Thursday, May 7, 2009

Orillia Workshop

Orillia is a city north of Toronto and our master classes and Gala were in the Opera House in the centre.

Photo 1: The sign outside Orillia Opera House

The organiser of this event was Sherry McKinnon ( and again she organised a very full (but very enjoyable) day.

There was a very good range of students – from multiple players of Stairway (!) to good performances of New Kid (from Jazz Preludes) and At the Rodeo (from Connections 8) There were tiny players aged 5 or 6 right up to teenagers who towered over me (I always said “great performance!” to these players) There was even a moving performance by an adult performer, who had heard Moonscape (Connections 4) and had determined to play it. Two things stood out in Orillia – one was an entire “MYC” ( - check it out) class – every last one at Moonbeams 3 Level – who played very well as a class and demonstrated that the MYC way of teaching really does encourage good listening and confident public performance. The other was the very large number of students who had elected to play with backing tracks This was interesting – not one broke down or even got seriously adrift with the track. I always tell students (and teachers) that if you have all of the piece under your fingers and can tap a beat with it, playing with the track is actually easier than not playing with it. The track isn’t really supposed to be like a metronome – it should be providing a stimulating enhancement of the style you’re playing. It was great to hear so many students getting to grips with ensemble playing at such a relatively early stage.

Picture 2: a student concentrating hard at the Orillia master class

The Gala was again a really special occasion. A comment from a parent:

Thank you so much for getting our son to take part in the Christopher Norton program. He is such an incredible pianist/teacher. Our whole family truly enjoyed the gala and our son was so inspired he was up until 10:00 PM playing various Christopher Norton songs! So much for studying for the exam last night.

Finally a photo from the Orillia Gala - a proud parent and 2 of her children, both very good performers on the night:

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