Making music during the COVID-19 pandemic has been easier for Jesse Ryan because of the guidance from Humber College’s music department.
“All the faculty members altogether have been influential,” Ryan said. “Everybody that I’ve taken classes with.”
Ryan, a musician and graduate from Humber College’s Bachelor of Music program, first studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. However, financial difficulties forced him to move back home to Trinidad and Tobago.
Ryan stumbled upon Humber College through a friend who lived in Toronto at the time who turned him on to Larnell Lewis, a Humber music professor and Grammy award-winning drummer.
“I had a chance to meet Larnell in Trinidad,” Ryan said. “He told me a little bit more about the program, and I did some more research, and I was really impressed with the program.”
Ryan, whose debut album Bridges is set to be released on Dec. 4, is among many students from the music program who cite their education and the diversity of the faculty and staff in their success.
“One of the strengths of our program is that we are emphasizing versatility and quality,” said Shirantha Beddage, a Humber College Bachelor of Music professor. “Most of my colleagues don’t just do one thing. They do a variety of things, and they do them well.”
He said remote learning is providing challenges for students, including adjusting to their new learning environments.
“The toughest thing as a performing musician myself is knowing that playing music is all about a sense of community,” Beddage said. “A shared experience between musicians and an audience.”
He said the reality of the music industry right now calls for versatility as previous students went down different career paths within the music industry.
“It’s usually a combination of different career paths, whether it’s performance, composition, education, production, or other areas,” Beddage said.
Allison Au, a freelance musician and Humber College alumni, teaches the first-year improv class and is using that as an outlet to advise a younger generation of musicians.
“It’s the first time I’m on faculty and it’s been really great to connect with students,” Au said. “Though I am teaching a class, I am trying to share my personal experiences through that class.”
Despite graduating a decade ago, the diverse faculty was a strong deciding factor for Au to choose Humber College for her education.
For music students nearing completion of their programs, Ryan recommends that they surrender themselves to the process and stay close with their professors. But more importantly, familiarize themselves with the idea of solving problems.
“Allot some time, whether it be a week, once a month, to figure out how you could combine your creative passion and balance that with solving problems,” he said.
Beddage notes being versatile can make the transition into the music industry easier for graduating students.