Why I Chose Music Education

By Steve Saunders

Why music education? What if there was one activity that could benefit every student in every school across Canada? An activity that could improve grades? An activity that would allow students to form lasting friendships? An activity that would help students become more disciplined and confident? There is such an activity…MUSIC! But, unfortunately, many schools will not make it a part of their curriculum, due to issues of funding and scheduling. THIS is where Arcadia Academy of Music bridges the gap.

Arcadia Academy of Music strongly believes that music should be and continue to be in everyone’s lives. Everywhere you go there is music; at the mall, on TV, in movies, in restaurants. The list goes on and on. Music is something that brings people together; families, cultures, friends, lovers. Music can evoke a memory of a place and time that is special to you. In this era, more people are interacting with music through the digital world. Although Arcadia fully embraces creativity through digital means, we must not forget that music was always and will always be the most human of artistic expression. Nothing quite beats the joy and exhilaration from playing a real instrument.


All music comes from a time and place. All music represents a culture, a religion, a country. Naturally, students will learn a variety of music styles; folk, classical, pop, rock, blues and other genres. Music itself is history and each piece usually has its own background and story. To that end, these types of things are what can really inspire a person to continue to learn about music and their instrument of choice. Finding that favourite song or band can really help to motivate a student to grow as a musician; hoping to be like their heroes that wrote their favourite song. There has to be musicians to write, produce, record and play this music. Otherwise, we never would have had Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen or Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (one of the best selling albums of all time!). The world needs music, and the world needs musicians to create it and play it.

I, for one, can attest to the awesomeness that is music education. When I began to teach full-time, I was teaching at a place that I felt was not suited to me. I began to research how it would be possible to get into a better, more professional environment to teach in. I took at look at what the other instructors had that I didn’t, and if what they had would benefit me to find a better place to teach at. What they had was above and beyond what I had the time to do. Most of them attended either Humber, York U., or some other college/university music program right out of high school as they were mostly younger than me. If they were around my age or older, they had a clear vision that they wanted to pursue a career in music and felt music education would be beneficial. I also had a look at what other places were out there to teach at and Arcadia Academy of Music seemed very prominent.


So, how was I to get the education I needed to be able to show that I could teach? I had 30+ years of playing lead guitar, played with some of the biggest artists in the world, toured all over North America, but didn’t really know if my theory knowledge, let alone my non-existent sight reading skills at that time, would cut it in a place like Arcadia. So, I decided to find a way to upgrade. I found that Humber College had a Basic Rudiments course and since I didn’t have the time to actually attend classes physically, I took the course online and made it work. I also enlisted the help of a friend who took the Jazz Performance course at Humber and that he passed with a 98%. He was very helpful! I got books he recommended that were used in his course at Humber and sat in my home office, nightly, learning everything I could about music theory and also practiced sight reading. After about 6 months of that, I wrote the exam and passed. I then updated my resume and sent it out to a few different places including Arcadia. 2 weeks later I was teaching at Arcadia and loved the professionalism and the environment. Within 6 months (might of been longer) I was teaching there full-time and also started instructing the band program.

What I also noticed with my new found knowledge, was that it enhanced my existing theory knowledge and began to open new doors in my lead guitar playing. Songs became easier to learn and if their was a larger degree of difficulty, I was able to chart them better, if necessary. Overall, I was extremely happy that I decided to upgrade my music skills and wished I had done it at a younger age. The benefits of music education had definitely worked wonders for me! And I use that experience as positive reinforcement to my students and parents that take our guitar program at Arcadia. Arcadia also has theory courses available at all our locations, and if your child is showing a passion for music, I highly recommend one of our theory courses become an important part of their development.

The bottom line is that music education works and not only will it make you a better musician, but it will benefit you in many other areas of life. For me, the takeaway is that pure intuition, instinct, and feel are necessary, but not sufficient. We also need some structure, some understanding of the fundamental principles that make music work, in order to take our art to the highest level. And just practicing to make my instrument make cool sounds was not enough. I needed to find a balance between the nitty, gritty technical work, the musical/conceptual work, and the process of putting it all together. Practice is something that is always necessary…but that’s another article!

Join us every Friday, right here, as we begin an ongoing series of Instructor spotlights. First up, Arcadia Woodbridge guitar Instructor, Michael Murray!

steve saunders
Steve Saunders – Guitar Instructor


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