Scout House 2019 youth music scholarship winner also excels in athletics, politics, environmental and human rights initiatives
The 2019 winner of the $800 Wilf Blum Memorial Youth Music Scholarship award Sierra Olsthoorn, who will start her Bachelor in Music degree program at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo in September, is already a music teacher, award winning athlete and participant in high level sessions involving politics, environmental and human rights issues.
Preston Scout House Band Inc. of Cambridge offers annual youth music scholarships in memory of Band founder Wilf Blum to a Waterloo Region student who intends to make music a central part of his or her life. The award may be applied to post-secondary tuition in a music program, lessons with an accredited teacher or purchase of an instrument.
A grade 12 graduate of Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI), she began her music training at age four with the Suzuki Talent Education of Waterloo music school in a program that emphasizes student enjoyment in a competition-free environment. As a result, she did not begin to compete as a solo violinist until high school
In the 15 years since the start of her music education on violin, she has participated in bi-weekly group classes and ensemble rehearsals, performed solo recitals and attended weekly private lessons. She has been involved in the advanced Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute summer program at Laurier University for the past five years and the Young Artist Program for the past three years. She has participated in private master classes, chamber and group classes with Laurier professors. This summer she expects to complete her Unit 2 Suzuki Teacher Training.
She is also looking forward to opportunities to perform with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra and the Laurier Symphony Orchestra.
“Sierra is an incredibly talented individual who’s hard work and commitment to music has resulted in an incredible ability on the violin,” stated Matt Piche, Department Head of Music at WCI. “She has taken on many leadership roles in music at WCI, been the concert master, a soloist for several professional level pieces and has always done it with enthusiasm and a smile.”
Throughout high school her daily routine included roughly two to four hours of daily practice, with more time added when preparing for performances or auditions. She is a certified Suzuki Violin Teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and became a teacher with the Suzuki Talent Education of Waterloo not for profit organization in September 2018.
She has performed violin solos with school and various community groups, including the WCI Chamber Orchestra and Senior Orchestra, the Kitchener/Waterloo Chamber Orchestra and the Kitchener/Waterloo Symphony Youth Orchestra. She was in the WCI Senior Orchestra for all her years of high school, also serving as associate concertmaster and concertmaster. She was also a member of the WCI Senior Chamber Orchestra for three years, serving as concertmaster, principal second and soloist.
She received the Senior Chamber Orchestra MVP award in 2017: recognition for Dedication to the Craft and an award for making notable contributions to orchestras and clubs over her years in high school.
Outside school, she has performed with the K/W Symphony Youth Orchestra, serving as concertmaster, associate concertmaster, principal second violin and soloist. She won a competition earning her the opportunity to perform the first movement of the Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor at Centre in the Square. She also received an award for contributions to the orchestra and a scholarship designated for a promising Youth Orchestra violinist. She also won the K/W Chamber Orchestra concerto competition, earning the opportunity to perform Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 in A Major.
Even with her heavy commitment to music studies and performances, she has given high priority to other academic areas and extra curricular activities. She was an active member of the Federal Provincial Conference Simulation held at the University of Waterloo; environment class representative in grades nine and 10; immersed herself in the Human Rights Club; served as student council’s publicity director and helped organize school events including Fast for Freedom and Relay for Life.
She is a skilled tennis player and teacher winning many singles tournaments. She also competed on the school’s badminton teams for four years, winning silver and gold medals in mixed doubles tournaments at the school and provincial levels. Since 2015 she has worked part time as a tennis instructor mostly for children from age four to 17.
In her graduating year, she was named her school’s Female Athlete of the Year, an award usually given to members of larger sports teams.
“I am an individual who loves to push myself in many different endeavours. What I have learned over the course of high school, and especially in my fifth year, however, is that playing the violin is much less an endeavor but something I love to do,” she stated.
Nine Waterloo students have previously received scholarships since Scout House initiated the program in 2014. The review and selection panel includes Caroline Hissa: a graduate of the Masters of Arts Degree in Community Music program at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Executive Director of the Community Music School of Waterloo Region; Terry Hallman, retired senior public school music teacher with Waterloo Region District School Board; Gord Cupskey, music director and instructor for Preston Scout House Band and Silver Leaves Brass, one of five Scout House Band Inc. member groups.