With a passion for both humanitarianism and the arts, Silas Tracey wants to heal people with his music.
Growing up in Windsor, Ontario- the third-year classical guitar student Silas Tracey was raised on the drums, not the guitar.
"My first instrument was actually the drums," said Silas. "My whole family played drums, my uncle is a drummer, and every Christmas we got to play on the kit, and that was a lot of fun. I ended up begging my dad for a drum set and finally got it."
Instead of chasing his dreams, Silas fell into them.
"I actually started playing guitar in high school," said Silas. "In grade 9 we had to take an art credit, and I didn't know what to do, and I was like, 'Oh! They have a guitar class, that should be a fun and easy credit,' but I kind of fell in love with it. Then I kept taking it and developing, and here I am."
As well as celebrity inspirations, Silas's parents were vital in his burgeoning passion for music.
"My parents were very supportive of me going into music. They were skeptical at first, because, you know, it's an arts program, it can be hard. But after they saw me perform a few times they realized, 'Oh, there's something here', you know? 'It's not a phase.'"
"Probably my biggest musical influence.. ha, this'll sound a little nerdy, but Billy Joel actually. Because not only is he a virtuoso on the piano, but his songwriting skills are that on the level of like Bob Dylan, up there with the greats, so he's definitely one of my biggest inspirations."
Instead of choosing the route of contemporary guitar- where students study mainly in jazz and rock, Silas has a preference for an older style.
"The difference between classical and contemporary guitar would be stylistically," said Silas. "I play more pieces from like, the 1700s. Contemporary guys play more jazz, rock or funk, where as I would play something older, for example right now I'm working on renaissance music, and Baroque. I also really like arranging pieces, which entails me taking a piece and changing it so I can play it on my instrument. I love doing that- even for pieces that weren't made for guitar originally, finding a way around that and really getting to know your instrument is really interesting."
Silas tends to work on his own. "I'd prefer to do more solo- I do enjoy performing, however I wouldn't pursue it as a professional, like 'tour the world' career. Like, touring and all would be great, but that sounds incredibly stressful. I like playing local shows, but I prefer teaching- I actually want to go into music therapy. So after Mohawk I would go to Wilfred Laurier to continue my studies."
"I heard about music therapy from a Laurier representative and I was just hooked right away. Like, I get to help people AND play music? Those are the two things I'd love to do."
"So the therapy, it's a doctorate, I would be technically a music doctor, which I think is a hilarious title," said Silas. "But it's basically a physical or mental therapist, you help people get through their problems or rough patches. I would work in hospitals or hospices, helping people with disabilities or the elderly, trying to bring back memories, things like that."
For now, Silas plans on sticking to covers.
"When it comes to writing my own music, a lot of artists are very self-critical and I think that's what pulls me back," said Silas. "I've written some things that aren't awful, but that I don't think are worth sharing. I also don't think I've really had the inspiration to write yet."
Third-year Mohawk College music grads have their year-end recitals coming up. "I highly recommend that everyone come see if you can, these people work really hard every year to put on a great show, it would mean a lot," said Silas. "The news doesn't get out enough. Mine's on the 27th of March- it's free to come, just in the McIntyre Theatre. If you'd like to see a classical show, come on down!"
March 27th 2019, @ Mohawk College's McIntyre Theatre