Every musician plays for the enjoyment of making music. Creating something that is personal, unique and self fulfilling is a wonderful feeling and when shared with a listening audience, a single musician has the ability to play our emotions like an instrument. Ontario’s Nigel Maynard recognized music’s emotional strength at a young age and takes great enjoyment in sharing music’s magic with new and inspiring musicians.
“I remember when I went to go see Peter and The Wolf done to live symphonic music at the Roy Thompson Hall when I was a kid,” said Maynard. “After the performance, they started to explain to us youngsters how music makes you feel or even think a certain way. They took two theme songs from their performance. Peter had a happier, jovial theme and The Wolf had a darker, scarier theme. Then they brought in a film projector. On this film they played a selection of different animals of the wild. One was a Crocodile. To begin, they showed this crocodile walking around looking for food or whatever it is that crocs have on their agenda, without any music playing at all. Then they stopped, rewound the film, and mentioned that they were going to play the same clip using the Peter theme music. As they did that, due to the happy funny, jovial nature of song, we saw this croc doing the same things as before but now we were giggling and laughing as the croc appeared doofusy and clumsy. The conductor then rewound the film again and told us to experience what happens when we observe the same clip, only this time with The Wolf theme. As he played it, some kids started to cry, and people over all were scared. I was astonished – amazed at the fact that you can take a plan ordinary video, play different music to it, and create a whole different emotional experience. This is the emotion I am talking about.”
This childhood experience had such a profound impact on Maynard that now he is hoping to take and present a series of workshops and clinics to students in the Ontario school system in hopes that others will gain an early appreciation for the indescribable power of music.
“When I hear people play, I look to see that is not just a ‘man/woman with stick hit drum’ mentality,” he said. “I look to show or get people to channel an emotion through what they are playing. This takes the music from a performance to an experience. In instrumental music, I like music that tells a story where I can create an emotion or a picture in my mind that will be an expression of what I interpret the music to be portraying. Drummers are no exception to this. You can listen to certain drummers doing a solo, and it is not just a ‘how many notes can I put in between two 32nd notes” but rather they are more so absorbed in taking you on a journey, and telling you a story. It’s very much like how a painter will try to express his art with different textures and strokes with different paint brushes.”
After finishing at up at Toronto’s Humber College in 1998, Maynard began teaching private students and he operates a small teaching studio averaging between 20 and 30 students at a time.
“When you teach, you really zoom in and tweek and find out what you really think you know,” he said. “You will always have some astute student that will ask you a question that will force you to re-think how you look at something, a way that you yourself may not have even thought of before. And it’s actually quite refreshing to tell you the truth.”
“Starting with the first lesson, I try to gauge where students are in the playing, and then from there I try to see where they are in their mentality of playing,” said Maynard. “What I mean by the latter point is that sometimes, right from the get go, you can perceive that a student really, really, really wants to learn how to play drums. Others are just looking to see if they could like it, and others still are only there because their parents told them they have to learn to play an instrument. In each of these cases I found that inspiration is a powerful tool. If a student can be come inspired, they are more likely to stick with the instrument for a longer period of time.”
This fall Maynard hopes to bring his love for music and its emotion to schools around the Toronto area but he knows, schools aren’t always an easy sell or venue for music.
“You have to engage the students,” he said. “Most of them want something that jumps right out at them. Cool looking drums, or different looking cymbals, and cool music. As for the teachers, you have to present yourself as a professional. Many of them have never done anything like this before, and so they may be a little sceptical thinking “well what is this drummer fellow all about? Is he just going to beat drums and that’s it?” I am actually embarking on having a band/recording/dj sectional as well. What I mean by this is that I would work with a keyboardist, a bassist, a wind instrument, and a guitarist, as well as a producer/recorder and a DJ. Break up the class into smaller groups so that they go around to the different instruments and see how things are done. Maybe let them play a little with the gear. At the end of this mega clinic we would do a performance with all the instruments, and give a mini concert/production job. Probably have some of the kids on stage helping us out at times. It should be good times once it gets rolling.”
Maynard is a true ambassador of music. His mission is simple. Sharing music with others is his goal and it’s safe to say he’s achieving that goal on all fronts, something many of us can only hope to accomplish.
“As I look at my life thus far, all the gigs, all the teaching, the tours, and the travelling, I have decided that I do not want to be on the road 32 weeks out of the year. I do wish to have a family, spending time with a wife, and with kids, knowing that I will be away sometimes but not to the point that I away from them too much. My family comes first, right after God. So this is why I look for that balance point. Doing that which I love and am called to do, but also being a friend, and a husband and a father when the time comes.”
This feature was originally published on our first blog in 2010. Because we love Nigel so much, we thought we’d share it again.