Playing their way through university

Although UW may be renowned for its engineering and mathematics programs, students with an inclination for music can still find an outlet to express their creativity.&nbsp;</p>

The department of music at Conrad Grebel University College offers students the opportunity to join a number of musical ensembles. Anyone can take a maximum of two terms of chamber music for credit without doing a minor. The credits are pass or fail, so there is no pressure to perform. Members of the ensemble said that they found playing in it incredibly worthwhile and so enjoyable that they continued playing after they stopped receiving credits.

Richard Wang, Peter MacDonald and Aelred Leskowsky formed one of the five chamber ensembles for the winter term. The three are all math students and found the ensemble while searching for an outlet for their music.

“I played clarinet all through high school. In my second term, I was looking for an opportunity to take a music studio elective, and they encourage you to do some kind of an ensemble, whether it’s choir or instrumental chamber. I can’t sing, so I came here,” said MacDonald.

Ben Bolt-Martin is the director of the instrumental chamber ensembles at Grebel. He handpicks the students for the ensembles and places them into groups. 

“We take everybody’s interests into account and try to fit them together with people who have similar capabilities and commitment,” said Bolt-Martin, “We put them together and find ensembles that’ll work together.”

Waterloo’s chamber ensembles are inclusive of anyone who has the ability and desire to play. Acceptance into the instrumental chamber ensembles is by audition and instrumentalists are placed in small groups based on compatible interests and abilities.

“People have this misconception that the music programs are just for music students,” said Wang, “That’s the case in many schools. At Laurier, you can’t go and be in an ensemble just like that. They won’t let you. Here, they really designed it to be open to all students.”

Wang, MacDonald and Leskowsky all said that they enjoy playing in the ensemble as a break from school and love the opportunity to meet new people and improve their skills. Wang concluded, “It’s totally for fun, and for me the music definitely helps keep my head from exploding.”

The Instrumental Chamber Ensembles meet once a week to rehearse. They perform with other music groups at the end of each term. Students can find sign-up details on the Conrad Grebel University College website.


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