change. Ambitious and experimental, he has always forged his own path, inventing new techniques and musical styles — for instance, fusing classical and jazz music in his compositions. Reinterpreting well-known classical works by Mozart, Bach and Chopin through the language of jazz, he is fearless in altering the chords and rhythms, adding new textures with techniques like plucking the inside of the piano to create exciting new renditions, while still keeping the originals recognizable.

Part 2: Stetch demonstrates his unique approach to piano, performing a reinterpretation of Mozart K 333, Third Movement.

“I have this instinct to want to play a little differently every day,” he says. “There are so many interesting possibilities. What if you double up the octaves? What if you play the scale down instead of up? Or change the ending completely?”

Stetch was inspired to play classical music, especially after listening to Glenn Gould playing Bach. Gould’s daring, percussive style pointed to interesting possibilities within the classical canon. But Stetch, a jazz musician, wasn’t sure how to approach the material at first.  

“It was too strange to play Chopin in a jazz club,” he says. “So I ended up rearranging the classical pieces, making them my own style, and treating them as homages to the original composers. Now I can perform them in both jazz and classical contexts.”

Stetch has reworked pieces such as Mozart’s Sonata No. 13 in B-Flat, Chopin’s A-Flat Major Polonaise and Bach’s Italian Concerto, which he recently performed in a Wednesday Noon Hours concert. The Mozart Sonata is a bluegrass arrangement, inspired by a banjo concert he attended. The Chopin and Bach arrangements are jazz-influenced – in Chopin, he plays with odd rhythms to vary and contrast with the original; in Bach, he mixes time signatures to elongate or shorten the theme.

“Mozart and bluegrass were a perfect match. Bluegrass usually has a lot of fast notes, an obvious pulse, and the kind of tonic-dominant-subdominant chord progression that Mozart’s pieces [also] have,” he says.

For Stetch, the interaction between jazz and classical is a two-way street. While bringing jazz improvisation techniques to classical pieces, he also admires classical music for its emphasis on organisation, and tries to bring that into his jazz playing. “I’ve often heard complaints that jazz rambles on too much, that it’s too complicated and random. I don’t like that myself, so I try to keep my playing organized like classical pieces.”

Part 3: Stetch talks about the appeal of experimentation and how he combines classical and jazz music in his compositions.

For such an accomplished pianist, Stetch started piano relatively late, at age 18. He grew up learning clarinet and saxophone, and originally pursued studies in saxophone at the University of Alberta. There he was introduced to figures such as Herbie Hancock, Keith Jared and Wynton Marsalis, and was struck by the beauty and the rhythmic and harmonic possibilities of the piano.

“I stopped saxophone and switched to piano. I was addicted to it, obsessed with the harmonies and sounds that can be gotten from chords.”

He went on to study piano at McGill University, and later moved to New York, where, with the help of a grant, he sustained himself as a musician for two years and became a pianist for Rufus Reid’s band.

“I worked really hard and even felt behind when I first arrived at NYC, playing with people my age who had been playing all their lives. But at age 26 I found a classical teacher who changed my life. Burton Hatheway, who is now 86, had to get me to forget everything I knew and start from the beginning. It was one of the hardest things I've ever been through — it took about five years to make progress and 10 for it to really sink in.” 

While in New York, Stetch threw himself into the scene. He did so many gigs that he learned to be quick-minded and versatile – playing through unfamiliar standards, figuring out keys, working with singers and making sure the phrases flowed beautifully, all on the go. His improvisations didn’t always work out the way he wanted, though – there were always ups and downs.

Part 4: Stetch demonstrates his reinterpretation of Chopin's Polonaise in A-flat.

“Sometimes they were magical performances, and sometimes I really disliked my own music. You’re your own worst critic, after all. But through the repeated formative experience of trying to improvise and having it fail so many times, the desire to make it better pushes you to find ways to improve.”

