Store manager

Brownstein: Scholarship fund honors Montreal music store manager

The Sheldon Sazant Memorial Fund will allow high school and CEGEP students to take evening and weekend music lessons at Vanier College.

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Sunday marks the second anniversary of the death of Steve’s Music Store manager Sheldon Sazant, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 60. His loss was and still is felt by his family, friends and so many others in the Montreal music community.

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Among those whose lives he touched was the family of Alena Perout, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Commerce, Arts and Letters and Music at Vanier College. Perout, her husband, and their son were longtime clients and later friends of Sazant, who graduated from Vanier College.

After Sazant’s death, Perout felt that something had to be done to carry on his legacy. She has since become the driving force behind the new Sheldon Sazant Memorial Fund to benefit young student musicians.

The fund will provide scholarships, grants and instruments to students at Vanier College and local high schools who attend the Vanier College School of Music, which is slated to open in the fall and which was also directed by Perout.

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“Our whole family loved the music and frequently stopped by Steve’s, where our son, then a young guitarist, tried out new instruments and gear,” Perout said. “Sheldon was so helpful and encouraging, and we developed a great relationship as a result.”

So much so that when Perout’s husband landed tickets to The Who, one of their and Sazant’s favorites, the couple invited him and his wife, Della Druick, to join them at the concert. Toronto.

“We had an amazing time together, although he mentioned he had a bad back then and thought he had shot something,” Perout recalled of the October 2019 show. “We found out a month later that the pains were due to cancer, and a few months later he died. It is ultimately the last concert he attends.

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“His death hit everyone who knew him so hard. He was always there to help people, professional musicians and amateurs alike. If a band or musician needed something at the last minute, he would always take care of it. He was such a presence in our lives and the lives of so many others.

One of Perout’s main motivations for the memorial fund and music school was to provide students facing reduced music schedules the opportunity to attend after-school and weekend classes in Vanier.

“With the reduced music programming due to limited funds in public schools, it’s really created a big gap as a lot of potentially talented young musicians are lost in the community,” Perout said. “Vanier College therefore decided to meet this need by opening a music school outside of school hours so that students could learn about music while still young. Our goal is to make the cost as reasonable as possible to ensure access for anyone interested.

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To this end, students enrolled in the Vanier School of Music will have access to scholarships offered by the Sazant Memorial Fund. Bursaries can be used to subsidize the cost of lessons and the rental or purchase of instruments. The school will initially offer guitar, piano and voice lessons, and the plan is to expand its offerings eventually.

“We’re starting small, but the hope is that we really grow,” Perout said. “The idea here is to make music accessible to everyone, not just the elite. This can greatly contribute to a person’s well-being.

Druick, Sazant’s widow, agrees and believes the memorial fund will serve as an excellent tribute to her husband.

“I’m so touched that Alena graciously thought of this memorial fund in Sheldon’s name,” said Druick, also a Vanier graduate. “What a great way to honor his name, not to mention how lucky these kids will be to have a place to learn, play and enjoy music. It would have made Sheldon very happy. Sheldon has always believed that music should be accessible to everyone. He repeated it constantly. »

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Druick noted how Sazant, who was a Steve staple for 40 years, would often come to the rescue of musicians who had equipment stolen or lost right before a performance. He would also help budding amateurs by lending them equipment they could use for practice.

“Even those who couldn’t afford it, he told them to take guitars and pay when they could. And he always got paid,” she said. “But his real gift was to treat ordinary people like rock stars and rock stars like ordinary people.”

For more information on the Sheldon Sazant Memorial Fund and the Vanier College School of Music, email [email protected]

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