June 13, 2019Print | PDF
The community music discipline did not exist when Andrea McColeman (BMus ’88) studied here at Laurier. Hers is a career epitomizing all that the program aspires to teach, however.
McColeman has carved a niche for herself in the blossoming community music scene in Whitehorse, Yukon, in a rather unusual way - by not having a niche at all.
“Anything music related, that’s what I’ve always done,” says the self-employed musician and teacher who’s been called the Swiss Army knife of music for her ability to perform so many roles.
Love brought McColeman to the Yukon shortly after graduation. That was some 30 years ago, and she has no regrets about staying.
“I was dragged here kicking and screaming and thought I would want to escape as quickly as possible,” she says. “But I landed in the right spot.”
During the early to mid 90s, McColeman played keyboard and accordion for Jerry Alfred and the Medicine Beat, a group that went on to earn the Juno award for Aboriginal Recording of the Year in 1996. She’s toured and recorded with several other bands and performers as well.
The gigs keep on coming, and McColeman never knows what she’s going to do next. She has taught music in a school setting and continues to teach privately. She has done choir arranging and collaborated with dance groups. She has written jingles and songs for kids. There are now several recording studios in town, and she has performed session work for all of them.
Over the years, McColeman’s work has shifted to focus even more on community music, but her involvement still continues to defy categorization.
She conducts sing-alongs at homes for seniors. She’s also been the coach for a project to get seniors playing in bands.
“It was such a cool project,” says McColeman “That’s community music if ever there was community music! It really drew on all my skills and I loved it.”
McColeman works with an inclusive arts organization called YnKlude to help group members – individuals with varied intellectual abilities – put together music shows. She’s also a faculty member of Yukon Summer Music Camp, teaching classes such as Accordion Adventures, Absolute Beginner Piano and Girl Rock Band.
“I don’t think I could’ve done it anywhere but here,” McColeman says of her successful career as a jack of all trades in the community music world. “Whitehorse is a little pocket of creativity with some top notch stuff.”
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