Dana Malenko is the quintessential music educator
2020 DFOM graduate Dana Malenko knows that music builds communities
NOTE: We in the Desautels Faculty of Music are incredibly proud of our students. While COVID-19 is sidelining in-person commencement ceremonies around the globe, we want to find alternate ways to celebrate our graduates and give them the recognition due to them. Until we can gather together to properly applaud the years of study and practice that have led to this milestone, please join us in congratulating our 2020 Desautels Faculty of Music graduates.
Today we celebrate Dana Malenko!
Dana Malenko has played music since she was very little, always singing, and beginning with piano at six. Along the way, she picked up the trombone, an instrument for which she has incredible talent, and which she would play throughout high school.
“I realized that I wanted to pursue music [as a career] when I was in high school,” she says.
The community she found in her high school music program, and the guidance she received from her teachers set off a spark.
“I didn’t think I would go into music, but my experiences with my high school teachers influenced me to audition for the faculty. I discovered that I wanted to be a music educator,” she says of her choice to pursue a music degree.
With that goal in mind, Malenko set out to fill her university life with diverse musical ensembles that would help her become an amazing music educator.
“I’ve performed with the U of M Concert Band, the U of M Wind Ensemble, small brass ensembles, U of M concert choir, the U of M Jazz Orchestra, and the U of M Symphony Orchestra for a few concerts,” she says of the many ensembles she has performed with during her time in the faculty.
“It was fun to open my eyes to different kinds of music and concerts during my degree,” she adds.
Low brass players make essential contributions to concert bands, wind ensembles, and orchestras. Their performances serve to set the mood, build anticipation, and create anthems. Successful ensemble performances rest on the harmonic foundations that low brass players lay.
The experiences Malenko has had with her ensembles serve to highlight the kind of teacher she will be: one who instills musical passion, and knows the importance of music in a child’s life. She values the sense of community that ensemble playing creates, and the friendships that rise out of them, a trait that will she will surely pass on to her students.
“I’ve enjoyed performing and celebrating performance days with my friends and classmates,” she says.
“I also enjoyed learning orchestral trombone excerpts and concertos throughout my degree. I’ve performed a lot of pieces, it’s hard to choose favourites, but I enjoyed performing Bells for Stokowski by Michael Daugherty with the Wind Ensemble,” she adds.
It was with the Wind Ensemble that Malenko, a recipient of the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music Scholarship and the Don Wright Instrumental Entrance Scholarship, experienced a moment of magic.
“One of my proudest moments as a DFOM student was when the U of M Wind Ensemble performed at the Winspear Centre in Edmonton. The ensemble was so connected, and we played with artistry and passion,” she says of the Wind Ensemble’s 2019 performance at the Edmonton Cantando Festival.
Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, the Desautels Faculty of Music had to cancel all of its remaining events for the 2019-2020 season. In addition to final ensemble performances, about 40 student credit recitals and juries were cancelled, including those of graduating students, whose final performances serve as a sort of capstone project showcasing what they have learned throughout their studies. Unfortunately, Malenko’s jury was among the cancelled.
“This would have been my fourth and final jury,” she says of the cancelled jury.
She had planned to perform pieces that brought her joy.
“I would have performed the Grøndahl trombone concerto, and the Sachse trombone concertino – pieces that I enjoyed learning!” she says.
Malenko would like to thanks the following people for their support during her studies:
“I would like to thank my professors and teachers for guiding me and instructing me with the best intentions in mind – it’s good to know that my professors care about me and want the best for me!” she says.
“I would also like to thank my family and friends for supporting me. I wouldn’t have made it through my degree without the advice and love from the people around me. I’m glad I met such cool people that I get to call my friends!”
Already a great teacher, now positioned to become an incredible one
While Malenko looks forward to becoming a music educator, and will be joining the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education to pursue music education, she has already begun giving others the gift of music.
“I’ve had a few opportunities to teach music students and kids in the community!” she says of another part of being in the faculty that has made her proud.
One of those opportunities arose this past year at the Desautels Faculty of Music’s 2019 open house, where Malenko and her low brass ensemble performed for high school students who were considering a degree in music. The group also fielded questions from the aspiring musicians.
Faculty members are impressed with what Malenko brings to the table.
“Dana has been an outstanding student and citizen during her time in our faculty,” says Jody Stark, associate professor of music in the DFOM, who teaches music education.
“She puts her best foot forward in everything she does and, at the same time, provides a safe and caring presence for other students in the DFOM community. She is such a down to earth person who is always a pleasure to be around,” adds Stark.
“Dana’s interpersonal qualities, intelligence, and growth orientation will take her far in her future career as a music educator and I feel honoured to have had the chance to work with her in classes and on a research project for which she was a research assistant,” says Stark.
Jacquie Dawson, assistant professor of music and Director of Bands for the DFOm, who has worked extensively with Malenko through the Wind Ensemble, agrees.
“Dana is an exceptional learner, musician and aspiring music educator,” she says.
“In the past four years I have worked closely with her in ensemble and class settings where she has demonstrated nothing but admirable qualities. She is hard working, dedicated, humble, compassionate, and engaged in not only in her own journey but in the well-being of others,” Dawson adds.
“Dana is a consummate professional in all of her interactions with both faculty and peers who all greatly admire her skills and personal attributes. I wish her much success and joy in the years to come!”
Talent, kindness, patience, engagement, and an innate understanding of how music can enrich lives. Any music students who have Dana Malenko as a teacher will be incredibly fortunate. She will definitely instill in them a lifetime of beautiful music, happiness and wonderful relationships!
“Dana is well on her way to a vibrant and successful career as a music educator and is going to have an incredible impact in the classroom,” says Dawson.
We heartily agree! The Desautels Faculty of Music looks forward to accepting the future students she mentors in the faculty!