A group of Mohawk College’s music students will have the chance this spring to collaborate on a performance with Indigenous artist Rick McLean as well as the Six Nations Women Singers. The cultural engagement project will allow students to explore different cultures through music and their own instruments.
Jadon Haughton, Mohawk College music student and drummer in the ensemble, says working on music in a group setting is very different from composing a song alone.
“It’s more of a vulnerable and open experience for everyone,” Haughton said. “Working together, problem solving, challenging one another and supporting each other. It’s a collective experience based off of our own individual experience coming together to enhance each other.”
Haughton says that individual practice is essential for growth and for discovering who you are as an artist, but collaboration is where you learn even more.
“Both are essential and [you] cannot have one without the other,” Haughton said.
Collaboration matters in everything we do, according to Mohawk College music student and banjo player Penny Martindale.
“Making music with other people is opening yourself up to not only being heard but hearing and responding to others,” Martindale said. “Music is best enjoyed when participating with others, I think. Individual music making has its own place and its own benefits but there is nothing quite like playing music with a group of people and kind of losing yourself for a bit.”
Martindale explained that this initiative will allow students to gain a new perspective and educate themselves on reconciliation efforts, something she hopes can spread beyond the Music program.
“I’m sure there are a lot of ways to incorporate a wider range of Mohawk [College] programs.” Martindale said.
The ensemble’s guitarist, Calvin Mulder, says all his classmates enjoy working in group settings. He says it allows them to create a unique bond of trust and friendship.
“It’s a special form of communication beyond words,” Mulder said. “Having a multiplicity of brains working together [can] create something [that’s] very inspiring.”
“Everybody has different strengths: we all play different instruments, and we all have different musical backgrounds,” Mulder said. “Beautiful things can be done when everyone is doing their job … or contributing in their own way.”
All the musicians agree this is an incredible opportunity for them to learn new things and to inspire change while meeting other musicians.
“This whole thing is very open-ended,” Mulder said. “And I have no idea what to expect, but if I can come out of this as a wiser [or a] more culturally aware individual, who has taken the time to listen, learn, and show respect, then I think it will be worth it … My hope is that I can gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture, so that I might be less ignorant than I am right now.”
Haughton also spoke about the opportunity for other Mohawk College programs to participate in the movement.
“It would also be amazing, in my opinion of course, to include people from the Business department as well,” Haughton said. “Marketers, event planners and such to really help our incredible platform reach and touch more lives as well.”