A life in music
South River native reflects on teaching children to play
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.