Credit: Danielle Howard


Performing with the St Hilda’s chamber orchestra

– Danielle Howard –

Michaelmas Term, 2017


My name is Danielle Howard and I am a senior Music Education and Violin Performance major at George Fox University as well as a student in the William Penn Honors Program. I studied at Oxford during Michaelmas Term 2017 and took tutorials in Christian Liturgy and Musical Analysis to explore the intersection between music and Christian worship. Everyday I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to study in Oxford during my junior year. My tutorials challenged me to be a nimble scholar: a thinker who is able to write, discuss, and contemplate about topics of music and Christian worship in a concise and coherent manner. In addition to tutorials, I attended lectures on both musical composition techniques and the history of Christian theology. To be able to hear notable professors and scholars speaking on their given subject in Oxford was a surreal experience! I regularly studied in the Radcliffe Camera, Music Faculty, and Philosophy and Theology libraries, which was part of what made my academic experience so wonderful. That being said, some of my favourite memories are with the friends in Wycliffe Hall and in my Dinner Group that I made along the way.

One of the major opportunities I got to have as a music student at Oxford was performing with the St Hilda’s Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra was conducted by an older undergraduate student from St Hilda’s who put together a set of Baroque era pieces, one of which being Josef Haydn’s “Oxford Symphony”. The student musicians in the ensemble had baroque-era instruments issued to them, so as a violinist I was issued a baroque era violin bow from the Music Faculty Instrument collection. We also tuned our instruments down to Baroque tuning, which I had never done before in a performance context. Standard tuning is usually at A=440hz, but we would rehearse and perform at A=415hz.

In rehearsals I also got to interact with Oxford undergraduate students in creative ways that only an orchestral musician would. I got to know my stand partner who attended Somerville College, and I learned a lot about social dynamics within and between colleges in Oxford.

As a culmination of our hours of rehearsal, our concert was held at the Jaqueline Du Près Music Hall at St Hilda’s College. To perform in an orchestra in Oxford, let alone a Baroque Orchestra, was a new angle of musicianship that I never expected I would have the opportunity to do in my life. At the end of the concert, I was blown away at how well our group sounded together!

In my time I also got to attend a variety of Music Faculty lectures and participate in the Oxford Conducting Institute’s Conducting Masterclass. During the masterclass, when I wasn’t being coached in conducting Sibelius’ Romance, I was performing in the masterclass chamber orchestra. The experience I had with the masterclass has been instrumental towards my development as a conductor and musical leader at my University and going forward as an educator.

After I graduate, I intend to spend a year teaching music in a private school and then complete my Masters degree in Music Education with the intent of directing public Middle School and/or High School orchestra. After that, at some point down the road I hope to get my DMA in conducting and teach music pedagogy courses and conduct orchestral ensembles. Because of my experiences with Oxford, I have become a better musical leader and a capable educator, which I hope I can impart to my future students in the years to come and as I go forth into further graduate study.

Danielle, MT17