Playing an Instrument Can Build Life-changing Connections

Playing an Instrument Can Build Life-changing Connections

April 20, 2023

The first time Tristen Durocher heard the sound of a fiddle he became enthralled and set out to learn how to play.

“I thought it was a very beautiful instrument. It was very calming and I was really perplexed by how small the instrument was and how much sound it could produce. I found it magical that the hair of the bow was made from a horse’s tail, and that when placed on strings could make all that music,” he says.

Growing up in northern Saskatchewan, Durocher was exposed to many rich Métis and Cree cultural traditions through his family. But, along with the fiddle, he also took up other artistic practices, such as writing and photography, to pass the time through the cold winters and to deal with the lack of electricity at his Dad’s cabin in the summer.

Playing the fiddle came naturally for the self-taught musician and by 12 years old he was paid to perform in front of audiences. More opportunities came when he started winning fiddle competitions across Saskatchewan, which led to him being invited to the Canadian Grandmasters’ Fiddle Competition.

Over the next five years, the competition saw him travel to a different Canadian city every year and, in 2019, he won the People’s Choice Award. In 2023, he will leave the country for the first time, travelling to Germany to perform at a number of venues.

When he started teaching he realized not everyone was able to pick up the fiddle and learn the way he could. They would require some focused instruction.

“Not all families in cities and northern communities can afford the price of lessons, so having access to a funding stream, such as Creative Kids, to access artistic facilitators, can have a very strong impact.”

For 17 years, he has played the fiddle and can’t imagine life without it now. The inclusivity and acceptance of the fiddle scene has given Tristen many things, such as joy, confidence, exposure to Elders and community leaders, as well as other artists and musicians. However, what he is most thankful for is the connections and friendships he gained. This is the reason, he would like to see more children and youth across the province have these creative opportunities as well.

“Artists are always trying to produce work that connects to their audience. You are trying to play a piece of music, or paint something, or tell a story that another person could relate to or connect with. You provide spaces where artists can get together and create together and people benefit from being in these spaces.”

Durocher adds, music is a healthy form of expression that can remove cultural barriers and can be therapeutic. “Music can help people process emotions and the musical language is a rich emotional vocabulary, which can have a cathartic healing effect.”   He adds, “This is why children and youth without the financial means to access art lessons need the connections, help and healing that a creative practice can provide.”