Lillian Morpak may just be the only four-year-old in the entire world who actually asked to be put into piano lessons.
“I think one of my friends was in them and I thought it looked really fun,” she says.
‘Fun’ seems to be one of the main motivational elements behind Morpak’s involvement in music. Now almost 18, she began acoustic guitar lessons at age 11, and then, after being shown a classical guitar song, decided to switch from steel to nylon strings because she thought the finger-plucking instrument, though challenging, would be more enjoyable to play. This year will be her first at VIU, where she will take her hobby to the next level in the bachelor’s of music—classical transfer program.
Morpak comes from a musical family. Her father is in a classic rock band that regularly plays local gigs, and sometimes she joins them for jam sessions on the bass guitar. Her little sister sings and plays the guitar, and her cousins often come over for family music sessions. With a life-long love of music and an orchestra full of family support, it is not surprising that Morpak decided to extend her musical education into university. In grade 8 she began thinking about studying music in post-secondary, and she decided the VIU Music department was the place for her. She’s excited to spend the next two years studying music theory, history, and composition, as well as to meet and play music with new people.
After completing the VIU transfer program, Morpak isn’t sure which path she wants to take her education, but there is no doubt she will be carrying some sort of instrument along the way. She says her favourite part about music is that it is a good way to relieve stress and express emotions.
“I put as much emotion as I can into my playing,” she says. “I put a part of myself into my playing.”
She recalls one of her recitals when she was 14. She moved an elderly gentleman to tears with one of her classical guitar pieces: a traditional Jewish song that reminded him of his childhood. The man’s gratitude and the powerful feeling of reaching someone through her talent still inspire Morpak today. She has considered becoming a music teacher, but recently learned about music therapy. If she hadn’t gone into music, Morpak says she would have gone into psychology but she chose music instead partially because “psychology is surrounded by negativity.” However, music therapy uses music to “[help] people positively,” and therefore she has started looking into the field that combines both of her interests.
She has many different choices in terms of which instrument she will bring with her into university; in addition to piano and guitar, Morpak played saxophone in her school band from grade 7 up until this year when she graduated from Dover Bay Secondary, and she started taking private lessons on the trombone a few months ago. However, she says she will choose classical guitar because “it is fun to play and a good challenge. And I love the way it sounds!” Though the Spanish-sounding instrument is her favourite, Morpak is no music snob. She listens to “all sorts of music,” from Pink Floyd to The Beatles to the soundtracks from movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings. Her instrumental aspirations don’t end with the beginning of university either. The next instrument she wants to learn how to play is the cello, because it “sounds beautiful, filled with emotion, and warm,” and though she has played both classical and jazz music throughout her high school band career, she says she is open to playing different kinds of music as well. She would even start a band if she met the right people.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of music I play, I just enjoy playing music with people.”
Morpak may have her university plans in sight, but her goals for her career in music extend beyond schooling. She hopes one day to play classical guitar at weddings and events, to teach music either publically or privately, and to get better at writing her own songs and perhaps even venture into the recording studio. It seems that when it comes to music, Morpak still has the eagerness and curiousity of her four-year-old self, fingers ever ready and itching for a new set of keys.