Learning to play a new piece is challenging enough, but throw into the mix the fact that it has to fit a documentary film, adds another element to the task. Here is an example of this in a short clip that brings IB musicians together after some have been away with our Cadet Corps to Holland for the past week and a bit. On top of that, those students didn't even arrive home until 3:00am and they were all in School first thing later that morning and ready to shoot. This video shows performers and technicians getting direction for a short introduction of a Vulfpeck song, Back Pocket. The Holland trip players had never heard this piece before that day. In the clip, you'll hear "music room, take 5". This illustrates a couple of things: everything takes practice and eventually, things come together satisfactorily. It also exposes the capability of these musicians, focusing and coming together quickly. I am happy that our music students got this opportunity to witness this experience. People seldom consider the planning that goes into the amalgamation of music, staging, timing and purpose. The video also gives an honest glimpse of the fun, comradery and potential of our IB Music Class. This is a work in progress, but I can assure you that the finished project will turn more than a few heads; literally!
Like most, my musical journey began when I was a child. The Fisher Price record player I inherited was my first true love. Music was always on in our house and our family gathered around a fire with guitars and a choir of harmonies every weekend throughout my childhood. After starting a band when I was 12, I quickly realized music was something that I loved and that I was actually good at it, unlike many of the sports I grew up playing. I was admittedly reluctant to follow my two older sisters to King'sEdgehill but after watching Ian Janes (1990-95) and his KES band perform at a local battle of the bands, I knew that KES was the perfect place to prepare for a professional career in music.
I attended King's College School in the late 1960's and was one of Mr. Guy Payne's early track and field champions. I was a bugler in the Cadet Band and spent my dorm time learning Beatle licks. After graduation, I went to Carleton University and earned an honors degree in Philosophy. I studied guitar and worked as a musician throughout university. After moving back to Nova Scotia, I continued to (play) perform in the region. I have released four albums of original musical and two with the award- winning band, Swingology. I started teaching guitar at KES in the mid- 1980's, and grads I have mentored are working throughout the musical world. Music teaches us to be operative and requires discipline and focus. For me, it has been a lifetime of enjoyment. Not everyone will become a professional, but everyone has access to the pleasures of making music. Do I regret taking Philosophy? Not at all. I use it every day. If you can understand how someone thinks, you can understand how they learn. It continues to be an honour to be able to work with my friend and patient colleague, Jeff Smith.
Check out http://grapevinepublishing.ca/6185/new-tunes-john-tetrault for a sneak peak of John's new CD entitled, LOVE/UNLOVE.
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When I look back on a 20 year career as a professional musician, my first thoughts are of gratitude and satisfaction for having been able to do just exactly what it was that I wanted to do. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I was so full of a passion for music and a drive to succeed that I buried the self-doubt beneath piles and piles of music and pushed my anxiety to the side while I tried to satisfy my insatiable appetite for success and improvement. Music was fun and making music with friends was even better. I was fortunate to have excellent teachers and I quickly realized that the better I played the horn, the more doors and opportunities opened for me.
Next, I found myself at King's-Edgehill School. A place where the diversity of the student body was only exceeded by the diversity of the programmes available to us. At every turn, there was something new to try and experienced Faculty to show us the way. Soccer, rugby and biathlon took much of my time but not so much that I couldn't contribute to the Cadet Programme, band, jazz combo and musical theatre. At KES, I met some ridiculously talented people in all disciplines... especially in the arts. The musical momentum of high school carried me through a Bachelor of Music degree at Acadia and Masters degree at the New England Conservatory.
By 2001, I was thinking hard about, and preparing for, auditions with professional orchestras. I auditioned for a spot in the Vancouver Symphony. This new job was my chance to begin my life, personally and artistically. I began working and teaching in Vancouver. My symphony position was an in-road to gigs of all types. Orchestra and chamber music, solo engagements, Broadway shows, movie score and video game score recording sessions, and television. My reputation would get me a phone call but the call-backs I earned by doing my best to be not just an exceptional horn player but an exceptional person and colleague as well. I got married, had two kids, and as I matured as a person, I also grew as a musician.
Suddenly, something happened that I wasn't expecting. After 15 years as a symphony musician, teacher and freelancer, thousands of concerts and recordings, travel, trips and tours around the globe, my life and priorities had changed and evolved but my job and obligations were beginning to interfere with being a dad and husband. So, I decided to walk away from my position in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and
began teaching at the University of British Columbia.
As a teacher, one of my personal rules has always been that I will never tell a student what they can't do. A significant issue that arises when we pursue our passions is that we tend to become myopic and lose sight of the big picture. Trying to temper passion with pragmatism seems a bit of a contradiction, but herein lies my advice for anyone who finds themselves on a similar path to the one on which I travelled. Develop your whole self, pursue many interests, and you will never fear change. On the contrary, you'll be able to embrace it. If you can adjust, you can move forward, always. Sempre Avanti.
