Liam Shearer, Kaitlyn Cumberland and Jackson Howard are all being carried away to different music schools in the fall, after graduating from G.W. Graham secondary in Chilliwack. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

G.W. graduates travelling across Canada to study music

Three students chosen for notable music programs, with scholarships

Music may transport you, but a music education will really take you places.

Three graduates at G.W. Graham secondary have all earned themselves seats in notable music programs, with scholarships to help them succeed. And their plans illustrate that not all careers in music need to follow the same path.

Jackson Howard earned the one open chair for the Glenn Gould School of Music, an orchestral program with only 120 students at a time. He travelled to Toronto earlier this year, to audition on the trombone for the prestigious program.

“By far it was the most anxiety I’ve ever had,” he say, laughing with his classmates, Kaitlyn Cumberland and Liam Shearer.

Cumberland auditioned for the University of Victoria’s music education program with the oboe and English horn, while Shearer went for the music program at Grant MacEwen in Edmonton, where he will study the trumpet.

Cumberland remembers her exact thoughts during the audition.

“This is what the rest of my life is riding on,” she said to herself.

But these kids thrive on a bit of pressure, and all of them not only earned their place in their programs, but did so with scholarships.

For all three, music has threaded through their lives from a young age.

Howard started playing piano at age three, and started lessons at age five. But in Grade 9 he wanted to join the band at G.W. Graham, and had to choose an instrument.

“The trombone just felt like a natural fit,” he says, and over the years he’s leaned toward playing classical music.

The Glenn Gould School of Music clearly agrees. They’ve offered him a full-ride scholarship. In total, Howard was offered $350,000 worth of scholarships from various schools.

But the deciding factor for him wasn’t about money. It was about a connection. He’s had a lifetime of music teachers already, and when he got to practise with one of the Glenn Gould teachers he’ll have in the fall, he says they really worked well together.

“It was because of the teacher, the connection, it just fit,” he says. “It was a fantastic experience.”

For Shearer, the choice was between Capilano University and Grant MacEwen. In the end, he chose Edmonton for a change of location, and to be close to family there. He’s a multi-talented musician, taking on the drums at age 12 and the trombone “just for fun.”

But his instrument of choice is the trumpet, after he picked it up in Grade 7 when his older sister put it down.

“I guess I’m carrying on the family legacy,” he says, smiling.

For Cumberland, studying music is a passion, but performing is not her favourite part of it. She will dive into music education and imagines somewhere in her future she will be “behind the scenes” musically.

“I’ve always been interested in the business side of it,” she says. “I love the playing but I’m more a behind-the-scenes person.”

She started out on the clarinet, but bored of it quickly and was looking for a challenge.

She landed on the English horn, which she describes as “emotive in its timbre.”

“It’s a beautiful sounding instrument,” she says.

Music teacher Shane Monkman says it’s unusual to have three students who all go onto a musical post-secondary education in one class, and for them all to have scholarships is even more impressive. The extra work that goes into being accepted into a music program shows their dedication to their studies, he adds.

“These kids have worked hours outside of class to prepare audition material, study and travel for these auditions,” he says.

Do you have a success story to share? Let us know at editor@theprogress.com.

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