The Melodies of WPGA

By: John Wang (Grade 12)

Find out your favourite senior school teachers’ unique tastes in music!

It is no secret that music unites people. From holiday carols which link families, to the Beatles’ biggests hits which bond people from all over the world, music allows people of different cultures and generations to come together and celebrate something they love. At WPGA, the appreciation of music seems to be commonplace amongst the students. The teachers, however, aren’t always part of these conversations. I’m here to share some of the senior school teachers’ interesting tastes in music and unique takeaways. 

Name: Alfred Lu

Teaches: Statistics, Economics, Computer Science, Digital Media

Favourite Genre: Rock and Roll

If you have ever arrived at the senior school early in the morning, you’ll sure to be enchanted by the lively, upbeat music coming from Mr. Lu’s lab. From the peaceful soft rock of Dire Straits to the spirited hard-driving tunes of the Rolling Stones to the psychedelic sounds of Pink Floyd, there sure is a song that will capture your attention. Personally, I often find myself drifting into Lu’s room to ask him about the title or the artist of the songs he plays on his speaker. After I have asked, he always smiles and start telling me all about this music. So if you ever have some spare time, feel free to visit Lu’s lab and let him guide you through the word of rock and roll. 

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Mr. Lu started listening to rock from a young age. Ever since listening to a song by the Beatles on the radio in his early teenage years, he has been in love with them. Diving into the band’s music, he was introduced to the magical world of rock and roll. In this world, he discovered all the different sounds of rock, falling in love with tunes like Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones and Sacrifice by Elton John. “There are so many sub-genres of rock. There is definitely a song out there which fits your taste or mood,” Mr. Lu said, and the genre’s diverse range is one of the main reasons why he loves rock so much. The powerful guitar solos of hits like Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses makes him imagine himself being a rockstar performing in front of thousands, getting excited for the day; and when he wants to calm down, he can listen to softer, more-relaxing tunes like Lyin’ Eyes by the Eagles.

“The lyrics of rock songs are very meaningful. If you know the history or the stories behind the songs, it makes it even more meaningful.”

Having lived in the generation when rock and roll prospered, Mr. Lu followed many artists & bands on their journeys of music production. Those that stood out to Mr. Lu include Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, and of course, The Beatles. He had collected many of their albums; his favourites are the famous Abbey Road, and innovative Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He was, and still is, intrigued by the stories behind the Beatles’ songs and lyrics, like how While My Guitar Gently Weeps was inspired by the Chinese religious text I Ching and the comical conspiracies behind when Yesterday was written. Songs seem brand new every time he discovers something new and interesting like this, and Mr. Lu never gets tired of it!

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Photo credit: CNBC.com 

Having embraced the beauty of rock music, Mr. Lu wishes to share it with today’s generation. In addition to playing them on his speaker, he often suggests rock songs for us to listen to. Some songs that he recommends are (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction & You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones, Rocket Man by Elton John, One of These Nights by The Eagles, Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen and Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles. “Connecting through music between different generations is very important,” Mr. Lu said, “it helps me to better understand my students and for them to better understand me.” To live by this philosophy, he often listens to the music of today with an open mind. He enjoys modern alternative rock songs by Imagine Dragons and The Black Keys and the catchy pop songs on the radio. He’s also open about experimenting with music that is very different from rock, like Taylor Swift’s You Need to Calm Down. “I’m also very open about taking song suggestions from my students and playing them on the speaker. If I resonate with it, great, I have something to bond over with my students! And if I don’t (which is most often the case if you suggest hip-hop), that’s alright because you can’t like every song, but maybe other people in the room might like it and talk to you about it. So feel to request a song to play on my speaker or just come talk with me about it!” 

“Now let me enjoy the music,” Mr. Lu leaned back in his chair as the spirited drums of Sympathy for the Devil start picking up in the background. 

Name: Sam Barnum

Teaches: Anything related to STEM

Favourite Genre: Show Tune

“What exactly is a show tune?” you might be thinking. That is also the first question I asked Mr. Barnum. “Well, you see,” he said in his enthusiastic tone as he adjusted his mini man bun, “they are songs from musicals and they are amazing!” Mr. Barnum absolutely adores musicals, he likes to fly out to far away places like New York to watch famous Broadway plays being put on, like the award-winning 2003 musical–Wicked, which remains his favourite to this day. He said that he loves the powerful emotions conveyed in show tunes, amplified by its context in the musical. This often inspires him to make his own music. In fact, he’s currently working on a couple of his original songs! He combines his gorgeous vocals with a little bit of guitar and clarinet into neatly constructed pieces of art. 

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Stay tuned because he might release a few songs in the near future! When asked which artist he would collaborate with if he had the chance to, he quickly answered Robert Lopez, the man behind songs like Do You Want to Build a Snowman from Frozen.

