In Conversation with Frédéricka Petit-Homme

Frédéricka Petit-Homme creates space for community engagement through Gospel choral music at Schulich.
Image by Wendy LaCroix Photography.

Community is an essential part of music making for Frédéricka Petit-Homme (BMus'02, MMus'04, current PhD). Trained in classical vocal arts and choral conducting, she is leading the upcoming More than a Song: Gospel Music Workshop at Schulich, inviting people to take a deep dive into Gospel choral music. The free sessions are open to all and runs from August 21 to 24, 2022. Over the course of the 4 days, participants will explore Gospel music, participate in choir rehearsals, and contribute to community building. 
The project is a clear reflection of Frédéricka’s passion for community engagement and the process of music creation. In addition to her own direction and participation, she’s gathered a great line-up of cultural bearers and community leaders to join in the event. 

In anticipation of the workshop, we connected with Frédéricka over email and learned what she loves about making music as a community, how consistent, small contributions can go a long way, and what she looks forward to when she attends a concert. 

How did this project come about? 
The Schulich School of Music, through their Community Engagement Program, provided an opportunity for students to propose a project. I wanted to create a space for Schulich students, students from other faculties, and members of various communities to engage in a type of music-making that is not often found in academic spaces. 

What are some of the outcomes of the project that you’re hoping for? 
As we explore Gospel choral music, I'm hoping to meet new people, engage in cultural communication, and contribute to building community. I'm hoping everyone involved can see the value that Gospel choral music has to offer and the value the participants bring to the music-making process. 

What do you hope audiences experience at your event? 
I hope our audiences experience authentic music-making. It'd be great for our audiences to experience that they too are part of the music-making process even if they are not performing. 

How does music fuel your sense of community? 
I think I'd say that my sense of community fuels the music-making. The more I feel I belong, that my contribution is essential, or that the process is as valuable as the performance, the music-making is 'fueled'.  

Could you share 3 things you love about making music in the community? 
I think I can share 3 things I love about making music as a community. I say 'as' a community instead of in the community because we are always part of a community. The Schulich School of Music is a community, our audience is a community, individuals participating in non-academic expressions of music-making are also in a community. Ok, here are my top 3 things: possessing a sense of purpose, making a contribution, and witnessing the corporate transformation. 

What is propelling you in your research and studies right now? 
Consistent, small contributions go a long way. I'm hoping the knowledge I'm discovering can contribute to the values and mission statement of Schulich and that future educators can be equipped to impact their communities. 

To get ready for your More than a Song: Gospel Music Workshop, who should we add to our playlist? 

  • Kirk Franklin 
  • Hezekiah Walker 
  • Tye Tribett 
  • Mahalia Jackson 

Frédéricka Petit-Homme singing at microphone with arm outstretched in front of a singing choir
Image by Dorothy Williams.

What do you believe is a key feature in enabling the best kind of music-making and music-learning experience? 
A key feature is to understand that music-making and music-learning is a process, a life-long process. 

How does music move you? 
Music moves me when I experience the generosity of the performer. 

What music never fails to transport you? 
Soulful music regardless of the genre. 

What is your favourite moment in a concert? 
Watching the performer and wondering "how is this possible" or how could anyone compose/improvise this music. Hearing an 'out of this world' sound, experiencing catharsis. 

What should every student leave Schulich knowing? 
You are more than the music you make — or don't make. 

If faced with obstacles or uncertainty, how do you keep moving forward? 
You mean when faced with obstacles and uncertainty... I keep moving forward with a daily fresh dose of enabling grace. 

If you had a mantra/philosophy/phrase for where you are right now, what would it be? 
Our purpose is part of a greater design. Let's do our part.  

What would be exciting to see more of in your field? And what is exciting to you about your field right now? 
I'd like to see the cultural bearers of the local Gospel music community collaborate and develop meaningful relationships with the members of the Schulich School of Music. It's exciting to see how DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) concepts can flourish in a Gospel music context and the role community music-making can play in an academic setting. 

Frédéricka Petit-Homme singing at microphone in the foreground with musician on electric guitar in the background
Image by Christopher Ducasse.

Interesting in attending the More than a Song: Gospel Music Workshop? Sign up here and receive your schedule! Space is limited. 
Artistic line rendering of faces over an ombre red background with Schulich and McGill logos

Montreal-born musician, Frédéricka Petit-Homme is a versatile transdisciplinary artist passionate about community music-making, personal development, and applicable DEIB implementation strategies.  

Trained in the classical vocal arts and choral conducting, she’s an active member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Chorus and has performed with cultural organizations such as Musique 3 Femmes, Chants Libres, Brady Works, Ensemble Obiora and l’Ensemble de violoncelles de Montréal.    

Petit-Homme’s community engagement with local ensembles has led her to pursue a PhD in Music Education with a focus on the possible role Gospel choirs have in building community, developing purpose, and fostering resilience both inside and outside Higher Education Music Institutions. 

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