Despite a challenging year for young music students, at least two more have distinguished themselves with Royal Conservatory gold medals for the highest marks in their respective classes for all of Atlantic Canada.
Norah MacDonald, 9, a Grade 4 student at Sydney River Elementary received the gold medal for the preparatory 'A' exam for young piano students while Alex Newcombe, 12, a student at Centre Scolaire Étoile de L'Acadie, received the gold medal for Grade 2 piano.
Both are students of Sydney music teacher Katherine Fraser who says their medal wins are especially meaningful when you consider the circumstances of the times.
“I am proud of all my students and most particularly am proud of them during this time of COVID,” said Fraser. “So much of their work was done by remote learning and this caused many new challenges. The internet connection itself, the student’s instrument, which I have no knowledge of in “normal” times, the difficulty with the slight delay caused by the internet. Rhythmic issues were particularly hard to address via Zoom.”
If lessons weren’t hard enough, doing their annual exams proved to be more difficult as well, she added.
“Several of my students reported that they were more nervous doing their exams remotely rather than live. The exam students this year missed out on the Kiwanis festival and the regular Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers’ Association recitals to help prepare them to present their exam.”
MacDonald is the daughter of Dr. Chris MacDonald and Sherri MacDonald and is also involved in competitive gymnastics and soccer. Newcombe, the son of Debbie Newcombe, also swims competitively and plays soccer.
“They are well-rounded young people,” says Fraser. “Both of these students integrate many things into their daily lives.”
Both students will be featured in a virtual recital and ceremony on Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. online.
“They have already submitted their recorded performances complete with bows,” says Fraser. “In normal times they would travel to Halifax and play at a gala recital in the concert hall of the public library — no such excitement this year.”
Elizabeth Patterson is the culture reporter at the Cape Breton Post.