Interview with Jim Brough, musician extraordinaire

for ConneXions Newspaper Oct-Nov.2019
by Diane Stevenson Schmolka, Arts Reporter

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Q: Hi Jim! It is great to have you here sharing some of the highlights of your career as RCMP pianist and band member, (now retired). What influences in your childhood compelled you to become a pianist? Your origins are in Flin Flon, Manitoba. What cultural influences enabled your education in the field?
A: Every Friday evening in Flin Flon, Manitoba, (where I was born and raised), there were Friday Night Kitchen Parties in our home, (because we had a piano). Participants from different European countries, (immigrants), made up the 'band'. There was a drummer, guitarist, banjoist, accordionist, and trumpeter. I was present from the time I was born, receiving all that melody and harmony! My mother was the pianist. I began being the pianist in my early teens. Both my mother and band members taught me a lot.

Q: You moved to Ottawa to join the RCMP when you were a very young adult? Why did the RCMP choose you?
A: In 1966, The RCMP Band travelled across Canada to find a new pianist for the band. I travelled to Brandon to auditions for the 'concert pianist' position. I had all that band experience, but needed to upgrade my classical training. I was sent to Montreal to study under a professor from the Paris Conservatory. I learned much Chopin. He was an excellent teacher. I received the news from the local RCMP by phone to tell me I had to fill out the forms. As soon as I signed the forms, I was called: "Constable Brough", told to pack my bags and tour to train with them. I was on my way!

Q: You and your wife settled here and raised a family. Both of you contributed much time and effort developing the Ottawa, (later Kiwanis), Music Festival. What highlights can you share with us about that?
A: My wife, Peggy was the programmer for the Festival for many years. I fully supported her in this and enjoyed being at many of the events and classes of the Festival, but it was Peggy who was the 'energy' of the whole production. She worked tirelessly with many volunteers on her team.

Q: You also became a Royal Conservatory Examiner. I know it involved quite a lot of travel. Are there some experiences you'd like to share about those years?
A: I retired from the RCMP in the late 90's, so that left me with time to become a Royal Conservatory Examiner. I examined in all the provinces as well as the Yukon and Northwest Territories. I examined all types of pianistic performers, including those who were handicapped, or different in bone structure, and more. I found it inspiring and rewarding.

Q: We're both musicians and seniors. You're retired from the RCMP, now living here in Overbrook. What musical activities are you still pursuing?
A: I used to play for all the funeral homes, but now, they use mainly CDs, so I rarely perform.

Q: What does music mean to you that has never changed in your mind, from when you were a child?
A: Music is always present to me on radio, in the car. Music has always been a deep joy for me.

Q: What tune did your mother or father sing to you that has remained with you each day!

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you? Yes! Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?

Thank you for letting me interview you today. I hope we can create some musical events together soon! © Diane S. Schmolka, Aug. 30, 2019
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