Alex & Abi – Trending 10

    Alex and Abi are the cream of the crop in J. Clarke Richardson music department. They are both passionate, brilliant and talented individuals. They strive to ignite the passion within the school’s music department, inspiring both fellow musicians and students. A beacon of inspiration, these two have made their legacy within the school.

— The Editor 

Tell us a bit about yourself, and your identity within the school.

Abi: My name is Abinaya but most people know me as Abi. I see you’ve started with the really tough questions already! My identity with the school….? Well, I am a grade 12 student about to graduate, and a future McMaster student. I am mostly known as a prominent musical student in the school: however, I do love science. 

Alex: I always wanted the kind of band kid identity within the school, which, going into high school really appealed to me as I was surrounded with kids with the same interest in music. Then, at a certain point, a lot of people just started knowing me as the ‘Music Guy’ and I ended up around that community of people who love music just as much as me, which I always wanted going into high school.

What made you want to take on the role of co-president in J.Clarke Richardson’s music council?

Abi: I don’t have an answer of my own for you but when I talked to my favourite teacher, Ms. Peever,  she was the one who told me that  it was Alex and I who had what was left of the spark in the music department— pre-pandemic. A lot of the activities in the music departments were affected, and because of that [the music department] lost a lot of passion. The newer grades were coming to J. Clarke had no knowledge of what the music program was like before, and most of the grade 12s were not really involved in music. Therefore, it was mainly down to Alex and I who understood what to expect and what goals to strive for.

Alex: I just thought it would be funny if I got the role as co-president to be perfectly honest. I applied on a whim, and got in and ended up as president. But then everything worked out, because me and Abi as the co-presidents really represented what the music community looked like before the pandemic, so we were able to help bring that back a bit.

How would you describe J. Clarke Richardson’ art community, and how might it differ from other schools? 

Abi:  If I could describe JCR’s arts department in one word it would be: ineffable. It’s too perfect to describe in words. Most of my happiest memories from high-school stemmed from my bandmates and music classes. We are so close to one another. 

    Something that differs us from other schools is that the kids that come to band every Tuesday or wake up early in the morning every Thursday for jazz because they do it because they love it. We do not do it thinking, “Hey this would look good for universities.” We do it because we love it. We love each other. We love our instruments, our teachers and the music room. It’s a safe space for everyone. You’d think that with how wonderful we sound that our practices are so strict and uptight but it’s with the goofing off and the making jokes that we are able to create some of the best music.

Alex: OK. I have been saying this for a long time now, JCR is an arts school. I got sold on this idea when I was still in elementary and the jazz band was playing in front of my school, later seeing the dance showcase and musical and all that all before I entered the school. I came into JCR with this picture of the arts community there and it was fully delivered. 

J. Clarke Richardson in Ajax one of Ontario's fastest-improving schools:  report

     In my first year I saw what the arts community looked like at its peak; people from every different group, whether it were jazz, theatre, concert band, drama, visual arts etc… They all knew each other and were close in that community. It made me feel inspired to one day be a part of a community like that; especially even now. The art community at JCR are some of the most talented, passionate, and coolest individuals you will ever meet. Too bad I’m leaving the school next year because I think it’s going to get better as the programs start to get running again after covid.

What are some of your favourite moments of being a part of the Music Council?

Abi: When I first joined the Music Council I was so excited to boss people around because that’s what I thought it’d be like— being president. But my favourite moments were being either backstage or on stage taking care of everyone and feeling such a motherly bond towards these people. Helping them out, teaching them, talking about how it used to be before COVID, and just cheering as loud as you can backstage— so loud that by the end of the night I’d have lost my voice. 

    It’d also have to be when Alex and I worked on our script either staying up at night or working on it 1 period before the show starts. We both know each other well enough and our characters to understand what we are going to say, what we could say, what we should say and what we SHOULDN’T say. Trust me if Mr. Watson saw all our previous drafts of our scripts, he’d be extremely disappointed. I also loved it when either Sara or Abby would bombard everyone with photos and act like they hated it.

Alex: My favorite moments in music council were definitely the shows themselves. All of the setup going into the shows, me and Abi winging our half baked scripts in front of a full house, and overall that garnering a sense of community on the night of a performance makes music council what it is. Sitting in between sets backstage with everyone, abusing my status as music council co-president to gain permanent access to the booth so I can annoy Nathaniel. It was so fun being in an environment with a bunch of music kids on a performance night which I extended to the entire music council because they were there too.  My favourite moments also include helping to clean up stands and chairs after a performance, or standing front of house taking peoples money and letting them witness our awesome performances. Good times.

