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Perla of wisdom for future generations

June 6, 2023 — 

If ever there were a person born to play music, it is Perla Wiens, who began receiving her music education at an exceptionally young age.

“Since I was in my mom’s belly, music has been a part of my life,” says Perla, whose parents were working musicians throughout Perla’s childhood, performing and recording polka and country style band music.

It wasn’t long before her parents enlisted Perla as their newest band member.

“I would occasionally gig with them, playing the cabasa or drumkit,” she says.


It was clear that music was in her blood, but it took her a while to find the instrument that was right for her.

“I started taking violin lessons when I was four and hated it, so I tried every other instrument,” she says.

Even by the time high school rolled around, Perla had tried violin, drums, saxophone, cello, trumpet, and euphonium.

“I was interested in just about every musical instrument to exist, and have tried every family of musical instrument, now,” she says.

With armloads of formative experience and interest, Perla began getting serious about music.

“One day, I just said to myself, ‘Maybe I could do this for the rest of my life,’” she recalls.


In the faculty

After a successful cello audition, Perla joined the Desautels Faculty of Music, receiving Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music Scholarship, UM Guertin Centennial Entrance Scholarship, Reg and Anne Hugo Memorial Fund, Don Wright Entrance Scholarship, and a Desautels Faculty of Music Annual Scholarship Fund. Performing in the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra, the C-String Collective, and four different piano trio chamber ensembles, Perla definitely made an impression on those around her, even beyond her musical talent.


“Over the past four years as a cello-jury panel member, or in Chamber Music Ensembles, I’ve witnessed a rather shy, quiet cellist blossom perpetually and consistently into not only a confident musician, but also a most considerate and supportive human being.,” says Judy Kehler Siebert, Professor of Music in the Desautels Faculty of Music, and one of Perla’s chamber ensemble coaches.

“I’ve observed and enjoyed her ‘cloaked’ style of leadership: she doesn’t need to be in the limelight, but she can certainly rise to it when she understands the necessity! And when it comes to organization, leave it with Perla. It’ll get done–efficiently and ‘the right way,’” says Kehler Siebert.

“Dr. Kehler Siebert has been a mentor for almost all of my piano trios over the years and she has been a huge help in my development as a chamber music player,” says Perla of Kehler Siebert’s influence on her.


Becoming a beacon for the future of education

Her very strong background knowledge of so many different musical instruments led Perla to choose to follow a path in music education, where she will undoubtedly shine helping students explore and find the instruments that are right for THEM. The quiet leadership that Kehler Siebert saw will certainly come in handy while corralling aspiring musicians.

During her time in the faculty, Perla sought out different pedagogies and skills that would be useful for the future, and, in addition to Kehler Siebert, connected with several professors who became mentors. They have been impressed by her assiduous work ethic and commitment to learning, and who are thrilled that Perla will be training the next generation of musicians.

“Dr. Minna Rose Chung has been an amazing mentor these past four years, she has helped me learn more about discipline and dedication,” says Perla of her major practical study (MPS) instructor, an associate professor of music in the DFOM, coordinator for the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra, and director of the C-String Collective, an ensemble celebrating stringed instruments.

“Perla is a wonderful person and a steadfast musician,” says Chung.

“I appreciate her abilities to do the very best she can even when she is overwhelmed with coursework or, more simply, life. She is reliable, patient, optimistic, and provides great support to her fellow classmates,” Chung says of Perla’s gifts.

“Perla can do anything she sets her mind to and I am very proud of her musical accomplishments and will be at convocation to celebrate her achievements!”

Additionally, Perla worked closely with Jacquie Dawson, associate professor of music in the DFOM, conductor, and the faculty’s Director of Bands.

“Dr. Jacquie Dawson also has been an incredible professor in my music education journey and everything that I have learned about music teaching and conducting is all thanks to her,” says Perla of their work together.

“It was a pleasure working with Perla in the Instrumental Music Methods class,” says Dawson.

“She is a wonderful musician and teacher who brings a unique skill set to the field. I look forward to seeing her next steps in the profession and know she will have a meaningful impact on many students and music programs!” Dawson adds.


The final bow in the DFOM and next steps

For her final jury, the capstone performance for music education students prior to their graduation, Perla chose to play the prelude and sarabande of the third Bach Cello Suites, Saint-Saens Cello Concerto Third Movement, Andre Mehmari’s Prelúdio and Faure’s “Après un rêve.” With her jury successfully completed, Perla is reflecting on her time in the faculty and looking forward to the future.

After completing her Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in music education in the very difficult midst of a worldwide pandemic and lockdowns, Perla is ready to take a well-deserved break to prepare to prepare for the next step of her career, which involves a two-year after-degree program that will qualify her to teach kindergarten through grade twelve, and will award her a second bachelor’s degree in education.

“I plan to take a year off to work and enjoy some time off after these crazy unusual four years, and then return to the Faculty of Education to finish my education degree,” she says of her plan.

When it comes to advice for future students, her recommendations are as important for university students as they will be for her future students.

“Make friends and get involved in everything you can without overwhelming yourself!” she says.

Perla is incredibly grateful for all those who provided that early foundation and instilled in her a love of music, and for those who continued to list her up along the way.

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude my parents for always supporting me throughout this degree and my dearest partner, Jared, without whom this endeavor would not be possible,” she says.

“Also, I have to thank Jeff Kula, my high school band teacher, and Natalie Dawe, my first and only cello teacher before entering my degree, without whom none of my craft would exist,” she adds.

From the little girl gigging with her parents’ bands to the university graduate who performs cello concertos with ease, Perla has come a long way!

“I’m sad to see Perla leave,” says Kehler Siebert of losing her chamber ensemble student.

“Though this reality is commensurate with her success, and I wish her every success as she prepares to inspire the next generation of musicians!” Kehler Siebert concludes.

We agree. Congratulations, Perla! We are so proud of everything you’ve accomplished and look forward to watching you become a great music educator!

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