Will Stroet was a university student studying education when his gift for children's music became apparent.
"I started writing songs for kids as I was studying to be a teacher. Music is just a great way for kids to learn things," he says.
"My first song, I remember very well. I was working on a language arts lesson plan and I was sitting at my desk thinking 'How can I do this in a unique and original way that engages?' I picked up my guitar and came up with basically a musical game. That was the start of it."
Stroet played the song for fellow students at the University of British Columbia and had a hit.
"I thought I was on to something," he says. "I started doing it for fun and discovered a bit of a talent for it."
He continued with performance as his career as an elementary school teacher progressed.
"I taught music at a French immersion school in Vancouver; I taught for five years. In my final year of teaching I did about 100 performances," Stroet says.
"I was at the point of having to make a decision — pursue the music more seriously or continue teaching."
He is still grateful to his school district in granting him a leave of absence for a year to test his potential in music. He hasn't looked back six years and five awards later.
Will Stroet and the Backyard Band perform at Millennium Place on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Stroet's songs are often educational — he writes about bike safety, reading and exercise, along with "Henry the Meowing Dog" and "Oh My My, Hippopotami."
The concert will be a very interactive experience, he promises, and suitable for children aged two to six.
"All of my songs have something in them that invites the audience to engage with the song," Stroet says.
"A lot have actions, some have dancing or singable choruses. It is extremely important for the kids, they want to participate. In my opinion, you have to be a high-energy person in this profession."
It is Stroet's first big show in Whistler; previously he performed at the Whistler Children's Festival.
The day after Whistler he flies out to Nashville to record his next album, his ninth— if you count both his English- and French-language albums.
"It's very exciting," he says. "I've always produced my albums in Vancouver in the past but this is a unique opportunity to work with an amazing producer in his beautiful studio."
Will Stroet and the Backyard Band is preceded by a Superhero party and crafts in The Gallery at Millennium Place at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets are $13 for children 12 and under, $20 for adults, and $18 for WAC members. A $60 family pack ticket is also available.
Tickets can be purchased at the box office or at www.artswhistler.com.