It was these heady experiences of failure and growth that made John the improvisational, forward-looking musician he is today — always changing, always evolving. Counterintuitive though it may seem, his decision to uproot and move across the country to study at UBC made perfect sense.

“It’s been a long time since I got feedback on my compositions, so I thought it’d be really neat to get honest feedback and criticism from people like Stephen Chatman, Dorothy Chang, and Keith Hamel, who’ve been listening critically to new music for decades,” he says. “It’s a special introduction to Vancouver, having this instant community of composers to work with.”

At the School of Music, Stetch is challenging himself to compose for instruments he has never worked with before, such as strings and brass.

Says Prof. Hamel of his student: “John Stetch is one of the most naturally and innately talented musicians I have worked with,” says Keith Hamel. “He seems to have the ability to quickly absorb diverse musical styles, to understand the musical materials that comprise each style and to construct new works, which contain elements of the model but are uniquely personal. He understands composition as an act of communication between musicians and an audience, and he always writes with this foremost in his mind.”

Learn more about the School of Music’s Composition Program.


Banner image by Takumi Hayashi/UBC School of Music

How do I choose an undergrad program?

By Katherine Evans, Admissions Manager

Thinking about applying to an undergraduate degree program at the School of Music? The School of Music offers coursework that can be studied in two different degree programs: the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts with a major in Music.

If you are committed to studying music as your major, you can choose both of these options on the UBC application. If one of your choices is going to be a different degree option like Science or Commerce, then you will really need to know which music option is right for you. It’s great to read through these options now, because after the UBC application deadline — January 15th you can’t change your degree choices on the UBC application.

Important clarification: degree versus major

Each degree program that you choose on the UBC general application has a separate admissions process.

  • Choose “BMUS” to apply to the Bachelor of Music (BMUS) degree and then, using the BMUS Supplementary Application, apply to one of the majors within the BMUS degree. Advanced Performance (i.e Opera Performance or Orchestral Instrument Performance) Composition, Music Scholarship, and General Studies - with a concentration on your audition instrument - are all majors within the BMUS degree. 

  • Choose “BA” to apply to the  Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree — as part of which you can declare a Music major.

Every applicant is different!

 Each of you has a unique background and combination of interests and will have to consider carefully the degree that is right for you.  Below are a couple of basic scenarios that Music admissions sees a lot — but feel free to contact me (Katherine) or our music advisor, Robert Ablenas, to discuss your options.  

I want to study my instrument/voice with a private teacher during my degree

The BMUS is the primary music degree offered at UBC. Applicants who are interested in music performance – Advanced Performance, Composition, General Studies with a major in an instrument or voice - and have a primary interest in Western classical music should choose the Bachelor of Music (BMUS) as one of their two options on the UBC application in order to pursue these goals.

I want to take lots of music courses at UBC, but I don’t have Western classical instrument/voice training

This is true of many applicants who have extensive experience working in other genres of music, creating computer and electronic music, or working with music technology. In this case, the Bachelor of Arts program may be right for you.  You can apply to the program without an audition component. As part of the BA you can enrol in a broad range of theory, history, and some composition courses, consider the Applied Music Technology minor, and explore other subjects in the liberal arts.

I like playing my instrument and being involved in music, but I’m not sure/I don’t want to make it the focus of my university career.

Stay involved in Music at an advanced level by participating in the School of Music large ensembles! In whatever field you choose, you are welcome to audition for ensembles and enrol in them for credit, dependent on the requirements of your academic program. Auditions are held in the first week of school in September.  Take a look!

I want to major in music and take private lessons on my instrument, but I have a strong interest in another subject too.

Good news! The B.Mus. degree is really flexible in this way. If you are a B.Mus. student, you can choose to double-major with any other field in the Faculty of Arts (except a few, small specialty programs) without any additional application. Have a look through all the available majors!  

If you have a very strong interest in Science and Music.

Consider our dual B.Sc. + B.Mus degree program! Please note that this is a dual degree with the Bachelor of Science degree program only. There is no dual degree program between Music and the Bachelor of Applied Science (BASC).  

