Updated: Jul 9
My older son has the same issue; it is funny how we see ourselves in our children as they grow. This thrills my Mother to no end.
As a child, I was always walking in the forest. The trees are where I found peace, communing with nature and spiritually. I loved listening to the wind in the leaves and still do. It may seem odd to say, but trees talk to me. I feel how they feel, healthy, sad, or joyful.
Mrs. Parsons was my music teacher starting in grade 3. Her voice sounded like an opera singer; I loved hearing her sing so much I joined her choir class. My favourite time in school was listening to her powerful voice soar. Every note spoke to me and I yearned to sound like her. It is a favorite memory of mine.
When I was ten years old, my grandparents brought me to the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal to watch and hear the Dartmouth Boys Pipe and Drum Band. This is where I felt it. I would become a bagpiper. There was no doubt in my mind. This was the first step in a life-long journey.
I joined Dartmouth Boys the moment I was allowed and never looked back.
Being part of Dartmouth Pipers was all I needed. It was my musical heaven. From training to playing, it was a foundation for all the music in my life. It was thrilling. We had musical masters, Matt MacIsaac, Geoff Peladeau, Wayne Moug and Jim Bain to name very few.
To this day, tunes and segments of songs stay in my head from those wonderful days.
My childhood private bagpiping instructor was Roblyn "Ballam" Williams. Roblyn was a bagpiper with Halifax Police and member of “The Pointless Sisters”: a funny female bagpiping group. Members were Roblyn, Mickey Stewart, Cheryl Mangusso, Karen MacLean, Robyn Whitty, Rosemary MacNeil and Kelly Campbell. They all had their own “Tilda” name; Roblyn's was “Tilda Smokes”. Apparently, there is a jig written in their honour.
I thirsted for every lesson, they sustained me every week. Roblyn was an incredible teacher. One technique I have always remembered was the “touch” trick: when you are trying to force muscle memory to a certain note, touch that finger. It works, trust me!
When I was 12 years old, disaster struck. My friends informed me that the pipes were not cool. I was devastated. Then, my sister accidentally fell on my pipes causing them to crack. I took this as a sign my friends were right, and I quit. A decision I regret every single day.
That is when I turned back to voice and then guitar at 19.
Being best friends with my guitar got me through some hard times and it is where I learned to lean in and really feel music. It was an emotional savior during many tough times. I use it to channel positive feelings when depression came to call.
This journey kept me safe in my room. It was a difficult time –not rainbows and butterflies—but I would not change it for anything in the world. It is a blessing to experience pain and then live to understand how to prevent it. One of the reasons I teach is to help everyone feel the power of music to heal.
The career search took me more into the hospitality route. Cooking was delectable, and I have the highest respect for those in that industry. It is the hardest work I have ever experienced.
I used Hospitality to help me come out of my shell. I communicated with so many diverse people it allowed me to develop the “g