Music Student Ambassadors

Our Student Ambassador program connects current Schulich School of Music students with prospective students, guests and alumni.

Our ambassadors are keen to share their student perspectives with you and answer your questions about McGill University and life in Montreal. They are also available to show you our facilities.

To get in touch with one of our current ambassadors, send us an [at] (email).

If you're already enrolled in a music program at McGill, you can apply online to become a student ambassador.


Student ambassador profiles

Avery Bonair-CyrusAvery Bonair-Cyrus, B.Mus. Music Theory (Cello)

Teacher: Yegor Dyachkov (2013-15)

Hometown: Montréal, Québec

Why Schulich? I went to school at FACE School which is right behind Schulich and always had pleasant experiences when visiting the McGill campus or when McGill students would play with our school’s symphony orchestra. Going to CEGEP, many of my profs had gone to McGill and they always spoke so highly of the facilities; whether it was for music research, performance, or education. In the end it came down to the fact that being from Montreal, I wanted to really take advantage of our local gem which so many people wish to attend.

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Life in Montreal: Having spent my whole life living in Montreal, my experience and views of the city are probably very different than my peers from out of town. I love the city and am a proud Montrealer (Go Habs Go!!), but aside from my biases, this city has so much to offer. Between festivals, the food, the sites, and the cultural diversity it’s hard not to fall in love with Montreal!! My word of advice for those coming from out of town is to definitely discover as much of the city as you can. I’m still being surprised all these years later!

Future Goals: I’m still working on an answer to this question, but I definitely hope that music in some way, shape, or form will be part of my future.

Major Accomplishments: I think my top three proudest moments would be my summer with the NYOC, teaching cello with the Viva! Sistema music program at Saint-Gabriel Elementary, and being part of my high school’s championship winning soccer team.

Musical Influences: Theodor Adorno (philosopher, theorist, and composer), J.S. Bach, Lana del Rey.

Biggest Word of Advice: My advice to all new students is simple; Remember to breathe, and enjoy the ride! As cliché as it may sound it is a powerful message that I wish I understood in my first semesters in university. Between assignments, concerts, rehearsals, all-nighters, and the stress these will all be a part of the amazing memories you’ll have of McGill and that all the good times shared with fantastic musicians, professors, colleagues, and friends.

Hannah Boone​Hannah Boone, B.Mus. Performance (Trumpet)

Teacher: Russ DeVuyst

Hometown: St. John’s, NL (!!!)

Why Schulich? Schulich is internationally renowned for it’s conservatory- style musical training. Its faculty, staff and especially private teachers are committed and invested in the success of the students here. There’s a huge promotion of inter—disciplinary collaborations, and with one of a kind facilities (like the Music multimedia room, library, concert halls and recording studios) these projects can be realized!

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Life in Montreal: This city is the best place on earth to be a student. It’s big enough that there’s constantly somewhere new to explore, but also has tight knit neighbourhoods where you can always see a familiar face.

It’s a privilege to study music here. Every night there’s someone to go see and listen to that will inspire you.

Future Goals: To continue to grow and expand my musical experiences and for music to always remain a source of happiness and pleasure.

Major Accomplishments: Having the opportunity to play and study here at Schulich!

Musical Influences: Chet baker, Miles Davis, Ingrid Jenson, Debussy, Chopin.

Biggest Word of Advice: Explore every inch of the city! Walk everywhere! The city never sleeps, so take every opportunity to listen to all the wonderful musicians that are working here or passing through. I think going to see the real deal is just as important as any course you’re taking, so definitely avail of what’s all around you! (Just remember to stay focused on your studies and practice a lot too!)

Thomas Burton, B.Mus. Performance (Trombone)

Teacher: James Box

Hometown: Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Why Schulich? The Schulich School of Music has the highest standard of music making of any university in the country.  It has a competitive but friendly atmosphere that I was missing on the east coast.  I love my teacher and the city is amazing!

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Life in Montreal: There is so much culture in this city.  You can always count on there being a great show to go to if you are looking for something to do.  Being able to see the Montreal Symphony this frequently, as well as the many jazz shows around town is amazing.  The nightlife is vibrant and there are many places to hang out for people of different interests. 

