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Music teacher with Cape Breton roots receives second JUNO nomination


SYDNEY, NS — Former Cape Breton resident Stephen Richardson is busy preparing for the JUNO Awards next month after receiving his second nomination in the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year category.

“I was pretty surprised when I got the email during one of my band classes … It was pretty amazing,” Richardson said.

Richardson began teaching in approximately 2006 and loves being a music teacher.

“I go into work every day working with kids who really love music and you have the responsibility of trying to get them to have a lifelong relationship with music,” he said.

To make sure his students didn’t miss out during lockdown, he relied on unconventional teaching methods in response to restrictive regulations.

“I have great students who were unbelievably resilient during the three years that we couldn’t do the full band program. I had to really change the way I was taught,” he said.

“For a long time, I was going to the kids’ homeroom so we couldn’t really take instruments to the rooms; we were doing a lot of drumming on desks and then we did a lot of scoring video games. Kids would make video games on one app and then they would work in pairs to make the music for the video game.”

After being exposed to the music industry after graduating from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Richardson decided to learn guitar at 21 on the recommendation of a friend and hasn’t looked back.

“A really good friend of mine told me, ‘why don’t you just pick it up yourself?’ I was 21 at the time … I put in a plan to get into (St. FX) I worked on some really hard jazz songs to get in and was lucky enough to get accepted,” he said.

Having grown up in a family that exposed him to music from an early age, Richardson credits his passion for music, in part, to these experiences.

“When I was a little kid, my mother had this massive stereo in the living room and a huge album collection, so she always played Miles Davis, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers, the Commodores and a lot of Puerto Rican music,” he said. .

Richardson visits Cape Breton every summer and appreciates the local talent.

“The last time I went home you could pretty much go to any restaurant or bar and it would be a really high-quality band playing,” he said.

“I really see how unique Cape Breton is musically.”

The JUNO Awards took place on Mar. 13.

Shannon Lee is a reporter with the Cape Breton Post.