2016 November Newsletter

Moving to Calgary

As many of you know, I have confirmed that I am leaving Fort McMurray after the end of this term in December, as my wife is transferring to Calgary. For piano lessons, I will send out individual emails to refer you to another music teacher. Please be patient as there are a limited number of piano teachers in town and their schedules may already be filled. If you are taking theory, I am happy to continue our lessons over Skype or a similar video calling service.

Finally, a big thank you to all my past and present students for making Fort McMurray an awesome place to teach! If you enjoyed having me as your teacher, please consider sending me your testimonial by email or commenting at kwokstudio.com. Your feedback will help me improve and continue teaching music in Calgary.

Studio Recital

Our final studio recital will be on Friday December 16, tentatively scheduled at 7pm. Please dress accordingly as this is a formal, ticketed event which will be held in the Suncor theatre (same building as regular lessons). Family and friends, please come support your students! I will be performing as well, and there will be a reception with snacks and drinks afterwards. If you need to leave early or arrive late, please let me know and I will prepare the order of performances accordingly. If you are unable to attend, I strongly suggest we prepare for the outreach performance on November 25th (see below).

Outreach Recital

I am arranging for a casual performance downtown at the hospital’s extended care ward for myself and any of my students. We are tentatively scheduled for Friday November 25, from 2pm-3pm. This is a great opportunity to give back to our community, and a chance to perform for those of you who will be away on our December 16 recital. If you would like to participate, please let me know right away.

Winter Gala

UpTown’s annual winter gala performance is on Dec 9. Come see performances by the string ensemble, vocal ensembles, and dance groups of UpTown’s classes. I will be performing a solo and accompanying the choirs.

Piano Tuner

If you have an acoustic piano, we now have a local piano tuner in town! As part of regular maintenance, pianos should be tuned once or twice a year, after seasonal changes in humidity and temperature. Please contact Dianne Paré at 780-531-0699 or at MsDiannesPiano@gmail.com.

Important Dates

  • Nov 25, 2pm: outreach recital (downtown, TBD)
  • Dec 6-9: last week of regular lessons
  • Dec 9, 7pm: UpTown Winter Gala showcase (Suncor theatre in Holy Trinity)
  • Dec 13-15: make up lessons
  • Dec 16, 7pm: studio recital (Suncor theatre in Holy Trinity)


Studio registrations – 2016 Fall

Welcome back everyone! Fall music lessons will be starting the week of September 13 and ending December 9, with a make-up week from December 13 to 16. My teaching times are now Tuesdays through Fridays, 3:30pm to 8:30pm.

If you haven’t already contacted me, please email a preferred weekday and time for your lesson registration, as well as an alternate day and time. I will confirm the lesson time and forward payment instructions to you.

Updated studio policies

During the last term I had multiple students miss months of lessons, which not only took up my time but also made it impossible for them to progress. Starting this term, registrations must be for the full term (13 weeks), and missed lessons are no longer credited towards the next term, but can be rescheduled or made up. If you will be missing more than 1-3 lessons, please be aware that I cannot reschedule every one.

I’ve also added updated my recommendations for practising. You can read the updated policies here:http://www.kwokstudio.com/policy/

Future terms

Due to external circumstances, I regret to say that I may be leaving Fort McMurray after December. Please know that I am committed to teach until the end of this term, and I will do my best to transfer you to another studio if I am unable to teach in January. I am currently speaking with other music teachers in town to find room for transfer students. Theory students can continue taking lessons through online calls. Please let me know if you have any concerns, and if you no longer wish to register, I fully understand and can refer you to another teacher upon request.

2016 April Newsletter

Summer term

Don’t forget that lessons resume this week! I will be arranging make-up lessons with you individually for the end of term. Finally, please inform me right away if you will be registering for summer lessons, starting June 12.

Marie-Josée Lord Trio

Fort McMurray Music Teachers Association has been offered a special 10% discount on tickets to the classical voice concert this Friday April 15 at Keyano. To redeem the discount please use the code MJL online at this link or at the Keyano Box Office. The discount code is valid for advance purchases only and will expire April 14th at 11:59 pm. Full concert details here.

RCM summer exams

For those of you doing RCM exams, the deadline for summer exam registrations is June 1. Theory exams are on August 5-6, and practical exams between August 8-20. If you are not sure whether you should register for this exam session, please consult me by email or at your lesson. You can register for exams at https://examinations.rcmusic.ca/, using my teacher number 105796.

Music Heals donations

Music Heals is a foundation supporting music therapy services across Canada, and they are looking for used iPods and other MP3 players to repurpose for therapy. If you have an old music player you no longer use, please consider donating it to this program. Mailing and drop off locations can be found here: http://www.musicheals.ca/ipod-pharmacy#donateipod.

Upcoming Dates

  • April 11: lessons resume
  • April 15, 8pm: Marie-Josée Lord Trio (Keyano Recital Theatre)
  • May 24, 7:30pm: studio recital (Suncor Theatre)
  • May 30 – June 5: lesson make-up week
  • June 12: summer term start

(The fundraising recital on April 24 has been cancelled)

2016 March newsletter

Music Festival

The schedule for music festival has been posted at http://oilsandsmusic.com/2016/03/07/2016-festival-schedule/. If you registered for festival, please check the date and time of your performance. Note that some festival times are during school hours.

