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News > Alumni Spotlight > Sharing Experiences about Studying Ethnomusicology: Laura Yee '14

Sharing Experiences about Studying Ethnomusicology: Laura Yee '14

Laura Yee came back to speak to G11 IB Music Students about studying Ethnomusicology at UCLA and the experiences she had during her 4-year degree there.

Last week, Alumna Laura Yee came to speak to G11 IB Music Students about studying Ethnomusicology at UCLA and the experiences she had during her 4-year degree there. Ethnomusicology is the study of Music from other Cultures, particularly non-Western Cultures and is both a highly specialised and a fascinating area of study. Throughout the 4-year course, students were expected to accumulate hours of various work experience, and for Laura, this was the most exciting part of the degree and which has now led to an incredible job opportunity as Programme Manager of the LA Harmony Project - a non-profit organisation who run music programmes for underprivileged children. (

One of the highlights of Laura’s work experience involved a 3-month project working for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC. This massive Arts festival (similar to WOMAD which used to take place in Singapore) runs every summer and usually highlights three distinct cultures. The festival includes music and dance performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling and much more. Laura’s responsibilities included booking and working with live musicians, organising rehearsal schedules and concert programmes and general logistics regarding musical performances. She networked with many people and believed it was this fantastic experience, which led her to her exciting new job as Programme Manager for LA’s Harmony Project.

I have often been asked by parents, what can students do with a Music degree and why study Music at IB if my child is already learning a musical instrument outside of school? Studying Music not only allows for a variety of interesting and fulfilling work opportunities such as Musician, Music producer, Sound Engineer, Teacher, Radio/Broadcasting, Film/Video industry, Arts Administration, Events Management, Music Therapist, Acoustics Consultant to name but a few. More importantly, though, it teaches skills that are highly valued by employers (and universities) and which also improve general well being and quality of life.

  • good physical dexterity, memory, coordination and concentration - developed in practice and performance
  • communication skills - developed through performing and engaging listeners
  • teamwork - through working in bands or orchestras as a player, leader or manager. Cultivates a social awareness and empathy for others
  • self-management - physical and mental self-discipline, health and resilience
  • performing under pressure - overcoming nervousness in order to perform at an optimum during exams, concerts, auditions and in real-life situations
  • planning - organising and working towards a project/performance
  • technical skills and expertise - using technology to create and record music 
  • critical reflection - giving and receiving criticism, learning from mistakes and striving for improved performance. 
  • connecting with oneself - deepening self-knowledge through the exploration of an Art that defines your character

With all this in mind, I find it perplexing that when faced with a choice, our students choose core subjects instead of opting for subject areas that they have natural passion and talent for.  I often wonder, what our world would look like if all children studied and immersed themselves in music? Laura’s story and experiences were a refreshing and inspiring reminder about the benefits of studying the Arts.


Related Reading

STRAITS TIMES: Don’t study Law

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: Why do students enrol in massively over supplied University degrees?

Ingenium Academy: 5 Ways Music can set you up for Life

Medical Press: Study finds ensemble music programs positively affect students’ character, competence

ABC NEWS: How Music Could Make You a Rocket Scientist scientist/story?id=20692544


Mrs Ineke Thorpe
Head of Music
SJI International

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