The Royal Conservatory of Music goes online to connect with students
The Globe and Mail
Listening to a virtuoso performer – say, Lang Lang – I’m often struck by a terrifying thought: What if his parents hadn’t put him in piano lessons? Would he be a frustrated office clerk somewhere right now instead of touring the world with his magical hands? Conversely, I have, during particularly soul-destroying public-transit experiences, looked around at my fellow squished-in commuters and wondered: Is there someone on this train right now who, instead of heading to their barista shift, could have been the next Midori – if only her mother had signed her up for violin class? Maybe it’s my tendency to overanalyze, or my failure, after a couple of bad experiences, to find a piano teacher for my six-year-old (who I’m sure just might be a prodigy), but these thoughts are occurring to me lately with some frequency.
Peter Simon can provide far less fantastical – and more convincing – arguments regarding the benefits of a music education. He is the president of the Royal Conservatory of Music, one of the largest such institutions in the world with some 500,000 students across North America. So, yes, extolling the virtues of music lessons is his job. But spend five minutes with the man and you will feel confident that this world view is not simply about a paycheque. Simon is a passionate and eloquent advocate for music education – not just because it helps kids conquer math or science, improve their vocabulary or attention span, or because it could possibly turn into a career – but for the love of the music. In the middle of a workday, he takes great pleasure in sitting at the piano and playing – some Bach, during my visit – which carries his mind to a whole other place. (Okay, chances are you do not have a 1911 seven-foot Steinway grand that used to belong to Lady Eaton in your office, but still.)
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