Getting into Music: Music in Rural Communities

By: Erin Pajunen Jones

This article is written by Erin Pajunen Jones, who lives on a farm just outside the small Saskatchewan community of Lucky Lake.  Last year, as the local minister created online resources for their congregation, he asked the Jones boys to participate, and they did. The Lord of the Dance starts at 21:21.

Catherine asked Erin to reflect on how it is for young people from rural communities to get into music as our resources may be less than urban areas.  Many of you may resonate with what she says.

Life in rural Saskatchewan has changed as its population has decreased, with the opportunity to learn and experience music being no exception.

Music surrounded my boys from before they were born and continued with enthusiasm as they grew.  Disappointment came when the community band folded (the school band program had been removed from the curriculum about fifteen years earlier) and their piano instructor quit teaching. Although they were not yet old enough to be in band, I had planned for the boys to be a part of the community program.  As preparation on their piano pieces for an annual music festival showed us, lessons at home with me were NOT an option.   We hit a brick wall.

Slowly, light began to shine through the cracks.  A few years later, an intern teacher brought music back into the school for a few precious, yet inspirational, months.  I shelled out money for a used drum kit and bought an acoustic guitar off a neighbour.  The internet was exploding with tutorial videos and the boys spent hours teaching themselves these new skills.

Things grew brighter still as Levi moved to the city for University and began performing at open mic nights.  Layne and Liam attended a nearby boarding school where Layne joined choir and started a band, while Liam earned the lead in the school musical and began playing the piano once again.

Then, the world stopped with a state of emergency declared in the province due to the pandemic.  Schools went online.  Live music venues shut down.  Exposure for musicians became dependent on the number of views on social media, which was dominated by already established artists fighting for their own relevance.

The boys have persevered through the ever-changing health guidelines.  Levi is back playing at a few bars in the city and jamming with the garage band whenever possible. You can listen to some of his music here. Layne transformed the basement into a recording studio, with the band releasing four original songs on various streaming platforms. Liam performed on a telethon and organized an online benefit concert to raise money for that charity organization. 

Spring arrived causing the kids to scatter into the reality of summer jobs, their music on pause for now until the fall, or until the pandemic releases its hold.  As a parent, I am proud of the boys but there are moments when I am left speechless by their talents.  I pray they will have opportunity to share it with the world, in whatever way they choose.  And, as a meme humbly reminded me, if one can become president at 78 years old, it is never too late to achieve one’s dreams.

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