Greg Quan, a music educator in public schools since 1998, is the artistic director of the choral and orchestra programs at Magee Secondary School in Vancouver, BC. He received his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Jazz from Capilano University then went on to complete a Bachelor of Education and a Masters in Music Education at the University of British Columbia.
Believing in creating beauty through sound and teaching life through music, Greg’s never-ending goal is to create the best possible musical experience through the teaching of quality literature in a safe and warm environment of respect and joy.
In September 2015, Greg was honored to be nominated and selected by UBC’s Education Department as part of their Centennial celebrations as one of their “Education 100”, the top 100 graduates from the Education Department who are making a positive difference in the world. In June 2016, he was honored to be the recipient of Capilano University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Magee’s choirs and orchestras, under the direction of Mr. Quan, have continued the tradition of excellence started by Mr. John Trepp, and the Magee Chamber Choir, in particular, is recognized both Nationally and Internationally for not only their fine musicianship, but more than that, the overwhelming feeling that one gets from experiencing a performance and the sense of love and passion between the members that really leaves a lasting impression. Most importantly we are helping these young people discover who they are through music, build connections with others, and to see a world beyond themselves.
Meeting Greg Quan
What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education?
There wasn’t one singular memorable experience that I could say I had whilst in the Faculty of Education at UBC, but it was the overall feeling everyday that my cohort and I were working together toward creating a better future for everyone. To this day, I look at every day as a new opportunity to help shape the next generation in a positive way and that, as educators, we do indeed make a difference in the lives of these young people, for better or for worse. But we can also help them to see what is possible and to even challenge them go beyond what they even thought possible – that is the magic that we can give them – to give hope that they can realize things even beyond their dreams, and that is what being in the Faculty of Education at UBC taught me.
Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?
My education from the Faculty of Education has taken me further than I thought I would go – I not only teach at arguably one of the finest secondary schools in the lower mainland with a long tradition of excellence, Magee Secondary School, which, when I was starting out was only a dream position, but going through my Bachelor and Masters at the UBC Faculty of Education has always given me the hunger to always be improving and to never be complacent in where I or my musical ensembles are at, always striving for the extraordinary. It has made me want to not only improve myself, but also find as many ways as I can to help other musical colleagues find their best selves and reach their next levels in their skills by helping to build community and sharing sessions and trying to lead by example. I have also been honoured and fortunate to be asked on several occasions to workshop or clinic other groups, speak at conferences, as well as adjudicate festivals, all of which afford me the opportunity to make a difference directly.
Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?
Issues of inclusion find their way into my daily life as through my work with students, as there is a place in my program for any student who is wanting to sing, regardless of ability or any other perceived barriers. The choral and orchestral program at Magee is very inclusive in the way that we view the program like a family where everyone is welcome if they have the desire and where we take care of each other, support each other, and each of us work hard every day to make each other’s lives better. We, teacher and students together, establish an environment where all can feel safe; where we just look at you as a person and that’s all, doesn’t matter your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, language barriers, or anything else – if you want to sing or play, have a desire to learn, and have a positive and open attitude, you are most welcome and can have a place where you can feel you belong.
Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Newly graduated folks?
Words of wisdom I would give to current or newly graduated students in the Faculty of Education? Simply to follow your passions and be hungry out there – don’t wait for an opportunity, prepare for one to come and go out and make things happen. If you don’t know something, don’t get down on yourself and don’t try to fake it, go out there and ask or find a way to learn what you need to learn to get to where you want to go. Don’t be shy about asking for help and if you come up against a roadblock, find a way around it, try to help make things work to your advantage. The stronger in your craft and more efficient you can make yourself, the better you will be to others in your charge. And don’t forget that if you’re having fun and are engaging and passionate, that will be reflected in your students too. It’s just like watching a performance – if the performers are confident, yet humble, are well prepared, and are genuinely having fun, the audience will have fun too, and maybe even come away from the performance changed, although they may not realize it until later. As educators, this metaphor applies to the hope for all our students that they come away every day with something positive that makes them think and allows them to feel and that is when you will know you are on the right path.