Music is a huge part of my life and it helps define who I am as a person. Without music, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish many things that I am very proud of.
I have been listening to music ever since I was a baby. My dad would play guitar and sing songs to me and my mom would always have music playing in the house. My dad was one of my main influences in wanting to play music. He played songs by his favourite band Rush and when I was about four years old he showed me a video of a drum solo by drummer Neil Peart. After watching this video, I knew I wanted to learn to play drums like Neil. My dad then rented me my first drum kit and I could not stop playing it, and so my musical journey began.
That video sparked my inspiration, but at four years old, I had no idea how much perseverance and challenge it was going to take to be able to play a song by Rush. However, I am so glad I persevered because now I can successfully play many Rush songs!
When I started my journey, I had no idea where to begin. My parents suggested I take drum lessons. I agreed and was excited to learn, but soon realized my goal of learning Rush was a super long-term goal. Instead, my teacher taught me the basics of drumming. The basics were very challenging as I had to learn coordination, technique and positioning. The most important thing that stuck with me from my teacher was when I asked how I could get better… the answer was three words. Patience, perseverance and practice.
When I was younger, there were times when practicing was not fun and I wanted to give up because I thought that I would never finish learning the basics. Nevertheless, I did not give up because I wanted more than anything to accomplish my long-term goal. Through practice, I eventually learned that setting short-term goals is equally as important as setting long-term goals. My teacher and I set up a practice routine where I would set one or two very small goals for each practice session, which made me feel good and like I was getting closer to accomplishing my bigger dreams.
As I began to practice more, my teacher began to teach me more and more difficult patterns. When I was nine years old and feeling more comfortable, I decided I wanted to take a different approach to drumming. I joined my first-ever musical ensemble: the Burlington Junior Redcoats. Being in the Redcoats taught me how to march and play, and taught me a new style of drumming: playing the snare drum. I got a new drum teacher to teach me the rudiments of snare drum. This style was very different from playing the drum kit, but ultimately helped improve my kit playing as well.
I enjoyed being in the Junior Redcoats so I decided to join the Burlington Teen Tour Band when I turned 13. I wanted to play snare drum again like I did in the Redcoats, but quickly found out that I needed to audition to earn a spot on snare. In the meantime, I was placed on cymbals. I knew that it would take a lot of hard work to earn this spot, but I already knew what hard work felt like so I was ready for this new challenge. When I heard there was a tryout coming up, I decided to audition. I was very nervous but was excited when I got offered a spot! This was one of my first ever major accomplishments as a musician and it was a turning point because it gave me the confidence to feel like I could take on any challenge and made me love practicing even more.
The next major moment in my career was at the start of high school. I attended an annual arts meeting and heard information from the music teacher about joining ensembles. I found out that there was a concert band, jazz band, symphonic band and choir. The symphonic band was open to all grade 9 students but the concert and jazz band were auditioned ensembles. After my positive experience with my Teen Tour audition, I decided to audition for both ensembles and I was delighted to get in!
I played jazz in elementary school, but this style was still fairly new to me so I decided to take lessons. I took lessons with Joel Haynes, who taught me how to read more complicated drum sheet music and also taught me some tips for playing jazz. The best part of taking drum lessons with Joel was that he had a drum recital at the end of the year where all his students performed. For the recital, I had to choose a song to drum along to. I was now 16 years old: 12 years after I had watched the Rush video, and I felt I was ready to finally take on the task of learning a Rush song. Joel helped me learn the song and I played it for the recital! I had finally accomplished my ultimate long-term goal and my hard work paid off!
After that moment, I again felt like nothing could stop me and I decided to make another new ultimate long-term goal which was to be in a rock band that would go on tour, record an album and win a big award.
To begin this journey, I decided it was time to leave Teen Tour after three years. Teen Tour was a life changing experience that helped me build the foundations of drumming. I first decided I wanted to learn more about jazz drumming so I could be a more diverse drummer.
I decided to attend the jazz camp at Interprovincial Music Camp (IMC). This camp was an amazing learning experience, but I often felt overwhelmed while I was there. However, it was from this camp that I decided I wanted to start my own jazz combo in high school. This was a significant moment in my musical journey because it was my first music leadership role.
Having a leadership role for this ensemble came with many responsibilities. I was responsible for scheduling rehearsals, planning what to work on and helping provide feedback to musicians. This was challenging at first, but once I figured it out and got into a good routine I enjoyed it very much. We participated at MusicFest nationals and won a gold standing which was another huge accomplishment!
I enjoyed this leadership experience so much that I decided to start more of my own ensembles. I started a percussion ensemble at my high school and a rock band. This rock band was one of the most fun experiences of my career so far because it allowed me to share my love of rock music with other musicians. With this band, we competed at the YMCA Battle of the Bands and won an invitation to perform at the Sound of Music Festival.
When it came time for me to decide on my post-secondary options, I knew I wanted to pursue music in the future because of my great passion for it. I narrowed my options down to Western and Laurier for music. I was very nervous for my auditions since I didn’t have much exposure to classical music and mallet percussion before. However, I did my best and ended up receiving offers into both schools! I decided to attend Western.
Western provided me with a great first year experience and taught me a lot that I know will help me immensely for my future career in music. However, midway through the year, I felt that I wasn’t playing enough and didn’t have enough exposure to contemporary music, so I decided to switch schools and audition for Humber College for music. I was very excited when I heard I had been accepted into this fantastic music program!
Being at university for a year also made me realize that I was not any closer to reaching my new long-term goal. I decided to search on Kijiji for bands that were looking for a drummer. I found two bands that I was very interested in and decided to contact them. They both got back to me and we decided to meet and jam together. It went very well and I am now a part of both bands playing shows fairly regularly throughout the summer, including a show at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern!
A journey as a musician is a very long one. I am fortunate for all the opportunities I have received thus far, and I look forward to future experiences. I hope that one day I will be able to accomplish my next long-term goal, but I know that I will not be able to accomplish it without the skills my old drum teacher taught me: patience, practice and most importantly: perseverance.