By: Sidnee McLeod

For eight weeks, I was lucky enough to have an internship with the Coalition’s Youth4Music team.  I have a great passion for music education and social media, so this position seemed like a perfect fit. It was also my first time having a remote position, and therefore, I had the privilege of being able to work at home while still living with my family. I can honestly say that my time here was different from what I originally expected – it was better.

Working at home was a new experience. I spent the second half of my Master’s online, but having a job online is quite different. Although you work on a team and have multiple meetings a week, the way you organize your hours is really up to you – which makes for a very flexible schedule. It allowed me to break up my day into alternating blocks of trombone practice, Y4M work, and breaks, which made the day more digestible and less overwhelming. 

I was able to schedule my second Pfizer vaccination with no issue because of this (i.e.; the day of, I had a meeting, did some work, got my second dose, and recovered the next day without repercussions!). As well, you get to work with the technology and environment you are comfortable with, which can be interpreted as a pro or a con, depending on your computer and internet status. 

Fortunately, I was able to work with all of my art and graphic design programs that I liked, as well as being able to use my artist’s tablet to draw on them. Unfortunately, I experienced significant internet issues throughout the summer – the internet would go out for hours at a time, because the modem would overheat/have a bad connection/or shut down (I am the queen of power cycling a router!) Overall, I would say that I enjoyed working at home and would be happy to have another remote position. 

Even though it was remote, I still met regularly with other members of the Coalition. I think the best part of this internship was working with a team that was so focused on music education. I absolutely loved the team meetings with Simon (the other intern), Sharon (our supervisor), and me (the three S’s!) 

My favourite meetings were always the Zoom calls where we planned the Fall Workshop Series (speaking of which, you should definitely check those out when they are announced – they are going to be so great!). It was always so exciting and I always came out of the calls rejuvenated. We came up with wonderful ideas and combined them into a great workshop experience. It’s always so awesome to hear from other musicians with different perspectives – it inspires me to broaden my horizons and learn more. Without being contradictory, it’s also great to work with like-minded musicians with such a huge passion for helping young musicians. It really felt like we cared about contributing to the future of Canadian youth.

As a result of those passions, my favourite projects that I worked on were the resources we crafted for music students – namely, the spreadsheets. We felt like there was a lot of information out there for students, but it was difficult to locate it all in one spot. Therefore, we decided to close this gap by consolidating a lot of information into easy-to-read spreadsheets that students of any age can access, as an aid to planning. 

Without spoiling all of the projects that we worked on, did you know that Y4M created an online database of all undergraduate music programs in Canada? I wish I had known about that when I was in highschool. That sentiment also led me to create an online spreadsheet of all graduate music programs in Canada (having already completed a Master’s, this spreadsheet is much easier to process, compared to searching up each and every university website). 

These are the kind of tools we created for youth so they can have a more informed decision on their future, and be aware of all kinds of career possibilities. I learned a lot after searching through countless websites. Combined with my knowledge and understanding of music education and the information I saw, I feel like I have a better idea of what the Canadian university music scene has to offer, and therefore, is missing (in my personal opinion). 

There are a few things that I would personally like to see change, but I am glad that all of the research I did during this Y4M internship gives me a stepping stone into potential future projects. It also gave me an appreciation for websites that are easy to navigate and are clear (I’m sure Simon would agree!).

All in all, I had a wonderful time working as a summer intern with the Coalition. I am very grateful to have been selected for the position, and to be able to work with a wonderful team full of intelligent and creative music educators. I feel that this internship allowed me to gain a greater understanding of music programs, advocacy, and music needs in Canada, which will be a great benefit to me in the future as I continue my development as a music educator. Remote positions are somewhat new, but they allowed us to connect from all over Canada and think about providing to students at the national level, which is something I hope Y4M plans to continue to do in the future. I wish this program all the very best and hope that more people have the opportunity to learn from it and grow. It has been a blast.