Gwendelyn Hill: Music education major hoping to inspire youth

Gwendelyn Hill of Saco, Maine, knew she wanted to join University Singers, the advanced concert choir of the University of Maine, before she even graduated high school.

“I had seen them perform multiple times at my high school and in my hometown while they were on their annual spring tour, and I was blown away by their performances,” Hill recalls.

Hill’s high school choral director, a UMaine alumna, also was a former member of the group.

“She was one of the greatest influences on my decision to join the music program at UMaine, and to join University Singers,” says Hill, who is pursuing a degree in music education.

In addition to being the alto section leader of University Singers, Hill also is president and head music director of UMaine’s all-female a cappella group, Renaissance.

Why did you choose to study music education?
I chose music because it is something I have been passionate about my whole life. Some of the greatest role models I had in middle and high school were my music teachers, so I hope to be able to inspire young people like that someday.

What do you like most about being in University Singers?
My favorite part about being in University Singers is a tie between getting to know new people and new voices each year and making new friends, and our director Francis Vogt and his incredible talent for selecting choral repertoire. Not only is Fran one of the most significant role models I’ve ever had, but I had never been so emotionally connected to the music I am singing until I joined this choir.

Why UMaine?
I chose UMaine for a multitude of reasons, but largely because I knew I didn’t want to be too far from home in college, and I was eligible for a financial package that I could not turn down. My mother, many of my teachers, and many of my friends had attended UMaine so I knew it was a good school. I also had visited a few times and really liked the campus.

I began college with an undecided major. However, after being in University Singers for one year, I knew I wanted to study music.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
Being at UMaine has given me opportunities that I never thought I would  have. I saw The King’s Singers perform at the Collins Center for the Arts, the same stage I have performed on. I went to Europe in summer 2016 with University Singers and got to perform in ancient cathedrals with my best friends. I’ve performed with Renaissance at the annual collegiate a cappella showcase in Vermont. These are all experiences that never would have happened if I hadn’t come to UMaine, and have all brought me closer to achieving my goals.

Any advice for incoming college students who are considering a major in music education?
Don’t work yourself up over auditions. Everyone in the School of Performing Arts, especially the professors, all want to see you succeed, so there is no need to be nervous. Also, professionalism and good communication will go a long way in the music department.

Contact: Elyse Catalina, 207.581.3747