Mu­sic to their ears

In­ter­na­tional Gren­fell As­so­ci­a­tion mu­sic pro­gram build­ing on tra­di­tional mu­si­cal in­ter­ests of Great North­ern Penin­sula and south­ern Labrador

Northern Pen - - Front page - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

Work is un­der­way to re­vi­tal­ize mu­si­cal tra­di­tions through­out the Great North­ern Penin­sula and south­ern Labrador.

With the ar­rival of co­or­di­na­tor Joe Don­aghey in St. An­thony this past week, phase two of the In­ter­na­tional Gren­fell As­so­ci­a­tion’s (IGA) mu­sic pro­gram has be­gun.

Don­aghey, a clas­si­cal­ly­trained gui­tarist, will be work­ing through­out the re­gion for the next two years.

He’ll be un­der­tak­ing re­search on the mu­si­cal tra­di­tions of the re­gion, the kinds of mu­sic lo­cals are in­ter­ested in and he will be fa­cil­i­tat­ing mu­si­cal de­vel­op­ment and events to spark a pas­sion for mu­sic that will last beyond the pro­gram.

“Our am­bi­tion has al­ways been to start these ini­tia­tives and then for them to be­come self-sus­tain­ing and have a life of their own,” Dr. Nor­man Pin­der, IGA chair­man emer­i­tus, told the North­ern Pen. “It’s led by com­mu­ni­ties, it’s de­liv­ered by com­mu­ni­ties. We’re re­ally giv­ing a help­ing hand to those peo­ple who can make it work in the com­mu­nity.”

Ori­gins of the pro­gram

The IGA Mu­sic Pro­gram first started in Nain. This is con­sid­ered to be phase two of the ini­tia­tive.

Pin­der played a cen­tral role in ini­ti­at­ing the pro­gram.

“I’ve al­ways held the view that mu­sic has a cen­tral role in any com­mu­nity life,” said Pin­der.

Dur­ing his trav­els on the north coast of Labrador, he learned how the mu­si­cal tra­di­tion had weak­ened.

He raised the is­sue with col­leagues at IGA. They de­cided to es­tab­lish a mu­sic pro­gram in Nain.

“What we wanted to do was to try and en­er­gize that mu­si­cal tal­ent within com­mu­ni­ties,” he said. “To put mu­sic, again, at the cen­ter of com­mu­nity life.”

The IGA teamed up with then dean of the School of Mu­sic at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity Dr. Tom Gor­don (who had an in­ter­est in Mo­ra­vian mis­sion mu­sic), Gor­don’s col­leagues and the Nu­natsi­avut govern­ment to launch the project.

For two-three years, Gor­don con­ducted the re­search, de­ter­min­ing what peo­ple were in­ter­ested in and fa­cil­i­tat­ing the de­vel­op­ment of mu­sic.

Pin­der says by the end, the brass bands from years gone by had re­con­vened, play­ing at church ser­vices, for elders on their birth­days, for boats ar­riv­ing at the dock and other events.

Mu­sic was also en­cour­aged in schools.

One in­di­vid­ual has sub­se­quently re­leased mul­ti­ple al­bums and has trav­elled with a brass band to Ger­many to per­form for a Mo­ra­vian fes­ti­val.

The project was such a suc­cess in re­vi­tal­iz­ing mu­sic in the com­mu­nity that the IGA de­cided to de­liver it through­out the rest of its re­gion.

The sec­ond phase just hap­pened to be for the Great North­ern Penin­sula and south­ern Labrador. Ac­cord­ing to Pin­der, it’s go­ing to be more am­bi­tious than phase one.

“In the north it was mostly around brass band, but the mu­si­cal tra­di­tion for the area of south Labrador and the North­ern Penin­sula is much wider,” he said.

Pin­der hopes it will also fa­cil­i­tate com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the gen­er­a­tions.

“There are many mu­si­cians among the older pop­u­la­tion who we could cer­tainly help to pass on their skills, their mu­si­cal knowl­edge to the younger peo­ple,” he said.

“Mu­sic is some­thing that com­mu­ni­cates across all age groups.”

He adds that re­search demon­strates that mu­sic helps ed­u­ca­tion and learn­ing and builds con­fi­dence and lead­er­ship.

All the skills

For the sec­ond phase, they needed some­one with mu­si­cal skills and ex­pe­ri­ence teach­ing, like they had with Gor­don in the north.

They landed on Don­aghey for the role.

“We feel we have some­one who has all the skills to carry out this project across this area over the next two years,” ac­cord­ing to Pin­der.

Don­aghey has two de­grees in mu­sic.

He first com­pleted the clas­si­cal gui­tar per­for­mance pro­gram at Cam­brian Col­lege in Sud­bury, On­tario. He then con­tin­ued stud­ies, ac­quir­ing a ma­jor in clas­si­cal gui­tar per­for­mance and a mi­nor in com­po­si­tion at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity in St. John’s.

Dur­ing his three years in St. John’s, Don­aghey also ac­quired ex­pe­ri­ence teach­ing gui­tar to both young peo­ple and adults.

He’s taught clas­si­cal, blues and pop, amongst other gen­res.

“Each of those gen­res has very spe­cific tech­niques,” he told the North­ern Pen. “I think I’m good at that, find­ing the re­ally small de­tails to learn some­thing to make it eas­ier.”

Don­aghey spent most of his child­hood grow­ing up in Wiar­ton, On­tario, a small town lo­cated on the Bruce Penin­sula on Lake Huron.

He was raised in a mu­si­cal fam­ily. And he says his fa­ther’s in­ter­est were pre­dom­i­nantly in clas­si­cal and elec­tronic mu­sic.

He has in­her­ited his fa­ther’s in­ter­ests in those gen­res.

At the age of 14, his un­cle bought him his first gui­tar.

But Don­aghey says it took him a while to ac­tu­ally be­come good.

“I was re­ally bad at it for a long time, maybe six years,” he said.

In fact, Don­aghey be­lieves gui­tar is one of the hard­est in­stru­ments to first learn mu­sic on.

He ac­tu­ally rec­om­mends start­ing out on piano or key­board to build in­ter­est in mu­sic.

In his ex­pe­ri­ence teach­ing, he’s found that peo­ple want in­stant re­sults. But that’s not pos­si­ble on gui­tar.

“With piano you just press a note and it plays but with a gui­tar, it’s ei­ther their hand’s too small, or too weak, or it hurts, all these things,” he said. “You can play a key­board, a synth set­ting or what­ever, you press it and it makes a sound. You get in­stant re­sults.”

Mu­si­cal in­ter­ests

An of­fice space has been pro­vided for Don­aghey at the town hall in St. An­thony for this ini­tia­tive, but he’ll travel fre­quently through­out the area.

Don­aghey will be vis­it­ing schools, meet­ing lo­cal mu­si­cians and any­one who is able to pro­vide in­sight into what the mu­si­cal in­ter­ests are in com­mu­ni­ties.

At the end of the sum­mer he’ll present his find­ings to the IGA board. Based on this in­for­ma­tion, the board will de­ter­mine the types of projects they will fund while the mu­sic pro­gram is un­der­way.

Any­body in­ter­ested in dis­cussing mu­sic, work­ing with or learn­ing from Don­aghey can con­tact him by email at iga­mu­sicpro­


Clas­si­cal gui­tarist Joe Don­aghey is mov­ing to St. An­thony to co­or­di­nate the In­ter­na­tional Gren­fell As­so­ci­a­tion’s Mu­sic Pro­gram on the Great North­ern Penin­sula and south­ern Labrador.

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