Musical Passports

If you’re following the Studio on our Facebook Page, you’ll know we’ve been doing a new activity in the studio this year – musical passports!  We’ve been visiting different countries as a part of our musical travels this year.

So far, we’ve visited: Japan, Germany and Austria, and North and South Sudan.  Most of the countries covered so far (and those on the list for upcoming weeks) were requests by students.  It’s been fun to listen to music from other places, and interesting to see what countries students request!

Musical Passports

Spring wrap-up

It was a fun year in the studio!  We started the year with Composer Elections, and in December, we had a practicing challenge.  Brainy the octopus collected food for the food bank for every selection played 8 times during the week.  Students have taken part in the Saskatoon Music Festival, RCM examinations, and studio events.

We had a variety of recitals, including students-only mini-recitals, a visit to a retirement home, and wrapped the year up with the spring recital.  Everyone played well, and I enjoyed hearing the progress students made over the year.

We also collected food for the food bank at our spring recital.  Thanks everyone who brought something.


Food bank donations


I was involved in a some fun performances this year.   I played with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra a few times.  The Bugs Bunny at the Symphony concert was really neat.  The music was tricky, but it was great playing along with cartoons.  I also took part in the Klarinet Kerfuffle.  It was a fun day with clarinettists of all ages taking part.  I enjoyed getting to perform as well as teach a few clinics.

I’m looking forward to another fun year of music making come fall!



Brainy’s Practicing Challenge

Starting in November, Students had to complete a practicing challenge.  The mascot of our challenge was Brainy the octopus.  As such, students were given one challenge a week.  During the week, they had to complete this challenge 8 times.  Challenges included: playing a piece 8 times, doing 8 pages of theory, and sight reading 8 pieces.  For each week students completed this challenge, they earned a penny.

Brainy the Octopus

This is brainy collecting the pennies.

Students were given 3 challenges each, and reported their results at the end of the week.  Over the course of the challenge, students earned 29 pennies.  At the end of the challenge, the pennies were exchanged for loonies at the Stuffie Bank, meaning Brainy had 29 dollars to donate to the food bank.

Brainy says thanks!

Brainy’s proud of everyone who tried their best to complete their challenges!

Brainy took photos of his entire shopping trip.  Results were announced at our Christmas Recital on December the 19th, where students also got to see photos from Brainy’s shopping trip.  (If you’d like to see the entire trip, all the photos have been uploaded to the studio’s Facebook Page.)

Inside the piano

Piano Strings

This week in the studio, we’ve been exploring inside the piano!

As studio members will know, I’m currently taking care of Gustin House’s wonderful Knabe.  (I looked up its serial number on the internet, it looks like it was built in 1914.)  The piano tuner came to replace a string (C3, or the C below middle C).  Since strings come in pairs, he put in a set,  This means I had one of the old strings left over after to show to students.

We looked inside the piano and explored the mechanics of the piano.  The string replaced was one of the lover notes, one of the ones wrapped in copper wire.  Also, we had an example of a hammer and some dampers.  It was fun to learn a little bit at the piano mechanics.  Exploring the mystery of how a piano works has been an fun activity for students in lessons this week!

Composer Elections

This year in the studio, we had composer elections. This was a fun way to learn a little about music history whilst celebrating the fun of voting!
Election Posters

As you can see, there were four parties running this year.  They were:

  • the Baroque party – leader, J. S. Bach
  • Classical party – leader Franz Joseph Haydn
  • Romantic party – leader Ludwig van Beethoven (who crossed the floor from the Classical party)
  • Modern party – leader Claude Debussy

To learn about these parties, we kept track of all the pieces played by students, listing them by era.  We checked out some books of historical instruments, historical dress, and made timelines featuring musical and-non musical facts.  We also listened to some music from these composers.

Composer Election Ballots

Voting ended on the 19th of October, and here are the results:

  • Baroque party: 20%
  • Classical party: 10%
  • Romantic party: 40%
  • Modern Party 30%

91% of eligible voters cast a vote.  We celebrated the end of elections with a mini recital, playing pieces from various eras and finishing with some music/music history games.  Thanks to all my students for participating.  This was a fun way to start the year, and a great way for students to get to know the history of the music they play a little better.

Welcome Back

The lesson year has started again, and it’s been fun having everyone back in the studio.  We’ve been learning lots of music already, and have been having lots of fun with a special project this year.  We’re electing a composer to fit the theme of national elections later this year.  Look forward to some posts detailing more about that.

Thanks to everyone who made it to the FAQ/come-and-go tea for families.  It was fun to chat about practicing tips and other matters. Students enjoyed showing their parents some of the activities we do in the studio.

Outside the studio, I’ve had the pleasure of doing some beginner band clinics.  I always enjoy meeting students new to their instrument.  Seeing their excitement is always fun, as is helping them with their first music-related lesson.

Please check back here for more updates.  I have a few posts planned to update everyone this term’s news in more detail!


Recent Performances

It’s been a fun few months for performing!

In June, I had the pleasure of performing at Gustin House for their “Art and Artists of our Land” concert, featuring Canadian music.  I played a piece called Adagio by local composer Ewan Coxworth.

The same evening, I performed at the Strata Festival.  The piece we played here was Dream Sequence by Janet Gieck.  This piece was commissioned by the Galliard Foundation, a group I am co-founder of, and currently, co-artistic director.  This group recently started their fifth season.  It was a pleasure to play some piano music as a part of the first Classical Variety Night concert of a new year of music making.

The Polyreeds also had some performances recently – we played at Primrose Manor and the Amy McLure place this July.


Thanks to all my fellow performers for these events, it was a pleasure to play with you all, and you were awesome to work with!

Post-festival news

It’s been a fun month in the studio.  Music festival was last week, and I enjoyed getting the chance to see performances from students from many studios across the city.  My other favorite part of festival is seeing the adjudicators in action.  Hearing teachers from other parts of Canada is really interesting.

Festival is also great preparation for some of the upcoming musical activities, such as recitals and music exams.  It gives students a chance to play their pieces multiple times.  They also get feedback from the teachers as well as having a chance to hear other students their age.  Students may hear new pieces, which is great as we near the end of the term – something fresh can be motivating.

I look forward to seeing everyone’s hard work at the studio recital Saturday.  Happy music making!