"If music be the food of love, play on." That was what William Shakespeare expressed in his play Twelfth Night. To me, music is not only a food of love, it is an identity, a way to express oneself. To do so, one must first have a picture, and the persistence to hold on to the paintbrush. I started to learn both the piano and violin around 6 years old, which I really enjoyed but stopped playing due to the heavy amount of school work within the Taiwanese school system. Things changed after my arrival in Canada, where I was introduced to popular music, unlike the conservative environment that I have experienced in Taiwan, I was opened to a new world where people play music for fun, and to express their own feelings. I decided to pick up my violin again so I could re-learn the classical foundation that I had missed for a long time. Learning the basic techniques was not easy, it was disappointing and frustrating. Since I started late, that meant there was a lot of extra work to catch on, but to me, playing my instrument was one of the best feelings ever. During my time at KES, I was able to play in musical pit bands, start my own band, and was fortunate to join the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, which very much influenced my classical playing; however, what really pushed me into studying a music degree was a conversation I had with guitarist Ryan Roberts
(1994-96), before my first Solo Violin Recital in Grade 12. Ryan and I sat down at a local café after a rehearsal because I was struggling to make a decision of pursuing a music career and hoping he might offer me some insight, I asked if he had a dream when he was in my age. He said, "Yes of course, I've always wanted to become a solo guitarist." I asked, "How did you make your dream come true?" He replied, "When I was in college, my parents forced me into dentistry, the degree got me a well-paid job as a dental assistant. I was able to buy a Mercedes after getting married." "Were you happy?" I asked again. Ryan paused, and slowly replied, "No, I wasn't, as I never forgot my music dream. I started to feel happiness again when changing my Mercedes into a second-hand car." He started laughing, "Happiness has a cost," Ryan said, "The cost is persistence," as he finished the rest of his coffee. After the conversation with Ryan I decided to pursue a music career. I enrolled at Dalhousie University to start my music studies, little did I know, I was too naïve to realize that I still had a long way to go in music.
My studies at Dalhousie were equally disappointing and frustrating, seeing how great the others were but how little I progressed was such a heart-breaking experience. However, I never forgot what I was there for, I made sure every year I progressed, and took every opportunity to express and perform my music. My desire for music grew every year as I discovered my ability to compose in my second year. Studying composition became another passion of mine when I found a new way other than performance to express myself. At the same time, I also discovered that my persistence and practicing was paying off when I began to be accepted to music festivals these past couple of years. Since summer of 2014, I have participated in at least one music festival each summer, but in summer 2017, I had an intense, but amazing, experience participating in four festivals (Three as a violinist and one as a composer): Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Camp in Taiwan, highSCORE Composition Festival in Italy, where I premiered a brand new piece for clarinet and piano at the "F. Vittadini" Higher Institute of Music Studies; and the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra Summer Program in Halifax. One of my fondest memories during my music studies is to participate and organize at the Nocturne: Art at Night Festival. Nocturne is an annual art festival that transforms downtown Halifax and Dartmouth into art venues. In 2016, I decided to mount my own Nocturne project: Voyages by using original film and improvised music. During that summer, I shot my first original film and also composed my first film soundtrack with my colleagues Roland Smith and Packer Woo. Voyages was premiered at Cathedral Church of All Saints with the performance of Society of Dalhousie Music Students. We were visited by approximately 900 viewers that night.
I am very grateful for this opportunity because mounting a Nocturne project not only taught me to create and compose for a film, but was more about work behind-the-scenes: from writing project proposals, planning budgets, technical support, promotions for the performance, and organizing a large group of performers for this project. These were experiences and lessons that I treasured after completing Voyages. Music is a way for me to express myself. As a performer I try to convey my feelings in a performance. As a composer, I try to document my expressions on manuscripts; however, I will not be here without persistence and patience during my music studies. I gained experience from recitals, orchestra rehearsals, and producing a project. These are all my ways of expressions. Even today, I still remember that conversation of the cost of happiness. I would like to thank my IB Music Instructor Jeff Smith, violinist Karen Langille, and guitarist Ryan Roberts, for their teachings and inspirations during my studies at King's- Edgehill School.You’ll find countless opportunities to express your artistic interests at our school. The arts make up one of the essential four pillars of a King’s-Edgehill School education.
A diva in the best possible way, Kate exudes passion, confidence and talent on stage, coupled with kindness and empathy. This was evident during a recent visit to KES to lead a theatre workshop. "Oh yeah!! I love my name in the lights and the lights on me," she says with a smile that could power Manhattan Island. "I am definitely a diva," she knowingly proclaims with a laugh. "But I also really care for everyone involved in a production." Kate is doing just that in Come From Away, which is currently playing the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. The Tony Award winning musical, which depicts the kindness and humour that resulted from numerous airplanes being diverted to Newfoundland during the 911 crisis, has tailor made roles for the King's-Edgehill graduate who spent several key years of her life in Newfoundland."I will play up to six characters each night," says Kate. "When I got the call, I cried with joy, then I called my father and Mr. Smith." Kate discusses Mr. Jeff Smith's influence on her as a student at King's-Edgehill School in a way that can only be describes as a feeling of love for the experiences, memories and support. "This space (the theatre), is a safe place where you can screw up and grow up," she said to the KES theatre students of 2018. "I will never forget the day Mr. Smith said to me, 'Kate, you could do this for a living.'" Although it has not been easy: Kate says she almost quit a few times; however, she decided she would not be able to live with herself if she did not truly try to make it as a professional. She points to taking the full International Baccalaureate Programme as a helpful motivator. "I would actually say to myself: "If I can do full IB with all the Math and Sciences, I can do anything." Now she is the youngest cast member in Come From Away! As impressive as this is, it was also heartening to see her interact with younger
assembly as a little Grade 7 girl, and Mr.Penaluna said the versions of herself during her visit to campus. Her themes of perseverance, words "Head Girl", and I said to myself; 'I'm gonna be that!' encouragement and ambition were contagious. "I remember sitting in my first Kate went on to have an illustrious KES career in the classroom, within cadets and, of course, on the stage. Kate is well poised to launch her career even further from these roles, as her message to the students was clear. Be ambitious and give all you have to your passions.
