And on March 4, the recently JUNO-nominated country star will open a music school, a goal he has had in the back of his mind since retiring from Neal McCoy’s touring band in 2002.
“Once a week, you learn that lesson and you take it home. It’s up to you to really craft what you were taught that day — to come back the following week and learn again — to learn the next step. It takes steps,” Parenteau said.
“The way I look at society, the whole outlook on entertainment — going out to watch entertainment — is dying,” he continued. “It’s a matter of getting the students and the children those instruments in their hands to play, and I’ll show them ways to get out there and play.”
Parenteau said he will put shows on for his students if they show a lot of promise.
“It’s not just a matter of me showing you, and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to teach you a lesson and you’re done in 30 minutes. Get out.’ No. No,” he said. “I’m going to put shows on for these kids, so that they can get out there and play, because you have to be able to play.
“I want them to have the same experience as I had when I was 14,” Parenteau added. “Because if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t know what it would be like to be on a stage.”
Parenteau’s outlook on the gradual progression of his students’ abilities is akin to his music school and how he wants to see it grow.
He emphasized that it is important for someone to learn the ropes with everything that he does, even if that means making mistakes.
“You can’t run. You gotta walk before you run. And that’s why I’m here with my school,” he said. “Some people asked me, ‘How come didn’t you go big? How come you don’t have a bunch of teachers on board?’ I said, ‘Start small. Start small.’”
Parenteau is currently putting the finishing touches on the school. Eventually, he would like to see his quaint suite on Marquis Road expand, but for now, he said it’s exactly what he needs.
“I’m very fortunate to start off where I am,” he said, huddled inside the Tim Hortons located right next store to his school. “I feel comfortable. I feel cozy there. I love the location because of where we’re sitting right now.”
As Parenteau plans to hold half-hour sessions from 4-9:30 p.m. during the week, having a Tim Hortons close by is practical for parents who want to drop their kids off and have a coffee as they wait.
“That’s not the only factor,” he said of his school. “Families can wait in my waiting room if they want, because I have two rooms at the school … One’s going to be designed just for teaching, and that’s where I’m going to have my office.”
While opening a school has been a goal of Parenteau’s for more than 10 years, he said that he was stopping himself from achieving that goal. It wasn’t until longtime friend Wilf Savisky encouraged Parenteau to start up a school that the idea really seemed attainable.
“It’s not that my career has slowed down by any means. I’m busier now than I’ve ever been,” he said. “(Wilf) said, ‘Well, what’s stopping you?’ I said, ‘Me.’ And he said, ‘Well, just do it.’
“It was a matter of finding the right location, starting off and taking the plunge,” Parenteau said. “And I’ll work it into my schedule and I’ll fit it in, because the best thing that I have in my corner is I’ve got one of the best families for support.”
Spending time with his family, giving music lessons for more than 25 hours a week and writing and performing will be a lot to juggle for Parenteau, but that hasn’t dissuaded him in the least.
“You have to find that balance in life where you have to juggle your family and your career,” he said. “It’s a matter of working with my wife, my family and just deciding what is the best time to do all of this and get it done.”
For now, Parenteau, who is currently the only instructor at the school, is offering guitar, mandolin and fiddling lessons at a cost of $20 per half-hour session. However, he plans on bringing in another instructor for jigging in the near future.
He suggests participants — for whom there is no age limit — should begin with at least a month of lessons. Currently, Parenteau can accommodate a maximum of 50 students. Monday sessions are all booked up and Tuesday sessions are almost filled.
“I want to instil confidence while they learn,” Parenteau said. “It’s all coming as a package, and once they leave, they’re going to have confidence and they’re going to have the knowledge so that they can actually step out onto a stage and not be scared to play.”
Anyone interested in registering should call the school at 306-922-2289.