Masashi Usui: Music to his Ears

2014-2015 Issue 2

Masashi usui3

Masashi Usui has over 18 years of experience playing the saxophone. The Japanese musician studied with master saxophonist Masato Kumoi, earned a Bachelor of Arts in instrumental music, and played alongside renowned musicians around the world. Yet, when he applied to the Master of Music program at McGill’s Schulich School of Music, he was told that he needed to improve his English in order to be admitted.

“I had studied on my own in Japan, but there are few opportunities to practice in daily life so it was difficult. It was not enough for McGill,” says Usui. “I decided to take an English program and get a certificate to use for my admission.”

Usui enrolled in the School’s Certificate of Proficiency in English – Language and Culture, completing three levels of study. “I got many things out of this course,” he says, such as improving pronunciation, meeting new friends, and learning more about Canadian and Quebec culture. “I think the program was excellent, and I want more Japanese people to know about this excellent English course. I’ve already told my friends and my music students about it.”

Usui also developed close ties with his teachers. It was his instructors who encouraged him to attend his second Schulich audition in person, rather than submitting a video. “The live audition was the same week as my exam in the Advanced A language course, but my professor pushed me to go. When I got my acceptance, I made sure to tell them.” Not only was Usui accepted, he also received a prestigious fellowship valued at $10,000 per year for the first two years of study, and an additional one-year fellowship valued at $2,500.

Usui used his in-class assignments to learn more about Montreal’s music scene, especially jazz. Many of his evenings were spent in the city’s jazz clubs, where he performed alongside musicians who’ll serve as his professors when he begins the master’s program in September. But he’ll be back on campus before then to begin the Certificate of Proficiency in French. And he’ll definitely be spending his evenings in jazz clubs. “I’m really looking forward to playing in Montreal again.”


One Response to “Masashi Usui: Music to his Ears”
  1. Devaki Groulx says:

    I am so happy for and proud of Masashi. I was his first teacher in the IELC program, and even though he arrived a week late,he was able to catch up very well. He even contacted me by phone while in Japan to make sure he had everything.
    For his newspaper project , he wrote a wonderful article comparing the jazz scene in Montreal to that in Japan.Luckily it was at this time last year when the Jazz Festival was in full swing. He also kindly learned and played a song for peace written specially for a ceremony to commemorate the planting of a tree for peace. His generosity of spirit in sharing his talent and love of music has got him where he is today.
    Congratulations to Masashi. I’m sure your future will become brighter. Maybe next year we’ll see you playing in the Montreal Jazz festival !