Raymond Lacroix (A. Mus.; B. Mus.; M. Mus.; B. Theology)
Grade 9 – Saint Lawrence High School, I took shops and it turned out that I was the top student of 2 classes.
I then decided to take the advanced courses in HS and leave shops. In those days, we would purchase our books from other students because the school system did not supply our books. I wanted to take the arts (painting and drawing), however, the student selling me the books had music books to sell and wanted to get rid of them. He convinced me to change from “Arts” to “Music”. Accident! No. I feel that this was to be.
As I entered my first class of music under the direction of Luc Groulx, I was completely lost with no clue about music and starting at “0”. With the help of Luc and friends, I learned quickly. By Christmas, I had caught up with the class that had a full year extra in experience and by the end of the year, I was one of the top music students in the class. Of course, I joined that band and performed with the ensemble. My trick was to take time in between homework assignments and practice a bit. By the end of the evening of school work, I had put in at least an hour and a half of clarinet.
By the second year, I became the music teacher’s assistant. This helped me greatly in making use of this teaching technique of having strong players helping students who had difficulty. Most surely, this is also the reason I became a music teacher.
Just after grade 11, a student came to me letting me know that he had won a scholarship to attend the “Ontario Summer Youth Camp” in Orillia. This was a 4-week music camp. He could not go because he had found a summer job and offered to send me to take his place. Wow! For sure, I did not refuse, nor did I think twice. At camp I discovered that music was for me and I enjoyed every moment of the day playing, learning to conduct and studying. Socializing was also quite a joy for me because we were about 80 young people with professional musicians to train us and talk to us about music.
In 1967, I applied to 3 universities for music education. I was accepted at McGill and U. of Western Ontario. Due to scholarships available more readily in Ontario, I decided to audition at Western. I traveled by train for most of the day (600 km) to arrive in London Ontario and found my place of an audition.
Audition time: Don McKellar, head of the music department and one of my camp coach a few years before, was the person to audition me. He remembered my dedication at the camp and at the end of the audition, told me I would receive my reply in 2 weeks. I objected and told him that I had traveled 600 km to get to this place and I would appreciate my reply right now. He did not hesitate to tell me that “I was accepted” at Western in the Music Education program. I left and crossed the campus with tears in my eyes because I knew that this was the beginning of a great musical career.
For now, I am planning to attend 2 – 4-day music camps this summer (Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan
I now play with:
The “Seaway Winds” concert band in Cornwall, Ontario (also conductor)
The Valleyfield Concert Band (associate conductor)