If you are interested in Computer Science, you might also consider a Bachelor of Music degree with a double-major in Computer Science within the Faculty of Arts.

Woodwinds, brass and percussion at the UBC School of Music

One of the largest and most prestigious music schools in Canada, the UBC School of Music offers a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree training in performance, composition, and scholarship.

At the School of Music you will study, perform, and collaborate with some of the country's best and brightest faculty as well as student musicians and scholars. You'll have the opportunity to make lifelong friendships and establish exciting musical partnerships!

The goal of the Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion Division is to facilitate the best performance potential of each student. Enrollment is highly selective in order to provide the best possible opportunities for all students.

OUTSTANDING FACULTY

Private studio lessons are a central part of Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion education at the School of Music.

Our faculty are passionate teachers who care a great deal about their students. They are also award-winning musicians who perform in orchestras and ensembles around the globe, jury international music competitions, and record critically acclaimed and best-selling recordings

colorbar_red_horiz.jpg
 

How to apply

Interested in applying to one of our undergraduate programs? The deadline is Jan. 15, 2019.

Interested in applying to one of our graduate programs? The deadline is Dec. 1, 2018.

Here are a few of our faculty members:

  • Dr. Robert Taylor, Director of UBC Bands and Chair of the Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion Division

  • Julia Lockhart, Principal Bassoon with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

  • Dr. Julia Nolan, saxophonist

  • Larry Knopp, Principal Trumpet with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

  • Jeremy Berkman, Principal Trombone with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, member of the award-winning Turning Point Ensemble and A Touch of Brass Quintet

  • Jose Franch-Ballester, clarinetist and chamber musician, hailed by the New York Times for his “technical wizardry and tireless enthusiasm"

  • Vern Griffiths, Principal Percussion with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and member of Standing Wave

You can explore all Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion faculty here.

WATCH: Julia Lockhart, Adjunct Professor of Bassoon and Principal Bassoonist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, talks about her approach to studio lessons

 

AWARD-WINNING STUDENT ENSEMBLES

Large and small and incredibly diverse, our student ensembles range in size from trios and quartets to the 110-member UBC Symphony Orchestra. Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion students perform in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Concert Winds, Contemporary Players, Collegium Musicum, Jazz Bands, UBC Opera productions, and diverse chamber ensembles. Check out our huge concert archive to get a sense of just how good our students are.

WATCH: The UBC Symphonic Winds perform Leonard Bernstein's "Overture To Candide" 

 

CAREER DEVELOPMENT WHILE YOU STUDY

As much as possible, the School of Music helps students to explore and develop different career opportunities while still studying. There are a multitude of post-degree paths for musicians and music scholars. So whether you plan to pursue a career as an orchestral musician, a scholar, an educator, or a producer, you can get a head start by:

Graduates from the Wind, Brass, and Percussion Division currently work in major symphony orchestras, opera orchestras, chamber ensembles, musical theatre, early music group, and music production around the world. Many of our graduates also hold prestigious appointments in universities, colleges, and public schools. 

 

WORLD-CLASS FACILITIES

Our music students rehearse and perform in UBC's world-class concert halls and performance spaces. From the state-of-the-art Chan Centre for Performing Arts, one of North America's premier musical venues, to the historic Old Auditorium and intimate Roy Barnett Recital Hall, you will have the opportunity to train and grow as a professional musician in front of enthusiastic audiences.

ChanExteriorNight_PhotoByTimMatheson.jpg

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is one of three venues where UBC Music students rehearse and perform. Photo: Tim Matheson

 

COME VISIT US AND ATTEND A FREE CONCERT!

Prospective students can meet faculty members by attending any number of concerts on campus from now until April. We invite you to attend our large ensemble concerts, performed by the UBC Choirs, Bands, and Orchestra, Opera productions held in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and the Old Auditorium.

