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.
I am very honored to have had an opportunity to be a teacher at King's-Edgehill School for a few years and live on campus with my family. My husband, Mark, and I had the privilege of being house parents for a dozen junior boys at the school. It was a fun and special time for my family. Like all life adventures where you bravely embrace a change, we met and made life- long friends and we learned and experienced new things that molded us into better people. This unique time of our lives also gave us experiences that opened doors for future adventures together with these amazing friends. At KES, our whole family was involved in the arts. I taught a world dance class where we Scottish country danced in tartan sashes, line danced in cowboy boots, belly danced with jangling colorful skirts and African danced in headwraps. We had a real posada and even learned ballroom dancing so we could jive at a formal event with a live band. We ran a "weekly choir and cookies night" and sang in the local music festival.
We even convinced Headmaster, Joe Seagram to sing a solo as the Wizard in The Wizard of OZ! It was a very memorable and rich chapter in our lives! Now, we have all moved on. We opened our own music school last year in Halifax, the Scotia Suzuki School of Music (scotiasuzuki.org). Here at our school, we teach using the Suzuki method which is learning music like learning a second language. It's a progressive, beautiful and very intelligent way to learn, starting even at birth. Right now, we have grown to 14 teachers and over 200 students. I often find myself in a situation that reminds me of something I learned or experienced in my time at KES. I am grateful for that knowledge and inspiration I gained there. My advice to everyone is to embrace an opportunity that comes your way and always look for opportunities everywhere you go. Never say, "no" to an opportunity, act on your ideas, always say, "Yes, I'll give it a try," even if it seems scary or too hard.
How much has KES changed since you were here? Find out. By staying in touch with us and your fellow alumni/ae! There are lots of benefits to staying connected. Have a look - right here.
Ryan Roberts came to Kings-Edgehill School from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. From an early age, he was interested in music but, it was not until he moved to KES that he began writing his own songs. His house parents were Mike and Linda (Walsh) MacDonald (1971-72). They saw his musical interest and began feeding him on a steady diet of classic folk music. It was here that the early singer-songwriter influences of guys like Paul Simon and James Taylor planted roots.
Ryan's first performance was in the School cafeteria during the Headmaster's dinner. Upon graduating, the MacDonald family gifted him their household piano and encouraged him to explore the world of coffee houses while attending Dalhousie University; where he studied science and graduated with "Plan B" as a Dental Hygienist.
After 5 years of University, he decided to take a year and spend 12-15 hours a day studying music and writing constantly. While networking with local Haligonians, he found others who wanted to record his songs and this served as an introduction to the world of music publishing. To date, his songs have been recorded by more than 50 artists around the world.
Ryan was recognized as the 'Songwriter of the Year' for 5 consecutive years at the East Coast Bluegrass Music Awards and seemed to gravitate to the world of country and roots music. Though his "Plan B" day job offered security, his passion for storytelling through songs led to early retirement. He gave notification and left the Dental world to pursue music full-time. He landed an audition for a touring band in Nashville, Tennessee and got the gig.
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.
I came to KES part way through Grade 8 and stayed for the rest of high school. My parents felt I needed to be in a school that would foster my musical development while having small enough classes to make sure I kept up with my school work! KES allowed me to have my life centred around music, while keeping me adequately engaged in my studies. I played guitar and saxophone in school bands, was in the pit orchestra and production assistant for musicals, sang and played at school coffee houses, did sound for special events and many other activities that kept me engaged and prepared me for my career path.
I began a music degree directly after high school, but left after a year to travel. Shortly after, I began making my first record, Occasional Crush. Ever since I've been making music and writing songs; supplementing my income with construction work, income properties and buying and selling real estate as necessary to support my family. My motivation has always been to work hard and to strive to get as close to "greatness" as is possible. It's all about constant improvement and learning to enjoy that quest because it never ends! There's always more to learn. Just keeping up with the technology and industry trends is a constantly moving target. Over the past few years, I've been investing a lot of time in travelling to write and network. I've been to LA twice and Nashville 9 times in the past 3 1/2 years. There's no substitute for putting yourself where the game is, and those two cities are the centres of the global music industry. I'm headed back to Nashville in September for co-writes, meetings and a few shows, then Vancouver and Los Angeles in October for more of the same. I am also working on recording a new record for release in early 2019.
My advice for KES students is:
» Do what you feel most passionate about.
» Don't ever think that talent substitutes for hard work. Hard work always wins. » Don't base decisions on making money. You'll figure that part out as you go.
To view Ian's recent performance on The East Coast Music Hour, please check out this link: https://youtu.be/Pp0R51n-fh8
How much has KES changed since you were here? Find out. By staying in touch with us and your fellow alumni/ae! There are lots of benefits to staying connected. Have a look - right here:
I'd been home in Nova Scotia for a few weeks when a drummer friend of mine called asking to borrow some drums. When returning my gear he asked, "How can you not do this anymore?" How DO I not do this anymore? If I'm not a full- time drummer, does that mean I'm not a drummer at all? Since I was a kid, I've loved music, always gravitating to the drums. Hearing KISS Alive 2 on my Nanny's record player when I was 7 changed my life forever. Another life changing moment was when Jeff Smith pushed me out of my comfort zone by getting me to play with the KES stage band and Jazz ensemble at a Music festival with less than a week's preparation! These were huge experiences that gave me the confidence to pursue my passion and a career in the music industry. After graduating from KES, I moved to Toronto and started my journey as a professional musician. After 11 years of playing and sharing the stage with many talented artists, an eye-opening experience occurred while on the road that left me questioning my career. It was becoming increasingly difficult to make an income and play music that was fulfilling for me. I knew eventually I wanted to get married and have kids, and the lifestyle I had wasn't conducive to do that.
The more I questioned things, the clearer it became. I was becoming unhappy with my current situation. After a lot of gut-wrenching nights, I made the difficult decision to leave Toronto and my professional music career of 11 years behind and move home. I got a 'real' job for the first time in more than a decade that was meant to be temporary but, here I am 15 years later, in the same industry. So, how do I not do this anymore? Being a drummer is how I identified, it was the thing that made me a little cool. If I'm not a full time drummer, does that mean I'm not a drummer at all? Absolutely not! Today, I play music on my own terms. Will I play in an arena again? Maybe not; but I'm okay with that. Now the arenas are my 2 kids and a supportive wife. I have the stability and balance I once craved, and yes, playing music, too. I enjoy that now I can say yes to the gigs I want and play the kind of music I enjoy playing. I've taken a similar approach in other aspects of my life as well. A few years ago, I rekindled my love for mountain biking and racing. I look at racing the same way I do music; it fills a spot in my life that requires some risk and has reward and it pushes me to get better and improve my skills. What I get out of a race is much like a gig; I get the jitters just before starting, once I begin it requires focus and concentration and when it's over, it's absolutely exhilarating.
King's-Edgehill alumni feel embraced by their KES experience long after they have left. If you're an alumnus/alumna eager to re-connect with your KES friends, find out how to do that here: