Before moving to Canada, USask graduate student Ricardo Martins worked for 15 years as a music producer at a record label in Brazil. (Photo: Submitted)

Musician moves from Brazil to Canada to pursue education at USask

Ricardo Martins will receive a Bachelor of Music (BMus) individualized degree during USask's 2021 Fall Convocation

By Shannon Boklaschuk

When Ricardo Martins receives his music degree from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) this fall, it will mark an important milestone in his life.

“I gave up everything and moved to Saskatoon to study, so this means everything to me,” he said.

Martins, who is originally from Brazil, will be celebrated alongside his fellow graduates during 2021 Fall Convocation events that will be held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual graduation celebrations will be livestreamed on Nov. 10, 2021.

After studying for several years in the Department of Music in USask’s College of Arts and Science, Martins will officially receive his Bachelor of Music (BMus) individualized degree. He began working toward his BMus in 2017—with a focus on saxophone—after moving to Saskatoon from São Paulo in 2015 and enrolling in programming offered through USask’s Language Centre. He currently lives in Saskatoon with his wife, Tammy, and their three children, Luíza, Rodrigo and Noah, and started a master’s degree in music at USask in September.

Before moving to Canada, Martins worked for 15 years as a music producer at a record label in Brazil, where he produced albums and videos for singers, duos, trios, quartets and choirs. He also worked with musicians from Brazil, the U.S. and Europe, ultimately recording more than 100 compositions of himself performing in different projects.

Still, Martins felt like something was missing in his career: a university degree.

“Not only a paper, but more knowledge and academic experience,” he said.

Martins found what he was looking for at USask. He excelled during his time as an undergraduate student and was the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including the Greg Bohachik Memorial Scholarship, the Harold B. Smith Saxophone Scholarship, the Ken and Joy McNeill Music Scholarship, the Dwaine Nelson Memorial Scholarship and more.

“I am very thankful for the scholarships and awards I received during my studies, because without them I probably wouldn’t have finished my program,” he said.

Martins’ main instrument is the saxophone, but he also plays other instruments such as the flute, piano and guitar. As a student, he was part of a jazz quartet and had the opportunity to play with the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra (SJO). Prof. Dean McNeill, head of the Department of Music, serves as the SJO’s artistic director as well as the director of the USask Jazz Ensemble, with which Martins also performed.

“Playing in this band and having Professor McNeill as a conductor added in so many ways to my experience as a musician,” he said.

Martins is also grateful for the guidance offered by his saxophone instructor, Dr. Glen Gillis (PhD), a professor in the Department of Music.

“I was a totally different saxophonist before him, and I am glad that I met him and had four years to learn from him,” he said.

Martins’ next goal is to compete his Master of Music (performance) degree at USask. The project-based degree is offered in the following areas: piano, collaborative piano, voice, trumpet, saxophone and conducting/music education.

As a new graduate, Martins has some advice for students who are just beginning their educational journeys.

“Enjoy every moment, make good connections and be ready for the opportunities,” he said.

This fall, 926 students are expected to graduate from USask with 939 degrees, diplomas and certificates. These graduates join a century-old community of close to 165,000 alumni worldwide whose contributions are helping to shape our world. Due to the pandemic, in-person ceremonies will not be held. Instead, there are a variety of opportunities to celebrate. Learn more about the celebrations at