Not many can enjoy the feeling of playing music in front of sold-out crowds. Sean Kelly is a guitarist influenced by the hair band era. He founded his own glam rock band in which he is the lead singer and guitarist. Kelly was also a member of the London-based rock band Helix a group with which he was with before joining Nelly Furtado’s group. With Crash Kelly they toured internationally with Alice Cooper, Backyard Babies, and Quireboys. Kelly’s professional music career goes back about three decades as he began playing professionally when he was 16 years old. Luckily his playing schedule does not impede his everyday work as he’s a school teacher. Kelly has been with the Toronto District School Board since 2000. Kelly did not allow for his music or teaching careers to disrupt each other as he has taken some leaves of absence from teaching to go on full-time tours with his various bands. When it came to Crash Kelly, it was a crossroads for Kelly, and he wasn’t expecting the opportunity but took it when he could.
“At that point, I’d been through some bands that have had record deals, I had management opportunities, had record deals, and lost record deals, I’d already had a taste of it and I said, if I’m going to be a teacher, I’m going to make some music that I want to make. I don’t have to worry about trying to do something to attract the interest of a record company. I’m going to it’s going to make music purely for me.”
Kelly experiences the renaissance of the 70s and 80s hard rock in the early to mid-2000s the music he grew up on and shared his love of the music both nationally and internationally. He uses his experience teaching his students music as he considers himself lucky enough to be teaching the subject that he does. Although none of his students ask about the not-so-safe for classroom stories Kelly allows his students to discover the music in which he can then share his experience.
“From a musical perspective, it’s learning how to feel a groove or time. I’ve had an opportunity with some of the best drummers in the world, for example. So that’s something I can impart to my rhythm section. If I had a chance to play with an amazing saxophone player, well, you know, I can kind of reference that. So, they’re kind of the concrete musical examples I have in performance.”
His examples don’t stop there as he uses his worldly experience of travelling and performing to speak to some of the places he’s travelled to.
Music has given Kelly and his students the chance to heal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although no one has enjoyed this time Kelly acknowledges and appreciates the development of technology during the past two years. While he still thinks it is unable to beat being in a room and making music together, he has learned from his students how they were able to develop and utilize these technologies to their advantage.
Sean Kelly won’t tell you that he has the perfect schedule between he’s very fortunate that he is able to teach the next generation while also living out his own musical dreams. He has been able to parlay a music and teaching career seamlessly around each other.
Article by Jack Dion | Toronto