Recent Concert Thanks

Thank you to all those who came out to support us at our concerts in British Columbia. A special thank you to those who helped spread the word about our concerts, it makes a big difference when people tell their friends about a concert. 

Another thank you goes out to the venues for allowing us to use their space. Check out these pictures of those venues:

 Langley Community Music School

Langley Community Music School

 Phillip T. Young Recital Hall

Phillip T. Young Recital Hall

 Phillip T. Young Recital Hall

Phillip T. Young Recital Hall

 Murray Adaskin Salon

Murray Adaskin Salon

 Murray Adaskin Salon

Murray Adaskin Salon

A Great Pianist Will Save Your Bacon! #MusicMonday

It can be stressful working with another musician but if you get a pianist that knows what they’re doing they can help you sound amazing! A good pianist will find you if you make a mistake, a great pianist will make your audience unaware that you made one.

Instrumentalists and vocalists at one point or another will have to perform solo repertoire that requires a collaborative pianist. I use the term collaborative pianist instead of accompanist because there really is so much more to their job than just playing the accompanying music to your solo. If you are performing a sonata that is chamber music and the piano part is often just as challenging as your part. If you are performing a concerto the piano part is taking the place of an entire orchestra and sometimes the orchestra part is reduced into a very challenging piece of music. In some cases that means the pianist will have to decide which notes to drop to make it playable. In addition to playing what is on the page the pianist must also play all this music with another musician. Playing the accompaniment for someone is a learned skill and doesn’t come easy. 

So when I tell a student they need a pianist to play with them they will often tell me they have a friend who can play piano. I will often have to break it to them that they need a pianist who is used to being a collaborative pianist. If we have enough time and both students are willing to meet for a number of coaching sessions I am happy to help them work to be a collaborative pianist, but it takes time and practice.

Tips for the soloist: Learn your part as well as the accompaniment. Some pieces (and I say this from experience) sound VERY different with the piano part. Take a look at the piano score and see where your part should line up. Listen to quality recordings, you will most likely find a recording of your piece online but it could be full of mistakes. Be aware and be skeptical of other interpretations of the piece you're working on. Meet with your pianist early so you have time to fix mistakes as there will be sections of your piece that will not go as well as they did in the practice room. If possible have a good idea of the tempo you would like to take your piece beforehand so you can let your pianist know. If in doubt of how to proceed finding a suitable pianist ask your teacher.

Tips for pianists: If you are new to this give yourself time. You may find that you have to drop awkward notes to make a passage work and that’s okay. Find a vocal teacher or instrumental teacher willing to work with you and ask your own teacher for guidance. You will have to be flexible while playing in a performance as soloists can get very nervous and things can go wrong. You may not be used to performing with another musician on stage (and a non-pianist at that!) other instruments and vocalists have different challenges associated with their instrument such as awkward fingerings, leaps or notes at the edge of their comfortable range. Be understanding and learn about different musicians. 

Communication is very important both when performing together as well as coordinating rehearsals. Always be polite, respectful, and understanding. The relationship you build with each other will make all the difference in performance. When you have trust in the other person you can take artistic risks and make beautiful music together. There is a lot of great comeraderie that comes with performing as a team. 

For more insight into the experiences of a professional collaborative pianist and to make sure you don't commit any faux pas check out this article from Jenna Douglas, writer for Schmopera:

Schmopera focuses on opera related news with interviews, articles and insights. They have many different posts that you should check out!


Have you had experience with a great collaborative pianist? Share it in the comments!

Poster for Langley Concert!


Come listen to contemporary selections for marimba and clarinet/bass clarinet. General Admission $15.

Stealth for Bass Clarinet and Marimba was commissioned from John Burke for Canadian performers Sal Ferreras and Lori Freedman. It incorporates complicated rhythms, extended range and flutter tongue techniques. 

