Save Our Fine Arts Meeting September 12, 2011

The Save Our Fine Arts (SOFA) executive committee has a meeting with Alison Redford (PC Party leadership candidate) this coming Monday, September 12th in Calgary:
  • Time:  7:30 p.m. to approximately 8:45 p.m.
  • Location:   St. John’s Music Store (105 - 58th Avenue SE, Calgary), 3 blocks east of Chinook Mall.  There is plenty of free parking

This meeting is open to the public. SOFA is an organization set up in response to Alberta Education’s proposed changes to our Fine Arts Curriculum.  For more information, visit SOFA's website or contact

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

New Videos on Musespeak Youtube Channel

Videos from some our performances at SAJETAA's Hana Matsuri are up on my Youtube Channel. Here's one of them:

Proceeds from the event will go to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

We performed six Jpop numbers:

We're still playing around with the set but hope to perform it again soon.

(c) 2011 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Designs by Musespeak(tm)

Musicians hear all about creating imagery in music. For instance, if pianist is performing Schumann's The Wild Horseman, he or she should be trying to help the audience envision a horseman on a wild crazy ride. I've decided to add to Musespeak(tm)'s activities by approaching it the other way - creating music through imagery. Photography has been a hobby of mine for many years. Check out the new store - Designs by Musespeak. As you can tell, there are several common themes along with variations within those themes.

Maestro is even excited to have his own "Maestro Groupie" t-shirt and "Bad Hair Day" hats.

make custom gifts at Zazzle

(c) 2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Oscar Peterson Remembered

Canadian jazz legend, pianist, composer, Grammy Award winner, humanitarian and Order of Canada recipient Oscar Peterson passed away on December 23. He was of 82. The following are links to some articles and tributes to the great Mr. Peterson:

Oscar Peterson's website, containing news, biographical, band, journal, discography, photos, audios and more. Wikipedia article on Oscar Peterson CBC tribute to Oscar Peterson The Press Association's article, Tributes Pour In for Oscar Peterson Collections Canada website The Toronto Star's memoriam The Canadian Encyclopedia Loss of a Legend - CTV Tribute

"C Jam Blues" never sounded so fine!

This is one of the Oscar Peterson CD's in my music collection:

Chick Corea Concert in Calgary

Multiple Grammy Award winning jazz pianist/keyboardist/composer Chick Corea is performing in Calgary on November 25 at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. Chick Corea is known for his work in jazz fusion. This is one of my favourite works by Chick Corea, called "Spain":

Head to Ticketmaster's website to order tickets.

I'm looking forward to watching and listening to a jazz great in action.

"Spain" is from his Chick Corea Akoustic Band album:

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Honens MSL Concert features Jazz

This week, Honens and TD Waterhouse are pleased to present Gould Goes Downtown. The Music as a Second Language learning-performance series celebrates the 75th birthday of legendary Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. In the second concert of this three-part series, Amanda Putz, host of CBC Radio’s Fuse, joins five of Canada’s best jazz and indie musicians for performance inspired by Gould’s fascination with Petula Clark. Featured musicians: Kellylee Evans, Emm Gryner, Danny Miche and Chad VanGaalen. Info: Gould goes 'Downtown' The music of Petula Clark Thursday 25 October at 7:30 pm The GRAND (608 1 Street SW)

Tickets $30 (403) 205-2922

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

On Conservatory Canada's Contemporary Idioms Syllabus

Last year, Conservatory Canada released their Contemporary Idioms syllabus. I must admit, I was slow to get on the bandwagon at first, partially because I wanted to hear comments from other teachers and partially because I wanted to take my time looking over the requirements. A few weeks ago, I sat in on one of ConCan's workshops on the syllabus. Unfortunately, I could only attend one out of the four sessions.

Derek Stoll and Steven Fielder made the workshop exciting, interactive and dynamic. It's an exciting program. I imagine teachers are seeing this as a way to keep some students from quitting in frustration because "piano is boring" or because they "hate their songs".

Students study a variety of the contemporary genres: rock, ballad/blues, jazz, swing, Latin, traditional/folk and ragtime. Unlike the traditional conservatory systems, memory isn't stressed. However, students don't get off quite that easily. They need to learn their chords extremely well because they are expected to sight-read and improvise off a lead sheet (or jazz chart). They have to determine which style is appropriate for these selections (e.g., swing pattern, waltz, Latin).

In addition, the technical requirements are very challenging. My older students and I are finding that after years of playing the good old major, harmonic and melodic minor scales, our fingers and brains are running circles with the old church modes and jazz melodic minor scales. We'll get it though, with a lot of patience and practice! Thankfully, we agreed to use this year to learn the new requirements and to simply explore the program. Next year, they'll be more comfortable to take the test.

I actually don't mind learning all these "new" scales. I've been itching to play different technical exercises. Although adding a new program into my studio means the investment of more music (so close to RCM's upcoming release of their new syllabus and books), I am drooling over all these songs that I can add to my gigging repertoire.

My 10 or so students who are trying out the program are enjoying it so far. Some of them are a little frightened about improvising in a certain style or the new technical requirements or reading from a lead sheet but overall, the switch has re-energized their playing and practice. One mother commented that her daughter is practicing "all the time" now, which wasn't the case last year.

The program is not without glitches. I heard there were a few bumps during the last exam session. ConCan was quick to update their syllabus online to reflect the feedback they received from students and teachers. I wrote them yesterday, requesting they ensure the next edition of the syllabus includes the correct book titles as Rideau Music and I have had a tough time tracking down some of the books. They responded to me right away, assurring me that they will make the necessary corrections.

It's a bit of a challenge to figure out how the eight-level system compares to the traditional 10-grade system. ConCan clarified things a bit for me there as well. Level 1 corresponds to Grade 1 in the RCM and CoCan Syllabi. Level 4 is about Grade 5/6, while Level 8 is the equivalent to Grade 10 in the traditional programs. I have heard some teachers say that they're not going to teach beyond Level 4 (some up to Level 6). Lucky me, I have three in Level 4/5, three in Level 7 and one in Level 8.

The program isn't for all teachers or all students, but that can also be said for all the conservatory systems and beginner method books. Some students are clearly "Royal Conservatory" or "Conservatory Canada" material. Then, there are the students who could thrive in either system. And then, there's the group of students who are "just playing for fun".

Regardless of which stream is best for a student, we can incorporate elements from the other programs to enhance our students' musical education.

It is wonderful to see how the resources and programs are evolving to meet the needs and interests of students and teachers.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.