Composer Workshop

As part of music festival, adjudicator Christine Donkin will be holding a workshop on composing music for beginners. The workshop is at Westwood Theatre on Saturday March 12, with an entry fee of $15 (payable at entrance). Please RSVP by email to oilsandsrotarymusicfest@telus.net if you are interested in attending. Full details at https://ormfmusicfestival.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/2016-meet-the-composer-workshops.pdf

Fundraising Recital

I am performing with other music teachers in town for a recital on April 24! Please mark your calendars as this will be an excellent opportunity to hear our local musicians. The recital will be fundraising for Sorrentino House in Edmonton (see http://www.compassionhouse.org/ for details).

Studio Recital

Our annual recital will be held on Tuesday May 24, tentatively scheduled at 7:30pm. Please let me know if you cannot attend. We will discuss what repertoire to perform in private lessons.

Upcoming Dates

  • Mar 12: music festival: composition workshop (Westwood Theatre)
  • Mar 21 – Apr 10: no class
  • Mar 19 – Apr 18: music festival, piano (Suncor Theatre)
  • Apr 9: music festival, instrumental (Westwood Theatre)
  • Apr 24: Sorrentino House fundraising recital (Westwood Theatre)
  • May 24, 7:30pm: studio recital (Suncor Theatre)

2015 November Newsletter

The studio masterclass is coming up on Nov. 27. Even if you aren’t playing in the masterclass, come and join us for Christmas games after!

Also be sure to check out the concert on Nov. 28, featuring Dr. Jim Sherry (trumpet) and Bang Lang Do (piano) from the faculty of the University of Dubuque, along with Fort McMurray’s high school and community bands. This is a rare opportunity to hear great wind music!


The masterclass is a chance for myself and my students to perform their works in progress. We are scheduled for Friday, November 27 at 7:30pm-8:30pm, but if you are performing in the masterclass and can’t make this time, please let me know immediately and I will try to accommodate you. The masterclass will be in Suncor Theatre in Holy Trinity High School, which is the same building that UpTown! lessons are held in.

In this informal event (no dress code), students perform their piece and get a mini-lesson on their work so far. Once all performances are finished, we will have some musical games with Christmas tunes, snacks, and prizes. Please let me know if you or your student has any allergies.


I am now offering saxophone lessons – please contact me for details.


Listenings is a series about the music I enjoy. This month’s listening is Benjamin Britten’s cantata Rejoice in the Lamb.

Upcoming Dates

  • Nov 21, 6pm: FMMTA 32nd Annual Scholarship and Awards Recital (Keyano Recital Theatre)
  • Nov 27, 7:30pm: studio masterclass (Suncor Theatre at Holy Trinity)
  • Nov 28, 7pm: Dr. Jim Sherry and Bang Lang Do concert, with Fort McMurray Community Band (Suncor Theatre at Holy Trinity)
  • Dec 6-10: make up week (I will book lessons with you individually)
  • Dec 11: UpTown! Winter Gala, featuring performances by students and instructors from UpTown’s music and dance programs
  • Dec 12, 2pm: RCM theory exam: advanced rudiments

2015 October Newsletter

I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving break! Don’t forget that there are no classes this week, between Oct 11-15.

Please check out the Upcoming Dates below for the many concerts coming next month, including the newly listed Alberta Symphony Orchestra promotional tour featuring a talented string quintet and Fort McMurray’s own soprano Cara Brown!

RCM winter exam registration

For those of you doing RCM exams, the deadline for winter exam registrations is November 3. Theory exams are on Dec 11 and 12, and practical exams between Jan 18-30. If you are not sure whether you should register for this exam session, please consult me by email or at your lesson. You can register for exams at https://examinations.rcmusic.ca/, using my teacher number 105796.

Community bands

The community band and jazz bands which I play in are looking for new members (age 14 and up). Rehearsals are Tuesdays or Thursdays at 7:30pm in Holy Trinity. If you are interested you can contact me or register online through the Suncor Theatre box office at Holy Trinity.

If you play a woodwind instrument and prefer a smaller group, my woodwind chamber ensemble also has room for more players! Expect jazzy Christmas songs and tunes from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. Our first meeting is Oct 17, so contact me right away.


Listenings is a series about the music I enjoy. This month, we have the cool jazz of Dave Brubeck Quartet’s album Time Out.

Upcoming Dates

  • Oct 17, 1pm-5:15pm: Elizabeth Clarke masterclass (Casman Centre Amphitheater – free!)
  • Oct 18, 7pm: Elizabeth Clarke concert (Casman Centre Amphitheater – free!)
  • (NEW!) Nov 14, 7:30pm: ASO Promo Tour (Keyano College Recital Theatre)
  • Nov 3: RCM winter exams registration deadline
  • Nov 21, 6pm: FMMTA 32nd Annual Scholarship and Awards Event (Keyano College Recital Theatre)
  • Nov 27: studio masterclass (Suncor Theatre at Holy Trinity)
  • Nov 28: Dr. James Sherry and Bang Lang Do concert, with Fort McMurray Community Band (Suncor Theatre at Holy Trinity)

2015 September Newsletter

Hello everyone!

