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Royal Conservatory Alumni Fondly Recall Learning To Play Piano (Part Two)

In the second of our two-part post, more esteemed alumni of The Royal Conservatory recall their early experiences learning to play piano, and reinforce the value of music education on their careers and lives.

By the time I was a teenager, I started to get like a tiny bit more sense in my head and I realized that there were so many tremendous musicians and I began to appreciate the depth of talent of someone like Elton John or Freddie Mercury from Queen or the guys in Yes or Genesis, those progressive rock bands. I began to realize what a depth of musicality and musicianship they possessed and that I’m going to have to dig in a lot deeper (laughs). So I went to The Royal Conservatory in Toronto and I went all the way through and studied that until I was nineteen and I got a degree in Classical Piano Performance. By that time I had enough technical ability to play what I needed to play. 
- Lawrence Gowan, Styx

In my piano lessons as a youth, I was infatuated with the Conservatory piano repertoire. I am now a professional jazz saxophonist and composer, and can easily attribute the lessons that I learned through the Conservatory method as being essential in building my character as a composer and musician later in life.
- Christine Jensen, Saxophonist and composer

I was blessed to be able to study the Royal Conservatory curriculum under the tutelage of my piano teacher Mrs. McNally. Not only did I learn much about the beautiful history and harmony of music, but I also gained invaluable lessons like discipline and perseverance. Some of my fondest memories include those of my dad sitting beside me at our gorgeous Mahogany Upright, humming along while I practiced for hours on end. To this day, all of our trophies and awards are on display near the piano in the family home! 
- Tanya Kim, Anchor, CTV’s eTalk

Completing my ARCT with The Royal Conservatory taught me art's essentials: discipline and joy.  Who'd have thought that studying piano would also teach me to be a writer?
- Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean (pictured)

I studied the Royal Conservatory curriculum for ten years with my piano teacher Adela Contreras in Ottawa. Over that time I learnt a great deal about music, discipline and myself. From a rigorous curriculum to competing in the Kiwanis music festival The Royal Conservatory helped me achieve more than I ever thought possible in music.
- Ben Mulroney, Anchor, CTV’s eTalk

I’m proud to be the holder of… certificates in Grade 8 Piano, Grade 2 Theory, and Grade 3 Harmony.  They basically memorialize the only formal training I have, so thank goodness for The Royal Conservatory.
- Paul Shaffer, Music Director for The Late Show with David Letterman

I studied piano for almost 10 years, every year working towards passing The Royal Conservatory of Music examinations. I went to lessons by myself, practiced solo (and occasionally not at all, ahem), but on exam day, when I entered that beautiful brick building on Bloor Street and heard a multitude of instruments sounding a multitude of notes, I was reminded that I was part of a community — one that placed great importance on a love of learning music.

Music is one of my true passions, and The Royal Conservatory of Music helped foster an appreciation of — and a desire to continue learning and sharing — the art.
- Maryam Siddiqi, Editor, National Post

For the last several years I have been trying to learn how to play the piano.  When I started to take lessons from an instructor from The Royal Conservatory of Music and started preparing for my exams, my playing improved.  I am now studying for my Grade 4 Piano exam and I am having fun learning and playing.  Thanks to my teacher, Judy Chapman, and The Royal Conservatory of Music.
- Karen Stintz, Toronto City Councillor and TTC Chair

Read Part One of this post!

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