On a personal note, David let us know that he is “a professional musician and educator.” He continued, “Previously, I spent 4 decades in the entertainment industry as a musician and producer in three countries. I’ve worked with the famous, infamous, hopeful, and hopeless on big stages, little stages, and occasionally on TV; playing jazz, pop, orchestral, and occasionally country music. It was a colorful career. I have a parallel career, that continues, in the arts as a synthesist, percussionist, and pianist playing avant-garde and experimental music.”
When asked how he best studies, David had some great tips for fellow students. “I block off time during the weekdays for a bit each day. On the weekends, I burrow in the office for longer shifts. I do not listen to music when I study. However, I do take a break every hour, and a walk every two hours.”
As for his advice for new students and/or prospective students? David had two main points: “You need to be a strong independent learner,” and “It takes longer than I anticipated to complete assignments.”
When he is not busy studying, David enjoys playing the drums and the xylophone with his friends, as well as spending time with his wife. In fact, he considers his wife “of seven years … a retired professor of education and former associate dean” to have had the greatest influence on his desire to learn.
He also finds time to read, mentioning Time Power by Brian Tracy as the one book that has made an impact on his life. “It is a book that made me confront and organize my priorities at work and play. I return to it every couple of years and reassess my progress,” he stated.
In addition, he let us know about his most memorable vacation, which was “a summer on the Mediterranean playing my piano, drinking wine, eating paella, and hanging out.”
His most memorable AU course so far has been PHIL 240: Ancient Philosophy: The Rise of Reason in a Mythic World. “It brought wonder back into my life. The intellectual life of a 63-year-old man can get a little stale. It is a real kick in the pants, as my grandfather used to say. I find the readings inspiring and the assignments humbling. In short, it has been, and continues to be, a transformational experience,” he explained. He’s found his online learning experience to be “effective.,” explaining, “I work online as a musician/educator which helped temper my expectations.”
Although David’s experience with communicating with his tutors has varied “from tutor to tutor,” he mentioned that “everyone has been encouraging.”
The Voice Magazine asked David what his first project would be if he were the new president of AU. He stated that he would “fight to preserve the independence of the university from political interference.”
We also asked David which famous person, past or present, he would like to have lunch with, and he chose French author and philosopher Voltaire. He explained, “He was a real hell raiser against entrenched authority and funny as can be. Lunch would be at a Michelin starred restaurant in the French countryside sometime in June. The wine would flow as he gives me an update on heaven.”
David also let fellow students know about his most valuable lesson learned in life. “Who you associate with determines everything. It is a lesson I unfortunately learned late in life,” he stated.
And for his proudest moment? “The A I earned on my first course at Athabasca. It was ENG 255. My high school career was a disaster, though my college days were a more successful endeavor. However, as my first degree was in jazz composition, I was unsure if I was up to the discipline of academic study.” Best of luck David!
At times, in an online learning environment, it can feel like you are all alone, but across the nation and around the globe, students just like you are also pursuing their Athabasca University (AU) studies! Each week, The Voice Magazine will be bringing you some of these stories. If you would like to be featured next, do not hesitate to get in touch!
A number of MWM articles were nominated this year. I picked this one from the list as it has a little bit of everything, a student with a bit of an unusual current career, a connection to the issues of the time, some advice, and comments toward both the positive and negative aspects of the AU experience.