Popular music classes coming to Conservatory

Popular music classes are coming to the Conservatory this fall: instructor James Desautels is teaching from experience. The award-winner is leading classes in songwriting, music industry business, rock bands and orchestra and more.

Even if you haven’t met James Desautels yet, chances are you may have already heard him.

The newest Conservatory strings faculty member (and Academy alumnus) is enjoying more than two decades working full-time in the music entertainment industry.

If you watched the final episode of NBC’s The Office, you were hearing Desautels as first violinist during Dwight and Angela’s wedding scene. Here he is performing what we heard:

From Itzhak Perlman to Pearl Jam, Desautels has toured the world sharing the stage with stars of the classical world, famous rockers and everyone in between.

Now, the award-winning Calgarian is sharing his experience as an accomplished songwriter, composer, producer, conductor and Grammy voting member by offering a host of new classes in popular music at the Conservatory.

This fall, the Conservatory is offering new classes in songwriting, rock bands and rock orchestra, country, rhythm and blues, music industry business, history of popular music and more.

“Popular music is timeless. Great songs live forever,” said Desautels. “Popular music is for everyone. This opportunity for musical expression and performance is unparalleled.”

New group classes for rock band offers an opportunity for people who are looking to play with other musicians and strut their stuff on stage.

“The thrill of live music is universal,” he says. “Great things happen when we come together to share music.”

Performance opportunities lead to confidence and practical training in popular music, says Desautels.

“Many people are  interested in taking their playing to a higher level. The Conservatory offers Rock band courses for all combinations of instruments Faculty and students can dream up. This offers a unique opportunity for students to collaborate while studying and performing together.

Rock orchestra is “a one of a kind opportunity and life changing experience for students to be a part of a massive sonic landscape,” said Desautels.

The classically-trained violinist (who also plays piano, viola, mandolin and guitar, says expanding performing opportunities and introducing songwriting for Conservatory students offers them a unique experience.

“It’s freeing to write what I’m feeling. I find that collaboration is key — co-writing is magical. The flow that comes with another person cannot be matched alone. And it is thrilling to create something that wasn’t there before. Performing this music the energy exchange between the stage and the crowd is immediate.”

Desautels got his start studying classical violin at age five. Two years later he began studying fiddle, country and bluegrass music. As a teenager he toured internationally, performing classical and fiddle music, and earned a Bachelor of Music degree with distinction at age 21. Desautels received a Master of Music degree from the University of Arizona and moved to Austin, Texas to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts degree.

Desautels says popular music classes offer students of all backgrounds and abilities opportunities to enrich themselves.

“We are completing Mount Royal Conservatory’s music with all the branches of the musical tree.”

Watch for more announcements about popular music at the Conservatory. Sign up for our enewsletters to receive the latest news.

Sherri Zickefoose, Jan. 20, 2015

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