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Department of Music
The University of Mississippi

Music Student Ambassadors

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Parker Peterson

Parker Peterson, Student Ambassador for the Department of Music

Parker Peterson

Parker excels both in classical music and in band, and is pursuing the Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in music education. An an honors student, he is as skilled in writing essays as he is in playing etudes.


Why did you decide to study music?
Music has always been a part of my life. From a young age, I always loved to sing and dance, and I would even tap out notes my grandmother’s piano as early as I could touch the keys. Eventually, I was in band and took piano lessons, and over time I fell in love with music.

Why study music at the University of Mississippi?
From the beginning, the music program at the University of Mississippi felt like home to me. From staff to students, people have always welcomed and accepted me with open arms. As a musician and a person, I have never felt more comfortable in an environment where I am both challenged and loved.

Have you had an experience at UM that made you feel empowered to take a new step in your studies?
I auditioned for the wind ensemble and had to work many hours in preparation for the audition. I ended up making the ensemble and am the only tenor saxophone in the band.

Any particular support or encouragement you have received from a professor?
Once, when I was worried about understanding the material in Music Theory 106, I went to my professor’s office and he helped me understand the material we were learning and reminded me of an extra credit assignment I could do to boost my grade.

What is a “light bulb” moment you had in a class or a talk with a professor—when something from a project or class became clear.
When my saxophone professor and academic advisor, Dr. Adam Estes, heard me play a rhythmic etude in my lesson for the week, he had asked me how I felt about my performance of the etude. I analyzed and rated my performance, and I progressively found things that I could correct within what I had played. Then Dr. Estes asked me to play the etude again, and I had fixed the problems he spotted. He said, “I’m not teaching you to make you a better student, I’m teaching you to become your own teacher by giving you the gift of self-sufficiency within your practice as you prepare music.”

What is an especially memorable trip, research, internship, or other school-related but outside the classroom thing you have done?
The most memorable thing I have done is go to Houston, Texas, with the Pride of The South back in 2018. We got to perform in the same stadium as the Super Bowl was held the year before… aka where Lady Gaga had her halftime show in 2017.

In summer of 2019, I travelled with a group of UM saxophonists and professor Adam Estes to Minot, North Dakota where we participated and performed in a saxophone quartet!  At the N. Dakota Chamber Music Festival or DCM we got to hear many great world-class performers and were taught from several collegiate-saxophone professors from all over the country. We attended masterclasses and group lessons during the festival that helped further our saxophone quartet’s sound and technique.  A really cool thing about the festival is that at the end of the festival before the final concert, all of the festival participants got to eat at the Minot State’s Performing Art’s Division chair’s house Erik Anderson. By the end of the festival, we all played advanced quartet music in a grand concert hall at Minot State.

What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
My go-to meal in Oxford is chicken and dumplings from Ajax Diner.

What are you binge watching on Netflix or another platform?
Stranger Things; I’m constantly watching HBO’s Game of Thrones!

Ontarius Woodland

Headshot of Ontarius Woodland.

Ontarius Woodland

Ontarius is earning the Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in music education and vocal concentration. To support his career plans in music education, he is in multiple choral ensembles and also serves as the 20-2021 UM Gospel Choir Director. During his spare time, you can always find him anywhere singing any choral song that comes to mind or find him looking up gospel songs for UMGC.


Why did you decide to major in music at UM?
I study music here at the University of Mississippi, simply due to the amazing environment. Going from the students to the faculty, everyone is extremely uplifting and respectful towards one another. With well over hundreds of years of teaching skills, I have had the opportunity to work some of the best professors around. Whether it’s an instrumental or a vocal professor, they all want to make you feel at home and remind you that you are never alone. They all push you to do the best you can do, and never let up on you, in terms of challenging you to do your best.

What is your career goal?
My career goal is to one day become one of the best choral conductors in the world! I know that may sound crazy, but with hard work comes great reward, and I am working and will continue to work extremely hard to make this a reality. My goal is also earn my PhD in Choral Conducting and go on to become a head choral director at a university.

Have you had any memorable experiences beyond the classroom?
The most memorable trip that I have taken part of would be UM Concert Singers trip to Mobile, Al, where we were selected to sing at the 2020 ACDA Southern Division Conference. Although we were turned around and asked to come back to campus due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it was still an amazing experience, as we went back into the choir room and put on our entire performance for ourselves. We proved that even in the worst times, nothing would stop us from sharing our love for music with one another.

Have you had any opportunities for leadership positions at UM?
This year I was selected as the 20-2021 UM Gospel Choir Director. After a lot of hard work that I put into being a part of the choir, I was finally selected to lead such an amazing group.

How have your professors help you succeed at UM?
Once when I was struggling with a few things in Music Theory, my Choir Director, Donald Trott, took the time out of his day to help me with some of the things that I couldn’t quite understand. My studio professor, Bradley Robinson, has also been the greatest help with the solo repertoire that I perform. Whether it’s a missed note, or speaking the language wrong, he is always pushing me and encouraging me to do the best that I can do.

What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
I ALWAYS go with the Chimichanga Sampler from EL Agave.

What are you binge watching?
The Office, All-American, You, and On My Block.

Jiwon Lee

Photo of Music Department Ambassador Jiwon Lee with her violin

Jiwon Lee

As both an undergraduate and, now, graduate student here, Jiwon has experienced every facet of being a music major from small studio sessions to the UM Marching Band. In addition to playing violin and flute, she can strum a gayageum, a Korean zither-like instrument.


Why did you decide to major in music?
I grew up with a musician mother, and a father who loved to sing with a choir. My mother used to be an opera singer, so I was around vocal and instrumental music as long as I remember. I officially started piano when I was four, violin at five, and flute at six. I was an only child, so it’s cheesy, but music was my best friend in a way. When it came to decide on my major, it was quite simple, because music was the only thing that I had the strongest passion for! It’s very cool to analyze each measure by chords and structures and be able to see how composers had purpose for everything they wrote.

Have professors at UM mentored you?
Professors at the music department, including the UM band director, David Wilson, began reaching out to me when I was in high school. Professor Wilson has been my mentor since then. While I was an undergraduate student, I went to his office almost every day asking for advice. My studio professors help me a lot, too! I get so frustrated with my practice sessions or my motivation and they are there to pick me right back up!

Has UM provided any leadership opportunities?
I had an opportunity to serve as one of the drum majors of UM marching band for two years.  I was also the president for Korean Student Association and Sigma Alpha Iota, a music fraternity.

What are your post-graduation plans?
I plan to stay in school for a while to finish up my doctorate in music. After I get my doctorate, I would love to get a job at a university, and teach college students flute or violin!

What’s your favorite meal in Oxford?
I love food, and I’m not picky at all, but if I had to pick one, I would have to pick Ajax for their amazing Southern food!

What are you binge watching?
I have been loving, I mean LOVING Fixer Upper. But I also like to watch Grey’s Anatomywhen I have time. I wanted to be a medical doctor growing up, so medical shows are always on top of my list. I also like to binge on Korean dramas during breaks. I have to keep up with my Korean language skills!