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A New Beginning /Sep 15, 2019

So here we are - it's September - the beginning of a new year. Unlike others who think of January as the beginning of the year - I think of September as the beginning, I guess old habits of a learning student die hard. So I have big news - I made the big leap this summer - I made the decision to leave Chinook School of Music(CSM) as a piano student ( I am still a voice student there - I began voice lessons in Feb 2019) I started my piano learning there in September of 2013 and now six years later, I have left the nest.

It is strange because I had been so worried about leaving CSM but when I finally did it, I just felt like a large weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I think sometimes what is familiar to you may be all you know and what you think you need, so it becomes a security blanket. But as you grow and develop, you realize that the world is much larger than what you know and that you need to start taking risks and leave the nest. Because life at its core is about discovery - discovery about your relationships with people - your friends, your family, your role models; discovery about concepts, ideas, sensory experiences and all these discoveries lead to the most important - discovery of self. I truly learned a lot this past summer about myself - about my strengths and my weaknesses, about boundaries and self-respect, about accepting that I am human and make mistakes, and about forgiving myself for making those mistakes. This led me to a big decision and that was that I had to look outside of the world of CSM for my learning.

Making that decision was a big step but finding a teacher that would be right for me at this time was another hurdle. I asked two piano teachers that I know and respect, Lisa Kiernan and Kathy Bayley for two referrals and they both gave me the same two names. I went to meet each teacher and even had a trial lesson with one. In the end, it came down to two things - location in the NW and what I felt I needed at this time and that is a teacher who will push me to do my best. The third thing that confirmed that my decision was the right one was that she had unique time slots open that exactly fit with my alternating weeks of work. So that is how I came to study with Andrea Kazmaier who has a private studio in Hawkwood. I have had two lessons with her now and my gut instinct was right. She really fits me - she is really enthusiastic and has a lot of cool ideas which I totally love. As a further confirmation, that she is the right teacher for me, I was able to solve the unevenness of my playing in the Bach Prelude bwv999 by using her fruit word "huckleberry". It worked wonders and I just played at a recital yesterday and was able to play the Bach piece with great dynamics and confidence. I was so happy! So that is where I am at with my piano learning.

Now on to another music love and that is singing! I had never had a voice teacher before as Deanne Matley was a jazz vocal coach not a voice teacher. Deanne moved away to Montreal in June 2018 and I did have sporadic lessons with her whenever she came back to Calgary but I felt I was not progressing as I should so I set out to look for my voice teacher. I had received a recommendation from Lisa Kiernan about a voice teacher by the name of Naomi Williams in December of 2018 who I contacted at the end of January. But she had told me that she had 7 people already on the waitlist but her private studio was in Parkdale so it's location was pretty close to me. So I did place myself on the waitlist and then proceeded to look for a voice teacher at CSM and decided to do two trial lessons with two different teachers. This is a good strategy because as a student, you should always be actively choosing your teacher and not just going with one reference. So that is how I came to study with Mandy Morris - I started lessons with Mandy in February 13, 2019. Mandy and I get along very well as she is very enthusiastic and supportive. Then in June, I received an e-mail from Naomi that she had plenty of space for summer lessons and with Mandy's approval, I embarked on a series of 8 weekly lessons with Naomi over the summer. I found that I really responded to Naomi's enthusiasm and interesting methods and I gained better breath control and my tone is really greatly improved. After the summer, I had a lesson with Mandy and she commented on how much better I sounded compared to when I had sung at my year end recital in June. And yesterday, I sang the song "Summertime" a capella at the September group meeting/performance and our group members noticed a big difference in my sound too. Yes, my summer learning with Naomi paid off in huge dividends for me. In fact, Naomi has inspired me so much with her teaching that I am thinking that I would like to take the Conservatory Canada level 5 Contemporary idiom voice exam within the next year or so. So huge progress in the realm of singing!

So I will say goodbye for now and let's see what happens next! Stay tuned!

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