Ethan Olynyk drums at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey

Ethan Olynyk drums at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey

Nanaimo teenager drumming up success

Jazz student headed to Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

What started out as a hobby has turned into so much more for Nanaimo drummer Ethan Olynyk.

“My grandmother bought me a drum set for my birthday when I was four,” Olynyk said. “Then I played it as a hobby. Just as something to do because I liked it.”

Since then, Olynyk has gone on to become a talented drummer in the Wellington Secondary School jazz program and as a member of the Dick-Olynyk Trio, which includes Kenton and Tiana Dick.

Olynyk, who will be entering his senior year at Wellington Secondary this fall, will soon be heading to Berklee College of Music for a five-week summer course.

Olynyk, who will be joined in Boston with bandmate Kenton Dick, says he is looking forward to “exposure to the new environment” as well as meeting new people.

“I am going to meet a whole new range of people,” he said.

Although drumming began simply as a hobby, by the time Olynyk reached seventh grade he started having thoughts about pursuing a career as a drummer.

Eventually the Nanaimoite decided to enroll in the jazz program at Wellington Secondary School, where he has bloomed into an award-winning drummer.

Olynyk says the program’s reputation and Carmella Luvisotto attracted him to the school, adding that they were both factors in his decision to pursue a career in drumming.

“[I felt] it was a really good opportunity to make things work,” Olynyk said.

He said that Wellington’s jazz program has taught him a lot and opened new doors for him.

“I’ve met a lot more people and I have had a lot more exposure to things,” he said. “There are a lot of different styles that I didn’t know about before.”

As a member of the Dick-Olynyk Trio, he has had the opportunity to play at a number of festivals including the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, Calif., the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho and MusicFest Canada Nationals in Toronto.

Earlier this year, Olynyk was named the Pearl Canadian Drummer of the Year at MusicFest Canada Nationals. Olynyk was also named Outstanding Soloist for drums award in the high school division at the Next Generation festival.

Olynyk says that while winning awards are nice, he remains focused on improving as a musician.

“As flattered as I am by all of it, I almost pretend it didn’t happen,” Olynyk said. “You have to keep working hard.”

While Olynyk hopes to eventually attend Berklee College as a full-time student following high school, he is currently focused on creating as many opportunities for himself as he can.

“From now until the end of post-secondary I am just going to try and open as many doors as I can,” he said.

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