Email for free tickets for certain events. A lot of our chamber music, divisional recitals, and student recitals are already free — just come and see.  If you’re applying from a distance, check out our concerts on Livestream and imagine yourself here!

 

QUESTIONS?

Do you have questions about the application process? You are not alone! Sometimes the application process can seem complicated. If you'd like to talk to someone about the graduate or undergraduate programs here at the School of Music, please do get in touch. 

Katherine Evans, Manager of Admissions, is your primary contact for the undergraduate (B.Mus. and Diploma) programs. Juliet O'Keefe, the Graduate Admissions Secretary, is your contact for graduate program information. Robert Ablenas is our Music Advisor and can provide detailed information about certain programs.

Updated from December 22nd, 2017

Video: The importance of one-on-one studio instruction

One-on-one studio instruction is an important part of undergraduate study at the UBC School of Music. In this video, Professor Terence Dawson and fourth-year piano student Serina Mui talk about their weekly lessons and the role that mentorship plays in students’ development:

Learn more about the Bachelor of Music and other undergraduate degree programs at the School of Music

Strings, harp and guitar at the UBC School of Music

At the UBC School of Music, strings, harp and guitar students train with world-class faculty and join a community of talented, dynamic students and future collaborators. You'll have the opportunity to make lifelong friendships and establish exciting musical partnerships!

The goal of the Strings, Harp and Guitar Division is to develop the "complete player" — musicians who are equally comfortable performing solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire. Students also have the opportunity to join our baroque mentorship program. We provide a nurturing and caring environment where private studio lessons are the foundation of your training.

Our faculty are dedicated, passionate teachers and mentors, as well as internationally renowned, award-winning musicians. You can explore all Strings, Harp and Guitar faculty here.

Our students and alumni are similarly successful, performing in orchestras around the world, from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to the Berlin Philharmonic, and in ensembles such as Borealis String Quartet and the Fine Arts Quartet. They teach at major universities in Canada and the U.S., and even blaze new trails in pop music

colorbar_red_horiz.jpg
 

How to apply

Interested in applying to one of our undergraduate programs? The deadline is Jan. 15, 2019.

Interested in applying to one of our graduate programs? The deadline is Dec. 1, 2018

WATCH: UBC Chamber Strings perform alumna Eileen Padgett's Ordinary Beauty at String Fest 2017.

 

AWARD-WINNING STUDENT ENSEMBLES

Large and small and incredibly diverse, our student ensembles range in size from trios and quartets to the 110-member UBC Symphony Orchestra. Strings, Harp and Guitar students perform in the Symphony Orchestra, Contemporary Players, Early Music, Collegium Musicum, UBC Opera productions, and diverse chamber ensembles. Check out our huge concert archive to get a sense of just how good our students are.

WATCH: The UBC Symphony Orchestra perform Schubert's Symphony No. 9

 

CAREER DEVELOPMENT WHILE YOU STUDY

As much as possible, the School of Music helps students to explore and develop different career opportunities while still studying. There are a multitude of post-degree paths for musicians and music scholars. So whether you plan to pursue a career as an orchestral musician, a scholar, an educator, or a producer, you can get a head start by:

Graduates from the Strings, Harp and Guitar Division currently work in major symphony orchestras, opera orchestras, chamber ensembles, musical theatre, early music group, and music production around the world. Many of our graduates also hold prestigious appointments in universities, colleges, and public schools. 

WATCH: UBC Chamber Strings perform Elgar's Serenade for Strings, Op. 20

 

WORLD-CLASS FACILITIES

Our music students rehearse and perform in UBC's world-class concert halls and performance spaces. From the state-of-the-art Chan Centre for Performing Arts, one of North America's premier musical venues, to the historic Old Auditorium and intimate Roy Barnett Recital Hall, you will have the opportunity to train and grow as a professional musician in front of enthusiastic audiences.

