This week we feature Mike Rajna, who is currently finishing his fourth year at the University of Toronto, while pursuing a career as a jazz educator.
We caught up with him to see what he’s been up to!
1) When did you participate in the Jazzology program?
I participated in the Jazzology program in the Spring of 2013, in my final year at Mohawk College.
2) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favorite aspect?
My favourite aspect was just getting to share my experiences in the Mohawk Jazz program. I was incredibly fortunate to learn from some of the country’s greatest living jazz musicians on a daily basis.
3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians? Why?
I would highly recommend this experience to other younger musicians, because it provides an opportunity to really take a look at what kind of music has influenced your journey and the people that have been important to your musical growth.
4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?
This experience has helped because it really made me take a look at my journey as a musician; the hard times, the good times, all of it. All of my experiences have shaped who I am as a musician and a person today, and I wouldn’t change any of it.
5) This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?
I would thank them for helping a kid who never thought he would ever be good enough to play professionally to realize his dream is a possibility. This experience was a high point of my musical career and frankly, it was a fantastic honor to be considered in the same arena as all of the other great student musicians who had this opportunity before me.
6) Why is music education important?
Music education is important because it helps develop you in so many ways that aren’t strictly music related. My journey in music education has taught me to play the drums at a high level, yes, but I’ve also learned life skills like punctuality, dependability, organization and an overall sense of professionalism that you can’t simply learn from a book.
7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing? (education, scholarships, graduation, studying abroad, awards, grants, recordings, tours, employment, collaborations, etc.)
Since participating in the Jazzology program, I’ve continued my Jazz education at the University of Toronto, where I’ve had the privilege of studying drums with the legendary Order of Canada Recipient Terry Clarke. I’ve received numerous merit based scholarships over my three years at UofT that have helped me progress on my journey. In addition to playing with my friends and colleagues at venues around Toronto (The Rex, The Jazz Bistro, Gate 403, Chalkers, The Emmet Ray, The Tranzac, May Cafe, etc), I’ve had fantastic opportunities to sub for Terry Clarke in Dave Young’s quintet, featuring Dave Young, David Restivo, Kevin Turcotte and Landen Viera.
8) What are your plans for the future? (Any short term events or long term plans?)
My plan is to continue playing as much as I can, and to start a private teaching practice for beginners, more intermediate players, and anyone who is interested in Jazz music.
9) How can people learn more about you and your activities?