Future Goals: After my degree at McGill I'd like to pursue graduate studies in either Trombone Performance or Wind Conducting.  I'm interested in a career in either of those fields. 

Major Accomplishments: Junior Brass Trophy at Nova Scotia Provincial Music Festival.  Principal trombone of McGill Wind Symphony.  Currently Chorus Master with the McGill Savoy Society.

Musical Influences: Maurice Ravel, J. S. Bach, Joe Alessi, Earth Wind & Fire.

Biggest Word of Advice: Don't get stuck doing just one thing!  There are tons of different ways to make music other than your primary instrument.  Performing in a variety of ways and with a variety of people will keep you inspired!  It's also great to get to know the city outside of the “McGill Bubble”.

Aaron ChanAaron Chan, B.Mus. Performance (Trombone)

Teacher: Trevor Dix

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Why Schulich? Being at the Schulich School of Music allows me to meet and collaborate with some of the best musicians and professionals in Canada and around the world. The quality of performance, teaching, and musical work that is being done here is of professional standard and it makes me proud to experience music here at one of Canada’s top music institutions.

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Life in Montreal: Montreal is always full of the arts and culture and it’s always very lively in the city. Many festivals and celebrations take place throughout the year so there are lots of things to do with your friends and family. You can do many activities such as exploring the various cafes and parks scattered around the city, take in the sights upon Mount Royal, and listen to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in the famous Maison Symphonique concert hall, located just down the street from the Schulich School of Music.

Future Goals: My long term goals include playing in a professional orchestra or other ensembles and to teach other aspiring musicians on a private and/or collegiate level.

Major Accomplishments: Being accepted into the Schulich School of Music and getting alternate position in the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

Musical Influences: Professional musicians such as Joseph Alessi, Ian Bousfield, and Jacques Mauger, all of the music teachers that have made me the musician that I am now, and my sister who has started and grown my interest in music and the creative arts.

Biggest Word of Advice: Never give up and keep striving for your dreams, despite the number of people that may say otherwise – Prove them wrong!

Julie Choi​​Julie Choi, B.Mus. Performance (Piano), Composition Minor

Teacher: Marina Mdivani

Hometown: Barrie, Ontario (Originally from Seoul, Korea)

Why Schulich? Not only is the Schulich School of Music one of the finest music schools globally with its high caliber of students and teachers, but I wanted to experience something different and new. Spending a majority of my life in small towns, I wanted to embrace fully the change after graduating high school by choosing a school that is relatively far from home (and all of the excitement that comes with it). So far, I can safely say this is one of the best decisions I have made for myself.

Schulich School of Music is small in size (under 1000 students including both undergrad and graduate students – it’s even smaller than old my high school!) What this implies is that you really get the chance to get to know your peers and the faculty. Your peers are not just another number in the lecture hall but you really get to create some amazing connections that will last a lifetime. This school continues to amaze me everyday with the warmth and kindness of my friends and my teachers, not to mention how talented and inspiring everyone is.

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Life in Montreal: The diversity of this city is incredible. The city has so much to offer. For someone like me, who is a lover of music, art, cute cafés, dining adventures and nature, Montreal is the perfect place! There are so many concerts of all kinds of music at any given day of the week that are both in and outside of McGill, there are overwhelming amounts of great cafés, delicious restaurants and quirky bars scattered throughout the entire city. Not to mention the aesthetics of the city is breathtaking especially with Mont Royal in the heart of it (which, by the way, offers a 360 view of Montreal).

Future Goals: The main one is to always focus on what makes me happy and to stick to my passion – which is to perform and to create music.

Major Accomplishments: Being accepted into this highly prestigious school is a huge accomplishment in itself, but I was also fortunate enough to be granted scholarships with my acceptance! I have also had the opportunity to hold numerous solo piano recitals and have been performing at local retirement homes for over 10 years.

Musical Influences: J.S. Bach, my mom (who got me into music even before I was born. She is my biggest inspiration and support through every big and small obstacles!), as well as my incredible peers that always encourage me to keep pushing my limits and to be a better person and a musician.

