A section consisting of interviews with various colleagues.
Over the past week, I have had the privilege to speaking to some students who I have not spoken to face-to-face about themselves musically. Throughout these interviews, I have made some interesting discoveries and learned more about each student’s affiliation to music before their post-secondary education and what music means to them on a personal level. The three candidates I have spoken to have had some sort of background of music in their early life, which is what I have focused on in these interviews.
My first student I conversed with was one of my high school friends, Abbey Anthony, who is currently a 2nd year nursing student at Western University. Both Abbey and I attended the same elementary and secondary school (St. Mary’s Choir and Catholic Central High School respectively), although she was a grade higher than me. Because of that, we both were in the same music program throughout our time in school, having more or less the same musical experience. Within our conversation, I asked her if there was a time that music was of great importance in her life, and she responded, saying that high school was where she found that music was very important to deal with all of her problems. We moved on to talking about a mentor who inspired her through music, and strangely enough, we both had the same role model in mind; Donald (Duck) Sills. “He was phenomenal, and just made me see music in a whole different way.” I felt that Don was one of the reasons why Abbey feels music has such a great importance in today’s society. In particular, we talked more about how much she has learned from being under Don’s tutelage and what she felt about he taught music. “I definitely enjoyed [his teaching style] because a big thing for me with teachers is being personable and sharing with them. He has this remarkable way of both being very personable and [that] you feel like you’re on a same sharing basis, and I think that’s something that’s hard to do; to find that right balance.”
We also talked about her studies in university and her decision to focus on nursing rather than music. Despite being accepted into some schools for music, she felt that nursing was what she really wanted to go into. “It often crosses my mind of what would have happened if I have gone into music.” From this, I saw that she enjoyed the experience of music in high school, but that her aspirations of becoming a nurse were in the way of continuing into music However, I was pleased to know that if it were easier to take a double-major with music and nursing, she would not hesitate to go that route!
The next student I talked to was one that I have not seen face-to-face in a few months. Stewart Finlay was one of my best friends growing up throughout elementary school and high school. Currently, he studies at Sault College in Sault St. Marie for aviation studies. Similar to Abbey, Stewart and I grew up having the same learning experience in music, being in the same grade, classes, ensembles, and having the same music teachers. One of the big questions I asked him in our interview was the importance of music to him. He says that everyone is exposed to music and that you can find it wherever you go. “It’s such an omnipresent being that just gives you energy and is an assistant to you to make you feel good about doing things.” I assumed the reason that music was significant to his life was due to his musical background. Stewart told me about the influence of his dad was one of the things that inspired him to study music. “My dad was in a choir school when he was younger, and him being involved in music and listening to all of that music made me listen to the music he listens to. And it just had a big impact on me in having all that music experience.” To no surprise, Don was another figure in his life that influenced his musical background. “His teaching style was just excellent. He’s very knowledgeable, and efficient.”
Despite his musical background, Stewart had decided to go into the study of aviation. One of the driving factors being the influence of his dad and aviation. “I feel that my dad had a big impact on me for aviation because he was exposed to planes and made me want to fly planes. If I’m being honest, if I didn’t pursue a career in aviation, I’d probably be doing something in music because of my background and experience in music.” I felt that this made me feel content that people like Stewart would like to study more about music if it were possible in their academic schedule. He mentioned to me that he would soon be able to take a music course as one of his electives in his final year of his program, which was exciting to know!
The last person I decided to interview was my older brother, Benedict. Despite being in the same household, I never get to talk with him face-to-face due to our different schedules on Western Campus. Even when we’re at home, we don’t get the chance to have an engaging conversation about what happened in classes or what is happening in our lives. Getting the chance to know more about his influence in music was exciting for me, even if my brother didn’t show it emotionally on his face. Benedict is a 4th year student in health science looking to go somewhere related to the health unit here in London and health promotion. When I asked him about who he had as a figure of inspiration teaching about music, he replied that he didn’t have one in mind due to his bad experience while taking music lessons. “I did go to a music school [learning the violin], [I was] taught theory from a music instructor. The one teacher that I had, albeit they could teach theory, they weren’t into the teaching aspect. It was more so of teaching theory and that was pretty much it.” He also mentioned how his teacher had a less direct pedagogical approach to teaching music, where his teacher would give him the theory and have him learn by himself. It seems that there was less of a connection between student and teacher, and I feel that this was one of the reasons that caused Benedict to have had an unpleasant view of music at the time. However, he does enjoy creating and playing music that he finds gives him enjoyment and happiness, without the influence of his music instructor. “The learning aspect is more so of playing songs that I enjoy hearing, so the satisfaction of actually learning them is quite great. I read musical tabs on the internet. Nothing with sheet music; I do everything by ear, and more with tablatures and guitar.”
What surprised me was the response Benedict gave me when I asked him the reason he decided to study in the field of health science at Western. “My point of view is that if you like doing something, you can’t pursue it as a career. But the stuff that I really want to do and want to get a career out of it is not music. Although it is a hobby. That is not what I go to school for. I don’t want something to be a hobby to be something that I have to work and perfect. It’s more so [that] hobbies should be kept at your own pace and [is something] relaxing. It’s all based on interests and plans for [the] future as well.” With all of these findings, I feel that I have a better sense of the different perspectives of music education through the eyes of students.