For the Love of Jazz

The guitar adjudicator at the 2009 Rotary Music Festival, in Whitehorse, is Manitoba resident Dale Normandeau. He graduated from Brandon University as a guitar major with a Music Education degree and a special interest in, and love for, jazz.

Why did he choose guitar?

“The guitar is just a cool instrument. It is unique in that it is a portable accompaniment device; you can play melodies and accompany yourself. It is very versatile.

“I am currently enjoying the feel and sound of a Framus Camarillo guitar. I also enjoy playing on a classical guitar. The tone quality of the latter guitars are nice and round and always rich.”

Normandeau has been a high school Performing Arts teacher in Brandon since February 1998. He teaches theory, choir, Concert Band, Jazz Band and Jazz Combo at Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School.

In addition, he directs CP Express, an auditioned rock/R&B ensemble from the school that gives 20 to 30 performances a year. The 14 musicians and vocalists and the two techs, for lighting and sound, earn high school credit and keep their director busy.

He is also on faculty at Brandon University as a sessional Applied Jazz Guitar instructor. For most people, the high school and university work would be more than a full-time job, but Normandeau has a busy performance schedule, too.

For the past two years, he’s been the guitarist for the NuPhunk Orchestra. NuPhunk started as an experimental project involving some of Manitoba’s top jazz and funk musicians.

Normandeau still finds time to perform at events such as the Winnipeg Jazz Festival and the Brandon Folk Festival, and he freelances for a variety of jazz artists.

He is indeed living his dream.

“I realized that making music and teaching music was a very achievable goal at the age of about 17. It was then that I had figured out that I could go to university, play guitar and teach music as a career.

“To this day, I have had no regrets. It was important for me to have a career doing something I enjoyed. Everything else that comes with a career that you enjoy is a bonus.”

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