Biggest Word of Advice: In order to be a successful musician, you need a combination of two things. First is natural talent and the second is the motivation and drive to keep pushing yourself to practice and better yourself as a musician. But don’t get so caught up in focusing on your studies / practicing that you miss out on everything else outside of the practice room door. The key is to always go on adventures and to whole-heartedly embrace every opportunity that comes your way. University is definitely a drastic change from high school and can get very tough, but no one said you couldn’t enjoy it! And another big tip is to always reach out to seek help when needed. Whether it be big or small issues, the University and the music faculty is loaded with endless resources and services at your fingertips to help you succeed. So work hard, but never forget to check on your well-being and constantly ask yourself what makes you truly happy and focus on that.

Shane Culnan headshot​​​Shane Culnan, B.Mus. Performance (Flute)

Teacher: Denis Bluteau (2015-present)

Hometown: Windsor Ontario, Canada

Why Schulich? When I was deciding on the music school I wanted to attend, I was looking for a place where I would be able to push my limits in the most positive way. When I toured the school, I noticed immediately the sense of community and the overall positive energy between faculty and students. I was also able to see the incredible talent that exists at the school, which inspired me so very much. Schulich is a huge family, and all the disciplines work so closely together, building so many connections and allowing so many opportunities for collaboration and innovation. I wanted to attend a school where I know that I could learn from my peers just as much as my professors and 3 years later, I can honestly say that I have been able to do just that!

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Life in Montreal: Since moving to Montreal in 2013, I can honestly say I’m surprised to feel as comfortable as I do in such a large city. There are so many activities around McGill, whether in Old Montreal, or Place des Arts, that when I ever need to get away from school and all the work, I know that right outside my door step is something fun for me to do! The food is fantastic, I love going to different coffee shops around the city and exploring all the different kinds of poutine. The amount of multiculturalism and freedom to be YOU in Montreal is unbelievable! The music scene is also very fun. There are so many students and professionals willing to innovate and collaborate that it is often times very easy to find cool gigs outside of school!

Future Goals:  I one day hope to juggle a solo career and orchestral career, however, for now, I want to get accepted to grad school and maybe begin to compete nationally and internationally! I also am super interested in real estate as a side job/hobby.

Major Accomplishments: Playing for Emmanuel Pahud at Domaine Forget is something I will never forget. Also playing solo when I was in my senior year of high school with the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra after winning second place in the concerto competition. Also I think that being accepted to McGill for performance was overall a huge success for me! Also being able to play in masterclass for amazing musicians at Orford (shout out to Paula Robison!) both last year and this year again is something I’m very proud of.

Musical Influences: Emmanuel Pahud, Lady Gaga, Dmitri Shostakovich, my teacher!

Biggest Word of Advice: Be yourself and never feel ashamed to feel down. In times where I’ve felt lost in all of the work load, I always reminded myself of who I am, what I stand for, and how I can be positive! Also, remember that McGill has so many people you can talk to. I don’t know where I would be without the amazing support of my colleagues and professors! Do your best to find a balance between your time and your studies, you will absolutely be able to enjoy McGill to the fullest and all the amazing things Montreal has to offer you!

Thomas Daudin headshot​​​Thomas Daudlin, B.Mus. Jazz Performance (Alto/Baritone Saxophone)

Teacher: Dave Turner

Hometown: Victoria, BC

Why Schulich? I wanted to study with Canada’s best teachers and play with Canada’s best up-and-coming musicians. It is inspiring to be around so much incredible talent!

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Life in Montreal: The Best. There’s always something going on, and there are lots of opportunities for young musicians to get involved in the scene. The nightlife is incredible and the city is friendly, interesting, and easy to navigate.

Future Goals: I always thought it would be super cool to tour with Taylor Swift…

Major Accomplishments: Performing in the TD Victoria JazzFest, Coming to McGill, Meeting Houston Person (Twice!)

Musical Influences: Charlie Parker, Leo Pellegrino, Earl Bostic, Johnny Hodges.

