Nelson high schooler Dunavan Morris-Janzen has a tendency to stroll around his neighborhood in the evenings with his headphones on, singing along passionately to whatever happens to be playing on his iPod. And although nearby residents may overhear his evening-time musical reveries, he’s not intentionally performing for an audience. Instead, this is how he lets go of whatever emotions he’s currently coping with. He calls it a “release”.
“I performed in front of my school once this year, and that’s cool and all, but singing is for me. It’s about letting go of whatever’s inside,” said Morris-Janzen, who was recently recognized for his singing voice when he won the Grade 4 gold medal in the Royal Conservatory of Music’s province-wide competition.
Morris-Janzen said he could hardly believe the news, when he woke up recently to discover an email announcing his accomplishment. He wasn’t alone.
“My parents couldn’t believe it. They didn’t believe it. I mean, they hear me in the shower and whatnot, and those two things don’t match up,” he said, with a laugh.
Morris-Janzen has been studying with local singing instructor Matthilde Klassen for the last year, as well as taking classes with local musician Noemi Kiss. Meanwhile he’s been a member of Corazón and Lalin, both choirs directed by Allison Girvan.
“I have to pull out all the positive adjectives I can think of,” said Klassen, in describing her student. “He wanted this so badly, to learn how to sing better. He was limited with his range at first, and hesitant to do solos and that sort of thing. But as a student he was so enthusiastic and I can’t believe how far he’s come.”
Morris-Janzen received a score of 90 from the competition’s judge, who observed him performing three songs and going through a variety of vocal exercises.
Klassen said this is an unusually high score.
“That’s extremely unusual. I’ve seen a few others get scores like that, but it’s really top, top-notch,” she said.
Morris-Janzen has also been actively involved in his high school, where he was one of the organizers of the annual Keep the Beat fundraiser. He’s also working with Grade 9 boys at L.V. Rogers in a mentorship program.
“We talk about the pressures we feel as men and talk about that stuff,” he said.
And though he continues to throw himself into his musical endeavors, he said it will remain more of a personal hobby than a career choice.
“Whatever else I’m doing, I want to just happen to be awesome at singing at the same time,” he said.
Klassen said she can’t believe how busy Morris-Janzen is in his variety of pursuits. She believes he has incredible potential and is currently helping him to study for his Grade 6 levels.
For more information on the Royal Conservatory of Music visit www.rcmusic.ca.