June 20, 2018

Alumni Spotlight: Sean Perrin BMus '09

Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.
Sean Perrin
Sean Perrin

Since convocating in 2009 with a major in Clarinet Performance, Sean Perrin has been busy working both behind the scenes in music related industries and performing. Perrin currently holds many roles including Online Sales and Marketing Coordinator for Backun Musical Services, Clarinet Faculty at Mount Royal University Conservatory, and Host and Founder of Clarineat.com and OKPodcast.com.

In his role as Online Sales and Marketing Coordinator with Backun Musical Services, Perrin ensures the successful and smooth operation of the international online retail portion of the company. Backun is a Vancouver-based clarinet manufacturer that makes some of the world’s most sought after clarinets and accessories for some of the world’s finest clarinetists. Their level of innovation and attention to quality is truly amazing, and it’s a been a pleasure to be a part of the team. For Perrin an added bonus of the roles has been the international travel opportunities, which have been a wonderful opportunity to see new things and meet great people. Perrin describes this role as a perfect fit, as it combines his skills in music, sales, human interaction, and technology.

Find Perrin's latest album DreamSong  online today.

What is your favourite University of Calgary memory?

My favourite UCalgary memory would be all the time I spent as a member of the University of Calgary Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Glenn D. Price. Nothing prepared me more for my future as a musician and for life in the real world. We toured across Canada and the USA, worked with illustrious guest conductors and artists, recorded CD projects, and more. Although we worked hard and accomplished a lot, we also found time to bond deeply as a team. I made lifelong friendships and professional relationships in this ensemble and I’ll never ever forget it.

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

My favourite campus hang out spot would have to be the Grad Lounge, although I think it has a new name these days. Back in my day university ensembles had a tradition to go enjoy a pint (or “two”) after rehearsals together. The after concert conversations and networking often proved to be as valuable as the performances themselves and I always felt comfortable and relaxed there. The food was always great, and they always stayed open late special just for us and ensured we were well taken care of. It’s changed a lot, of course, but I still pop in every once in a while for lunch meetings while on campus.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?

My advice for any undergrad taking music performance is to start learning skills unrelated to music immediately because they will surprisingly teach you amazing things about music itself if you apply the right mindset. Careers are not made in the practice room, you have to actually get out there and do something! Mostly you’ll need business skills since being a freelance musician is exactly like running a small business, but the product is you and your abilities. Get as many business and computer skills as you can, and maintain an innovative mindset. In short, get out of your comfort zone. I personally took classes in audio recording and production, innovation, urban planning, philosophy, psychology, and each class has contributed in its own way to my music career, however surprising this may seem.

How has your career evolved?

My career has evolved in more ways than I can imagine, and I hope it continues to do so since I love change. I started out wanting to play in an orchestra after graduation (and I do continue to have many wonderful opportunities to sub locally with the CPO, Red Deer Symphony, and other local ensembles) but I started to realize this wasn’t really the path for me, and especially after enduring a serious injury to my right hand in an accident, I started moving in other directions. Today I teach music workshops at the Mount Royal University Conservatory, I recently recorded my first solo album with the help of a grant from the Alberta Foundation of the Arts, and I combined my passion for technology with my love of music to found a niche podcast called “Clarineat” (clarineat.com) which is a clarinet-focused podcast listened to all around the world. I also just launched my second show which analyzes the musical and cultural impact of my favourite band, Radiohead. It’s called “OK Podcast" (a play on Radiohead’s 1997 album OK Computer) and can be found at OKPodcast.com. All of this takes place in addition to my full time job with Backun Musical services, and my wife and I are expecting our first child! So needless to say I keep very busy, and things are about to get a whole lot busier! I look forward to the continuing evolution of my career, and being open to new directions and opportunities as they arise in the future.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best part about my job is that it never stagnates, and I get to learn new things and grow every single day. What could be better than that?

How did your arts degree help you get to where you are now/your current career?

I feel that the most important element of any university degree is not necessarily the direct skills learned, but the fact that it really teaches you how to think meaningfully, learn efficiently, and keep an open mind. It’s of course obvious that many music skills came from the degree, but there are so many ways that being a university student changed my life for the better and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to have attended post secondary education.