Mr. Barnum’s favourite album is the collection of soundtracks from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The smooth yet passionate voice of singers like Donny Osmond captivates entire theatres and successfully won over Mr. Barnum’s admiration. One song he especially enjoys is Close Every Door, which he strongly recommends for you to listen to. Some other songs he likes are Waving Through a Window from Dear Evan Hansen and the familiar I’ll Make a Man Out of You from Mulan

If you happen to like these songs or musicals, make sure to talk to Mr. Barnum about it. He’ll love to find others who share his interest in show tunes!

Name: Dan Butler

Teaches: Biology

Favourite Genre: Pop

Music has evolved over the years and so has Mr. Butler’s hairstyle. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is his taste in music. For the past few decades, he has been an unwavering fan of pop music. Of course, popular music has also changed over the years, from rock music of The Beatles to Billy Joel to the present-day pop songs of Justin Bieber. Mr. Butler has experimented with all of them and actively tries to listen to the pop music of today, but his favourite songs fall under the more “rock” kind of pop songs. 

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“I enjoy pop songs because they’re catchy and always give me something to talk about, whether it’s within the science department or with students.”

“They’re also generally upbeat, so it makes me happy,” said Mr. Butler. He’s been trying out young peoples’ music, such as hip-hop, the most popular genre today. “I’ve been trying [hip-hop] out; however, I don’t find it as enjoyable as what I usually listen to. I’m open to listening to it, but I just don’t resonate with it,” he explained. He’s always open about conversations regarding music. He sometimes plays “finish the lyric” with the science faculty and often sings along to the music in Mr. Lu’s lab. So if you ever have a song stuck in your head, don’t be afraid to hum it in Mr. Butler’s classes, he might even join in.

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Photo credit: freep.com

 Mr. Butler is a fan of many artists, his favourite one is definitely The Rolling Stones. He has been a long time fan of the Stones. He began listening to them since his childhood. “My mother was a big fan of the Stones. She used to always put it on and, influenced by that, I became a fan of them as well,” he recalled. One regret of him is that he has never had a chance to see the band perform live. Luckily for him, the impressive longevity of the Rolling Stones might provide him with a chance. The band is coming to Vancouver this May and if you are in need of some extra marks in biology, maybe you can buy a ticket for him! (I’m just kidding) A few other artists he enjoys listening to are the English rock band New Order, the world-renowned Fleetwood Mac, whose album Rumours became Mr. Butler’s favourite, and the modern Canadian rock band The Sheepdogs. Finally, a song he recommends to all of you is Let It Be by the Beatles (but let’s be real here, you’ve definitely listened to this song before).

Name: Lindsay Haider

Teaches: English and Social Studies

Favourite Genre: Jazz

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Ms. Haider may be among the younger teachers of WPGA, but her taste in music resembles one of an old soul. She is a big fan of jazz, the vocal type and the instrumental type. Growing up with parents who are Frank Sinatra fans, she constantly absorbed the alluring harmonies of jazz music. In her childhood years, she used to play around with her 500-disc CD changer and listen to all kinds of jazz tunes. She grew up to become, unsurprisingly, an ardent fan of Frank Sinatra, and consequently, a fan of some of his fellow singers like Dean Martin. “Jazz music,” she exclaimed, “never fails to make me happy. I love the lyrics of this older style because they tell such beautiful stories.” For example, Frank Sinatra’s L. O. V. E. makes such a beautiful love song in a few simple words. The combination of beautiful lyrics, graceful instrumental and the bewitching voice of Frank Sinatra is truly something tantalizing and worth listening to. Ms. Haider suggests you start with the classic Fly Me to the Moon, one of her favourite songs. She promises that you’ll love it!

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Photo credit: imdb.com 

By now, you can for sure tell that Ms. Haider adores Frank Sinatra; however, it is nothing compared to her love for Michael Bublé. She describes herself as a “big big big (that’s very big) fan” of him and attends his concerts every chance she gets. She collects all his albums, her favourites being..well, all of them! “But if I have to pick one,” she said, “it’s probably between It’s Time and Crazy Love.” Ms. Haider also had the privilege of receiving a hand-signed book by Michael Bublé himself! She said that she admirers Bublé both as an artist and as a person, “he is a great entertainer–his concerts are always enjoyable and the way he connects with the audience is fantastic.” He often performs with audience members during his concerts, and that often creates magical moments like one captured by the viral youtube video “Michael Bublé hands me the mic to sing Fly Me To The Moon.” Bublé is also a great personality out of the spotlight. “He donates lots of his earnings to charity,” Ms. Haider explained, “this makes him an even more likeable artist.” 

Ms. Haider is also fond of big band jazz songs, including the likes of Duke Ellington Band and the Count Basie Orchestra. She’s a casual listener and likes it for their beautiful display of emotions through musical notes. 

When asked about song suggestions, she almost blurted out every single Michael Bublé song. In the end, she compiled this short list: The Way You Look Tonight, My Way & Come Fly With Me by Frank Sinatra, Sway by Dean Martin, and To Love Somebody by Bee Gees (make sure to check out the Michael Bublé version too).

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Photo credit: heritagebankcenter.com  

In the future, if you ever feel like talking about music, make sure to include a teacher if he/she is nearby, because you might just fall in love with one of their song suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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