Although I had a 33 year career as an educator in Peterborough I never stopped performing in music groups, bands, musical theatre. Two years ago I did the title role in a local production of The Mikado and I did G&S at Western for several years.  I did my first Gilbert and Sullivan show at Beck and played in a dance band called the Canadian Sunsets with Ron Taylor, Bill Ferris and a bunch of others.  Larry Walsh, Brad Myers, Ken Wilson, Ian Crichton and I formed the Towne Criers. (Larry and I went to elementary school together).  I learned a lot singing in the Glee Club, playing in the school band and singing with the entire student body every Friday with Carl Chapman conducting, Lynda Isaac playing the piano and “no nonsense, fill the blackboard, one hand chin up” Harvey Stewart sitting at the end of my row.  I had a blast!

    When I started teaching, I picked up my guitar and sang with my class, then with a couple of classes and very soon with the whole school, 400 to 500 elementary kids and teachers.  It felt very familiar, very comfortable.  Often, there were better musicians on staff, even some students, and very soon the “singing assemblies” included a small “combo” called “Never Rehearse”, a PA system, and overhead transparencies with words, chords and students’ illustrations.

    And then there’s the family.  A kid who has performed in Beauty and the Beast in Toronto and on Broadway, who spent three years “singing and dying on the barricades” while criss-crossing North America.  Another kid who plays guitar and a mean blues harmonica and designs books while living in the mountains of B. C.  And then there’s my wife, the school principal, with a beautiful voice and a three octave range, who has just “volunteered” me to teach a class to play guitar.  Looking forward to that one!

    And this weekend?  I’m rehearsing for three different shows: Cage Aux Folles, the Jerry Herman musical, an annual musical variety show called Spring Tonic, and a “masque” written in the 1600’s

    I never had the opportunity to tell Carl Chapman of his legacy or how far his reach extends.  I retired in January of 2000 but in a number of schools in Peterborough, the “singing assemblies” continue.

    Thanks Carl.  It’s been quite a ride.

(Copyright  Tim Rowat  24 March 2004)

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