IN KATE'S WORDS: Music has been a part of my soul for as long as I can remember. Growing up some of my fondest early childhood memories consist of dancing around the living room in whatever dress-up clothes I could find, performing the one-woman version of "Cats" or "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat" or anything Disney. My father was the Artistic Director of Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador at the time and, if I couldn't be in the show, I would make sure I got to sit in the corner
during evening rehearsals, quietly taking it all in.
When I was 12 years old, my family moved from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia. My parents found an advertisement in the paper for King's-Edgehill School. When I sat down in my entrance meeting with, then headmaster, David R. Penaluna, I was asked the question, "Where do you see yourself five years out of high school?" without blinking an eye I replied, "On Broadway." I'm sure he'd never had a pre-teen answer in such a way and with such resolution. When I was in Grade 11, I knew that I should take my private school education and IB diploma and choose a career in a more secure field like medicine or law but some part of me knew that I would never feel truly happy without trying to fulfill my dream of Broadway and a career in performing. Jeff Smith was the only one convinced that I had what it takes to pursue this as a career. My family were very supportive but also knew how fickle the business could be.
I started auditioning for theatre schools and when I found Sheridan College, I knew I had found my new home. I performed on a cruise ship, and although I loved the work I was doing, cruise ship life did not agree with me and I returned to Toronto. Gigs were few and far between. The struggle was challenging and pushed me to my emotional limits many times but, whenever I thought about throwing in the towel and changing careers, I just couldn't bring myself to give up. My perseverance through my 20's has finally paid off. I am a proud member of the Canadian cast of "Come From Away" in Toronto. This show about kindness, acceptance and the generosity of the human spirit has taught me so much, and I am grateful every day I get to share the show with the world. I feel as if I have found the nectar of fulfillment through my art, and hope to drink off it for a lifetime.
If you are a dancer, a singer, a musician, an actor, an artist, or have all of these talents, then King’s-Edgehill School is the place for you.
I feel very fortunate that I was able to go to KES for my graduating year - one very memorable year. Some of my best friends today are those who I met at KES. I actually went to play basketball and soccer and to get a more structured education in preparation for University. There was no music involvement at all unless you count those daily visits to Chapel with one of my best friends and fellow alumni Lucy (Trull) van den Brink (1990-93). We met at KES and began going into the Chapel to sing acapella. Neither one of us was keen on singing in front of a crowd at the time, so this was a great substitute.
I loved KES - there was always this palpable energy. A community or family within a school. Obviously, you have the normal ups and downs of high school, but it was more positive than not. I loved the scheduled activities post class (athletics built into my day was a dream) and, honestly, not having to worry about what to wear every day was a blessing. Looking back, especially with what I do now, I do wish I had taken music, or participated in band in some way, but at the time it wasn't my thing. I loved to sing, but wasn't confident enough to join in any musicals or coffee houses. After leaving KES, I moved to Halifax and worked there in catering and at the WAEG as a server for the summer before I went to Dalhousie University to take Kinesiology, then on to Northumberland College to become a Registered Massage Therapist.
In my third year at DAL, I met a handsome guy (who is now my amazing husband) at the gym. He was a musician and asked me if I would join him on stage one night at a local hot spot at the time, called the Tickle Trunk. Despite my absolute fear of performing, I did and shortly after, we formed a band called BIG FISH. That was almost 22 years ago and we are still booked every single week. My musical path wasn't too exciting. I did private voice lessons in New Glasgow and Halifax for 10 years, met Dale and then we formed Big Fish. 10 years into playing, I added the keyboard but am still not skilled at this! Currently I co-own and work as an RMT at Total Kneads - a massage therapy and acupuncture clinic in the Hydrostone area of Halifax. I teach Yoga at Halifax Yoga, and I perform every weekend singing and playing keys with Big Fish. I think having a variety of things you like doing and can potentially make an income at is a great way to find balance in your life. We all know life is too short and its meant to be enjoyed. So, get good grades, exercise, eat well, laugh, enjoy what you do, spend time with good people and find love, within yourself first and then if you want to, with someone else.
This is one example of great friends doing great things at King's-Edgehill School. If you're an alumnus/alumna eager to re-connect with some of your KES friends, there are events going on all over the world. Find out more about that here.