Meet Our Grad Students

Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Photo of Anneli Loepp Thiessen


Program: MMus, Piano Performance, SSHRC Grant Recipient, year 2 (enrolled in the new interdisciplinary PhD program in September)


1. Can you tell us a little bit about you why you chose to study at uOttawa? 

Originally, it was my last choice!  However, when I visited, I found uOttawa so superior to other schools. After considering the quality of instructors, the TA opportunities, the strong faculties in piano pedagogy and music, and amount of scholarships it was by far the best fit.


2. What is your favourite part of the program so far? 

My independent study with Jada Watson. I did directed readings for my research as a result of my SSHRC grant.


3. What is the most surprising or unexpected part of the program so far? 

Probably the community among the master’s students in David Jabert’s studio. The dynamic is so supportive, which is rare in performance programs. Everyone has each other’s backs.


4. What is your current research focused on? 

This year, I focused on the lack of female songwriters writing contemporary worship music. It is a data driven analysis of representation over the last 30 years. The statistics show that female representation is increasingly declining.


5. What got you interested in this line of research? 

I have been familiar with the contemporary worship movement since I was a kid and I always guessed there was a gender imbalance. I was attracted to the data driven analysis which is the song-data methodology that Jada Watson uses.


6. Can you tell us more about your research at the process and approach? 

I looked at Christian Copyright Licensing International that produces lists of the top 25 songs per year sung in churches. I found out that at the beginning, the statistic was 30% of female songwriters represented and now it is down to 4%. It is interesting to look at different years and see how social movements affect the statistic.


7. What is the most surprising part of conducting this research or engaging in the research process in general? 

I didn’t expect the representation of female songwriters to go down. I thought that the numbers would go up. Going in, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of numbers, and I was surprised.


8. What do you hope to do with this research? What impact would you like for it to make? 

I would like to publish my research in a journal so others can access it and more accurately talk about the problem. It is also the basis of my PhD research, so I am excited to expand it in that capacity.


9. What is your top piece of advice for future students entering into the music research field? 

Probably to apply for all of the conferences possible – both student-focused conferences and academic conferences. Apply for scholarships, and grants. Talk to as many people as possible in the field. Participate in anything that will allow you to meet other researchers and receive more feedback on your work. Find a research supervisor who encourages you to make connections. Submit to journals and be as submersed in the field as you can.


10. How has this pandemic affected your research?

My directed readings were in the fall semester so my SSHRC project hasn’t been affected too much, but I am realizing how much we rely on libraries now that they are all closed. It has also been disappointing to miss out on conference opportunities this spring.

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