As a child growing up in Cuba, Yanet Campbell was introduced to the world of music by her father, a fellow musician and orchestral performer. Since then, she’s honed her violin skills and is pursuing a Master of Music degree at Memorial. This program has provided Yanet not only with academic, financial and professional opportunities but also, as she puts it, “the tools to exceed in and outside of the music industry.”
Where you are from?
I am from Cuba.
Where, and in what area, did you do your undergraduate or previous graduate work?
I did my undergraduate at The University of Arts in Havana, Cuba, where I earned a B.Mus. in violin performance.
Why did you choose to pursue a graduate or postdoctoral degree?
I chose to pursue a graduate degree because I believe there are still things I need to learn and improve upon. I think that having greater preparation and education will increase my chances for success in the music industry and in life in general.
When did you first come to Memorial (the year)?
I came to Memorial University for the first time in 2018.
Why did you choose Memorial for graduate studies?
I heard great things about Memorial from a couple of friends that studied and worked here. After doing some research, I discovered that Dr. Nancy Dahn is the violin teacher here. She is a world-class musician, a very experienced teacher and an incredible human being. She is one of the main reasons why I chose Memorial. Additionally, I think the School of Music is unique and affordable, while offering a high-quality level of instruction that is comparable to that of the most renowned (and costly) universities.
What program did you come to Memorial to complete?
I came to Memorial to do a Master of Music (M.Mus.) in violin performance.
Who is your supervisor?
My supervisor is Dr. Ian Sutherland, who is also the Dean of the School of Music.
Why did you choose this area of study?
I gained a love of music thanks to my father, who is also a musician. When I was five, I started music lessons – first, piano and solfège, and then violin. Even before then, I was familiar with music as my parents would take me to symphony orchestra performances in which my father played. My father also instilled in me a strong work ethic, which has allowed me to master my technical and expressive skills as a musician over the years. As a result, I have been able to participate in many national and international competitions.
Listening to music provides a great pleasure – but when performing, the pleasure is even more intense. You get to be part of the music. It touches your heart and makes you feel incredible. Performing for other people gives musicians the possibility of sharing their stories in a unique way. Music has become one of the most important things in my life.
How would you describe your experience as a graduate student at Memorial?
As a graduate student in the School of Music, I have benefitted from many opportunities my program has offered. Graduate students have a leading role at the school and are encouraged to support and guide students at other levels. In addition to the student jobs the school offers, we gain experience in our respective fields through the Graduate Assistantship positions. We are also given plenty of opportunities to showcase our talent on and off campus. The school hosts a variety of concerts and events every week that feature outstanding artists. We are also encouraged to audition for the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, which allows us to receive elevated orchestral training and share a stage with internationally celebrated musicians.
Graduate students also benefit from a flexible schedule that allows you to get involved in many other activities on campus and off campus. Besides the required courses, there are a variety of electives to choose from – the most impactful of which was my visit to Memorial’s Harlow Campus in England.
What was the biggest lesson you learned during your time at Memorial?
The M.Mus. program at Memorial does not just prepare students to be better musicians. It helps us build a strong foundation for our careers and gives us the necessary tools to succeed in and outside of the music industry. We are prepared for life. Music is not addressed as an isolated subject but is studied within a wider scope. We are encouraged to understand the importance and the power of music to promote social change. Rather than making music for our own personal purposes, we discover music as a way to connect with others and with the world in which we live.
Have you received any awards, scholarships or honours?
When I got accepted to Memorial University I was awarded an entrance fellowship that covered most of my tuition and fees for my two-year degree and, in 2018, I received the Paul J. O’ Neil Scholarship from Memorial. So far this year, I have received the Juno Legacy Graduate Scholarship in Music and have been awarded second place at the National Music Festival by The Federation of Canadian Music Festivals.
Are there any difficulties in life that you’ve overcome to pursue graduate studies?
Being far from home and from my family has been challenging. It’s been a while since my parents have been in the audience for one of my concerts. I miss the feeling of receiving their love and support in-person.
Studying in a different country with a different language has also been challenging. Two years ago, I did not think I could be fluent in any language other than Spanish. However, after lots of effort, here I am, about to finish my M.Mus. entirely in English.
In addition, coming from a country with economic limitations has made things more difficult. Instead of going to graduate school immediately after completing my undergraduate degree, I had to work outside of Cuba for a couple of years to save money for graduate school.
What are you planning to do after you complete your degree?
Once I complete my M.Mus., I plan to continue to pursue a PhD.
Do you have any advice for current and/or future graduate students?
Be confident, believe in yourself and remember: you are the only one who can put limits to the things you do. Work hard and stay optimistic. Enjoy the process of becoming a great artist.