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Mohawk College music initiative helps create personal growth

Personal growth is something everyone can achieve. Whether it’s growth in a field or as a person it’s something we all strive to accomplish.

For students, professors, and musicians involved in Musical Sharing: An Indigenous Artists and Mohawk College Student Cultural Engagement and Exchange Initiative the growth is made through music. 

Students who volunteer to be part of the initiative get the chance to shadow Indigenous artists. Through this process, students are hoping to learn and cultivate a multi-perspective understanding of musical meanings and values, and more broadly, the world around them. 

“I think I’m just looking to grow as a person, grow as a musician, grow as a writer, arranger and producer, all the sort of facets that I am,” drummer Jadon Haughton said.

“But the big thing that I’m hoping to learn is to grow with people and just become more aware, just playing music again with a purpose and to learn more about, you know, our culture in our country,” Haughton added.

Indigenous mentors such as Rick McLean are hoping to teach new perspectives.

“My approach is collectivist,” Mclean said. “So, you know, I don’t have any predetermined notions about what I’m going to teach them. And for me, we’re all equals. These are some amazing musicians, young musicians that I’m going to have the honour of working with. So I’m not really sure. I think that I’ll be able to share Indigenous perspectives and maybe some themes and culture and stuff like that. I think that’s what they’re going to want for the creative process.”

microphones lined up
Students meet & work with Indigenous artists for a total of 14 hours over a three-month shadowing process leading to an all-day ‘Performance Day’ event, during which they will perform individually and together

McLean isn’t only interested in teaching his students but also in having his student mentees teach him.

“Oh, my goodness, am I ever looking forward to doing some creative stuff, with some other musicians and they are young musicians,” McLean said. “So that’s doubly fun for me, because, you know, I’m an older guy. And when I jam with the other older guys, sometimes we don’t have a lot of energy. So I’m looking forward to just really being invigorated and learning stuff from them.” 

For those involved one thing is clear: they are all moved to be taking part.

“I feel honoured to be a part of that,” guitarist Calvin Mulder said. “I feel really lucky. That’s really special. And so I’m just going to be giving it my full effort, and show up and bring my best out of respect for what it stands for. And what it will be.”

person playing electric guitar
In addition to the Indigenous artist-led mentorship sessions, the ensemble meets in-person with initiative coordinator, Bob Shields, Monday evenings to further rehearse and prepare for the April 1 Event Day

 During the the mentorship process and a final performance and reflection day, the overall goal is to create long-lasting, meaningful connections that aid in reconciliation and help everyone involved grow as people and musicians.


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