Setting the tempo: Music alum rocks between the band room and the stage
For Evan MacNamara, drummer extraordinaire, the Diploma in Music at Douglas College was the perfect opening act. It laid the groundwork for him to transfer to UBC’s Dual Bachelor of Music and Education, one of Canada’s most prestigious music programs.
“Douglas was an approachable first step to the education I wanted,” Evan says. “I jumped on the train late when it came to studying for a music career. The program gives you a really strong base even if you’re starting from zero. So I had the chance to build myself up until I was ready to impress any panel of judges, even in the most daunting of university auditions.”
Evan made an impression at Douglas from the very start. In his first year, he earned the prestigious Marg Beaudoin Memorial Music Scholarship, worth $2,000. He also performed at Douglas’s graduation ceremonies in 2022.
The band marches on
Now a third-year student at UBC, Evan’s program allows him to move deftly between the classroom and the stage. He’s getting more opportunities than ever to build his ensemble experience and collaborate with his classmates on hands-on projects. Thanks to that, he’s growing the type of professional network that’s essential for many musicians to build community and find opportunities.
But his most eye-opening experience happened in neither a university classroom nor a stage. Instead, it was in a high school while acting as an assistant teacher for a choir. Every Friday, he went to an East Vancouver school’s practices to help students develop their musical skills. Though “not a choir person,” he felt his own skillset gave him a unique perspective that let him connect with the students and support their learning.
“With my general knowledge of musicality, I still managed to bridge the gap and help them understand the principles they were having trouble with,” Evan says. “It landed outside my expectations of what teaching would be like. But that’s part of what made the experience so valuable.”
Finding his beat
Evan’s been playing the drums since elementary school, but he didn’t consider a career in music right away. He started out studying information technology at another institution before making the switch. The Diploma in Music at Douglas seemed like the best pathway to a career in music.
From the quality of instruction to the friends he made, the program’s supportive community gave Evan a sense of home.
“You spend your time in nearly all the same classes as one another,” he says. “In our time as a cohort, I probably spent more time in our music hallway than I did in my actual home.”
Though Evan’s class has graduated and gone their separate ways, he hasn’t lost steam on his musical journey. He’s continued to secure gigs and carve out his place in the local music scene, playing at all sorts of events – and getting paid.
“It’s really cool, that first time you’re able to call yourself a paid gig musician,” Evan says. “You get your name out there, and suddenly you’re getting invited to ceremonies and weddings and more. Your reputation only snowballs from there.”
Meanwhile, back at UBC, Evan’s deciding what level of education he wants to teach. His instructors at Douglas have inspired him to aim for college classrooms.
“All my instructors were super experienced. They’ve done everything,” Evan says. “I’d love to be someone like that, ready to teach what I know to musicians starting out.”
Learn more about Douglas College’s Diploma in Music program here.