ChanExteriorNight_PhotoByTimMatheson.jpg

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is one of three venues where UBC Music students rehearse and perform. Photo: Tim Matheson

 

COME VISIT US AND ATTEND A FREE CONCERT!

Prospective students can meet faculty members by attending any number of concerts on campus from now until April. We invite you to attend our large ensemble concerts, performed by the UBC Choirs, Bands, and Orchestra, Opera productions held in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and the Old Auditorium.

Email for free tickets for certain events. A lot of our chamber music, divisional recitals, and student recitals are already free — just come and see.  If you’re applying from a distance, check out our concerts on Livestream and imagine yourself here!

 

QUESTIONS?

Do you have questions about the application process? You are not alone! Sometimes the application process can seem complicated. If you'd like to talk to someone about the graduate or undergraduate programs here at the School of Music, please do get in touch. 

Katherine Evans, Manager of Admissions, is your primary contact for the undergraduate (B.Mus. and Diploma) programs. Juliet O'Keefe, the Graduate Admissions Secretary, is your contact for graduate program information. Robert Ablenas is our Music Advisor and can provide detailed information about certain programs.


Updated from January 5th, 2018

More audition advice!

The BMus auditions are almost here, and we've got more sage advice from our faculty. This will be of particular interest to prospective students of voice and of wind, brass, and percussion.

From Dr. Robert Taylor, Chair of the Wind, Brass and Percussion Division:

 Dr. Robert Taylor

Dr. Robert Taylor

  1. Prepare diligently! Your audition is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your musical strengths.
  2. Read the audition requirements carefully and prepare all of the required selections. Whenever possible, listen to multiple recordings of the required pieces so that you understand the context of each passage.
  3. Be professional and make a good first impression. Dress appropriately. The faculty panel may ask you some informal interview questions. 
  4. Warm-up and arrive early with your instrument tuned and ready to go. Bring your assembled instrument and sheet music. It’s not possible to leave your instrument in the practice room unattended, so please bring your cases and materials. It’s possible that you could leave some things in the hall with the audition assistant, or bring them into the audition room with you if you like. 
  5. If sightreading is asked: scan the music silently before you begin. Choose an appropriate tempo so that you can perform at your best without stopping. Play as musically as possible, paying close attention to all expressive markings (and adding interpretive decisions of your own!).
  6. Take some risks, communicate your interpretive intent, and remember that auditions are an important educational experience. Everybody in the room wants you to do well. Break a leg!
 Prof. Nancy Hermiston

Prof. Nancy Hermiston

From Professor Nancy Hermiston, Chair of the Voice/Opera Program:
 

For the singers, we want you to know that we are very happy that you have decided to audition for us and we are looking forward to hearing you sing!  Please don’t be nervous — we are singers too and we are a positive, friendly audience! You should sing whatever pieces that show your own individual voice at its best.

We are looking for singers who can communicate the song to the audience, no matter what language it is in, and move the audience with their performance. We are looking for students who have good potential for future development; who love performing and love being part of a program that challenges them musically, intellectually and encourages them to be socially responsible individuals who give back to their community and will become global citizens.

Our program is diverse, interesting and large enough to challenge our students but small enough so that the student will not feel lost. Students receive the individual attention required to help them be the best that they can be and to achieve their goals. We offer our students a very high standard in their performance and academic subjects and give them many opportunities for international performance experience during their undergraduate degrees!

As always, please direct any questions to Katherine Evans, Admissions Manager, at katherine.evans@ubc.ca

A short guide to undergraduate auditions

  Paul Joseph/UBC

Paul Joseph/UBC

By Katherine Evans, Manager of Admissions

Greetings! By now most Bachelor of Music applicants will have received a definitive audition date and time for early March 2018. Some of you may have taken a lot of auditions, or this may be your very first one. It’s a chance for you to get acquainted with the School of Music — our facilities, our faculty, and our current students — and a chance for you to demonstrate the musical skills you’ve been working on! We really want to make the audition process stress-free and enjoyable, so we've put together a few tips.

