2022 Graduates - Sarah Van Den Berg

Sarah Van Den Berg with quote

Sarah Van Den Berg
M.A. '22, Ethnomusicology

What is your favourite memory from your time here?
There were many! Getting to know my brilliant classmates and their wide-ranging research interests, thinking of/through air (in the context of rising CO2 emissions and climate change) as a vocal performance (thank you Martin Daughtry!) and everything that makes studying in Newfoundland so special: breathtaking geography, oceanic writing breaks, friendly & funny people, a colourful arts & music scene and gravy on Ches's fish & chips! 

What advice would you have for someone starting their degree?
Despite how it may seem, wrong answers are totally okay and often happen along the journey to getting it right (and even the "right" answers evolve over time...). Remember that you are there to learn, and this is often humbling and uncomfortable! Despite how it may seem, everyone is also totally nervous, questioning everything, and still developing their voice in the academy. Over time, you will feel at ease (maybe even like you're thriving!) in the classroom. The educational path - like many paths  in life - is non-linear. Go at your own pace and please remember to sleep! 

Why Music at Memorial?
MUN is still one of the most affordable schools in the country and the small program size means you'll have a better chance of getting to know your classmates and profs! And though I had to leave early due to COVID-19, I really cherished the opportunity to study in St. John's - it was exactly the change of scenery I needed and a special place I'll be returning to for a long time. 

What's next?
I am pleased to share that I am now happily employed at the organization I worked with while completing my major research project: The Westben Centre for Connection & Creativity (@westben)! My research interests were broadly in the relationships between music, sound, listening, and place and environment, and the possibility of site-specific musicking (thank you Christopher Small!) to shift perceptions of the environment in ways that could enact environmental care, compassion and action. I also completed my research during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the largest demonstrations of the Black Lives Matter movement in North America which ignited my curiosity about the musicking of digital geographies, too, while highlighting the reality that environments and places are never politically neutral. I am grateful that Westben is similarly interested in these issues and letting me further indulge in my research interests as their new Development & Communications Associate! I also recently started a wedding band and hope to record some original songs this year, and my voice is really, really happy to be performing for live humans again (I am too!). 


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