Gregg Koyle's Kumbengo refers to an interlocking pattern found in some West African musics. At first the parts are in a kind of imitative exchange then have their own roles within the work. 

Singing Wood: Interpretations on Four Woodcut Prints by Greg Danner is the inspiration for the title of this concert. The movements include: I Lake Louise, II Singing Wood, III Willows and the Moon and IV Sierra Skyscrapers. 

Soufriere: Duet for Clarinet and Marimba by Steven Burton refers to the ocean town on the island of Saint Lucia in the West Indies. With a Caribbean feel and melodies reminiscent of those typically played on a steal drum.

#MusicMonday Festival Edition!


Of course music is always in season but summer seems to be the time for many music festivals. Strata Festival is presented by Sask New Music. It prioritizes Canadian composers and performers and is very affordable. 

Coming up next weekend is the 10th anniversary for Ritornello Chamber Music Festival. This festival not only has local talent but also musicians from far and wide. Check out the option for weekend passes!

There really is nothing like experiencing live music and to experience the first performance of a piece ever! Come out and see wonderful musicians in action. Let us know about other concerts coming up in the comments.

Concert In The Phillip T. Young Recital Hall in Victoria

While adventuring in British Columbia we will be performing at several venues including the Phillip T. Young Recital hall located in the music building at the University of Victoria. This is where Kevin earned both his Bachelor and Master of Music. 

Included will be performances of Dialogues by Shelley Marwood, Cadenzas by Alexina Louie and others! Please join us at 8:00 on June 19th.

If you aren't in Victoria don't forget that we will be at the Murray Adaskin Salon at the Canadian Music Centre in Vancouver on June 21st at 8:00 and at Langley Community Music School on June 15th at 7:30. We look forward to sharing this wonderful music with you!


Supporting Musicians and Other Artists

So many times when we hear the phrase "support your local...." we think of monetary support and that support being a one way transaction. Yes, money is a wonderful and greatly appreciated way to support musicians and artists but not the only way. I am not suggesting that you ask artists to do their work for "Exposure" as I hear you can die from exposure.  

Go to Events!

This seems like a no brainer. Musicians get the money from concerts but they also get the statistics! Funding agencies and supporters like to see that the musician has well attended and successful concerts. Not only are you supporting the musician today but helping them in the future. If money is tight there are ways you can snag some free tickets and I'll get into that a little later. I know I know, you just got home and put on your pajamas and would like to just stay home, you'll catch the next one. I promise you will get more out of a live performance than you can get from a recording.


Help spread the word of the activities of musicians. Share their concerts online, in the break room at work and with your friends. Make a point to bring friends and family to events. Offer to take a poster or two for an upcoming concert. You spreading the word carries a lot of weight with your friends.


Here's where you can easily score free tickets to events, just by giving a little time. Offer to take posters to a section of the city to promote an upcoming concert. Take tickets/usher at the event, many events need people to help take money, help people to their seats and hand out programs. If you are interested in lessons you can also trade your service for theirs, just remember that they are professionals at what they do and try to trade something of equal value.


If you are part of a church or organization with an appropriate venue offer to host an event. You might even be able to have a House Party. You can invite the musicians to perform in your home. $10 at the door or tickets online is a great way to have your friends catch up in a very unique experience. 


If you are an artist yourself see if there is a way you can pool your resources. More often than not artists are excited to collaborate. You both benefit from this experience by gaining a new audience. If you are a teacher or part of a community organization you can apply to have an artist in residence! Amazing right? Check out the links for the Saskatchewan Arts Board Grants for Artists in Schools and Artists in Communities. Check into your Arts Board and see if there is a similar program for your area. 


Don't like any of these options? Talk to your artist, find out what they would like or how you can help. Talking to your local, provincial and national government about how much you value the arts goes a long way. Tell your arts board what you value. Tell your friends and family what you value. Tell your artist that you value the work they do. 

If I've missed anything or if you have something to add please post in the comments.