Bachelor of Music student Karen Buckle went back to school as her first step toward becoming a Registered Music Therapist. After completing her first degree in psychology, Buckle spent a few years working as a research assistant, and later returned to school as a mature student.
“It was difficult to get back into the swing of student life with a hectic schedule, many deadlines and high expectations for myself,” she says. Studying during the pandemic provided an extraordinary challenge too, but “the professors have done an incredible job adapting their content to online learning,” comments Buckle, “and although this type of learning has its own set of challenges, they have made the courses interactive and engaging.”
Buckle adds that she’s been able to succeed due to the amazing support of her instructors and peers, and part of Buckle’s wholly positive experience studying at the Fountain School has been getting to know fellow students who share her interests in saxophone, jazz and improvising.
“I have been especially inspired by classes with practical instruction on improvisation, including lessons and popular music theory classes with Chris Mitchell and an improvisation course taught by Professor Tim Crofts,” Buckle says. She was also presented with the privilege of being a soloist in the Concerto Night performance with the Dalhousie Symphony Orchestra under conductor Leo Perez, which she says was a rewarding experience and personal accomplishment. Buckle has cherished these opportunities to work and perform on stage with tremendous musicians such as Mike Murley, Indigo Poirier, the Proteus Saxophone Quartet and locally with Scott MacMillan and his band Scott ’N the Rocks.
“I hope to be graduating this May,” says Buckle, “and the choice to return to school was the best one I could have made for my career and professional development.” Her overall musicianship had grown by leaps and bounds through applied courses like aural skills and keyboard skills, as well as her practical performance experiences.
Buckle hopes to one day start her own music therapy practice in which she will use the knowledge, skills and expertise she gained during her time at the Fountain School to help people of all walks of life, using music as a therapeutic tool. With the opportunity to take elective courses and learn instruments important to music therapy, she has learned that she also wants to continue to perform and teach in some capacity as part of her career moving forward. “My music education has provided an excellent foundation to pursue a performance, teaching or any other career in music,” she says. “Through my courses I have gained fundamental knowledge of music theory, composition, recording technologies, and how to talk about music in an accessible way.” Buckle is excited to take what she’s learned at the Fountain School and use it throughout her future career as a music therapist, saxophonist and educator.