Jonah Heinen

2020 FMC Graduate Study Scholarship Recipient


Meeting invites, waiting rooms, muting and unmuting… Sounds like a typical start-of-school year, right? It’s been a unique time to start a masters in choral conducting, but nonetheless, it’s been a great start! I moved to Eugene, Oregon in August, where I’m studying at the University of Oregon with Dr. Sharon Paul. As I write this article in October, I am only in the third week of our fall term. I’ve had loads of time to explore the area, connect with my cohort-mates, and manage through some rather bad air quality due to wildfires!

As I start my two-year program, I am hitting the ground running with Choral Literature, Research Methods, Vocal Pedagogy, and Voice Lessons. I am also assisting and singing in two choirs on campus: Chamber Choir, the top ensemble at UO, and Repertoire Singers, which serves as the graduate student lab choir. Due to COVID-19, all of my academic classes have been remote while the performance ensembles are rehearsing in a hybrid format, where we have Zoom rehearsals twice a week, and small group, in-person sessions twice a week. After many months of no singing or teaching in person, it is such a joy to sing with others!

It has been rewarding to immerse myself into choral music again as a student and connect with amazing people in the program. Without the extra administrative duties of teaching high school, I can dive deeper into music while using my teaching experience as a foundation for what I bring to the choral program at the UO. I have particularly loved my Choral Literature class where we have unique assignments ranging from creating a “Mt. Rushmore” of choral composers, to connecting 16th-century Italian Madrigals to 21st-century rap music. Usually we would have a conducting seminar in the fall, but we are hoping to have that in-person in the spring.

I am very grateful to the FMC Endowment Committee for this graduate study scholarship. Expenses ran high as I moved across the country and gathered materials to be successful as a student. This scholarship made this transition easier for me and I am thankful for the FMC Committee prioritizing my education. Thanks again, FMC Endowment Committee, and I look forward to connecting with all of you in Minnesota again soon.