Planning Your Audition

1.     Leave extra time to get to UBC Music early. Parking is available pretty close to the music building and the bus loop is about a 10-minute walk. You will want to be able to visit the welcome desk in the lobby, settle yourself in a practice room, and have plenty of time to warm up before finding your audition room.

2.     Hydrate & make sure you have something with you to eat.  Food options on campus are growing daily but most are still at least a 10-minute walk away – time you may not want to take from your pre-audition routine. The Music Undergraduate Society will have cookies and coffee available in the lobby.

3.     Ready? Take a deep breath, remember to think of the music, and have a good time!  The faculty is enthusiastic and ready to hear you play or sing your very best.  They love to meet applicants and learn about their talent and potential.


What to expect

How long are the auditions?

Auditions are generally are 15 – 20 minutes long.

What does it feel like when you walk into the audition room?  

The auditions are professional, but definitely friendly. Everyone on the faculty audition panel wants to hear you play your best. One of the faculty or student assistants will usher you into the audition room and make sure that you have a moment to get settled.

Is there an interview portion of the audition?

There is no formal or mandated interview portion of your audition, but in almost all cases the faculty panel will take a few minutes to talk with you about your musical experience – they’ll ask you about something you’ve written in your application essay, or about a piece of music you’ve chosen to perform…it’s an informal opportunity for you all to get to know each other.

Is there a music theory exam or separate sight-singing exam on the day of my audition?

No, there’s no longer a theory exam required. Instead, applicants who are accepted into the BMUS program and choose to attend, will take a theory placement exam in the first week of school.  More details are here: https://music.ubc.ca/new-undergrad-students under “Music Placement Test".

Is a collaborative pianist (accompanist) required at my BMUS audition?

At the undergraduate level, working with a pianist is optional for all auditions except voice. Because a pianist is mandatory for voice auditions, a UBC staff pianist is available free of charge to play at all voice auditions. Anyone auditioning for voice may also work with the pianist of their choice.


A little insight from our faculty...

Richard Epp, vocal coach extraordinaire, plays at about 95% of the voice auditions at UBC. He’s given us a little insight into this process below:

Audition time is exciting at UBC for everyone who works here. We are as excited to hear you and to get to know you as you are to be here. I play for the voice auditions and have played most of the standard repertoire. I am also very good at following singers :)

When I come out to the lobby to bring you into the audition space, I will introduce myself and have a quick look at your music. I may ask for your tempos, but if I start at a tempo that you are not used to, just sing it the way you are used to and I will follow you. If I don’t know the piece I will ask for the tempo and then I may take ten seconds just to look at the music. If you are doing a very obscure piece you can just send me an email with the info.

In the audition the people listening may be writing down notes, reading your file, etc. Don’t let that throw you. They hear many people during the day and the chances are they are writing down things they liked, how beautiful your voice is and how much potential you have, as opposed to what they didn’t like. So, take a deep breath, be confident and have fun.”

Questions or concerns?

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me at katherine.evans@ubc.ca!

Maestro in the Making (Part One)

Note: Jaelem Bhate is a student in the School of Music’s graduate conducting program. This is the first in a series of posts about his experiences as a ‘maestro in the making’ under the tutelage of UBC’s Director of Orchestras, Dr. Jonathan Girard.
 

 By Jaelem Bhate

And just like that, I’m 25% done a masters degree. So at the quarter mark, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on a great three months. As stressful and anxious as they were, they were also supremely rewarding, full of new insights, and packed with more growth than I thought possible. Gladly, none of that growth was directed to my waistband.  The craziest part of this first term though was not what I learned, but how I learned. Sometimes, you have to quit the stress, take stock, and believe in the process of your hard work. For me, it was only when I became so tired of conducting in a constant state of stress that I loosened up, that real progress happened, culminating in my UBCSO debut last Saturday with Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies I &III, orch. Claude Debussy.


