Songwriter | Artist & Musician | Storyteller | Teacher
My Literacy Journey
Firstly, in case you're wondering, my name is pronounced like "raven" with a "j".
Now that that's out of the way, we can begin.
I am an aspiring songwriter and emerging country music artist, a former classical violinist, a future professional storyteller, a washed-up athlete-turned-coach, and a soon-to-be educator.
My literacy journey started when I was a baby, when I woke up in my crib singing instead of crying. And so music, and music literacy influenced
and defined my life from that moment on. I was born and raised in Nelson, British Columbia to a prairie-born, prairie-farming father who stayed at home to raise me and my brothers, and a music teacher mother, who had a vision that her first born child was a champion violinist. There I was, at only 4 years old in my first violin lesson, learning how to play music before kindergarten. My music literacy journey developed and flourished significantly over my childhood and adolescence, and well into my adulthood. More on that later...
Around the time I started my violin lessons. My typical literacy began. I taught myself how to read. Before I started kindergarten I
listened to series of audio books that accompanied a phonetical children's book series. I was able to identify which symbols made which sounds as I followed along with the book and listened to the narration. At that time, I recognized the name and shape of letters through pre-school literacy lessons and a mother who was a first grade teacher. At age 4, I could read-aloud Robert Munsch. Being literate in terms of reading and writing from such a young age, fuelled my academic literacy in school. I was a strong reader, I was strong writer and I liked to learn. School felt engaging, and I felt the drive to achieve. I remember in sixth grade, math was fun and I loved to challenged myself. I formed an affinity in maps, and storytelling, and books. I was fascinated and transfixed by the world of Harry Potter, so much so that I formed quite a strong literacy in the world of Harry Potter - to this day, it's safe to say it's my favourite series of books.
I'm thankful my genetics and development gave me an athletic and sport literacy. My dad was a collegiate hockey player and track champion, and my mom was a swimmer and horseback rider. I had the literacy from a young age to play sports. I started with Nelson Youth Soccer, learned to skate and played many years of minor hockey, then in high-school excelled as a student-athlete in basketball and volleyball, the latter of which I even played on the varsity team in university.
Over the years since, I developed a passion for coaching volleyball. I love the game - playing, refereeing, coaching, and formed an acute
volleyball literacy - something I'll continue to seek learning and growth in as progress in my career.
I credit this next literacy to opening the door to education, and not on purpose. I got a job as a lifeguard when I was 17 years old. It was my gas money job, and then in university it became my beer money job. After I graduated from college, I took a full-time lifeguarding job that paid really well. Over the next five years, I took on every opportunity in to learn and gain knowledge and experience in the aquatic industry, working full-time jobs in aquatic management, holding titles like Aquatics Director, Aquatics Coordinator, and Head Lifeguard. I became certified to instruct/teach lifesaving and first aid courses, certifying teenagers and adults as lifeguards. I was even teaching people how to teach swimming lessons. I held a leadership role and embraced it. I activated a brand new set of skills, emotions and methods, incorporating empathy, perception, empowerment and social awareness, that gave me significant literacy in leadership, mentorship, facilitation and role-modelling. I still offer a significant amount of expertise in the local aquatic industry, and actively engage with others to utilize my
lifeguard and leadership literacy.
While I explored some of my other literacies from teenage to adulthood, the music literacy that infiltrated my life from an early age has always played a significant, defining role in my life. I became proficient in classical violin, playing in chamber groups and reading music at an advanced level. I can read music as fluently as the English language. In high-school, at Mount Sentinel, I joined the band program, already miles more literate in music theory than any of classmates, almost to a detriment. I played alto clarinet for a year, and then bass clarinet after that. In ninth grade, I joined the high-school jazz band, playing tenor saxophone. I excelled, eventually leading the jazz band. All of this was on top of my violin lessons, challenging Royal Conservatory of Music examinations; at 17 years old, I got my first pay check for playing in the Symphony of the Kootenays, and technically became a professional violinist. I played in the pit orchestras at local Capitol Theatre productions like My Fair Lady, Into the Woods, and Beauty and the Beast. But, there was a point in my adult life where my music literacy took a backseat, as if it was almost ignored. I became taken with a certain social literacy, if you know what I mean. Parties, girls, and good times with good friends took priority. When I graduated university, I started exploring my music literacy again and joined an amateur symphony orchestra. A few years late I moved home and started playing music again with my dad. I turned my classical violin playing into fiddling. Then, all of a sudden, I started playing more music with my dad. We started touring, playing shows all over the province. Soon, we decided to make it official and we started a band called Son of John - the name of which is a play on our last name, Johnson. Son of John started playing more shows together, joining up with the British Columbia Country Music Association. We started writing and recording songs together, and I taught myself how to play guitar and an instrument called the mandolin, which I play regularly in the band. We have had the privilege of playing at some iconic venues around the province and into Alberta, like the Calgary Stampede for example. It has been an incredible pleasure playing music with my dad, and for the first time, we're officially released music that led Son of John to a nomination for a BCCMA award. This new music literacy that I've formed over the last few years is destined to launch more personal accomplishments and achievements within the music industry, which I'm incredibly excited about.
Now that I've settled in to a certain learning literacy - one that I've neglected for half a decade since I was last in school, I'm starting to cajole my ambition and potential out from within. Connecting with others, especially children, aged 5 - 18 is something that I've received much joy and hubris in, and I'm looking forward to continuing that throughout my education career.
There are many literacies I am lacking, however. Simple, specifics like a culinary literacy, a political literacy, a science literacy, or a white-water rafting literacy, I have not obtained or mastered. I have an unfortunate lack of social justice literacy as well which ultimately leads me towards apathy of those topics and concepts. As an educator, or future educator, I can identify that promoting a growth mindset in my classroom, and by actively role-modelling a growth mindset, especially on social justice issues - I myself will be able to learn along with my students.
My literacy journey has blessed my life with knowledge and experiences in many different areas, from music to
lifeguarding to coaching - and now I'm embracing new literacy learning to be an educator. I'm looking forward to a lifelong literacy journey.