Where did your interest for music come from? 

Abi: My interest in music was always present. It primarily came from the fact I wanted to rebel from my parents. However, suddenly, when I was so talented at all the instruments I played; I wanted an outlet. Somewhere I could show off the talents and put them to use. I was heavily influenced by my older brother who used to be heavily involved in the music department. He’d always say things like, “As soon as you’re in highschool you need to join a concert band.”

   After that, I was so present in the music department. I didn’t just join JCR’s concert band. I tested my limits. I got into Vocal Thunder, Guitar Club, Storm Sirens and Jazz Band. My interest came from my brother, but then it blossomed into making music with all the talented people around me. There’s nothing better in the world than when you start playing a song that has been stuck in your head all day and then Jonathan or Jacob will decide to play a beat from the same song on the drums. Then suddenly, the piano comes in playing the chords but then abruptly Alex comes in blasting his trumpet trying to sound like an elephant– I think he’s trying? Next thing you know you’re playing Country Road on loop for what seems like the entire period. Time flies when you have that much fun.

Alex: My passion started with me becoming obsessed with listening to music. I would play my trumpet in music class for 30 minutes every other day, and one day something just clicked. I could get through an entire measure of correct notes and rhythms (mind you my tone was garbage because I was still relatively new to the instrument). After I felt confident on the trumpet, I dug up my old 20 dollar keyboard my dad got me from the thrift store and tried to learn my favourite songs on it. 

    This grew over the summer going into grade 9, where I would practically live at my friend’s house who happened to have a fancier keyboard than me. Up until I got into high school,  I found out that they had 2 live pianos along with 3 fancy keyboards. I sometimes wish I learned the piano instead of the trumpet because a lot of me exploring my interest in music blossomed from sitting down and working out the chord progressions of my favourite songs and messing around on the piano, to the point where I can sit in front of a piano now and make up something completely from scratch.

What do you see yourself doing in 3 years? 

Abi: This is such a weird question to me. In three years I’ll be in university. I don’t see myself anywhere else I don’t think. I’ve never been a good planner. I always try to go with the flow, my impulsivity is what keeps me on my toes.

Alex: Well like pretty much every other grade 12, I’m going to be a starving University student in 3 years: sitting in my room, swamped with work, and stressed. It’s gonna be awesome. But although I probably won’t be able to play the trumpet as much, I hope to still play around with the piano sometimes. I also often mess around and make my own music sometimes, so it would be nice to have that take off during uni. 

Icebreaker Questions: 

Who is your favourite artist of all time, and why? 

Abi: Bon Jovi. Cause why not?

Jon Bon Jovi on wealth, love and his ugly tussle with Trump: 'It was  seriously scarring' | Bon Jovi | The Guardian

Alex: My favourite artist has to be the one who got me into music in the first place: Tyler the Creator. If anybody knew me in grade 9, they knew how annoyingly obsessed I was with this guy. He was the artist who got me passionate about music. I listened to a song by him and it just grabbed my attention. It intrigued me and I wanted to hear more, so I discovered the name of the song. And then I really took in the fact that albums exist, entire works of art from an artist, I started by listening to an album of his. I liked it so much I started listening to another album… and then to his whole discography. And from there it spiraled on to the next artist, and the next artist. Listening to the entire discography of every other artist that interested me.

If you had to recommend a song, what would it be?

Abi: Definitely Stay Inside or Hannah by Mr. Watson (His album is so good).

Alex: This is horrible question to answer. But a song that I would love to hear again for the first time would be Nights by Frank Ocean. When the beat switch hits it just transcends you. The whole song has such a chill vibe and especially when the second half gets so lofi and atmospheric, it just hits different. Especially with sappy lyrics from Frank as well. But I know not everybody would like this song. But I do. It got me through grade 11.

What would be a dream place for you to perform? 

Abi: In my boyfriend’s living room surrounded by his dog, cat, and him and all the love in the world.

Alex: I don’t really care more about a specific place, but just in front of a decent amount of people for different situations. Like with a trumpet, something close to our auditorium here is fine, I’m just gonna be blasting high notes anyways. I don’t need to be all Coachella, that’s kind of overkill.