California-born and Toronto-raised Zoe Beckerman is a second-year Engineering student at Queen’s University, with a killer voice and some serious instrumental talent. Zoe has been singing and playing piano and violin for most of her life, and recently started teaching herself guitar. When she isn’t busy studying geological engineering, Zoe puts her energy into doing what she loves to do most: sing. This is Zoe’s first year performing with the all-girls a capella group The Caledonias—one of four a capella groups on the Queen’s campus. The Caledonias are currently rehearsing for their upcoming Spring Concert on April 7th.
Although Zoe doesn’t plan on making a career out of singing, her passion for music is lifelong: “It’s been a part of me for so long, that I can’t imagine my life without it. No matter what I do, I’ll always have some sort of attachment to music. Whether I’m in a choir when I’m older, attending musical concerts and shows, or taking some time in the day to listen to my favorite artists, music will always have to be there for me to be happy.”
Here’s what Beckerman has to say about her musical upbringing, finding inspiration, and every day creativity at Queen’s University.
Her start in music:
“I come from a very musical family, so music is in my blood. I began piano lessons at age 3, and violin at age 7. I started singing almost right after I could talk, but I continued to take vocal classes in school as well as joined the four additional choirs my school had to offer. I took lessons for a year with Elaine Overholt, the vocal coach for the movies Hairspray and Chicago, which was pretty cool too. To be honest though, even if I hadn’t started music lessons or had any sort of formal training, I have no doubt that I would’ve found my way to music eventually. It’s just something I love to do.”
“Other artists are my biggest inspiration. I love exploring smaller bands, and finding cool covers that give popular songs a different edge. Youtube makes this easy… and it’s a great form of procrastination. Once I find a cover or song I like, I look at their channel and listen to a bunch of their other posts. I get especially excited when I find people around my age doing covers and home recordings. It’s even inspired me to take up guitar so I can accompany myself. I started teaching myself how to play a couple weeks ago, and it’s been a fun experience thus far.”
What it feels like to perform:
“My favourite part of performing is watching the audience’s faces. Their expressions say so much, even if they aren’t conscious of it. My goal of every performance is to make everyone in the room feel something from the music – it doesn’t have to be the same for each person, but I want the music to connect with them somehow. That’s what’s hard about being a musician; connecting with people. Whether it’s through the lyrics, melody, or even just your presence on stage, good music always evokes some sort of emotion. Your ‘favourite song’ is your favourite song because it makes you feel a certain way. That’s what good music does. It makes you stop for a second and just re-connect with yourself. I don’t think I’ve quite gotten to that point as a musician yet, but I’m working on it.”
The importance of creativity within the Queen’s community:
“The ability to find creative outlets within the Queen’s community is huge. All of us get stressed, loaded down with tests, labs, papers, and assignments, and at one point or another, just want to quit and go home. That’s when I take a break and find something to let my mind relax for a bit. Finding that outlet is key. For me, it’s music and Netflix, but for others it might be a club, committee, or a good read. Queen’s is great for that—the possibilities seem endless.“
Advice to aspiring artists:
“Do music for you. Don’t be afraid to write bad lyrics or sing bad notes. Not everything you produce as a musician is going to be perfect— it’s only natural. I’m a bit of a hypocrite saying that as this is something I struggle with, but I’m working on taking my own advice. Don’t be afraid to try new things musically either. You’re never limited to one genre. Try singing jazz or something out of your comfort zone. I actually started beat boxing a bit recently, which has put a really cool twist on certain songs. Be open to change because you might be pleasantly surprised.”
Zoe will be performing with fellow Caledonia member Bethany Knapp this Sunday at the MUSE X McCafe Acoustic Session.
Catch the Caledonia’s Spring Concert April 7th in Wallace Hall. The performance starts at 2PM.
Abi Conners, Online Editor
Photography: Emilie Nolan