Biggest Word of Advice: Go to ALL the shows in town! You’ll never know who you will meet.

Rebecca Jacobson​​​Rebecca Jacobson, B.Mus. Performance (Violin)

Teacher: Axel Strauss

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Why Schulich? I wanted a conservatory-level school that was part of a large university. Studying at McGill allows me to study violin with superb music teachers, while taking rigorous classes in my other subjects of interest. In the past 3 semesters I was able to supplement my musical education with classes like Calculus and History!

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Life in Montreal: I don’t know where to begin. I’ll just say that there is something for everyone here; museums, concerts, cat cafes, macaroni, grilled cheese, you name it!

Future Goals: This is a tough one. Medical school? Become a marine biologist? Backpack across the world? My main goal is to be happy.

Major Accomplishments: I am a recipient of Schulich’s Sarah Fischer scholarship. Aside from that, I am proud of the little things, for example, my jury this year, and my quartet concert in Fall 2014.

Musical Influences: James Ehnes, the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, and my dad!

Biggest Word of Advice: Ask questions and be assertive! And buy a good winter coat.

Francis LaPorte headshot​​Francis LaPorte, B.Mus. Performance (Trumpet)

Teacher: Richard Stoelzel

Hometown: Holland, MI.

Why Schulich? The Schulich School of Music recently hired the trumpet instructor I most want to study under, Professor Richard Stoelzel. McGill University itself also has a fantastic international reputation.

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Life in Montreal: Extremely satisfying! Of special interested to music majors are the close proximity of several professional level orchestras, two of which are the OSM and the OM.

Future Goals:  Play trumpet full time in an orchestra, and help students find joy from becoming more proficient at their instruments.

Major Accomplishments: Being modest ☺

Musical Influences: Mark Gould, Hunter Eberly, Ray Mase, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Richard Stoelzel, Michael Sachs, Phil Smith, Mark Inouye, Chris Martin.

Biggest Word of Advice: Music we hear only ever reflects life. It tells stories about life and represents life, but we understand it only because we’ve experienced life. It doesn’t become a part of life until we start making it… and that’s when something really special starts.

Felix Lu​​Felix Lu, B.Mus. Performance (Piano)

Teacher: Kyoko Hashimoto

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario

Why Schulich? Three reasons.

  1. Its a great music school. The teachers here are prolific, the programs are diverse, the students are engaged.
  2. I like this city. Montreal is where I was born, and it has always been special for me.
  3. Its the only school I applied to. I applied to a Bachelor of Science degree everywhere, but McGill was my first and only choice for music.

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Life in Montreal: Downtown Montreal is great for its compactness; school, home, the gym, the grocery store, and the bank are all within a seven-minute walk from each other. No time wasted in commute.

Future Goals: I aim to audition for post-graduate studies after my Bachelor Degree.

Major Accomplishments: Since coming to McGill, I have blossomed into quite a decent cook.

Musical Influences: My greatest musical influences are my teachers at McGill.

Biggest Word of Advice: “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” – Ernest Hemingway

​Tessa MacLean, M.A., Musicology

Teacher: Roe-Min Kok

Hometown: Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Why Schulich? It was Schulich’s strong support for interdisciplinary research that drew me to the program. Having a diverse musical and professional background, I was able to engage in research that was ideally suited to my varied interests. Combined with the Schulich School’s excellent reputation in both research and performance, its collaborative, positive atmosphere, and being located in Canada’s most culturally rich city, McGill was the ideal choice for my studies!

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Life in Montreal: The diversity, culture, and rich music scene in Montreal makes it an absolutely vibrant place to live! Montreal offers so many opportunities to see top rate performances in a wide range of styles, from the MSO to the many jazz clubs, to an active indie music scene. Plus, Montreal’s wealth of restaurants and festivals makes it a foodie haven☺ I love strolling through the Old Port and exploring markets like Jean Talon and Atwater!

Future Goals: Pursue research that promotes substantial positive change in Canada’s music education system.

