Joelle Kuyek and her teacher Ginny-Lou Alexander prepare for a piano lesson on Tuesday, July 7. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

South Cariboo piano students see success at online exams

‘I like learning new songs and then actually getting to play them well’

COVID-19 may have put a lot of things on hold but for the piano students of Ginny-Lou Alexander, they were able to finish off the year with top marks.

On June 17, she had five of her students play their year-end exams online with Conservatory Canada and all achieved good results. This is something that pleases Alexander immensely.

Israel McLelland played Grade 3 and achieved first-class honours, Twylla MacIntosh played Grade 6 and received first-class honours, Joelle Kuyek played Grade 7 and received first-class honours, Julia Siclari played Grade 9 and received first-class honours and Noah Geerts played Grade 9 and got first-class honours with distinction, which is a score of over 90. Geerts was also awarded the Conservatory Canada Medal of Excellence for the Grade 8 complete piano exam in October of 2019, which recognizes the highest mark received by any student in his grade in the province.

“People have said to me, well you know, at your age are you going to retire one of these times and I’m not going to retire I’m having too much fun and my kids are having great success,” Alexander said. “My goal has always been to give someone the gift of music if they want it, maybe sometimes if their parents want it and they don’t at first.”

Kuyek took up piano when she was seven and is now 13 and she said she always wanted a piano growing up which she then received on her seventh birthday. This led her to take lessons from Alexander which she said she enjoys because of the calm atmosphere of her lessons that are consistent without being overbearing.

“I like learning new songs and then actually getting to play them well,” Kuyek said.

On her recent exam she said it was conducted via a laptop she set up so the judge could view her upper stores and the piano keys. Kuyek performed a handful of prepared songs, scales, a sight-reading and chord progressions for the exam which she completed with a score of 82.2.

When asked if she wants to become a teacher herself, Kuyek replied she just likes to play and learn the piano and intended to pursue it until at least the end of high school.

Alexander is also involved in organizing the 100 Mile Festival of the Arts, as she has been since its inception, and wanted to assure the public that while this year may be cancelled they’re working to plan and prepare for 2021. They hope to do it barring any COVID-19 developments but if they don’t put in the work now, she said it won’t happen.

This year the festival gave out two scholarships to Peter Skene Ogden graduates, Baylee Shields and Maya Geerts. Last year’s scholarship winner Maria Betuzzi also received her scholarship this summer, as there was paperwork that needed completing.

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