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Sandra Low

Confucius said " We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one"

For me, my moment of realization came about 3 months after my stroke (I suffered a stroke at age 51 on March 19, 2013) during my June appointment with my neurologist.  I was feeling frustrated and was complaining to him "Why is my recovery taking so long? Shouldn't I be able to walk better? When will I be able to get back to work?." I will never forget his reaction and reply - he paused for a few moments and then said "Sandra, 80% of the people who suffer a stroke, they die - so I think you are doing pretty good." I had to hear him say these words before I realized the enormity of what I had gone through.  But more important, was the revelation that was to come after. I was actually really lucky to have experienced such a huge negative health incident and recover with minimal deficits. And that, as Confucius said, was the moment my second life began.

Ever since I was a child, I had always loved music - I grew up watching musicals on TV and I sang all the time. I had always yearned to play the piano but never learned because our family finances were such that we were hard pressed to get the basics in life, much less luxuries like music lessons. But now, as a mature adult, it was a different story. I started piano lessons that same year in September before I was even well enough to go back to work. ( I would be off work for 8 months and it would be 10 whole months before I would be working at my 0.5 FTE pre-stroke capacity. )

My music learning journey started with the goal of learning to play music as a hobby. And it would have continued on this trajectory if it had not been for my second teacher,  in my third year (September 2015 - June 2016) of piano studies. As an adult music learner, you come across many music teachers that believe that if you did not learn music at a young age that you will not be able to achieve excellence.  I find these thoughts especially prevalent among classical piano teachers.  

 

And I think my second teacher, like my first teacher,  had this usual bias when he first met me. However, when he realized that I was committed to learning and that I was really willing to put in the time and hard work to achieve results, his attitude towards me totally changed. He started teaching me concepts of music that normally would not be taught to students learning level 2 and it was in this way that I was introduced to the wonder of music and why I started to love it.  He was only my teacher for that third year as he moved away from Calgary in the summer of 2016. 

 

For 3 years afterward, I struggled to find a teacher who had both knowledge and the passion for piano and fit me personality wise and whose teaching style fit my learning style.  Also, I really needed a teacher who respected and believed in me as my second teacher had.   After 3 years of mounting self-doubt, I finally was able to find that teacher.  I started learning with my current teacher, Andrea Kazmaier, at her private studio in September 2019.

It is November 2022 and I am entering in my 10th year of piano studies and fourth year of learning with Andrea.  I did my mock level 5 piano exam with Andrea on February 2nd and started learning level 6 repertoire on February 9th!  I am learning my first Chopin piece.  I am so excited about that!

I also love singing!  I sang in a community choir for 8 years (2004 - 2011) but started concentrating on solo voice in April 2017.  My leaning is towards jazz and in September 2021, I started studying voice with Johanna Sillanpaa, who is my fourth teacher.

Because I fell in love with piano and music learning, I wanted to meet other adults like me who loved music learning too.  I looked for almost a year but could not find the group that I was looking for.  So I decided to create one: I conceived of ‘ Adults Learning Music Support Group’  in December 2017 and our first group meeting was March 11, 2018.