By Sarah Androsoff, Marketing Services
When Patrick Walters was 12 years old, a fancy hotel in Nova Scotia let him play songs on his guitar in the lobby. This was the moment he knew music would be a part of his life forever. Skilled in acoustic and electric, Patrick loves composing jazz, rock and blues tunes whenever he can. As a young kid living and breathing music, most of his time was taken up by music lessons, playing in his own rock bands and practicing guitar for up to five hours a day.
In his teenage years, Patrick wanted to obtain higher training in music. He spent his summers at Berklee's College of Music in Boston, taking summer classes that were open to high school students. These musical summers opened his eyes so much that he went to Berklee's College of Music where he earned a bachelor's degree in music with a major in composition.
In addition to composing and performing, Patrick developed an interest in travelling and learning new languages. Hopping around Quebec, Germany and the Netherlands, Patrick became fluent in French, German, Dutch and even Italian. All his adventurous travels eventually caught up to him financially and he left Rotterdam for Canterbury, England, where he became certified to teach English as a second language (ESL). He fit into the teacher role so naturally that he began teaching ESL and music after returning to Nova Scotia.
In 2022, Patrick became a guitar instructor with Continuing Studies at UVic. "Creative work can benefit anyone," says Patrick. "Music activates parts of our psyche that help us find self-expression in our day to day lives." From university students to seniors, people of all ages sign up for his classes. He makes sure to cover various musicians and genres so everyone's musical taste can be explored. Whether it's Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, heavy metal or a new pop hit, Patrick is always happy to satisfy his students interests.
"The wonderful thing about teaching is that it's like performing. I never shy away from going off script."
Building a relaxed musical community is a priority for Patrick. As his students shuffle into class, he plays live music to loosen people up. He allows lots of warm-up time where people can fiddle around and develop their confidence with the guitar. "It's not just about the guitar, it's about making a deeper relationship with music in an active way," Patrick adds.
For Patrick, creativity is about following your intuition. In the classroom, he isn't afraid to colour outside the lines. "The wonderful thing about teaching is that it's like performing. I never shy away from going off script," Patrick continues. He will shift between having students play along with an accompaniment app or YouTube video, giving presentations on reading tablature and demonstrating various techniques. What he finds most effective is when his students experiment without pressure. As he gets the whole class to practice out loud simultaneously, he circulates the room and works with individual students on chord strumming, hand placement and proper posture. He finds students learn better when not put on the spot in front of everyone.
Learning is a great way to develop new skills, but it's also important to have fun in the process and be comfortable with making mistakes. "I had to get good at failure before finding success," explains Patrick. "If you are fueled by enthusiasm and are open to learning new ideas, your life will be full of enriched experiences."