WATCH: Graduate assistant conductor Jaelem Bhate conducts Erik Satie's Gymnopédie I & III.
 

The whole idea with the Satie was to forget about technique, and focus on the intangibles of conducting. How to elicit sound with your facial expressions, how to make every movement mean something beyond beat placement and patterns. That is to say, whether you move left or right on beat two is not the point, it’s how you arrive to the beat, and the way in which you move to the next beat placement. Needless to say, with a degree in percussion and my strengths lying in technical, complex music, this was not my strong suit. When I’m learning something new, I dive straight into the details. I spend hours working on fundamental skills, gathering as much info as I can from as many sources as I can find, and progress as quickly as I can through constant self-reflection and criticism.

The challenge with conducting, though, is that there really is no codified technique to show the above musical elements. The finer points of conducting—the concepts that I was weakest with coming into this degree—cannot be studied or distilled or written down in a textbook, and cannot be learned in the same manner that I have worked my whole life. They cannot be rushed, and not even practiced without an orchestra. Sure, you can stand in front of a mirror for hours on end as I was a few weeks ago, and critique your every movement, right down to how your blinking might affect the sound. But there is no substitute for standing in front of an orchestra made up of dynamic and versatile musicians who have their own feelings, thoughts, and ideas, and finding a way to bring everyone on board with your own artistic vision. This is what makes training as a conductor so difficult — you have to figure out how to improve, how to demonstrate your vision, without wasting precious podium time.

On this same program was another favourite work of mine, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. From the start of this cycle, I felt more comfortable with Firebird, despite its being a much more complicated and complex piece of music. I felt that I could rely on my beats and all of the technique I had accumulated, and that I could translate what I wanted much more efficiently by simply being accurate in my patterns. Two weeks ago, Dr. Girard was guest conducting in Hawaii (as one does), and I was left alone with the orchestra. “SWEET!” I thought to myself. “I get a whole 90 minutes on Firebird. I’m going to be so intense and I’m going to use so much space in the finale I’ll look like a soaring eagle and it’ll be great!” 

The rehearsal came and went, and it was a deeply depressing to realize, upon reviewing the video afterwards, that it was probably my worst conducting of the term. I was out of position, my baton unfocused and my lower body all over the podium. I looked like a flailing seal. All of the expression and technical prowess I had wanted to show had been diluted by my lack of trust in myself and my musicianship, hindered by my inability and fear to go beyond technique alone.

Through the entire term, I’d been fighting with myself to get my baton under control and to push as hard as I could to get better as quickly as I could. But through all of that work, I had never stopped to consider the bigger questions. How does this make me feel? What am I trying to say through my movements here? Most importantly, am I actually showing music, or am I just showing patterns?

In the week after that rehearsal, I learned more about myself as a conductor, as a musician, and honestly as a person, than I did in the first three months of my degree. I learned how to learn. I learned that I need to relax, look at the big picture, not get too caught up with the details, and not freak out when things don’t go exactly as planned. To still do all the hard work, but to also go with the flow in the moment. The Satie performance ended up going quite well, and the requisite accoutrements that accompanied the whole experience did make the evening special, I have to admit. The long black tails, my black bow tie replaced with a white one, and the orchestra that I’ve spent four years playing with standing upon my entrance did leave a lasting impression that is hard to forget, as with any debut with a high-level orchestra.

However, the concert isn’t the main thing that will stick with me from this semester. It’s how this piece taught me to trust myself, and trust in the music. What a crazy idea then, to consider applying this to my life and career. Work hard, but do not lose sight of the bigger picture. Worry about the details, but don’t forget what the details make when put together. Relax, have fun, and let your preparation and passion carry you through to success.

Video: Meet Julia Lockhart, Adjunct Professor of Bassoon

The Admissions blog is the place to meet School of Music faculty and go behind the scenes in their studios. First up is Julia Lockhart, Adjunct Professor of Bassoon, Principal Bassoonist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra:

Our faculty compose music regularly heard on the world’s stages, perform around the globe, publish in top journals, jury international music competitions, and record critically acclaimed and best-selling recordings

Why study at the UBC School of Music?