Major Accomplishments: In my two years at McGill, I received a SSHRC grant to pursue my research and had my first paper published in a professional journal. The supports at McGill helped make these accomplishments happen!

Musical Influences: Beethoven, Angela Hewitt, Wynton Marsalis, Frederick Fennell, and all of my past music teachers and colleagues.

Biggest Word of Advice: Always set ambitious goals and pursue them relentlessly. But even in your relentless pursuit, make sure to find a way to balance your personal and work/school life, making time for the people you care about. They will help you achieve your goals and will keep everything in perspective.

Chris Maskell​Chris Maskell, B.Mus. Jazz Performance (Tenor Saxophone)

Teacher: Donny Kennedy

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario

Why Schulich? I chose to attend the Schulich School of Music because of its fantastic facilities, as well as to get a chance to learn from its great faculty. Not only do students have access to the Music Library’s immense collection of CDs and vinyl records, but they can also use the school’s world-class recording facilities for their own projects. Also, the faculty is world-class! I have had the chance to learn from some of the best musicians, who are all very approachable and helped to motivate me to strive for high standards.

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Life in Montreal: Montreal is a fantastic place to spend your university years, especially as a jazz student. Many world-renowned artists pass through the city, allowing you to see incredibly inspiring music quite often. In addition, the city’s best musicians play at various clubs throughout the week, and there are many opportunities for students to get their own gigs as well. Finally, there are at least four different jam sessions hosted at various venues each week, which is a great opportunity to play outside of school and make connections.

Future Goals: To complete a master’s degree in Jazz Performance and to make a living being involved in music in some major capacity.

Major Accomplishments: Being a member of the Yamaha All-Star Band 2012 as well as performing at Ottawa and Montreal Jazz Festivals and Ottawa Blues Festival.

Musical Influences: Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Wheeler, Chris Potter, Seamus Blake…the list goes on.

Biggest Word of Advice: You will only get as much out of a degree in music as you put in. Maintain a positive attitude, work hard, and enjoy making music!

Meagan MilatzMeagan Milatz, M.Mus. Performance (Piano)

Teacher: Ilya Poletaev (modern piano), Tom Beghin (fortepiano)

Hometown: Weyburn, SK

Why Schulich? During my years of studying here, I have grown to appreciate the wide variety of challenges and opportunities that the Schulich School of Music provides. Several aspects which stand out in particular for me include the many performance opportunities which one can take advantage of, the variety of chamber music options, and the excellent quality of teaching from the faculty members that I have had a chance to work with.

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Life in Montreal: The more time I spend in Montreal, the more I love it. There are a lot of different neighbourhoods to explore, and you never run out of things to do. There is a lot of diversity here which I also love. It’s a great place to walk and bike in the summer, and one of my favourite things to do is to visit the Jean Talon or Atwater markets, or to spend time in one of the many beautiful parks.

Future Goals: My goals are to do well in the competitions that I have entered this year, and also to get more engagements to perform solo concerts in Montreal and the surrounding area. Another goal of mine for the near future is to learn Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto. ☺

Major Accomplishments: 

  • Performance as soloist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 2015
  • Winner of the 2014 Shean Piano Competition
  • Winner of the 2014 McGill Classical Concerto Competition

Musical Influences: My former piano teacher was a huge influence on me as I studied with her from age 5 until my high school graduation.

Biggest Word of Advice: Hard work and efficient practicing goes a long way!

Claire Motyer HeadshotClaire Motyer, N/A

Teacher: Felicia Moye

Hometown: Peterborough, Ontario

Why Schulich? I was really excited by the prospect of living in Montreal and being surrounded by some of the greatest young musicians in Canada. I’d heard from others who were studying at McGill about how inspiring the environment was, and I just really wanted to be a part of it.

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Life in Montreal: One of the reasons I chose McGill and one of the reasons I love it here is because of this city. Since I grew up in a smaller city, I had never been surrounded by so much diversity of cultures and ideas. The European vibe, the cafés and restaurants, the streets and architecture of le Plateau and the variety in the music and arts scene are all things that have made me feel at home and inspired.

