HIGHLIGHT- Music students from Red Deer College pose with Tonight Show host Jay Leno during a recent educational trip to California.

Music students learn industry ropes in California

A recent trip to California has continued a 10-year tradition for Red Deer College music students.

This year the trip saw 17 students head out to see the business side of the music industry whether that be performing or selling product.

“The purpose is for the students to get real life hands-on experiences in the area of music. Unfortunately we live in a small community so their experiences are limited,” said Steve Sherman, a music instructor at RDC.

Among the itinerary items were a private meeting with Dan Johnson who is from Moose Jaw and now makes a living as a musician in Las Vegas.

“It was really eye-opening to meet with Mr. Johnson. He said something I’ll never forget: ‘You’re only as good as your last performance.’ To make it as a musician, you have to be excellent at what you do, and always be getting better,” said student Mitchell Chase. The trip took place in January.

Students also met with Human Nature, an international pop group headlining in Las Vegas.

“We saw the band perform and then talked with them after the performance. It was amazing to hear first hand from the band about the passion it takes to really make it in the industry,” said student Anda Simard.

Sherman said the students have had some very special experiences with some of the people they have met including being challenged to play on the spot. One such example of such an experience was visiting the set of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

“We’re grateful to all the people who’ve been so gracious to us at NBC over the last 10 years,” said Sherman.

He explained that part of what the students learn is how important it is to get along with everybody. “You never talk bad about somebody because it will come back to you from the strangest places.”

Sherman said students were impressed during their trip by the work ethic of the people they saw, including Rickey Minor, but that they also got to see the very hectic busy lifestyles of the musicians.

“Who you know might get you a gig or a break, but it’s what you know that will keep you there,” he said.

Students then went on to the NAMM trade show, which is attended by almost 100,000 industry professionals. Sherman pointed out that RDC students are the only Canadian students at this trade show.

During the trade show the students attended sessions focusing on professional development, contracts, how to find work and how to break into a flooded industry.

“It’s hard work too because they have to interview five people, two of which have to be Canadian or international,” said Sherman.

Students have come out of the trade show with job offers and a good network of contacts. “They hit the ground running whether they’re at a reception until 11 p.m. They’re up at 8 a.m. and on the go again. This is the lifestyle.”

For more information about the music program, visit www.rdc.ab.ca/music.

kpalardy@reddeerexpress.com