Sylvia D. Jones is earning degrees in Music Education and Voice at the School of Music, studying over the past three years with voice instructors Cyndia Sieden and Carrie Shaw and performing as a member of Chamber Singers, the University Chorale, and the UW Gospel Choir. She is on target to graduate in Spring 2021 with a BM in Music Education and BA in Voice.
Why did you select the University of Washington for your degree studies?
My family has a Husky legacy, so I always wanted to come to UW. However, I strayed away from that desire in my senior year of high school. I wanted to be different. But the truth is, UW has always felt like home. Being accepted and receiving a generous scholarship served as confirmation for me. I knew this was where I was meant to be.
Who is your favorite UW faculty member and why?
I have many favorites! One of them is Dr. Christopher Roberts. I’ve learned so much from him in his music education courses. Most importantly, I appreciate his empathy and genuine care for his students. In everything he does, it is evident to see that he has the heart of a teacher.
Can you share a memorable UW musical moment or experience?
In the past three years, I have had the privilege of singing in the University Chorale with the Seattle Symphony for their Holiday Pops series. Being on stage and performing back-to-back shows with a world-class symphony has been an incredible experience. It made me feel like a professional musician.
How has scholarship support benefited you while pursuing your education?
I have enjoyed my time here at UW thus far and look forward to the many challenges and exciting opportunities in my last two quarters. Studying here has enabled me to learn so much and grow as a musician. I have gone places I never thought I would go, sung pieces I never thought I would sing, and met people I never thought I would meet. I never thought or imagined I would be where I am right now. I have been able to discover my voice as a singer. These past three years have pushed me in ways beyond what I thought I was capable of. I have been exposed to so many musical possibilities that have prepared me to continue on the journey of discovering who I am as an educator and musician. All these things have been made possible through the generous support of UW contributors. Many challenges and stressors come along with pursuing a degree, but thankfully, tuition has not been one for me. I am deeply grateful for their contributions.
Are you able to continue progress toward your degree this year while classes are mostly remote? What are some of the ways that you have had to adapt to remote learning platforms and/or restrictions with in-person rehearsals?
I have been able to continue my studies this year despite the pandemic. Last spring, I had to adapt to student-teaching online. I had the honor of working with Courtney Rowley and the Ballard High School choir program. I was disappointed that we could not work together in-person, but the experience pushed me to develop other skills like technology that may have been over-looked in-person. Online ensemble rehearsals took a little while to get used to, but we have been able to work on individual growth and development in ways we were not able to in-person. For example, I was able to arrange a choral setting of Were You There last spring for one of our individual projects in Chorale, and a small ensemble is working on recording it this quarter.
What is a favorite way you like to relax when you are not in school or at work?
I enjoy spending time with my family. Whether it’s eating a meal together, watching a movie, or going for a walk, family time is quality time.
What is your favorite composer or piece of music and why?
Recently, I have been interested in works by Black women composers which have been inspiring for me as a Black woman. One of my favorites so far is Undine Smith-Moore. I love Spirituals, which I would consider to be one of her compositional specialties. She composed with elements that accentuate the virtuosity and artistic passion of a performer. I am currently working on her arrangement of Come Down Angels, and it is a joy to sing.
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan on entering a master’s program in Church Music. Graduate school has always been in my long-term plan. Even though there are a lot of unknowns right now because of the pandemic, this feels like the perfect time to further develop my skills as a musician and to continue in higher education.
In the 2019-20. academic year, Sylvia Jones financed her UW education with help from the Michael and Rebecca McGoodwin Endowed Fund in Music, the Gina Funes Radke and Fred Radke Endowed Scholarship in Music and the Consuelo Houts Scholarship.