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The key to teaching

October 2, 2018

Olivia Adams sitting at piano
Olivia Adams leads summer programs in her hometown with seniors and underprivileged teens, and has also volunteered in Romania, Moldova and the Philippines with a non-profit organization helping those in need - all while pursuing a degree in music performance.

Olivia Adams believes there’s more than one way to become a great teacher.

The Don Wright Faculty of Music student transferred to Western from the University of Saskatchewan in third-year. Originally studying general music education, she wanted to shift her focus towards piano pedagogy and performing.

“People always ask me why I chose Western, and I tell them the truth. I did a Google search on ‘who has the best piano pedagogy program for undergrad’ and Western was number one,” she laughed.

“Last year was my first year in the performance circle, which was not the path I had planned out. Being told my whole life, ‘you’re such a teacher, you’re such a teacher,’ I thought I had to go into education,” she said. “Then it became obvious – to become a great teacher, I first needed to become a great player.”

Last year, Adams received a Parents’ Fund award, granted in recognition of academic excellence, extracurricular involvement and community leadership.

The award helped alleviate the significant financial stress she was feeling. “I already work a part-time job, so receiving this award helped me to worry less about making rent. Receiving the award meant I didn’t need to go out and find another piano student to teach or another part-time job folding clothes on weekends,” she said.

The extra funding also enabled her to go back home to Saskatoon during the summer, which was important to her peace of mind.

With a passion for working with youth, Adams has led summer programs in her hometown with seniors and underprivileged teens. She also volunteered in Romania, Moldova and the Philippines with Canadian Fire, a Saskatoon-based non-profit organization that helps local churches around the world reach those in need.

Adams incorporates her musical abilities into her volunteer work.

“In the Philippines, I did some teaching with a music team, and in Romania I was a member of a group that volunteered in a ladies’ prison. I sang for the inmates – that was an incredibly moving experience,”
she said.

She plans to finish her last year in Music Performance and then pursue a Master of Piano Pedagogy. Long-term, she is considering teaching at the university level. “Eventually, I may pursue a PhD and become a university professor, but for now


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