Alumni Testimonials

There is no better testimony about STFX Music than that of our graduates.  

Here are a few:

 

Breagh MacKinnon

Singer/songwriter, pianist, guitarist

Halifax, NS

STFX Bachelor of Music, 2014

I recently returned from my second tour of Germany and I am currently working in Nashville with my band Port Cities. We're recording our first album, produced by Grammy Award winner (and STFX Honorary Degree recipient), Gordie Sampson.

 The skills I learned at STFX were invaluable in helping me build my career as a performing musician. The small class sizes, and one on one attention from the professors gave me the ability to focus on the areas that I was interested in.

Breagh MacKinnon on the web: www.breaghmackinnon.com

Breagh MacKinnon: Gilmora Session video

Breagh’s newest project is Port Cities: www.portcities.ca


 

Jared Farney

Drummer, freelance musician

Austin, Texas

STFX Bachelor of Music, 2012

STFX was a lot of things to me. It was the perfect place for me to incubate my drumming skills. The teachers were always willing to help me with any questions I had, or even to just play a few tunes if I needed to work some stuff out. They pushed me to try things musically that I had never tried before and encouraged me to develop my own personal voice on the drums. The teachers all genuinely had my best interests in mind and were always more than willing to help me out with a recommendation, scholarship, or even a gig!

Here's Jared playing his tune "Foundation" in his Master's recital

Jared Farney on the web: http://www.jaredfarney.com


 

Matt MacDougall

Guitarist, composer, educator

Nashville TN

STFX Bachelor of Music, 2012

I can honestly say that I would not have the musical skill set necessary to survive as an artist in Nashville were it not for the invaluable education I got through the STFX Music program.

Since graduating from STFX, I’ve gone on to complete a Master’s degree in Music at Indiana University, been nominated for an ECMA Jazz Recording of the Year Award, and have performed in jazz festivals throughout Canada and the US.  I’ve got to say, I owe it to my education in the Music Department at STFX.

Here's a video of Matt recording "Kid with every Problem"

Matt can be found here: http://www.mattmacdougall.com


 

John MacLeod

Director, Music

Cobequid Education Centre

Truro, NS

STFX Bachelor of Arts, Honours, 2011

The music education that I received at St. FX has shaped the way I teach music. With its focus on creativity and collaboration, I learned how to make meaningful and expressive music. The interaction and dedication that the music faculty has with their students, is something I try to emulate in my own personal practice.


 

Dave Farrell

Bassist and educator

Musical director for gospel artist Andrea Helms

Bassist for The BoomBachs (hip-hop/jazz), The Enablers (rock), and country artist Matt Hillyer (of Eleven Hundred Springs); also freelancing

Dallas, Texas

STFX Bachelor of Music, 2011

Getting a Bachelor of Music at St.Francis Xavier University has taught me the importance of being a versatile musician. The professors in the Music Program make themselves readily available for help outside of their busy schedules.

Although the foundation of the program is based on Jazz Studies, there are many different outlets within the program and students are encouraged to branch out as much as possible.


Ben Holt

Graduate Studies, University of North Texas

Denton, Texas

STFX Bachelor of Music 2010

I arrived at Saint Francis Xavier University with little knowledge of jazz but quickly found myself immersed in a highly motivating environment. Between the constant small group jazz playing, the intensive level exams, and chance to work closely with the highly knowledgeable and passionate faculty I was able to progress quickly. The music program emphasizes development of jazz improvisation, repertoire and sight-reading skills. Guitar players are usually known for being poor at reading music but within the guitar ensembles at STFX I was pushed to play and read lots of fun and challenging music and was able to develop my reading, a skill that has been invaluable ever since.

While at STFX I was exposed to some of my heroes through their extensive Visiting Artist program that brought in many world-renowned jazz musicians for performances and master classes. But by far the most valuable part of the STFX jazz program was the community, while there I was constant studying, practicing and jamming with other highly motivated students and I was able to study under the highly knowledgeable and passionate faculty who brought a broad range of experience and expertise to their students.

I am currently pursuing a Masters of Music degree at the University of North Texas. The skills I leaned while studying at STFX opened the door to musical opportunities that I would not have imagined.


Natasha Blackwood

STFX made my career.

They taught me how to practice. They taught me how to learn. They taught me not only how to play jazz, but how to teach myself to play anything. Because I went to St. FX I can play classical, jazz, rock, folk, and pop music, and anything else I might want. I have toured Europe with indie rock bands, released studio albums with pop bands, performed on the radio with classical wind ensembles, and played lead tenor in a big band. At St. FX they didn't make me just a jazz musician, they made me a professional, versatile, all-encompassing musician. And I wouldn't be where I am without them. Going there instead of studying classical music was undoubtedly the best decision I have ever made.

Natasha Blackwood (STFX Bachelor of Music, 2008) is a singer/saxophonist/pianist in St. John's, Newfoundland. She has recorded/performed with The Burning Hell, The Long Distance Runners, Ilia Nicoll, Amelia Curran, and Joel Plaskett. Here is a picture of Natasha standing on top of a building in Poland with her bari sax while making a video with The Burning Hell:

 


Jacquie Tober

(STFX Bachelor of Music, 2008)

Singer, songwriter

Jacqueline Tober and the Rose County Ramblers

Toronto, ON

STFX played a huge part in developing my musical foundation.  Without the guidance and support of the talented and knowledgeable professors, I never would have had the courage to continue pursuing music as a career.

The Rose Country Ramblers on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/jacquelyn-tober

or on the web: http://www.rosecountyramblers.com

 


Ryan Davidson

Guitarist, Gord Bamford Band; freelance guitarist; educator

Winner, 2015 Canadian Country Music Association All-Star Award

Edmonton, Alberta

STFX Bachelor of Music, 2006

 

The talented and dedicated faculty of St. FX had a large influence on my musical career. They taught me what it means to strive for excellence and that success comes from relentless self-improvement and the fiery pursuit of innovation.

Ryan Davidson on Reverb Nation: https://www.reverbnation.com/ryandavidsontrio


Joshua Hanlon

STFX Bachelor of Music, 1997
 
 
 
 
Josh is currently teaching Music Business, Technology, and Jazz Piano at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.   His second album, “The Baytree Sessions, Vol. 1” (featuring StFX faculty member Paul Tynan) will be released 3/15/16 on Armored Records.   He is an active freelance musician based in North Texas, most notably serving as pianist and conductor for Country Music legend Ray Price.   He can be heard on upcoming releases by the Maniacal 4 and Stockton Helbing’s quintet.  
 
"StFX remains a critical resource for improvising musicians in the Maritimes.   The opportunities for development that I found at StFX are threefold: Before attending, as a young Antigonish resident,  StFX transformed the possibilities that inspired my vocation in music.  Throughout my time at school, I shared in dozens of fruitful musical collaborations, in and outside of class. Afterwards, the relationships I have forged with the exemplary faculty remain a critical part of my musical geography."
 
All these are inexorably linked to my personal success as a musician.
 
I enjoyed life-altering one-on-one time with guest artists like Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Oliver Jones, Jerry Granelli, and Marvin Stamm, deep and lasting musical relationships with my peers, musicians now at the forefront of many genres, and I was privileged in 2008 to have the unique opportunity to return and share my knowledge with X students as a faculty member.  
 
I would highly recommend the St.F.X. music experience to any young student interested in having access to the knowledge and connections that make a music career satisfying and successful."
 
Check out music and news at www.joshhanlon.com.