Cameron Rasmussen didn’t think he’d be strumming a solo in front of Joel Plaskett – at least not so early on in his career.
But that’s exactly what happened yesterday at J.L. Ilsley High in Spryfield, where Plaskett played two tunes for a gymnasium full of starstruck students while promoting a special program that’s bringing the joy of music to schools across the province.
The high school’s jazz band opened for Plaskett yesterday, with Rasmussen wailing on an electric guitar while the 34-year-old music role model sat nearby with a smile of approval, his own white guitar case at his feet.
“I got to play in front of Joel Plaskett! How cool is that?” Rasmussen said before snagging an autograph from the four-time Juno Award nominee.
“It’s just fun to the play the guitar,” the Grade 11 student said, adding he loves all types of music but prefers heavy metal.
J.L. Ilsley High is one of 19 Nova Scotia schools that have benefited from $10,000 Band Aid grants from MusiCounts, billed as Canada’s music education charity associated with The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In total, Atlantic Canadian schools have received $440,000 since 1997, a news release said.
Band director Leslie Broomhead said J.L. Ilsley was one of two Nova Scotia schools to be approved for grants this year, which was used to buy new instruments.
Marcia Peters, 17, also stood out during her solo yesterday, using brand new mallets to make the most of her xylophone.
The Grade 12 student said the additional equipment has allowed the band to “bring it to the next level.”
“We’d be missing whole sections just because the saxophones didn’t work,” Peters said. “The students coming in are going to have the right (instruments) to start (learning) with.”
Plaskett said he’s more than happy to show his support for Nova Scotia’s future music superstars.
“I got started playing in bands when I was in high school,” he pointed out. “If you help foster (music) it’s just going to make for a richer culture down the road.”