High school students considering a future in the arts are being offered a unique mentorship opportunity by internationally-acclaimed music and comedy duo, Bridge & Wolak.
Oftentimes when a musically gifted student is thinking about pursuing higher education, they tend to be steered away from pursuing their art in favour of a more stable career. To this end, during the pandemic with touring on lock down, Bridge & Wolak have launched the digital-first Bridge & Wolak Music Mentorship Program.
Michael Bridge and Kornel Wolak want to help students and parents understand that there are very viable career options in the arts. “No matter what their dreams are in life for their careers, they can be developed and produced through higher education at the university/college level,” said Wolak.
Bridge went on to explain that the program is for students who are thinking about careers in the arts, as well as their parents — specifically to demonstrate the value of careers in the arts to the latter.
“We really show the breadth of opportunity that there is in the music industry,” he said. “You don’t just have to be a performer and that’s not the only way that you can earn a living. Because parents always ask, how will you earn a living, right? And we are there to help these high school students explore their future in the arts, before they even apply to university, which is exactly the right moment to start thinking about. So, it’s been just incredibly rewarding.”
Bridge continued, explaining that the program has already gone through its first cohort, and “the July 3 version will be six weeks long, six meetings. It’s on zoom for two hours each weekend. So the students tune in for a total of 12 hours, over six weeks.”
“And we’ll have discussions and we will show [the participating students] interviews that we’ve done specifically for the program from the Isabel Bader Center,” he explained.
This program has been a long time dream for the duo Bridge expressed, noting they “had been sitting on this idea actually for years, but it was impossible. We were always on the road. COVID hit and our touring got postponed. And, all of a sudden, everyone was more comfortable with the idea of virtual education, no matter where you may be.”
The two developed the mentorship program in partnership with Queen’s University, The Isabel, and The DAN School of Drama and Music, so they are not the only speakers that the participants will get to interact with. According to their publicist, “The program puts career musicians in the speaker seat — from video game music, world music, audio engineering, to neuroscience in mind or beyond.”
Wolak explained, “Our underlying message to all these young people who are artistically inclined is that they should not skip getting a great education, you know, that the college/university is a place for them to come and better themselves and make themselves much more well-rounded individuals, and that is going to support their future dreams.”
“Both of us have toured together and separately all over the world in different groups,” added Bridge, “And I think we both are, first of all, very fortunate to have been able to pursue this lifestyle. And the one thing that we’ve learned is that everything happens through connections with people and through talking to people. I know it’s a very basic point. But it is incredibly true.”
“And that is something else that we are trying to share with these young, creative minds; that conversation, human connections, human skills, our musical skills, and communication feeds creativity,” he continued, “We want to send the elevator back down to help the next generation walk what can be a difficult path. So, this whole program comes from a place of empathy. You know, the growth of the society is really strongly tied with how much care and attention and education we give to the young.
The program will give Kingston students the chance to virtually meet other students in Kingston and countrywide who share their interests, said Bridge. “Our first round certainly had a lot of Kingston students. In fact, I think we had over 10 in our first cohort that were from Kingston, but it is a Canada-wide program. So we also had students from Alberta, we also had some students from BC, and also from the Maritimes. So it is literally coast to coast.”
He continued, “And, of course, Kornel being a professor at Queen’s, it certainly has a very strong Kingston flair to it. And there’s also the opportunity that students in Kingston might get something that others may not, which is that after COVID restrictions are lifted, we certainly intend to host a meet and greet in person and give a backstage tour of the Isabel. Yeah, that’s something that we are looking forward to as well.”
The pair have tried to keep the program affordable for families. It is $295 plus HST, explained Bridge, “And that’s for those six sessions. So that if you work it out on an hourly basis, it’s about half the price of taking music lessons. And we hope we will provide lots of interesting, mind-bending, neuron flossing data that will be really stimulating.”
Classes start on Saturday, Jul. 3, 2021, and ongoing enrollment into future courses for the Bridge & Wolak Music Mentorship Program are available on the Bridge & Wolak website at https://www.bridgewolak.com/mentorship-sign-up.