About Conservatory Canada
Conservatory Canada’s roots trace back to the London Conservatory of Music, as early as 1891, later becoming the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music (which had academic cooperation with the University of Western Ontario), and then merging with the Western Board (which had operations in western Canada), to become Conservatory Canada in 1997. It is a music examining body with more than forty examining centres (including all provinces) and numerous other online examining centres, in all major cities and many small towns.
To further foster talent and potential in music through its accredited exams, CC launched its eExam platform in 2007 using Internet Midi technology developed by TimeWarp Technologies which allows 2 digital keyboards to share MIDI sounds over the internet. Around the same time it also launched its Contemporary Idioms exam stream in piano, voice and guitar alongside its more traditional classical exams. The CI exam syllabi focus on contemporary repertoire and skills that enable students to learn and gain accreditation using music that is more relevant to their social experience.
- How CC is different from other examining bodies:
- More time with the examiner
- Mini-Lessons can be scheduled with the examiner
- Both practical and theory exams can be scheduled on a flex basis year-round
- Contemporary Idioms and Classical stream exams
- Improvisation and Keyboard Harmony skills requirements
- Flexible repertoire options
- Background Questions get asked to test student’s knowledge
- Bonus marks for using Canadian composers
- Online exams use software to allow examiners to hear exactly what a student is playing in real-time
- Partial exams for all streams and instruments from Grade level 7
- Recital Assessments (no skills)
By 2020, one quarter of its exams were held online and pivoting to online exams for all students became a necessity as the global pandemic took hold. It now hears students on acoustic pianos over video conferencing technology (including from student’s homes), as well as on digital keyboards using Internet MIDI.
In April of 2020, CC began offering online webinars for teachers on how to successfully teach online and unveiled its protocols for hearing online exams. It has provided technical documents to teachers and families to get them better connected for online lessons as well as to better connect for online exams, mainly using Zoom. The Conservatory is now looking at new options for better online music teaching and examining such as the Musicology App.
CC holds weekly webinars every Friday for interested teachers on a variety of pedagogical topics including:
- New repertoire by various composers
- Using technology for teaching both online and in-person lessons
- New Theory teaching resources
- Live masterclasses
- Roundtable discussions
One of its more recent projects was to add over 250 pieces of music by women and BIPOC composers who were previously suppressed or forgotten through history to its classical piano syllabus repertoire lists. CC hopes to drive the social change required for full gender equity and inclusion of all, and it works within and outside of its teacher/examiner network to bring awareness of this music forward for all to enjoy.
Interview with Katheryn Carpenter
Q. I’ve been following your composition releases on social media and love your easy to learn pieces! What inspires you to write?
A. My dad is a songwriter, and I grew up in a family band (my grandmother also wrote songs as well)! I also have a love for jazz music (starting as a teenager) and love to improvise on music. In college, I really started doing more improvisation with my dad’s songs, as I learned chord inversions. In graduate school, I studied with a jazz piano professor doing voice and piano! My students also inspire me to write, as I have needed to write music for music lessons. It is very helpful to have additional sheet music for students and helps to make lessons more special!
Q. Let’s talk about the video we just watched of you performing your favourite Christmas carols. Tell us about how you sit down to arrange these pieces, how long it takes and how you prepare them for sale?
A. I really enjoy improvisation on hymns or other songs! I have a keyboard connected with a computer, so I can play ideas into Finale and then adjust the music! I have certain styles or patterns I like to use 1) contemporary 2) jazz 3) classical style 4) easy familiar songs (use left hand chords)! There are several considerations in bringing music for sale, and making sure all of the details are put together musically and also from a business perspective!
Q. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing. Did you always play piano? Are there any other instruments you play too?
A. Started playing piano at age 7; I asked my mom for piano and voice lessons! Our family doing concerts when I was around the age of 9. I play other instruments in the family band – a little harmonica, drums, bass, and have played the saxophone!
Q. What age range of students do you teach? Do you use a method book or teach your own compositions?
A. Age range of students – currently around the age of 7 or 8 to the age of 81! Use Faber/Faber and my own arrangements. If students have a method they already use or like, I use what they currently use!
Q. Are you currently teaching online, in-person or a mix of both?
A. Yes, I teach both in person and online! Mostly in person (maybe around 3 online at the moment)
Here are website links too:
Free sheet music: