A year-end catch up with U-Rock Music School

For 27 years, Cathy Hallessey and Brian Brodersen have been bringing out of the best of musical talent in their students. Through the years, Cathy and Brian have always found a way to give back to the community and provide musical leadership to our Stittsville youth. After the past couple of years of virtual classes and performances, U-Rock students were able to deliver their music in person during 2023. Stittsville Central caught up with Cathy and Brian to hear about this past year’s accomplishments.

With a complement of 150 students and a waiting list for enrolment, Cathy and Brian shared, “we could easily double the size of our business but we decided long ago that we would rather keep it this size so we can maintain a homey, family-type environment. We are proud that as business owners, we are able to stay in the classroom and continue to teach and inspire our students. We believe that this helps make the U-Rock experience special.”

(Cathy Hallessey and Brian Brodersen have been the teachers and owners of U-Rock Music School for 27 years.)

Cathy and Brian believe in giving back to the youth in their community and frequently provide gift certificates for free lessons as part of the fundraising activities of many local schools and other organizations. These free lessons provide an opportunity for students to expand on their musical abilities.

In 2023, the U-Rock students were able to perform at live events. So we asked, how did that feel for you and your students? “We are all about boosting our students’ confidence and self-esteem, and live performance is a big part of that. It can be scary to get up in front of a large room full of people to sing or play. But the satisfaction of having done it successfully ignites tremendous confidence and passion for music. In 2023 we hosted six live performances, and participated in a youth talent show organized by the Kiwanis Club. Everyone was so excited to get back on stage this year and our shows were packed”, said a cheerful Cathy.

Having been nominated for several awards and receiving many over their 27 years, U-Rock are again nominated as a top three music school for the First Choice Award. The School has been nominated a total of seven times, receiving the award in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The pair told us, “It would be an honour to win again. We have also been nominated for, or won, awards in the past from the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Ottawa and several other organizations.”

(The 2023 Top Choice Award received by U-Rock Music School.)

Without the challenge of COVID this year, there were many highlights for the business and U-Rock students so we asked Cathy and Brian to share their ‘best moments’ for 2023 ~

“Getting past the restrictions of recent years was probably the most exciting thing for us in 2023, just like everyone else. When COVID started, we worked hard to convert our entire business to online learning. Parents were so happy to see their children continue to do music in a more or less “normal” way. Having said that, there is nothing like seeing their smiling faces in person every day. 

“Since returning from COVID our band programs have exploded. We now have four teen bands as well as The Roxies, our all girl singing group, and POP Patrol, an introduction to music for five and six-year-olds. Playing music in a group setting is super fun and it accelerates learning in a huge way. Our groups perform at all our shows and at other events in the community, such as the Kiwanis talent show last spring. We love to show off their accomplishments. 

“We are also proud to be able to provide job opportunities to several of our more experienced students. We have always hired our most talented kids to teach in our studio. They make great teachers and they inspire our younger students by their example of what it’s possible to achieve. And honestly it thrills us to be able to offer these teens part-time jobs and help them mature into full-fledged musicians and young adults. In fact, our business model for hiring is so unique we’ve been invited to share our story on an international podcast in early January. 

“Last, but not least, one of our teachers, Kate Forsyth, 16, who is a spectacular singer/songwriter was asked to open a show at Live on Elgin in November for an upcoming artists’ CD release.”

In closing, Cathy and Brian shared their appreciation for the support they receive. “We are humbled by the support that Stittsville continues to show our business. It is such a privilege to be able to earn our living in this great community by sharing our love and passion for music with our students, their families, and the audiences at our shows. I’d like to thank everyone for our 27 years of success. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as well.”

U-Rock Music School staff and students are looking forward to discover what 2024 will bring. For more information or to register for music classes, visit www.u-rockschool.com. You can also follow the School on Facebook.

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