Learning Purely for Myself
For me, International Baccalaureate (IB) Music was special because it was a subject I chose purely for myself. It offered me a place in school where I could explore a passion and take a break from the stress of Senior School.
Now, that’s not to say it wasn’t difficult. It’s a subject that requires a lot of time to complete assignments and create work. Still, I think out of all my subjects, music is the best representation of what IB means to me because it continuously challenged me to test my limits.
In music I’ve done things I didn’t know I was capable of. I learned to manipulate technology to push the boundaries of what music is, wrote and performed soundtracks to school plays, and learned more about my Lebanese heritage through research and creation tasks, which allowed me to communicate where words failed.
IB Music teaches discipline and resilience. You can’t be afraid of a challenge because so much of the course is based on exploring unknowns. There are three portfolios an IB student must complete where we research, experiment with, and present music. Each portfolio requires students to consider music with differing levels of familiarity through personal, local, and global contexts, meaning it is impossible to finish this course without learning something new. When you take Higher Level (HL) IB Music you also have to complete a project called the Contemporary Music Maker, which is a multimedia project where we had to present our use of music in an interdisciplinary setting. I explored different genres and styles of music, ranging from music in Hamilton to Yue Opera to Lebanese protest songs. Because I did my extended essay in music too, I also analyzed Andalusian music from 1,000 years ago and compared it to Middle Eastern music today. If you asked any of my IB Music classmates what they studied, you would get a completely different answer out of everyone. That’s the beauty of it, we all had the freedom to choose what we wanted to learn.
I joined Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) very recently, and having done this course at two different schools, I can confidently say that what makes IB Music special here is the dedication of our teachers and the opportunities the School provides for its students. Because of encouragement from Mr. Van de Reep, I collaborated with the Timepoint Ensemble to compose a song which they will perform this September. I had a world of music tech at my fingertips at all times, letting me experiment with different instruments and ways to put together a piece, such as by using the Ableton Push or the Arturia Microfreak. I even played a Theremin!
STS also strongly encourages students to collaborate with each other for group performances, song ideas, and inspiration for research tasks. For our final showcase, the vocalists of the class performed a song together, which was extra special for us after not being able to sing for two years because of COVID-19.
I’ll miss having this class where I could always directly see the results of my hard work, learn that struggles bring benefits, and know that I always had teachers and classmates I could rely on to push me to fulfill what I learned Nil nisi optimum really represents.
Pictured above: Dr. Dave Pierce ’90 and Yasmin Mohsen ’22.
In the moment during a visit to the School, Notable Alumni and Emmy award-winning composer, author, and speaker on diversity and inclusion Dr. Dave Pierce ’90 came upon a chance meeting with Yasmin Mohsen ’22 in the Fine Arts and Innovation Wing. In a matter of minutes, the artist and the aspiring artist who had just met were channeling their creativity and passion for music in an impromptu collaboration. An inspiring and empowering moment beyond the walls of the classroom!