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Instrumental to education

Instrumental to education

Kingston music teacher Hugh Johnston, Mus'84, Ed'85, was honoured at the 2012 Juno Awards.
[photo of Hugh Johnston]Hugh Johnston (left) at the Junos with singer-songwriter Johnny Reid

Having the opportunity to walk the red carpet and mingle with music stars at the 2012 Juno Awards was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for high school music teacher Hugh Johnston, Mus’84, Ed’85, and his family.

As the winner of the 2012 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, Hugh enjoyed an all-expenses-paid trip to the Juno Awards and brought home a solid crystal statuette, a personal cheque for $10,000, and $10,000 for his music program at Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School in Kingston (known locally as “Regi”) – money that he plans to use for some big-ticket items like timpani.

“I’m truly honoured,” says Hugh, adding that he accepted the award on behalf of all teachers who strive to bring a love of music to their students. “The financial award that this brings to our school is very significant and will have a lasting impact on the quality of the music program by providing instruments and resources that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

He credits the success of Regi’s music program to both the enthusiasm of his students and to his prior experience in establishing successful music programs at three other schools in Bathurst, NB, and Brockville and Oshawa, ON, before arriving back in Kingston to teach 14 years ago. “Many of the students haven’t had much exposure to music education in elementary school, so it’s very new and exciting for them,” he explains. “It’s also a class where they literally get to ‘play’ and have fun. They’re engaged the whole time they’re in class.”

One of Hugh’s favourite things about teaching music is working with students who are in the early stages of learning to read music or to play an instrument and who can enjoy the satisfaction of improving quickly in a short period of time. He’s appreciative of the way in which music can bring students together to work on a shared goal and the increased self-esteem that they can gain from learning new skills.

The rich music education Hugh offers his students is an experience that remains with many of them long after graduation and, for some, reveals a passion or talent that they choose to pursue following high school. Hugh counts music teachers, pop singers, and musicologists among his former students who’ve gone on to enjoy work in the music industry, having started their careers in the music room at Regi.

Regi’s music program recently welcomed another Queen’s grad, Justine (Thompson) Lord, Mus’08, Ed’09, as a second music teacher.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2012-3]