A life in mu­sic

South River na­tive re­flects on teach­ing chil­dren to play

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

Mu­sic and life are in­tri­cately con­nected.

Peo­ple con­nect songs to var­i­ous ways. Some re­mem­ber parts of their lives based on a cer­tain style of mu­sic. Even fur­ther, some see a cer­tain song fixed to a par­tic­u­lar mem­ory.

But the way South River na­tive Shawn But­ler sees it, his life with mu­sic isn’t so cookie cut­ter. Mu­sic is static and isn’t straight­for­ward.

But­ler sees the con­nec­tion be­tween the two akin to some­thing out of a pro­gres­sive rock song. Just as life is un­pre­dictable, so is that style of mu­sic. It takes lis­ten­ers to a dif­fer­ent place with each chord pro­gres­sion.

“I like to think my life is kind of like a pro­gres­sive song,” he said. “I don’t know where it’s go­ing to go next and I don’t think I’m near com­plet­ing my goals.”

But­ler has spent close to 25 years in mu­sic. When he speaks about it, his voice bris­tles with pas­sion.

He plays drum, bass, gui­tar and pi­ano. When not be­hind a mul­ti­tude of in­stru­ments, But­ler also sings.

“You can’t help but love (mu­sic),” said But­ler. “You’re touched by it. That’s how I feel.”

It’s this love of mu­sic that drew him to start bring­ing young peo­ple along in the world of mu­sic through teach­ing. He is one of the main in­struc­tors at Fre­quency Mu­sic Stu­dios in Par­adise.

Al­most a decade ago, But­ler was in­stru­men­tal in start­ing the busi­ness, which also serves as a jam space and record­ing stu­dio for mu­si­cians

“It’s the best de­ci­sion I’ve ever made,” said But­ler. “It’s worked out.”

No look­ing back

But­ler didn’t al­ways teach at Fre­quency. For years, he spent time at other schools per­fect­ing his teach­ing style.

He con­nected with stu­dents at his first school and then at­tempted to move to an­other. That didn’t work out and he was left with­out a place to teach at.

He turned his bleak out­look into an op­por­tu­nity and started teach­ing in Par­adise.

In fact, the thought of the stu­dio and teach­ing space didn’t come up un­til But­ler found him­self at his teach­ing cross­roads.

That was seven years ago and he’s never looked back.

For any teacher, or­ga­ni­za­tion is a key com­po­nent to be­ing suc­cess­ful. They have to be able to pin­point ex­actly where their stu­dents are in their de­vel­op­ment and be able to iden­tify where to take them next.

Con­fus­ing stu­dents for oth­ers can be detri­men­tal to the process. That’s why it can be in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing to be highly or­ga­nized.

“It’s a re­ally im­por­tant step,” said But­ler.

Not just a teacher

But­ler does more than teach mu­sic, he’s a mu­si­cian him­self and is work­ing on re­lease his first disc of solo ma­te­rial in the near fu­ture.

“I play a lot of my own mu­sic,” said the mu­si­cian who got his start play­ing in var­i­ous bands dur­ing his high school days in Con­cep­tion Bay North. He started as a front man in the band De­bris.

But­ler bounced around to a cou­ple of other bands, play­ing gui­tar and singing along the way. Spend­ing the last 25 years in the mu­sic, you’re bound to have a cou­ple of song­books full of tunes just wait­ing to be re­leased.

“I swear I’d never give up on (mu­sic) and I haven’t,” said But­ler.

Most, if not all, of the writ­ing for the record is fin­ished and what’s left now is the record­ing part. Luck­ily, But­ler doesn’t have to go very far to find a space to lay down a cou­ple of tracks.

As it is with any record, the ques­tion of mu­si­cal style al­ways comes up and its some­thing But­ler has a tough time nail­ing down.

“It’s a ver­sa­tile style,” he said. “You can’t re­ally la­bel it.”

But­ler’s love af­fair with mu­sic started when he was eight or nine years old. His love for the art form only grew with the dis­cov­ery of the al­ter­na­tive scene of the 90s. Bands like The Smash­ing Pump­kins and their al­bum Mel­lon Col­lie and the In­fi­nite Sad­ness had a pro­found ef­fect.

Mu­sic is the life he chose and he doesn’t re­gret it.

“It’s awe­some,” But­ler said of teach­ing and be­ing in­volved in mu­sic. “It’s one of the most re­ward­ing jobs in the world.”


South River na­tive Shawn But­ler teaches mu­sic at Fre­quency Mu­sic Stu­dios in Par­adise.

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