Singing summer camp for adults


After two years performing in a choir, Calgarian Everett Marwood says his group singing experience left him feeling flat.

But he changed that by signing up for Mount Royal’s adult singing classes.

UPDATE: See our Sing! video to hear what instructor Louise Campbell says.

Even though he was familiar with basic musical notation and could play “one-handed keyboard, reasonably well,” Marwood, 68, says he was longing for a better singing experience.

“I find that with choirs, the director is hesitant to provide individual feedback as they don’t want to embarrass anyone,” he said. “So any feedback is general, and one is unsure if it applies to them. That diminishes the individual learning experience. So I was looking for more voice instruction that was specific to me.”

Marwood’s quest to learn more as an adult singer took him online last year and specifically to adult enrichment classes offered by Mount Royal Conservatory.sing!

“I knew Mount Royal had an extensive musical program. That’s how I found Sing!”

For five days last summer, Marwood joined the summer camp for adults. He says the class delivered what he’s been searching for.

This August, popular instructor Louise Campbell and her Sing! Adult Summer Class is back.

“Louise’s class met all of my expectations. It was a small group and Louise worked hard at making individual feedback comfortable. So I felt I received good voice training in a comfortable and non-judgemental environment,” he said.

“I’m a big fan of Louise and her program.”

The five-day summer camp for seniors (Aug. 5-9)  aims to foster the joy of singing by developing basic musical skills (rhythm, melodic memory), basic vocal technique and choral skills (breathing, pitch matching, two- and three-part harmony), repertoire of songs, and learning more about the basics of reading music.

“Singing can be a bit of charged subject for people because many people have been told that they can’t sing or just feel like they can’t for whatever reason,” says instructor Louise Campbell.

“First and foremost it’s a lot of fun. Anytime you try something new, it’s a boost for your confidence,” she says.

Register now for Sing! Adult Summer Class online or by phoning 403.440.6821.

By Sherri Zickefoose, March 25, 2014


Gabriela Montero: Stunning improvisation in a classical world


Don't miss Gabriela Montero in concert April 1, 2014 at Mount Royal's Leacock Theatre.
Don’t miss Gabriela Montero in concert April 1, 2014 at Mount Royal’s Leacock Theatre.

In a world where classical musicians strive for perfection playing every note written, making it up as you go along is largely left to jazz.

But Gabriela Montero has managed to play both sides, winning over critics and fans alike.

The Venezuelan-born American pianist was a child prodigy, performing concertos with the national orchestra at age nine:

VIDEO: “>Gabriela Montero, 9, plays Haydn D Major piano concerto

While Bach, Beethoven and Mozart were no strangers to improvisation, the classical world has long moved away from it.

But as a classical musician, Montero brings a wealth of knowledge and sheer talent to improvising the work of the masters. And the results are stunning.

VIDEO:  Montero improvises movie score for 1922 silent film Nosferatu in Berlin, January 2014

Montero puts it best: “It’s spontaneous creation. It’s spontaneous music making. And is it perfect? I don’t know. It’s not, I mean it’s something that is just born and dies,” (she told CBS 60 Minutes).

See Gabriela Montero in concert April 1, 2014 at Mount Royal’s Leacock Theatre.

She is teaching master classes for our Academy for Gifted Youth students as part of our Wyatt Artist in Residence program.

And stay tuned for our announcement for the star-studded lineup for the 2014-15 Wyatt season.

 Sherri Zickefoose, March 18, 2014

Music training boosts brain development: study

Music With Your baby

It’s what parents and teachers dream of: early music training is proven to help children succeed in the long run.

Music training for youngsters may increase the neural connections in regions of the brain associated with creativity, decision making, and complex memory, according to studies from the Society for Neuroscience.

And research also finds that introducing babies and small children to rhythm, melodies and instruments early can be even more helpful to them later in life.

Researchers are saying that beginning children’s music training before the age of seven has the greatest impact on brain anatomy in adulthood.

Tira 331336.a9097LRThis August, Mount Royal Conservatory is offering its popular MusicMakers five-day summer camp for children.

The fun-focused day camp lets children ages 5-9 explore performing arts including song, dance and drama. It offers enrichment for children already in Conservatory programs, or an introduction for students new to the Conservatory:

  • learn songs and play singing games from around the world
  • discover the excitement of storytelling
  • create and perform on pitched percussion instruments
  • step out to the beat of jazz
  • perform for family and friends in our closing concert

Noteworthy: Registration for this fall’s early childhood music programs at Mount Royal Conservatory opens May 14, 2014

Call 403-440-6821 for more information or register here.

By Sherri Zickefoose, March 11, 2014

Academy alumna Andrea Hill reflects on her beginnings

andrea hill.jpg

She’s living in Paris and performing on stages all across Europe now, but Calgary-born mezzo soprano Andrea Hill says her heart will always be in her hometown.

Spring will see her performing throughout France and at Italy’s world-renowned opera house La Scala.

But the singer always makes time for family here in Calgary.

During a visit home last week, Hill took some time to reconnect with her family at the Mount Royal Conservatory, too. The Academy for Gifted Youth alumna chatted with us about her exciting future performances, and reflected on her beginnings as a student in the Conservatory.

“I spent a lot of time at Mount Royal as a kid,” said Hill, who had an early musical start playing piano at age two and singing in children’s choirs.

But after singing her first solo at 14 (we asked: it was “When I Sing” written by Canada’s Bill Henderson for the movie Bye Bye Blues), Hill’s focus on performance became stronger.

It helped that her Mount Royal Conservatory voice teacher was also artistic director of the Academy for Gifted Youth vocal program.

Elaine Higgin Case encouraged her talented teenage student to pursue vocal training through the Academy.

“Elaine was the catalyst,” said Hill, 33. “I come from a very non-musical family, a very academic, engineer-oriented family. Before I met Elaine, music was a hobby. It was never something I considered doing for a living. She was the person who showed me it didn’t have to be something on the side. She encouraged me.”

By age 17, Hill successfully auditioned for the Academy.

That stepping stone led Hill to McGill University where she earned a Bachelor’s of Music with high distinction. She also gained a Master’s of Music at the University of Maryland.

Looking back, Hill says she’s grateful for her early Academy training.

“It gives something of a launching pad. You’re still at home but you have these wonderful teachers and clinicians. These kids are speaking with acclaimed artists to learn firsthand to see if you like it, do you want to work on these languages, the pressure of having to learn it and get it mounted. It really adds more depth.”

Since 1980, the Academy training program has prepared young students for future music study. Not all students pursue a professional performance career, but the program sets them up for success.

“It’s quite intense,” said Hill. “I remember learning IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet’s system of symbols for pronouncing vowels and consonants in all languages). I met people at  McGill and during my Master’s degree who had not yet learned IPA, I learned that in the Conservatory. They really do go in depth into the tools that are required.”

Hill now keeps a hectic schedule traveling the globe for festivals and performing on the operatic stage. She is well-known for her talents throughout Europe. She recently performed her first role as Carmen to critical acclaim, and landed the role of Hansel in the Paris Opera’s upcoming production of Hansel and Gretel.

“Mostly my life is singing, learning scores and operas, and fun creative projects on the side, like piano and knitting,” she said.

“I’m getting to a point where I know how to use my own instrument.”

Check out Andrea Hill’s website for details on upcoming performances.

By Sherri Zickefoose, March 4, 2014