For pianist Augustine Yates, more downtime means more time for his craft.

The 24-year-old musician recently completed his bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Humber College. Since then, he’s been using the free time that has come with the unfortunate situation of the COVID-19 pandemic to refine his pianism and composition, while also having eight tracks mastered for an eventual full-length album.

That work is just the latest step in a lifetime dedicated to music. Yates began his classical piano studies when he was just five years old, eventually achieving his ARCT diploma, one of the highest degrees offered by the Royal Conservatory of Music. In high school, he became enamoured by jazz and began to study the art form. At Humber, he learned from many of Canada’s finest musicians, such as Brian Dickinson, Mike Downes, Pat Labarbera, Kirk MacDonald and Robi Botos.

Yates has performed throughout Toronto and his hometown of Calgary, leading his own piano trio as well as playing with the Dennis Kwok Jazz Orchestra, the Brenden Varty Quartet, the Robert Lee Group and various other ensembles. He’s featured on two albums released this year: the Dennis Kwok Jazz Orchestra’s Windward Bound and Robert Lee’s Ascension.

We asked Yates, a participant in our Jazzology program, to tell us more about his influences and his latest projects.