Tag Archives: students

So how about this climate crisis and what’s it got to do with music?

I’ve asked this question of myself many times over.

Last summer, my partner, Matthew Lie-Paehlke, thought to provide ideas for decreasing our individual and collective carbon footprint. We founded Climate Pledge Collective to help people choose actions that lead to a sustainable lifestyle.

Then, the IPCC Report (short version: Office of Climate Education – for teachers) broke the news on the dire state of our climate. The authors of the report, which was released in 2018, stated that we must keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius in order for future generations to have anything resembling a habitable planet.


March down University Ave. Canada-wide Fridays for Future Student Strike for Climate,  May 3, 2019


At Toronto City Hall – Canada-wide Fridays for Future Student Strike for Climate – May 3, 2019

Our patterns of consumption, a complex tangle of global interdependencies that have relied on yet another entanglement of human oppressions, must be drastically changed — arguably, overturned — to ensure the survival of species beyond our lifetime. This includes our own human survival.

To date, carbon emissions are still rising, and regions around the world are reporting the hottest temperatures recorded. In Ontario, wild fires are still burning, as they are in Alberta and have been in BC. Communities have been evacuated by floods.

9 million people have run out of water in Chennai, India.

Recently, we were surprised to hear that our friends, academics among them, had not heard these facts.

This is part of why I’ve cooked up a Climate Crisis Facts Campaign (we’re deciding on July 15 if we’ve raised enough) to put this information on TTC subway cars. Matt and I have been working hard all year and see a need for information to reach more people.

BUT WHAT DOES MUSIC HAVE TO DO WITH IT? Music has always been a way for me to reach people. I personally don’t know right now how my music-making can help fix this, or even make it better.

What I do know is that through music, I have learned to empathize deeply with people through joy, pain, and everything in between. And music still provides a means for communicating or gesturing beyond words.

Through music, I have learned about cultures, and the colonialist forces that thread through the ways I (we in the “Western world”) have been able to thrive (sure, my family had to immigrate for that to happen — a story for another time).

Those sounds that met my ears, those beats that replaced my heartbeat, called me to listen for life. It’s time for us to save life.

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New Year, Old Tracks

I meant to post some Student Salon highlights before the new school year, but time does seem to fly…

Here’s the playlist featuring my students’ commitment, work, and musicality:

Don’t forget, lessons begin September 11, 2017. Looking forward to seeing my students again!

If you haven’t already done so, do check out the Student Compositions page.

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A New Lesson Year About to Start!

I’m bracing myself for an incredibly busy year as I get back to my PhD work while teaching, playing, and watching a fascinating baby grow up. I’ll be getting lesson plans ready during the remainder of the summer to get a head start on all the work.

This year’s registration deadline is September 1st and lessons begin September 14, 2015. Don’t forget to check out the Calendar throughout the year for lesson and holiday information.

I’m looking forward to seeing my students again!

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House Music

On Saturday, May 23, we held the fourth annual Student Salon, an event I started so that my piano students could have a space to play without the stress of a formal recital. For the past two years, I’ve added the requirement that they play by memory. Keep ’em on their toes. I could see them more worked up over this and sometimes I’ve wondered whether this takes away from the casual music-sharing feel of the event. I even added a program so that they commit to pieces they have decided to play. No backing out last minute! It’s a tough thing, challenging them and making it feel like performing isn’t this be-all, end-all moment.

Last Saturday, though, I think it worked out. A couple of students surprised me by deciding to play, by memory, pieces that we had decided in advance to play with the score. I know how difficult this is in front of an audience and how vulnerable one can feel. And they handled it with humour and honesty. Students shared interpretations and even their own compositions. Every one of them got in the cypher and did their thing.

They're growing up! Missing some people in this shot, unfortunately.

They’re growing up!
Missing some people in this shot, unfortunately.

This could not have happened without the supportive audience that created such a comfortable environment for musical risk-taking. I wish I had this while developing as a musician. Instead, I only had recitals and competitions in which the pressure to be perfect made me anxious and messed with my focus on the day of performance. I learned a lot in those settings, but sometimes I wonder how I ever got through them still loving music.

So, thanks to everyone that participated for filling my home once again with warmth and music.

(P.S. I never did mention what I played despite being kind of asked that day. It was the Prelude from Bach’s Partita No. 5.)

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Student Music Salon

Last December, the first Student Music Salon was held at my home studio on a sunny afternoon.  It was a casual affair, showcasing student compositions, duets, and solo repertoire. For most of them, it was the first opportunity to perform, and they did so with incredible presence and focus. Best of all, it was great for me to see the joy on their faces as they played, despite their expressed anxiety beforehand. As one student said, “I feel nervous and excited” — Perhaps the best combination possible.

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