In a mid-sized room at the rear of St. Gabriel’s Hall in Marystown, Josh Parsons sits at his desk.
Some soft jazz music can barely be heard coming from a nearby computer. Surrounded by walls of green, yellow, orange and blue he quietly prepares for his next student. The once silent room erupts into sound as a student arrives for a drum lesson.
It’s been little over two months since Parsons left his job as a server at a local restaurant and realized his dream of opening the Marystown School of Music.
The school currently has 53 students registered, ranging in age from five to 70.
After graduating high school Parsons had considered getting his education degree to become a music teacher, instead, he pursued a bachelor of arts in music at St. Francis Xavier University.
After returning home he worked a number of customer service jobs, before opening the music school.
Right time, right place
“It was just waiting for the right time and the right place to pop up,” Parsons told The Southern Gazette, “and here I am at 24 doing it.”
In bringing his dream to life Parsons overcame some personal challenges, mainly anxiety, “because there’s not a lot of security in this type of business,” he said. “I don’t get an annual salary, it’s whoever decides to sign up and come in for my 10-lesson contract, that’s what I get for my bread. That’s my gig.”
Finding the right location served as a challenge.
Parson, a multi-instrumentalist, wanted an area with lots of space so he wouldn’t be limited in what he could teach.
It was suggested to him to look in to St. Gabriel’s Hall. He said the facility is a nice fit for the school given he has room for the school, as well as access to a stage for showcase events for the students.
He invested his savings into the startup costs for the business.
Parsons’ passion for music motivated him to open the school.
“I look at music as something that, yes it can be educational, but it can also be emotional — it can be fun as well,” he said.
He added there is something about teaching music that sets it apart from other topics such as history or geography.
“There are so many things you can get out of music — with piano especially you have conative ability, your memorization and your motor skills — it helps with that,” he explained. “With drums its motor skills, its muscle memory, you’re learning how to multi-task.”
Parson said music can have a major effect on the mind.
“There’s songs that make us happy, there’s songs that make us sad, music allows us to display emotion,” he said. “There’s so much power behind it.”
Parsons said at the risk of sound cliché, it is seeing his students progress that he finds rewarding.
“I got a couple kids that come in here and they look at me and say, ‘Man I’ve been waiting to get here all week,’ ‘I can’t wait for drum lessons,’ ‘I can’t wait for guitar lessons,’” he said. “And seeing the smile on kids’ faces ‘cause they are learning …the majority of them are so happy to be here and when they leave they’re like, ‘A half hour already mom.’”
Parsons enjoys having the opportunity to do what he loves in his hometown.
“I wanna be rich, just kidding,” he said with a chuckle. “I wanna see my students grow — I want people to still have an interest in music.”
Parsons said he will continue to fine-tune the program.
“I know this will come with time, but when I see a (student) coming (I want to say), ‘OK, this is what I’m giving you today, this is what we’re going to work on today’ — I still do that today, but it’s not as structured and as organized as I wish to do.”
Parsons would like to see the school expand and take on other instructors while still remaining in Marystown.
“I love Marystown, I love the Burin Peninsula,” he said. “It’s where I spent the majority of my life and my family’s here. It’s the Marystown School of Music.”