Tag Archives: Honours

Anna Whitaker – UC Music Scholarship recipient

Anna Whitaker recently graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Music with a MusB Honours degree. Since completing her studies at UC, Anna has been studying jazz at Queen’s College in New York, with the help of UC’s Keith Laugesen Music Scholarship and Anne Reid Memorial Trust Scholarship and Creative New Zealand’s Aotearoa Music Scholarship. Just before Christmas, Anna wrote to update us on her studies:

I am writing to update you on my studies at Queen’s College.

Yesterday was our last day of classes, and I now have four weeks off to recuperate, practice, and enjoy a (almost) white Christmas with new friends from all over the world who also can’t make it home to be with family.

Anna having a laugh with Jimmy Heath after the concert.
Anna having a laugh with Jimmy Heath after the concert.

The course has been interesting and challenging, and having the chance to work on my musicianship full time really is the most amazing opportunity. I have been to see some of my musical heroes play live, many of whom play with the professors I am studying under. It was a thrill to often have a drink with them afterwards, and hear from them what they were currently working on.

The jazz community in New York is largely a very generous one. They are keen to encourage the younger generation of musicians to keep jazz music alive. A highlight was getting to sing for Jimmy Heath on his 90th birthday, alongside my professors and fellow students. Well-known jazz singer Roberta Gamborini also jumped on stage and traded a solo with me, which was a real thrill. We had a great discussion about practice routines after the concert, with Mr Heath sharing his dedication to still practising at least two hours a day.

Anna singing Jimmy Heath’s tune, “CTA” with staff members and fellow students. “CTA" is a jazz standard that has been recorded by artists including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Chick Corea, and many more.
Anna singing Jimmy Heath’s tune, “CTA” with staff members and fellow students. “CTA” is a jazz standard that has been recorded by artists including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Chick Corea, and many more.

My favourite class was the vocal improvisation class, led by David Berkman, who is the author of the book I taught from as vocal tutor at Ara Music Arts. I gained so much from attending that class, as Professor Beckman is a passionate educator, and has a deep interest in how to make practice enjoyable. I have never been one to particularly enjoy practicing, however now I look forward to sitting down in a practice room, and imagine I will still feel this way when I am Mr Heath’s age.

I got to sing in the ensemble that Michael Mossman takes, and composed a song the band played which was inspired by the first and only bout of homesickness I had, after the earthquake centred in Hanmer Springs – my parents’ home town.

I am very grateful for the financial support of UC’s Keith Laugesen Music Scholarship and Anne Reid Memorial Trust Scholarship and of Creative New Zealand’s Aotearoa Music Scholarship. Without these Scholarships I would not be having this incredible opportunity, and I really look forward to coming back to New Zealand and sharing what I have learned with my music community back home.

Sincerely yours,

Anna Whitaker


How to stay sane as a postgraduate student!

I remember thinking when I was an undergraduate student that postgrads must be extremely clever, and very focused. This year I have found myself in the mysterious world of postgrad study, through undertaking my Honours in Media and Communication at UC. Already there’s so much to do that it can be easy to get overwhelmed!…however I know that my year doesn’t even really compare to studying towards a Masters! But all postgraduate students have different strategies that help them get through the year. Here’s a few of mine….

  1. Make friends with your classmates: You see them so often that it’s important you try and get along! Your study will feel a lot less lonely if you have some friends who understand what you’re going through, because they’re going through it too. Also if you need help with a concept, or notes from a class these friends will come in handy!
  2. Keep your non-postgrad friends: Don’t forget to make time for those friends who were there for you before you entered into postgrad. With the amount of time your head is in a book, these friends can provide a much needed break!
  3. Get some good study music: At the moment I’m loving Pandora Radio, a free online music service, for creating different study playlists. What’s so awesome about it is that you can enter and artist or genre you like and Pandora will find you a playlist of music similar to this. You can even follow other people’s pages and look at their playlists too.
  4. RefMe AppMy friend who’s studying Honours in History just showed me this and I love it! The app allows you to create bibliographies, citations and references on your phone. It’s so easy as well! You just take a photo of a book barcode on your phone and it imports all the details into your device for you. Check it out for yourself…
  5. Take regular study breaks: Believe it or not taking regular breaks actually helps keep you more on track, rather than pretending to study! One of my favourite things to do on a study break is watch a few buzzfeed videos, or read some of their articles. I find that this feels like a more relaxing break than being bombarded by friends on social media!

Let me know what you think of these tips, or if you have any good ones to add to the list!

Next year and beyond…

It feels pretty crazy to be writing this, but I have just completed my Bachelor of Arts in Media and Psychology!

Three years ago I arrived at University as a ‘fresher’ and was nervous about what the real world would bring. I had a blast at Orientation, met heaps of new friends, filled my brain with new knowledge, and experienced many different courses before I narrowed my options down. I’m glad that I entered into first year with such an open mind and tried so many different papers – English, Media, Psychology, Sociology and even Philosophy! Now I’m three years older, hopefully a bit wiser, and feeling ready for what next year holds in store. I’ve decided to stay on for another year at UC and have been accepted into Honours in Media  and Communication!

I’m really excited for what my course will teach me and how it will further my job prospects for when I leave.  University is such a personal journey and you really have to choose what you think is right for you. No matter which path you take, it will work out and you will grow along the way. Taking Philosophy in first year definitely showed me that! At first I found the concept of the course a bit crazy and I wasn’t sure how I kept getting As for my essays when I didn’t even understand what I was writing. But the course taught me how to think differently and respect other people’s opinions, plus I even met a good friend. If University has taught me one lesson over the last three years, it is to give everything a try before you say that you can’t do it.

Congratulations to those who are graduating this year and those who are undertaking further study next year.

Happy holidays!