When Alexsandria Ryan was just 5 years old, she attended Music for Young Children® classes with Kathy Andrew of Dartmouth, NS. Today she is a graduate of Dalhousie University holding a Bachelor of Music with a Concentration in Composition. That love of composing all began when her composition, Angels and Rainbows, won second place in the Atlantic Division in MYC®’s Annual Composition Festival.
What do you recall about MYC lessons as a child?
Alexsandria has some fond memories of being an MYC student. “There's certainly a lot to remember during my time at MYC. We would often play games that improved our knowledge of music terms, practice for the 60-Second Club, and collaborate with other MYC students to perform songs using hand bells. Lots of good memories that also gave a rich foundation to learn music.
How/in what way did your teacher(s) and family provide support/encouragement for your study of music?
My family had always been encouraging, but I was also introduced to many educators who offered a bountiful amount of opportunities in the music world. Outside of learning solo piano with Kathy Andrew, I was often encouraged by school and band teachers to participate in extra-curricular groups like Los Primos, Nova Scotia Honours Jazz, and Nova Scotia Junior Wind Ensemble. Working and performing with these groups allowed me to enhance my knowledge outside the classical piano world, where I learned about jazz piano, soloing, collaboration, and expanding my knowledge in piano to the world of percussion. Being in so many groups meant a lot of time spent driving to and from lessons, practices, and performances all over the province, so I am thankful to my parents and educators for making so many sacrifices in signing me up and travelling around with me!
What inspired you to pursue music at the post-secondary level?
When it came to deciding my future, there was so much to look into. What school did I want to go to? What would be affordable? What did I even want to study? Anybody in high school looking into a post-secondary institution knows the stress of having to figure it all out. I've always known music would be a big part of my life no matter what, but I came to realize that a degree in music would also be something valuable. I decided that it would be beneficial to continue my music studies in percussion, where it shared many similarities to piano, but also reached further into the world of orchestral music and performance. A big factor while making my decision was that I would be studying with D'Arcy Gray, the percussion professor at Dalhousie University and percussionist for Symphony Nova Scotia.
By the end of my second year at Dalhousie University, I had the option to either pursue performance, musicology, composition, or a general music degree. I had been extremely intrigued by musicology and composition particularly, but decided to ultimately continue with composition. A big inspiration behind that decision is Irish composer and conductor Eímear Noone, who I had met in my first year. She is an extraordinarily successful woman in the video game music genre - a genre I take great interest in - and she gave me some wonderful tips on pursuing a similar career.
What do you enjoy most about being a composer?
The thing I love most about becoming a composer is being able to channel emotions without knowing it. My professor would often look at my music and see what I was feeling, and I wouldn't even have to say a word. Being able to connect with listeners on such an emotive, personal, and intimate level is a power I never knew I could have. It's certainly fun to tell stories through music!
To learn more about how MYC can enrich the life of your child, please visit www.myc.com or call us at 1.800.592.1MYC