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Going through the Jazz Studies program meant a lot to me and has set me up for many of the wonderful professional experiences I have been blessed to have to this point in my career. Born and raised in Vancouver, I made the move to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008. Music making and teaching occupy most of my time while living in the Golden State. I am fortunate to work with some incredible, creative musicians in two of the most exciting cities in North America: San Francisco and Oakland.
I learned of the commitment and discipline required to work on the craft of music while at Cap. Being a musician is a privilege and though the musician's craft may not be valued by certain sectors of society, I learned that the journey of exploring music making has its own intrinsic value. My experiences at Cap helped to galvanize my own thoughts about music making. While I did not explicitly wish to become a jazz musician, the exploration of jazz studies gave me the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue other musics.
I remember a particularly pivotal moment during my second year when all of the work seemed completely overwhelming and my interest in devoting all of my attention, time, and energy in music began to wane. A pianist whom I respected very much imparted some very important words upon me in the foyer of the Fir building, just outside the main office. In a sense, he empowered me to pursue the kind of music making that I wanted to do, and to fulfill the vision that I had set out for myself when I started the program, namely to become a better musician through the medium of jazz.
Some of my best memories were taking lessons and classes with incredible musicians like Brad Turner, Chris Tarry, Andre Lachance, Dylan Vanderschyff, Ihor Kukurudza, and the late Ross Taggart and then minutes later seeing them perform at the old Mojo Room in East Vancouver or at Bar None with Soulstream in Downtown Vancouver.
Working with Chris Tarry and Andre Lachance, in particular, gave me the confidence to continue with the bass guitar as my chosen instrument. While double bass seemed to be the low-end instrument preferred by fellow students and most ensemble teachers in the program, I wanted to have my own voice, like most jazz musicians do, and studying the bass guitar gave me a path there.
I also value the so-called "extra" and liberal arts requirements of the degree program. I had the opportunity to take some wonderful classes with a wide range of scholars. In particular, I am indebted to philosopher Mark Battersby for his engaging pedagogy and ways of thinking, much of which helps to inform my teaching today. I also enjoyed my time with Lars Kaario singing on Wednesday evenings with the Festival Chorus. My experiences singing with his choir helped to shape the choral conductor I would later become.
Another encounter in my fourth year of studies with another respected pianist gave me the idea of pursuing studies in music education. Coincidentally, this also took place in the foyer of the Fir building right by those bulletin boards! I was at another pivotal moment in my studies and my nascent music career. I had observed that the music industry was changing all around me, and I had also experienced life on the seas as a cruise ship musician. Both of those experiences, and the timing of my encounter with said pianist, catapulted me into the world of music education.
Now, the joy of giving back to people what music has given to me, and trying to inspire youth to value music is a direct testament to my experiences in the Capilano University Jazz Studies program. I am in the fortunate position to maintain both a full time teaching and full time music making career. It is difficult to juggle both, but the rewards are infinite and these are blessings, indeed.