Future Goals: To either continue studying the violin at a graduate level or to explore a career in musicians’ health—a field that I’m very passionate about and where I believe there’s a lot of potential growth. To help upcoming musicians overcome and manage physical or mental limitations, especially at the university level, is something that I hope to be a part of in order for musicians to be surrounded by a healthier environment.

Major Accomplishments: Playing with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2014 as well as in this upcoming summer for their 2016 tour to Portugal, working with the New Orford String Quartet as part of the string quartet workshop at Orford Academy in 2015, backpacking in Europe with my roommate (also an ambassador: Rebecca Jacobson!), coming 3rd in the provincial rowing Women’s 8 final in high school, and completing a 10-day canoe trip in Algonquin Park./p>

Musical Influences: My teacher growing up (Witold Swoboda) as well as my current teacher here (Felicia Moye); the music of Brahms, Ravel and Debussy; James Ehnes, Beyoncé and Joni Mitchell; all of my peer musicians I have either worked with or encountered in my lifetime whether at home or summer festivals or since being at McGill.

Biggest Word of Advice: Take risks but also learn how to take care of yourself. It’s easy to get caught up while practicing or rehearsing and sometimes you need to step back. Injuries are not something to be ashamed of, but it’s SO important to try to prevent them before they happen and to make smart decisions in order to keep healthy.

Allison O'Brien, B.Mus. Performance (Voice)

Teacher: Annamaria Popescu

Hometown: Ottawa

Why Schulich? Schulich School of Music offers you what most schools don’t. It offers you a community and a family that supports you in your dreams and ambitions. The professors are like your big brothers and sister, your moms and dads, and even sometimes that friend you need to confide in. Schulich gives you the whole package; an education that will take you far even after you graduate and a place you can always call home.

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Life in Montreal: AMAZING! There are no other words! There is always something to do, and something to do for everyone! If you want to dance the night away, there is a whole street for that, you want to listen to some really nice jazz music is a relaxed lounge, try upstairs or House of Jazz, you want to feel like you’ve been dropped in Europe in the 1800’s- head on over to Old Port it’s a 20 minute walk! Montreal is one of those special and unique places that has something for everyone!

Future Goals: One day I hope to sing on one of the great stages of the world- The Met, La Scala, Sydney Opera house etc. I hope to sing one of the great roles and have my name go down in the history books.

Major Accomplishments: Youngest to win the Open Classical Competition at the Quebec Ontario Music Festival (I was 13) before me the youngest to win was 25.

Musical Influences: Laura Aiken, Renee Fleming, Stephanie Blythe

Biggest Word of Advice: Never fear what you know in your heart is right. If I you thought it was the wrong decision, you probably wouldn’t be trying it in the first place.

Céleste Pagniello, B.Mus. Faculty Program (Flute)

Teacher: Cindy Shuter

Hometown: Richmond Hill, Ontario

Why Schulich? I chose the McGill Schulich School of Music because of the quality of students and the incredible atmosphere. Every student at the School of Music is very talented and every time I attend a concert, I am in awe of my classmates. Also, as competitive as the school is, the relationships between students are always positive. Despite the fact that we will soon be competing against each other for jobs, everyone respects each other and is more than willing to help out a fellow student.

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Life in Montreal: Montréal is an amazing city to live in. There is so much to do! It is also a very cultural city with plenty of opportunities to perform or see others perform. IT DOES GET COLD!! People are not exaggerating when they say Montréal winters are very cold… So bring a heavy jacket!

Future Goals: I would love to write film scores!

Major Accomplishments: Getting into McGill!

Musical Influences: On flute, no one rivals Emmanuel Pahud, and in terms of composing, Hans Zimmer and Tchaikovsky are my favourites.

Biggest Word of Advice: Take every opportunity that presents itself to you! By doing so, you get to meet new people who may play important roles in your future, whether they become your friends or they help you get a job one day. Also, by involving yourself, you guarantee that people will know who you are, which is incredibly important in the field of music.

