"The Village that Feeds Me"
The Importance of Community Music, Part 3:
Beyond High School
For me, life beyond High School meant retirement after 32 years in the classroom. Thirty two years of playing tests and theory and history lessons; thirty-two years of concerts, musicals and festivals; thirty-two years of supportive parents, fund raising and music trips. When I took stock of those years I realized that I had looked forward to coming to school every day of my career. After all, I had the opportunity to impact young lives every day - to share my passion. When I did retire I became a "Community Volunteer" and arrived at my old school, Guelph Collegiate, once a week at 7:30 a.m., to coach the Jazz band. It was a nice way to ease out of the classroom yet stay in touch. However, that kind of calm didn't last long.
Once people hear that you are 'retired' they assume that you have all kinds of time on
your hands and are looking for things to do. Soon the phone started ringing, and ringing and emails began to appear in large numbers on my computer screen. The end result of all of this activity was that I found myself gleefully immersed in several projects that involved community music - Associate Director of New Horizons (Guelph), Sessional Instructor at the University of Guelph, Music Director and Conductor of the Kitchener Musical Society Band, performing with Brassroots (London), Windjammers (Waterloo), the Guelph Chamber Choir, my wife's Church choir and the Slide by Slide trombone quartet. I was immersed in the many facets of community music, from amateur to professional, from young students to senior citizens, and was enjoying every minute.
In observing the similarities and differences of these organizations, the first thing that
people will be aware of is that community music groups are made up almost entirely of
volunteers - people that do not receive any remuneration for their time spent in rehearsals or concerts. They do their music-making for the sheer joy of it and the only rewards are very personal ones. When we look more closely we will realize that although each organization has it's own 'culture' , it's own persona, they all have one thing in common - the love of creating something as beautiful as a piece of music with others. Yes, the 'with others' is a very important part of community music - the innate desire to belong, to make long lasting friends and most of all to simply be with others who share a common interest.
There is something infectious about this making music thing. Something that, once
experienced, makes its way into your every fibre. It's a drug that you must have. Otherwise, why is it that of the 54 members of our Seniors group almost 30% were raw beginners, learning how to play a musical instrument for the first time in their lives? Why is it that more and more University students seek out the KMSB as a place to continue playing the instrument they learned to love in high school? Why is it that a group of professional musicians, Brassroots, regularly play concerts for no fee or personal gain? Like Cupid's arrow, the joy of making music together has struck us down and the feeling just won't go away!
I love my Seniors group, New Horizons. I love their desire to learn; their tenacity and grit;
and the way their eyes light up when they finally 'get it'. I love my Community band, KMSB. I love their desire to meet the 'tough stuff' head on; their 'need' to make it to rehearsal (I like to call it stress relief); the look of sheer satisfaction after a concert done well. I love the desire to learn in my young students at U of G and their need to please their Prof (me). I love it when our quartet, Slide by Slide, or Brassroots nails a piece or simply really locks onto a chord and it rings and rings. I love practising as I strive to be better every day. I love how my Art and the people around me feed me - both my mind and my soul. Life is good!
Dave Davidson is the Musical Director and Conductor of the Kitchener Musical Society Band