Whether she’s talking about latin music or astrobiology, Kyra Dutton-Piskorik, 16, is full of verve and laughter. She’s a drummer with a love for rock and jazz music and a student volunteer with a love for her community – two passions that have earned her recent recognition.
Dutton-Piskorik was one of two Surrey students to be awarded the Band-Aid Bursary Award from a pool of applicants that included songwriters, solo artists, bands and DJ’s that participated in Band-Aid, a workshop which ran this fall at Surrey City Hall.
The bursary was not only awarded because of her wish to pursue music, but also for her community volunteer work. The award, presented by Envision Financial and Surrey Civic Theatres, honoured students who work to improve the world around them.
“We teamed up with Surrey Civic Theatres to facilitate opportunities for Surrey’s youth to enhance their musical skills and deepen their appreciation and understanding for arts and culture in our communities,” says Tracy Fortino, marketing business partner with Envision Financial.
Fortino said that the winners of the bursary were students who lived the values that Envision Financial holds dear: teamwork, community, inclusivity and leadership.
Dutton-Piskorik is part of her school’s girl community leadership group, which works to improve the lives of women by making blankets for a local women’s shelter and donating toiletries, and she’s also an active volunteer at the Surrey Christmas Soup Kitchen.
She’s also a natural at teamwork – one of her favourite aspects of being a musician is being a part of a larger ensemble. At school, she plays in the school concert band and the jazz ensemble, which she says has given her a deeper appreciation for different genres of music.
She plays rock – heavy rock, punk rock, “the whole rock domain”– but she also enjoys other genres, such as jazz and latin. “The appreciation for other genres came out of being in jazz band at school. I don’t think I would have gotten such a deep appreciation if I hadn’t joined. It’s really helped me be a better, more well-rounded musician,” said Dutton-Piskorik.
She hopes to use the bursary to enroll in a jazz intensive during the summer.
“I find that, as a drummer, you really aren’t exposed to the theory that everyone else is,” she said. “The intensive really helps my understanding of how the whole piece – how everyone and their instruments – work together. When I go to (the intensive), I’ll come out of it with a better understanding of what we’re playing.”
Her love of music and working within a larger picture represents what Band-Aid is all about. Band-Aid is a free, one-day workshop for young musicians that was created for youth, by youth. It’s a community collaboration of industry professionals and youth; participants learn everything from song writing to managing a band to stage presence, and the day ends in an open jam session.
“I hope to go every year until I’m too old to go again,” said Dutton-Piskorik.
Her band, Generation Outcast, met at Band-Aid this year. “I’d been trying so hard to find other people,” she said. “Everyone already had a band or was just a singer songwriter. They approached me at it and said, ‘hey, we need a drummer, you want to come drum with us?’”
Dutton-Piskorik’s talent doesn’t come without hard work. Every school day comes with an hour of after-school practice, with take-home practice and theory work, on top of academic homework. “And then I have my own band, and I jam with some other people on top of that,” she said, laughing. “I love it.”
Her music is such a large part of her life now that it’s strange to think that she might not have discovered her love of drumming if not for a series of coincidences.
When Dutton-Piskorik was 10 years old she began taking piano lessons, but she soon realized that it wasn’t for her. “It was not my thing,” she said. “I couldn’t feel the connection to the music. I wanted to play something I could actually listen to.”
The year Dutton-Piskorik entered the sixth grade, she decided to stop taking piano. Around the same time, her neighbour announced that she would be teaching drum lessons. “I said to my mom, ‘why not give this a shot?’” she said. “I fell in love with it. I picked it up really quickly and I think it came from my background in tap dancing. Finding the rhythm by feeling the rhythm.”
Although Dutton-Piskorik plans to pursue the sciences in post-secondary education, she said she will be taking her love of music with her. She plans to keep playing in a band while she goes through school.
Another talented Surrey student was also awarded a Band-Aid Bursary Award. Josh Bogert, 17, might already be a familiar name to some readers. In 2015, he appeared in a Peace Arch News story, “Talented teen aims high,” after the singer-songwriter won first place in the 2015 Roadhouse Live Youth Talent Search and landed a lead role in a series for Family Channel.
The Reporter expects to see – and hear – great things from these two Surrey students in the future.