When Ethan Jones saw the guitar under the tree on Christmas morning, he was hoping against hope that the gift was for his sister. But a closer inspection revealed the Fender acoustic was, indeed, intended for him.
“Great,” he remembers thinking, with more than a touch of sarcasm. “A guitar.”
But along with that guitar came a membership in the Dandee Music experience, where, for thirty minutes a week, Ethan would take lessons from noted local guitarist Dan Dubeau, who happens to be the owner/operator of Dandee Music. And in the eighteen months since, Ethan has progressed to the point where an electric guitar has been added to the instrument package, and weekly lessons are something to be looked forward to.
Ethan is the thirteen year-old son of Steve and Maryann Jones of Renfrew, and the guitar idea was very much a plot hatched by two parents hoping to encourage their child to take an active interest in music.
“He was always sort of hacking around on his mother’s piano, playing stuff by ear or learning it from YouTube,” says Steve. “We were hoping to introduce him to something that would be a positive influence, something that would give him an added dimension to carry forward through life.”
Jones was aware of Danny Dubeau from having Danny’s daughter Taylor in his class, while Ethan’s mom, Maryann , was fully aware of Danny from growing up as a Renfrew native at the same time, going to the same school, and attending many of the musical events that Dan was a major part of.
“Danny was almost a part of the Renfrew culture growing up,” she remembers. “Everyone was such a big fan of Exodist, The Murry Reid Group, Curium and SouthPaw. We were proud to have bands like that come out of Renfrew.”
For the parents, it seemed like an ideal opportunity for the son. In a day and age where Christmas and birthdays are dominated by the latest electronic devices, both wanted to be able to do something a little more traditional, and hopefully a little more enduring.
“We could never keep up with the X-Boxes and Play Stations. There was always some must-have thing that was newer and bigger and better, and it got to be really expensive over time,” says Jones. “But guitars, or at least the playing of them, can last a lifetime, and we were hoping that maybe it might stick and give him something to feel good about as he gets older.”
Ethan, himself, will tell you that the guitar, and the lessons that came with it, have been nothing short of fantastic.
“I’ve learned so much from taking lessons from Danny. And not just about guitars, but also how to discipline myself and look at things with some focus. I never really did that before.”
It’s something the parents have noticed as well.
“It seems he has so much more confidence about himself,” says his dad. “I notice it at school in particular. His grades are higher and he seems to be involved in a variety of things, including stuff that grade eights don’t normally become involved in, like backstage work for musicals and student council.”
While there are a lot of factors at play in the development of a young person, Jones doesn’t hesitate to credit the Dandee Music experience for the role that it’s played.
“I’ve seen Danny work, the way he organizes, the methodology that he follows. It’s one of the main reasons why we opted for the lessons in the first place.”
Ethan continues with his lessons at Dandee Music, having signed up for the summer session.
“I want to continue to get better,” he says, adding that he feels he still has a long ways to go. “There’s a lot to learn, but it’s all good, and it’s helping me in a lot of ways.”
Ethan finds that playing guitar has opened him up to a number of people he might not have met otherwise, and this is a positive thing as well.
“Someday I’m going to reach a point where I feel comfortable enough playing in front of an audience, either by myself or with others. That’ll be pretty cool.”
If something like that happens, it’ll be an extra bonus for Mom and Dad.
“I’m happy and proud of him as is, and hearing him play at home, just having that excitement in the house, has made it worth every second and every penny. Him getting up in front of an audience, if that’s what he wants to do, will be a whole new level of confidence for him, something he’ll remember and carry with him for the rest of his life.”