I completed degrees in Piano Performance at the University of Ottawa (M. Mus) and Western University (B.Mus). A long list of teachers include John-Paul Bracey, Stéphane Lemelin, Cécile Ousset, Donald Himes, and Alan Fraser.
After completing my Master's degree, I moved to Toronto where I was exposed to two disciplines that completely altered my approach to music and the piano. First, I began to partake in Awareness Through Movement classes that teach the Feldenkrais Method. The slow and meditative 'exercises' performed in classes seek to develop awareness of one's body through movement, reflection, and exploration. The Feldenkrais Method seeks to create long-lasting and positive changes in the body through improving the quality of movement and developing a deep body awareness through the training of the nervous system. The goals of a Feldenkrais class are are to achieve functional, efficient, easy movement. These guiding principles align perfectly with an effective approach to learning a piece of music and executing its technical and musical demands with ease and artistry.
Through my studies of the Feldenkrais method I came to know Donald Himes. Don was a Feldenkrais practitioner, dancer, pianist, and master of the Dalcroze Method. The Dalcroze Method is an approach used to teach music to students. It encompasses Eurythmics (musical expression through movement), solfège (ear training), and improvisation (using instruments, movement, and voice). The Dalcroze Method aims to help students experience music with their bodies in order to avoid abstraction and intellectualization. Students will experience a musical concept, play with it, and then begin to put a name to the idea. For me, Dalcroze Eurythmics provided an incredibly freeing and expressive way to approach the musical content of piece, understand phrase trajectory, and feel rhythm more deeply in my body.
I am most at-home performing the music of Schubert, Mozart, Brahms, and 20th century French composers. I am currently studying the music of Chopin and I am rediscovering its beauty and genius. I am incredibly fond of 20th and 21st century vocal and chamber music, particularly the work of George Crumb. Lastly, since seeing the musical Ragtime, I admit I have had a serious soft spot for the music of Scott Joplin.
Solo Each Week - 2015
In late 2014, I was inspired by the brilliant Ottawa musician, Tyler Kealey and his completion of the herculean task of filming a song every day. Impulsively, I decided that I would undertake a self-imposed challenge of my own to memorize and record a piano solo for every week of the year. Without giving much thought to the high magnitude of work and stress that was ahead of me, I began mapping out my repertoire for the year and started my film journey a few days after January 1.
My initial recordings were very rough. I was wrestling with a substandard piano as well with a deeply-rooted sense of perfectionism. Accepting that a video was "good enough" was a painful, but necessary lesson to learn through the course of this challenge.
Highlights throughout the year included spotlights by CBC and Western News, upgrading pianos twice, and being able to share my musical journey with friends and family, and a weekly sense of accomplishment. However, the greatest benefit of this project was in seeing my growth as a pianist and musician over the course of a twelve month period. It was fascinating to see where I started in January, and where I ended up in December. The stress of recording never did abate, but my ability to move through challenge increased by a large degree. This was an amazing experience, and I would recommend a similar "year of ______" challenge for anyone. It is really astounding what can be achieved when dreams are imagined, a goal is set, detailed plans are made, and then critically, a meaningful measure of accountability is in place. These four ideas could possibly be a good starting point for achieving any goal.