Sixteen-year-old Madelynn (Maddy) Erickson of Campbell River has always loved playing violin and that love has brought her opportunities to travel, perform, earn many accolades and study with high-calibre teachers.
Maddy began playing violin at age six. She is now an advanced student of Joan Blackman, former Associate Concert Master for the Vancouver Symphony, travelling to Nanaimo to study with her once a week at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music. Maddy and her mother Janet have been making the weekly trip down to Nanaimo for the past six years, as she previously studied with James Mark.
Maddy has been playing violin for 10 years.
“I started out playing fiddle music when I was younger, but as I grew up, I migrated towards more classical playing,” she said. “My teachers started introducing classical pieces, more for technique than anything, and I kind of fell in love with the style and then I got a teacher who was amazing at classical playing, and that was kind of it.”
It was at that point that Maddy ended up at the NMC, studying with Mark.
In 2012, Maddy was awarded the Gold Medal Award for her Grade 8 violin exam with the highest mark in B.C. In 2014, she completed her Grade 10 violin with First Class Honours.
Maddy began asking to play when she was five or six. Her family didn’t play, but she could always pick out the violin when she listened to songs on the radio.
“I remember the day I decided this is something she really, really wants to do so I have to make this happen,” said Janet. “I picked her up from school; she was in Grade 1 and she was in her little booster seat in the back of the van and I’m at a stop sign and I’m looking at her in the rearview mirror, and she goes ‘Mom, I just really want to play the violin.’ I had been trying to talk her into the piano because we had a piano. I was like ‘okay, I’m just gong to start phoning people. I don’t know where to start, but I’ll start somewhere.’”
Maddy can’t imagine not playing violin.
“I’ve always loved it,” she said. “The thought never crossed my mind to stop. I love the challenge. It stimulates everything – there’s nothing that engages your brain more than playing an instrument, and I love that.”
For the past seven years, Maddy has participated in the North Island Festival of the Performing Arts and has represented the North Island at the Provincial Music Festival for the past six years.
In recent years, she has also played in the Campbell River Festival.
Along with the violin, Maddy also studies piano with Shelley Roberts in Campbell River and has recently completed her Grade 9 piano exam with First Class Honours. Maddy has also completed all of her Rudiments, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Harmony, two Music History courses and is currently working on Analysis with Sandy Havelaar in Campbell River.
For the past six years, Maddy has played with the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra and she is currently playing with the Serenata Chamber Orchestra.
At age 12, Maddy won the Provincial Fiddle Championship for her age category, and she continues to fiddle for fun.
Maddy volunteers to play fiddle at local old age homes and she volunteers with the fiddle club at Sandowne Elementary.
Maddy is currently in Grade 11 and a part-time student at Carihi. She is doing her main academics at the school and doing her electives at home. Looking ahead, Maddy would like to pursue music in university, and she would like to play with an orchestra.
She would also like to teach. She currently teaches and loves it.
“It’s amazing how teaching my own students has given me a new perspective as a student,” she said. “[Teaching] is very rewarding. I love seeing how people get so excited when they finally get something or something finally hits them, and it’s just like this lightbulb moment. It’s so cool.”
Janet says it has been very rewarding as a parent to watch Maddy do so well with her music.
“It’s been amazing to watch her,” she said. “It’s taken us into a whole different world, a whole different group of people. It’s just been so amazing.”