Music student’s upcoming show part of her lessons

Smith Music student Kelsey McKenzie is organizing an evening of musical entertainment at Higher Grounds Jan. 6. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – A variety of music styles will make up an evening of entertainment at Higher Grounds Jan. 6. Morinville Community High School student Kelsey McKenzie is organizing the show as part of her studies at another local school, Smith Music.

McKenzie, who has taken guitar lessons for the past four years, has been learning about the business side of the music business and booking, organizing and putting on a show is all part of the learning.

“It’s going to be a show with a few people I know and really respect as musicians,” McKenzie said of the upcoming performance. “I’m going to open the show with a few songs from a video game everyone loves, and my friend is going to play piano for me. “It’s [from] Zelda and the Ocarina of Time. It’s such a good game and everyone knows it, and everyone loves it. I really love that game and I thought it would be fun to just do one whole piece from the soundtrack rather than a whole bunch of different songs.”

Also joining McKenzie in the show with original and cover pieces are Greg and Rory Turner, Daniel Watson, Sam Lieanau, and Vicki Leung, each bringing their musical style to the varied show.

The music student said she’s always wanted to put together a show, but was encouraged to do it by her music teacher, Paul Smith.

“Sometimes students mention to me that they want to do music as a career,” Smith said. “Everything changes as soon as someone says they want to do this as a career. I brought her on as a student of mine to show her how to do business stuff. This show is actually an assignment in her lesson.” Smith explained McKenzie had to assemble the talent for the show, book a venue, and promoting the show. “She’s getting to learn about all of it by doing it,” he said.

Booking the talent for the show was the first step, a situation that was not a simple matter despite the fact she has many musician friends. Some had conflicting schedules, some were easy to convince to join the program, and some took a little more pleading.

McKenzie’s next step was booking Higher Grounds as a venue for the performance. It is a location the concert promoter thinks is perfect for the show she has lined up. “It’s an acoustic show and that usually happens in a coffee house,” she said.

Promoting the show has taken a couple forms online and off. “I made a little Facebook group and so far 20 or 30 people have said they’re going to go,” McKenzie said. “I got my friend who wants to be a graphic designer to make tickets and posters. I printed those off and handed them out to the musicians. So far they are doing pretty good on that, and I put posters all around the school.”

Proceeds from the for-profit show will go to the student musicians and to pay for the use of the venue for the show. “We spent a lot of time in the lesson on how money flow works because that is a big part of it,” Smith said. “Making sure the venue would take a portion for the space, and the musicians would all be paid.”

McKenzie said organizing the Jan. 6 show has been a good learning experience. “It’s a lot harder than I actually thought it was going to be,” she said, adding she now understands how much work it takes to become a successful music act. “It makes it a lot easier knowing I can do this.”

But the work of booking and promoting a concert has not deterred McKenzie from her plans to make music a career. If anything, promoting the local show has strengthened them. “I was having doubts before, but now it makes a lot more sense. It’s so much easier now.”

The music student said her goal is to not only play music professionally, but to one day have her own label to record and profit from other artists. “I can play the music, but profit a lot more from the management end,” she said.

The show takes place Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. at Higher Grounds. Tickets are $5 and available at the door.

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