Wrapping up our series introducing some of the students in Cap’s new ad campaign, we highlight Jazz Studies student, Ben Parker.

Ben Parker has come a long way since tapping on pots and pans in his room in Red Deer, Alberta. After that came practice pads and whatever else he could scrounge up. Finally, his parents took the hint and got him a drum kit, and he’s never looked back.

The third-year Capilano University Jazz Studies degree student says he grew up with a lot of different musical influences, from classic rock and ska to punk and jazz. With an elementary music teacher for a Mom and an English teacher for a Dad it’s not surprising that he wants to be a high school music teacher.

“I love the idea of inspiring others, and sharing the love I have for music,” says Parker, who works as a clinician with a high school drum line in Abbotsford. “I get a lot of joy out of being able to articulate what I’m thinking so that others can understand it and maybe help them to better grasp different concepts or ways of performing music.”

Finding inspiration

Parker discovered CapU’s Jazz Studies program in Banff, Alberta. In his graduating year, he went to a music festival there with his high school band, and was blown away by the performances of Capilano’s premier instrumental and vocal ensembles, A Band and NiteCap.

“I remember being pretty amazed and bewildered at how good they were, and how powerful the music was,” says Parker. “I remember Rejean Marois, the NiteCap director dancing on stage, which he still does today. Brad Turner conducted A Band and then played trumpet at a performance the next night, and just blew everyone away. I was really intrigued and wanted to learn more about the program.”

Parker knew he wanted to leave Red Deer after graduation, so he researched Capilano U and was impressed by its reputation. “I think most people on the North Shore don’t realize how incredible the Jazz program is at Cap, and how renowned the program and the instructors are across the country.”

Learning to listen

Currently in his third year of the Jazz program’s education stream, Parker says he’s felt a great deal of support from fellow students and instructors. A jazz program could easily go the other way—not as welcoming, a little more competitive even.

“Some of the best jazz students in Canada are at this campus, yet there’s nothing but support and this loving atmosphere here,” says Parker. “Even though there are these intense courses that we go through, I get the sense that I’m going through it with other people, and I think the students feel that for the most part we’re all in it together.”

One of the features of the Jazz Studies diploma is an intensive ear-training and sight-singing program, where students learn to tune their ears to the level needed as jazz musicians. In finishing the ear-training portion of the diploma after two years, he felt he’d really accomplished something.

While there’s a deep tradition of jazz at Capilano U, Parker says there are a lot of different avenues students can explore. “It’s not solely bebop or swing, though those are important to the history of our music. There’s a collective understanding that jazz is such a broad and influential music and it can take many forms.”

Parker’s advice for aspiring musicians? “Listen a lot. You have to understand what’s happening just by using your ears. That’s where people really get it, that’s where the lightbulb goes off. Also, people say to practice hard. There’s definitely some truth to that, but along with logging a lot of hours in the practice room, it’s really important to know how to practice smart and efficiently. For me, it starts with identifying what I need to work on, and making a schedule for what I want to accomplish at this practice session, this month and by the end of term. And, of course, the most important thing is to enjoy it.”

Submitted by Shannon Colin, Communications & Marketing

*   *   *

The next round of auditions for the Fall 2017 Jazz Studies program takes place May 1-4, 2017. Contact the Music department for details.

Related links: