The long and winding road of teaching in Selkirk College’s Contemporary Music & Technology Program over the last 30 years has provided instructor Steven Parish a ticket to ride on the forefront of post-secondary education.
Parish is one of four original music instructors that helped launch the unique program in 1989 on Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus. The only remaining member of that pioneer faculty has played a vital role in the lives of hundreds of students who have graduated from the two-year diploma program over the last three decades.
Steven Parish is one of the four original faculty members who started the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology Program in 1989. On Friday, October 25 the drum instructor will take the stage with his colleagues for the annual Faculty Concert at the Shambhala Music & Performance Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
As he has done since the beginning, Parish will take his seat on the drums at the annual Faculty Concert that hits the stage on Friday, October 25 at the Shambhala Music & Performance Hall in Nelson. This year’s show will feature music of The Beatles.
“Part of it is proving to students why they actually chose this school,” says Parish, who will be joined on stage by the eight other accomplished music faculty members. “We can play music, we are not just going to talk about it. It’s important to show early in the semester what we can do and that we are going to teach them how to get there.”
The annual Faculty Concert invites both students and the general public to attend with doors opening at 7 p.m. and admission by donation.
Yesterday… And Today
Originally from Boston, Parish grew up listening to a wide array of musical styles. Mentored by the legendary Les Paul at the age of 17, Parish studied drums with Frankie Dunlop, Frank Malabe and attended master classes presented by the great Buddy Rich. He graduated with a BA in Audio Engineering from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and when he made the decision to move north to be part of a new music school in Nelson, Parish was accomplished in both his instrument and the recording studio.
Parish joined Darcy Hepner, Jeff Link and Paul Landsberg on the Tenth Street Campus in 1989 with a blank slate and charged with setting up a music program from scratch. Modeled after Berklee College of Music, the four original faculty members focused on areas of their expertise.
Though drums are his instrument of choice, where Parish helped push post-secondary education to a new level was in his knowledge of how computers could assist with the recording process. His Computer Applications to Music class was the first MIDI (computer music) teaching lab and curriculum in Canada. After 30 years, he continues to make Selkirk College one of the leading-edge teaching schools in the nation.
“I still think we are the best at it in Canada, but certainly we are the first,” says Parish, who currently teaches drums, labs, recording techniques, ensembles and rock history. “You don’t see people coming out of schools with as much as we can give students in this area.”
Though he didn’t intend to stay teaching in one place for three decades, Parish fell in love with his new hometown and continues to relish his role as mentor for the next generation of musicians.
“From my point-of-view it’s figuring out what a student needs to understand to get to the next step,” he says. “If you can open that door for them, they can do the rest.”
With A Little Help From My Friends
An accomplished player who has collaborated with artists near and far in styles that range from jazz and rock to rap and big band, Parish always looks forward to bringing the beat to live performance.
“You find people that you like to play music with and you go do it,” says Parish. “It’s about sharing that experience with your audience and the other people on stage.”
This year’s Faculty Concert will showcase the chops of all nine of Selkirk College’s experienced musicians. They will bring the music of The Beatles to the intimate stage at the Shambhala Music & Performance Hall with arrangements even the most ardent fans will not have heard. A big fan of the Fab Four, Parish will perform an arrangement of “Blackbird” which was written by legendary jazz drummer Tony Williams.
Putting on his rock history hat for a moment, Parish gives an explanation of why The Beatles made such an impact and their music has endured for almost 60 years.
“I think The Beatles are so important because they have two right handers and two left handers in the band,” says Parish. “That’s my standard answer, but there is a lot of depth in that. There is a thing about how people feel rhythm in their body and when you have a band that is all right-handed, it feels a certain way. In The Beatles, the bass player and the drummer are left-handed and that creates a different feel. Of course the other factors are that they were all lead singers and they were undeniably great songwriters. They are backbone of so many people’s lives.”
Even though The Beatles are from a completely different generation than the students he teaches today, Parish says there will always be something to learn from Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
“If you look at The Beatles throughout their history, they were always the band that celebrated pushing the envelope and expanding their art form,” says Parish. “And that’s what is important in modern music, that we continue to push that envelope.”
Money raised at the annual Faculty Concert will go towards student scholarships. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the public is encouraged to come early to get seats.