Samuel Rouleau headshotSamuel Rouleau, B.Mus. Performance (Bassoon)

Teacher: Stéphane Lévesque

Hometown: Ottawa, ON

Why Schulich? Schulich was attractive to me for many reasons, the main one being its location. Montreal is such an artistic city. Schulich also has internationally renowned faculty and excellent students with whom I can share my passion!

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Life in Montreal: Montreal is a very big, vibrant, exciting city. There is a lot to explore and discover, so find out what makes you happy and get involved!

Future Goals: Studying or working in Europe in either music or linguistics, or both!

Major Accomplishments: NYO Canada 2015.

Musical Influences: Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Poulenc, Debussy, Françaix… too many to name!

Biggest Word of Advice: Stay true to who you are and find out what you want to get out of music, and go for it!

Cara SearchCara Search, B.Mus. Performance (Voice)

Teacher: Annamaria Popescu

Hometown: Red Hook, New York

Why Schulich? Prof. Popescu was the main draw for me but… Early music! I hardly even knew what baroque music was before I got here and now I do it 6-8 hours a week in ensembles like Capella Antica and Early Music Ensemble. For vocalists, EME is the main chamber music opportunity at McGill and the early music department is so knowledgeable and passionate about what they do.

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Life in Montreal: Montreal is a student city in the best ways — a short walk from my apartment can bring me to a mountain, a park, three (fabulous!) museums, a hockey arena, the finest concert hall in Quebec, a retro dance club or one of the best universities in Canada! You can always take a breather from student life and explore outside of the bubble for a while.

Future Goals: Career-wise I want to feel challenged and inspired by what I do to make money and the people I do it with. Right now, singing is that “what”.

Major Accomplishments: I have worked hard to cultivate a mindset here that is very different from the one with which I arrived. I prioritize vocal exploration, lots of research, health, questioning my ways of thinking and, of course, I always make time for curiosity and quality time with great friends! I’m most proud of that because it allows me to take advantage of what McGill has to offer every day. More concretely, I sing the national anthem and DJ all of the McGill hockey games, which is my favorite job to date (besides being an Ambassador, of course)!

Musical Influences: Meredith Monk, Benjamin Britten, time in the Marvin Duchow Music Library and any music that I can dance to!

Biggest Word of Advice: For choosing a performance program? It’s all about the teacher! Trust me and everyone else who is telling you this. For life? Learn to balance activity and stillness.

Naira Sidi​Naira Sidi, B.Mus. Performance (Bassoon)

Teacher: Stephane Levesque

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Why Schulich? Nowhere else could I find a tight community where my colleagues are serious about what they do (i.e. spending their fair share of hours in the practice rooms!), and are so supportive of each other. There is such a positive yet disciplined vibe from our world-class faculty- many of which play in the Montreal Symphony. I also get the opportunity to participate in non-music activities and classes in one of the top universities of the continent.

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Life in Montreal: COLD and absolutely fabulous! There is much to learn from the diverse yet progressive population. There are many opportunities for musicians to gig off campus and make helpful connections. There is an adventure for everyone- from music lovers to tree huggers.

Future Goals: Achieve a Master’s Degree in Music Therapy and bring the gift of music to those who need it most.

Major Accomplishments: 

Getting into McGill, earning a spot in McGill Symphony Orchestra as a first year, and (so far) surviving my music degree.

Musical Influences: My musical influences are my peers at Schulich and my past and present bassoon instructors. They give me focus and determination.

Biggest Word of Advice: Work hard. Get out of your comfort zone. Take every opportunity you can to become a well rounded person. Do what makes you happy!

Hillary Simms, B.Mus. Performance (Trombone)

Teacher: James Box

Hometown: Torbay, Newfoundland and Labrador

Why Schulich? I chose McGill's Schulich school of music because no where else in Canada can you get a university education with a very focused performance program like a conservatory.

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Life in Montreal: Living in Montreal is amazing. There are so many concerts to attend in every genre of music outside and at McGill. The city is beautiful in every season it's especially vibrant during Christmas :)

Future Goals: I plan to continue my studies in trombone performance. Receive my masters and maybe an artist diploma. I aspire to work in an orchestra, teach private students and create opportunities to play solo repertoire.

