Emma Donnelly in piano teacher Ginny-Lou Alexander’s home studio in 100 Mile House. Beth Audet photo.

100 Mile House piano student awarded a Conservatory Canada Medal for Excellence

Emma Donnelly was awarded for achieving the highest Grade 2 Classical Piano exam in B.C.

A 13-year old, Grade 8 student in 100 Mile House is being awarded the Conservatory Canada Medal for Excellence for her Grade 2 Classical Piano exam.

The distinction is given to the highest exam mark in the province for each subject and grade.

When Emma Donnelly received a letter in September, congratulating her for her achievement, her mother said she was “really proud.”

“She works hard,” said Keri Donnelly, specifying that Emma practices a few hours outside of her lessons every week.

Practice hours increase when she’s preparing for an exam or performance.

Emma has been playing the violin for over eight years, according to her mother.

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“She was three and she said, ‘Mommy I would love to play violin,’ so when she was about four-and-a-half, we found a teacher.”

This came as a surprise since neither of Emma’s parents plays music. When asked where the urge came from, Emma said she can’t remember.

“I don’t know. I just like it.”

Emma decided about a year ago that she wanted to take piano lessons as well, to help her get into university. She said she aspires to a career playing music.

Her piano teacher, Ginny-Lou Alexander, who has also been teaching her theory for years, said it’s good for an aspiring musician to have another instrument in his or her arsenal.

According to Alexander, piano has been a quick study for Emma.

“She’s been writing the scales in theory,” said Alexander. “She’s way ahead in the theory because she has to be for her violin, and so because she knows her scales in her head, they’re way easier to play on the piano.”

Technique is typically what holds musicians back, she said, but not in Emma’s case.

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Emma countered her teacher, saying that learning piano was “not super easy,” but agreed that, yes, it was likely easier for her to pick up than someone with no musical background.

After one year of lessons, Emma is already studying Level 3 piano. That’s on top of Grade 8 violin and Grade 7 theory.

Oh, and she plays Oboe in the Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School band.

Emma and the eight other music students who took exams in Alexander’s studio on June 18 all achieved over 80 per cent.

“It made my year, made my day, made my week, made my everything,” to see the students’ exceptional results, she said.

The Conservatory of Canada invited Emma and her piano teacher to a ceremony at the Wolf Performance Hall, in London, Ontario, on Saturday, Nov. 10, to receive the award.

Unfortunately, they will not be able to attend.


90 to 100 per cent = first class honours with distinction

80 to 89 per cent = first class honours

Emma Donnelly – first class honours with distinction – Grade 2 exam

Sarah Robinson – first class honours with distinction – Grade 2 exam

Esais Louwersheimer – first class honours – Grade 1 exam

Joelle Kuyek – first class honours – Grade 6 exam

Noah Geerts – first class honours with distinction – Grade 7 exam

Christine Jordaan – first class honours – Grade 7 exam

Amy Jordaan – first class honours – Grade 7 exam

Julia Siclari – first class honours – Grade 7 exam

Maya Geerts – first class honours – Grade 9 exam


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Emma Donnelly in piano teacher Ginny-Lou Alexander’s home studio in 100 Mile House. Beth Audet photo.

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