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Photo by Mark Newman

Photo by Mark Newman

Trevor Nicoll recently received a Hamilton Music Industry award as the city’s high school music teacher of the year. He teaches music and special education at Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School.

Keeping the beat at MacNab

Trevor Nicoll voted high school music teacher of the year

 By Mark Newman, News Staff 

Trevor Nicoll loves banging away at the drums.

“I’ve been playing the drums since I was seven,” said the 43-year-old who is head of the music department at SirAllan MacNab Secondary School where he is also a special education teacher.

Nicoll’s hard work and desire to share his love of music with students at the west Mountain school was recently acknowledged with a Hamilton Music Industry award as the city’s high school music teacher of the year via a people’s choice vote.

“It is a tremendous honour to be recognized for the work that I love doing,” Nicoll said. “I’m very luck to work with great kids every day.”

Growing up in Burlington, Nicoll said he found playing the drums was a great way to help him with attention deficit disorder (ADD).

“I was able to go and play drums for an hour and be more relaxed and more focused on the other parts of the day,” said Nicoll, who took drum lessons from a variety of teachers in Hamilton and Burlington.

Nicoll said he originally intended to study chemistry at university but switched to music.

He has an honours music degree from McMaster University and a music diploma from Humber College where he studied jazz.

As a youth, Nicoll said money was tight for his family and he chose the drums because they were a less expensive option than an electric guitar.

He has since learned to play a variety of other instruments including the guitar, bass, trumpet, trombone, saxophone and piano and has spent time with a number of bands including the Mystic Fools in the late ‘90s.

Nicoll figures there are about 150 students taking music courses at MacNab.

He noted student interest in music has ebbed and flowed over the years and the program appears to be on an upswing.

Nicoll said the goal of the music program is to take students regardless of what their musical aptitude is and help them move forward.

“Making music is supposed to be fun,” he said. “And we always have a lot of fun in my music classes…a big part of high school is discovering your talents and passions so you can pursue them later in life.”

Nicoll noted MacNab also features the SpecialEd Rockstars, a band of 32 special education students including some with autism.

“Music helps students find creative ways to express themselves,” he said. “Ours is a music program for students of every level of ability from non-verbal students with autism through to giggling musicians preparing for university and a career in music.”

And what does it take to be a good drummer-percussionist?

“An open mind,” replied Nicoll. “A willingness to try any style.”

Dawn Martens at BuchananPark was voted elementary school music teacher of the year for the second year in a row and Jamshed Turel at Mohawk College was voted the post secondary school music teacher of the year.


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