Mu­si­cal as­pi­ra­tions

Josh Par­sons re­al­izes his dream of teach­ing mu­sic

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY COLIN FAR­RELL MARYS­TOWN, N.L. colin.far­[email protected]­erngazette.ca

In a mid-sized room at the rear of St. Gabriel’s Hall in Marys­town, Josh Par­sons sits at his desk.

Some soft jazz mu­sic can barely be heard com­ing from a nearby com­puter. Sur­rounded by walls of green, yel­low, or­ange and blue he qui­etly pre­pares for his next stu­dent. The once silent room erupts into sound as a stu­dent ar­rives for a drum les­son.

It’s been lit­tle over two months since Par­sons left his job as a server at a lo­cal restau­rant and re­al­ized his dream of open­ing the Marys­town School of Mu­sic.

The school cur­rently has 53 stu­dents reg­is­tered, rang­ing in age from five to 70.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing high school Par­sons had con­sid­ered get­ting his ed­u­ca­tion de­gree to be­come a mu­sic teacher, in­stead, he pur­sued a bach­e­lor of arts in mu­sic at St. Fran­cis Xavier Uni­ver­sity.

Af­ter re­turn­ing home he worked a num­ber of cus­tomer ser­vice jobs, be­fore open­ing the mu­sic school.

Right time, right place

“It was just wait­ing for the right time and the right place to pop up,” Par­sons told The South­ern Gazette, “and here I am at 24 do­ing it.”

In bring­ing his dream to life Par­sons over­came some per­sonal chal­lenges, mainly anx­i­ety, “be­cause there’s not a lot of se­cu­rity in this type of busi­ness,” he said. “I don’t get an an­nual salary, it’s who­ever de­cides to sign up and come in for my 10-les­son con­tract, that’s what I get for my bread. That’s my gig.”

Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion

Find­ing the right lo­ca­tion served as a chal­lenge.

Par­son, a multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist, wanted an area with lots of space so he wouldn’t be lim­ited in what he could teach.

It was sug­gested to him to look in to St. Gabriel’s Hall. He said the fa­cil­ity is a nice fit for the school given he has room for the school, as well as ac­cess to a stage for show­case events for the stu­dents.

He in­vested his sav­ings into the startup costs for the busi­ness.

Mu­si­cal mo­ti­va­tion

Par­sons’ pas­sion for mu­sic mo­ti­vated him to open the school.

“I look at mu­sic as some­thing that, yes it can be educa­tional, but it can also be emo­tional — it can be fun as well,” he said.

He added there is some­thing about teach­ing mu­sic that sets it apart from other top­ics such as his­tory or ge­og­ra­phy.

“There are so many things you can get out of mu­sic — with pi­ano es­pe­cially you have cona­tive abil­ity, your mem­o­riza­tion and your mo­tor skills — it helps with that,” he ex­plained. “With drums its mo­tor skills, its mus­cle me­mory, you’re learn­ing how to mul­ti­task.”

Par­son said mu­sic can have a ma­jor ef­fect on the mind.

“There’s songs that make us happy, there’s songs that make us sad, mu­sic al­lows us to dis­play emo­tion,” he said. “There’s so much power be­hind it.”

Par­sons said at the risk of sound cliché, it is see­ing his stu­dents progress that he finds re­ward­ing.

“I got a cou­ple kids that come in here and they look at me and say, ‘Man I’ve been wait­ing to get here all week,’ ‘I can’t wait for drum lessons,’ ‘I can’t wait for gui­tar lessons,’” he said. “And see­ing the smile on kids’ faces ‘cause they are learn­ing …the ma­jor­ity of them are so happy to be here and when they leave they’re like, ‘A half hour al­ready mom.’”

Par­sons en­joys hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to do what he loves in his home­town.

“I wanna be rich, just kid­ding,” he said with a chuckle. “I wanna see my stu­dents grow — I want peo­ple to still have an in­ter­est in mu­sic.”

Par­sons said he will con­tinue to fine-tune the pro­gram.

“I know this will come with time, but when I see a (stu­dent) com­ing (I want to say), ‘OK, this is what I’m giv­ing you to­day, this is what we’re go­ing to work on to­day’ — I still do that to­day, but it’s not as struc­tured and as or­ga­nized as I wish to do.”

Par­sons would like to see the school ex­pand and take on other in­struc­tors while still re­main­ing in Marys­town.

“I love Marys­town, I love the Burin Penin­sula,” he said. “It’s where I spent the ma­jor­ity of my life and my fam­ily’s here. It’s the Marys­town School of Mu­sic.”

COLIN FAR­RELL—THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

James Barry goes over a pat­tern of drum fills as Josh Par­sons pro­vides in­struc­tion.

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