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By Katherine Evans, Admissions Manager


Hello and thanks for visiting the School of Music's new Admissions Blog!

We’re delighted that you're here. If you are a prospective student, this is the space to find out everything you need to know about applying to, and studying at, the UBC School of Music — from the different undergraduate and graduate programs we offer, to our fantastic ensembles, to our internationally renowned (and friendly!) faculty.  

Over the coming weeks and months, we'll share tips on how to navigate the application process and prepare for your audition, and we'll take you inside the School to see what it's like to be a part of our community of scholars, composers, and performers. We'll remind you about deadlines and answer some common applicant questions. So please stay tuned!

In the meantime, let's kick things off with a quick tour of the School and what we have to offer.

The University of British Columbia is a big, diverse institution, with every imaginable academic program and a student body of over 60,000. Within UBC, the School of Music gives you the experience of studying at a small school — we are a community of about 300 undergraduate and 100 graduate students — with the resources of a big, top-ranked university.

Our degree programs

For undergrads, we offer a four-year course of study leading to the Bachelor of Music (B.Mus) and — with the Faculty of Arts — the Bachelor of Arts, Major in Music. For students whose first love is music but who are committed to studying science, arts, education, or business, we also offer dual degreesdouble majorsminorsdiploma programs.

For grad students, we offer Master's and doctoral degrees in three broad fields of specialization: performance, composition, and music scholarship.

Career development — while you study!

As much as possible, the School of Music helps students to explore and develop different career opportunities while still studying. That's because unlike law, medicine or engineering, there is no single path for musicians and music scholars, post-degree. So whether you plan to pursue a career as an orchestral musician, a scholar, an educator, or a producer, you can get a head start by:

Check out our huge concert archive to get a sense of just how good our students are. For starters, here's a clip of UBC Symphony Orchestra and Choirs performing the finale of Mahler's Symphony No. 2

Dedicated, award-winning faculty 

All School of Music students, whether performers or scholars, work closely with our award-winning faculty. Our faculty compose music regularly heard on the world’s stages, perform around the globe, publish in top journals, jury international music competitions, and record critically acclaimed and best-selling recordings. Whatever your interests or instrument, our faculty is friendly and engaged in your learning experience.  Here’s just a short list: 

  • Eric Wilson, cellist and founding member of the Emerson String Quartet

  • Jose Franch-Ballester, clarinetist and chamber musician, hailed by the New York Times for his “technical wizardry and tireless enthusiasm"
  • Alexander Fisher, musicologist and author of Music, Piety, and Propaganda
  • J. Patrick Raftery, tenor and performer with the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Royal Covent Garden
  • Dorothy Chang, composer whose works have premiered with the Seattle Symphony, VSO, Pittsburgh Symphony, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra 

In the coming weeks, we'll introduce you to more faculty and take you inside the studios where much of your musical education will happen.

Come visit us and attend a free concert!

  Katherine Evans

Katherine Evans

Prospective students can meet faculty members by attending any number of concerts on campus from now until April. We invite you to attend our large ensemble concerts, performed by the UBC Choirs, Bands, and Orchestra, Opera productions held in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and the Old Auditorium.

Feel free to contact me for free tickets for certain events. A lot of our chamber music, divisional recitals, and student recitals are already free — just come and see!  If you’re applying from a distance, check out our concerts on Livestream and imagine yourself here!

Questions? 

Do you have questions about the application process? You are not alone! Sometimes the application process can seem complicated. If you'd like to talk to someone about the graduate or undergraduate programs here at the School of Music, please do get in touch. 

Juliet O’Keefe, our Graduate Admissions Secretary, is the point person for graduate program information, and I am your primary contact for the undergraduate (B.Mus. and Diploma) programs. Robert Ablenas is our Music Advisor and can give detailed information about certain programs.