Major Accomplishments: Some of my major accomplishments are winning the junior instrumentalist rose bowl in the Kiwanis music festival in Newfoundland.  As well, winning the Eastern Wind Ensemble concerto competition And being asked to give a solo recital as one of Newfoundland's rising young artists.

Musical Influences: Though he is not a trombone player one of my biggest musical influences is Nat King Cole. His tone and the way he produces a melodic line is the exact way I try to sound on the trombone.

Biggest Word of Advice: My biggest word of advice for any incoming music student is to branch out of the music building once and a while. It is very important to take a day off.

Julia SuretteJulia Surette, B.Mus. Performance (Voice)

Teacher: Stefano Algieri

Hometown: Brantford, Ontario

Why Schulich? McGill University, Schulich School of Music offers students a range of different opportunities that other schools just cannot compete with. While maintaining an atmosphere of healthy competition, Schulich also encourages friendships and bonds that last throughout and after your university career. Schulich’s staff and administration are also extremely helpful and do their best to support your needs to make your years at McGill positive and informative.

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Life in Montreal: Montreal offers incredible culture, nightlife, and sights to explore during your time at McGill. From museums to jazz bars, cat cafes to amazing street murals, you can find just about anything in Montreal just by walking outside the McGill ghetto.

Future Goals: My future goal would be to perform various opera roles in several of the world’s most amazing opera houses.

Major Accomplishments: 

  • Concours de Musique de la Capitale– Voice Champion – May 2015
  • Canadian Music Competition – Provincial Finalist – May 2015
  • Richard Blaha Silver Tray: Overall Competition Champion – May 2014
  • Donna Chapin Rose Bowl: 19 years and over Classical Voice Champion (age 17) – May 2014
  • Keighley's Jewellers Junior Rose Bowl: 19 years and under Classical Voice Champion (age 16) – May 2013
  • Muriel King Memorial Trophy: awarded to a female classical vocalist, aged 16-19 with the most musical potential (age 16) – May 2013

Musical Influences: My favourite composers include Puccini, Gounod, Schubert, and Fauré. The sopranos that I listen to and continue to inspire me are Claudia Muzio, Luisa Tetrazzini, and Anna Netrebko.

Biggest Word of Advice: If someone is needed to do your dream job, why not it be you?

Aubreylyn ZazycznyAubreylyn Zazyczny, B.Mus. /B.Ed. (Jazz Voice)

Teacher: Ranee Lee

Hometown: Buckingham, Pennsylvania

Why Schulich? Schulich has a wonderful, friendly, diverse, and artistic environment with a great Jazz program as well as a concurrent Music Education program, that not many schools have.

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Life in Montreal: Life in Montreal is unlike any city you could ever live in. Not only are you exposed to an international community, but you are exposed to a community that has an incredible passion for culture and the arts. There are so many venues to experience live music and art. From the Montreal Symphony to the singing see saws and swings in Place des Arts, music is everywhere!!!

Future Goals: Once I complete my undergraduate degree at McGill, I would like to continue my education and receive a Master's degree in Music Therapy. With this, I would like to work as a Music Therapist with Special Education students. After some time working, it is also a goal of mine to go back to school and receive my PhD in Music Education, with plans for an active research Thesis, travelling the world and raising awareness for Music Education and promoting its benefits towards the educational and behavioral development of children.

Major Accomplishments: I would definitely say studying at Schulich is an accomplishment, as well as becoming an Ambassador my first year. I have about 10 pieces of original repertoire published, most of which produced, that I perform at various venues in the States and recently here in Montreal. Two of those songs have been mastered and published on iTunes: Mr. Chameleon and Say la Vie (Franglais purposefully). :)

Musical Influences: Melody Gardot, Etta James, Sara Bareillis, and my dad.

Biggest Word of Advice: Don't forget to smile and have fun! :) Music school can be tedious, stressful, and overwhelming at times, but these are all challenges that will help us become stronger and more talented musicians. Never lose sight of the passion that brought you here. If we take time to think a little less and love a little more of what we're doing, our experiences will become much more positive and worth while.