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Spring Has Sprung!

Hi everyone,

I started writing this blog on World Piano Day on March 29th, 2023! I hope all you pianists out there celebrated by spending quality time with your pianos.

The other photo below, of the beautiful plum trees, was taken recently by my mentor and former boss, Man-Chiu Poon, when he was in Japan with his family in the Suzukka Forest. Spring has sprung, at least in other parts of the world, if not in Calgary.

I know that a lot of you know this already, as most of you subscribed because of the story, but for those of you that do not, I will talk about it briefly here. I attended a CBC First Person Writing Workshop in Nov/Dec 2022 where I first began to write the first draft of my music journey. Many drafts and changes later, I was thrilled to finally finish the story and see it published on March 19th. I was also able to take advantage of the opportunity to record myself reading my story and hear it aired on CBC radio on Daybreak Alberta with Paul Karchut that same morning. That was thrilling enough already.

But the excitement grew even more because there was such a positive overwhelming response to the story. My website blew up with all the new subscribers to this newsletter. Welcome to all of you! In addition, many of you from across Canada decided to reach out and tell me about your music journeys. And some of you have already attended or plan to attend a trial meeting and are interested in becoming members. I am so very happy to have been able to use the publication of the story and CBC's reach to get the word out about this group. I hope that our group can support you in your individual music journeys and be the community that you are searching for.

A lot of adult learners may feel that our group might be too serious for them because many of us endeavour to take exams. But there is a method to our madness! Many group members have shared their stories and they are similar to mine. When I first signed on to take piano lessons in September 2013, it was novel and I was just happy to learn. However, during the second half of that first year, I fell into the habit of putting my piano practice at the bottom of my list instead of at the top.

Music lessons are very expensive so I was thinking of ways to motivate and discipline myself to practice. I wanted to be made more accountable for my learning. I discussed this with my first teacher so that was how, in the second year of my learning, I came to be learning level 1 repertoire and and took my first exam in June of 2015. And ever since that time, I have used exams as both motivation and as markers for the milestones in learning that I achieve. And I am in good company. On the Members Page, I have listed all the exams that group members have recently undertaken, registered for or aiming for.

Another way that music students can motivate themselves is to participate in music festivals. A number of us participated in the Alberta Piano Teachers Association (APTA) festival which runs annually in March. It was wonderful that Calgary members were able to provide moral support to each other by attending each others' performance classes. One of the things that all adults struggle with, is performing in front of others. So I applaud all the members who participated and put themselves out there. Way to go! But I want to give a special shout out to Linda. She did so well at the festival that she was called back to perform at the APTA Showcase Concert on March 18th. Bravo Linda! Our vice-president, Kaylene, participated in another festival, the North York Music and Performing Arts Festival(NYMF) in Ontario which runs April 14-30. This festival has both a virtual and in-person participation stream.. Kaylene entered the virtual festival by submitting a music performance video. Details of both festivals and members' participation can be found on the Members' Page

I attended the Edwin Gnandt Concerto Concert with the Ambrose Arts Orchestra on March 17 @ 7:30 pm at the Calgary First Church of the Nazarene. Kaylene and her daughter play in this community orchestra and it was a wondrous program of music that we heard. I really loved the opening piece Hebrides Op 26 Fingal's Cave by Felix Mendelssohn. It was evocative, lyrical and mesmerizing. The Ambrose Arts winners of the Concerto auditions were highlighted at this event. Soprano Chelsea Woodard was fantastic in her expressive delivery of her two arias.

But it was the performance by Pianist John Matthew Calbasa that captivated me. Mr. Calbasa performed the piano concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, also known as the Emperor Concerto by Beethoven with the Ambrose Arts Orchestra. His fingers were flying on all the piano runs but it was his sweet delicate delivery of the pianissimo moments that completely took me by surprise. He received a standing ovation for his phenomenal performance! To have been able to attend a concert of this calibre at minimal cost - tickets were $20 - was a steal.

The musicians that play in this community orchestra are top-notch. Kaylene just joined this orchestra last September and she told me that there is a lot of hard work involved with learning all the repertoire for each concert. But she really loves it and I can totally see why. The next concert is on April 21st and admission is by donation. The details can be found on the Members' Page.

And this is an alert to the pianists among my subscribers! There is a free performance and learning opportunity from Fourtitude that will occur in Calgary on the evening of May 6th 6-9 pm. Fourtitude is a quartet comprised of four piano faculty members from the University of Lethbridge. They are coming to Calgary to give a quartet performance and a piano masterclass.

Fourtitude teaches summer piano camps called the Lethbridge Piano Intensive (LPI) for children, teens and adults. The adult LPI is running on two successive Saturdays on June 3rd and 10th from 9am-6pm. Fourtitude is coming to Calgary to promote this program. The cost for the adult LPI is really reasonable at $125. You can attend virtually or in person but the cost is the same.

I have attended the adult LPI virtually, two years in a row in '21 and '22. I am aiming to attend LPI in person this year for the first time. (And yes, I think it is worth driving to Lethbridge from Calgary to participate.) On May 6th, you have the opportunity to see and hear Fourtitude perform and to see the how the four teachers interact and give feedback in a piano masterclass. And as with any masterclass, you will learn even as an observer. It is a good introduction to LPI if you are curious or have questions about the adult camp. You can find out more by clicking on this link and scrolling down Lethbridge Piano Intensive Summer Programs | University of Lethbridge (

Please contact me via the contact form if you are interested in observing this free quartet performance/masterclass. Type in "Re: May 6th" at the beginning of your communication about your music journey after you fill in all the required fields. This way, I can be alerted that you are interested in the May 6th event. I will contact you about the details of the event. If you are in Calgary, we will invite you to attend in person to be an observer, if there is room. If we reach capacity then you can still observe virtually as I will be Zooming the event for our out-of-town ALMSG members.

The flurry of activity as a result of the CBC article has died down now. And with the work on this newsletter completed and sent to all of you, I will have more free time. I will be reaching out to those that have contacted me but who I have not had time to follow up with, as of yet.

I encourage subscribers to reach out to me via the contact form to tell me about your music journeys even if you are not currently thinking of joining as members yet. I would love to get to know who you are, what your instrument is and where you are located in Canada. I prefer the contact form because it keeps the information about your journey organized on the website. I switch to direct email communication if and when you become a member.

So have a great couple months attending concerts, performing arts events and of course, learning your instrument(s) of choice. My next newsletter will land in your inboxes late May/Early June.

Musically striving with you always,


(This article will also be published in our blog)April 5, 2023


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