Please read below for information about the fall term.

Studio Masterclass

The masterclass date has been changed to the afternoon or evening of Friday, November 27. Please let me know if you can’t make that time.

FMMTA Scholarships for RCM exams

If you completed a Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) exam in the last school year, you can submit your mark to Fort McMurray Music Teacher’s Association (FMMTA) for their annual scholarships. Deadline is Sept 30. For submission instructions, see this document.

Woodwind Ensemble

I’d like to start a chamber music group for woodwinds (flute, clarinet, saxophone, oboe/bassoon). If you or someone you know plays a woodwind instrument and is interested in joining, please let me know!


Listenings is a series about the music I enjoy. If you missed the last article, it was Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy.

Some of you also know that I got married this summer! I wrote original music for the wedding – if you are curious about my activities as a composer, you can listen to my music here: Music for A Ceremony of Union.

Upcoming Dates

  • Oct 17, 1pm-5:15pm: Elizabeth Clarke masterclass (Casman Centre Amphitheater – free!)
  • Oct 18, 7pm: Elizabeth Clarke concert (Casman Centre Amphitheater – free!)
  • Nov 21: FMMTA 32nd Annual Scholarship and Awards Event (Suncor Theatre at Holy Trinity)
  • Nov 27: studio masterclass (Suncor Theatre at Holy Trinity)
  • Nov 28: Dr. James Sherry and Bang Lang Do concert, with Fort McMurray Community Band (Suncor Theatre at Holy Trinity)

2015 May Newsletter

Important information about our studio recital is below!

Spring recital

I’ve scheduled the studio recital for Sunday May 31, 3:30-4:30pm, at Suncor Theatre in Holy Trinity. Please let me know right away if you have a conflict. I can place you earlier or later in the program, but unfortunately I can’t reschedule the recital as the theatre is quite busy.

Family and friends are welcome to come hear your students play, and I will be performing as well! Admission is $5.

For adult students and those of you who just started piano this term, the recital is optional. Let me know if you would like to perform.

Summer registration

Our recital also marks the last day of lessons in the term, excluding make up lessons. My summer term will resume starting early July, and I will send out registration instructions in June. If you are away over the summer, my fall term will begin in September.

RCM Exams

For those of you registered, the RCM theory exams are this weekend (May 8-9). The Basic Rudiments exam is 1 hour long, and the Advanced Rudiments exam is 2 hours. Piano exams will be in June.

Listening to Music

A new listening is up: Ástor Piazzolla – The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

Upcoming Dates



2015 March Newsletter

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first newsletter of 2015. For those of you who are just joining the studio, welcome!

William Lewan Masterclass

The Fort McMurray Music Teacher’s Association has brought pianist and vocalist William Lewan to town to teach and perform! I’ve summarized all events below, but you can find the full details here.

Masterclasses (Holy Trinity theatre):

Friday 10am-1pm, 2:30pm-5:30pm
Saturday 9am-12pm, 2pm-4:30pm, 7pm-9pm (I will be accompanying in the evening)
Sunday 1:30-4:30pm

Concert (Holy Trinity theatre):

Friday, March 13, 7:30pm

Tickets are $5 for students or $10 for adults at Holy Trinity’s box office, but the masterclasses are free!

Listening to Music

I’m starting a new series online: each month I’ll share one of my favorite pieces of music with you and explain what makes it special. This month we begin with the Goldberg Variations.

If you are one of my more advanced students, take note! In the next few weeks we will work together to gather background information and recordings to make an article in this style for the pieces you are performing.

ORMF Festival

For those of you enrolled in music festival, you can find a tentative schedule here. Please be aware that you may be scheduled during school hours.

Upcoming Dates

  • William Lewan Concert – Friday March 13, 7:30pm
  • Oilsands Rotary Music Festival:
    • piano (grade 2+): April 18 to 26
    • woodwinds: April 24 to 26
    • piano (to grade 1): May 1 to 3
  • RCM theory exams, spring 2015 – May 8 and 9

2014 December Newsletter

The end of term is coming, meaning concerts, registrations, and masterclass for my piano students!

Piano Masterclass

Date: Sunday December 7
Time: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM (moved earlier)
Location: Holy Trinity Theatre (to the right of the front entrance)

If you are performing, make sure your name is in the program below. Please be at the theatre 5 minutes early so we can start on time, as several students are busy afterwards. If you need to leave early and haven’t told me yet, let me know. We will have a game, prizes, and food after. Please let me know if you can bring additional snacks for the reception!

Program order

  • Jingle Bells – Ella H, Samantha, Addison
  • We Wish you a Merry Christmas – TJ, Kaden, Sanchia, Cassy
  • Let it Go – Emelia
  • Carol of the Bells – Ella M
  • Ode to Joy – Wynter
  • Miniature Sonatina – Reet
  • Jolly Old Saint Nicholas – Martina
  • Lotus Blossoms – Agam
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – Taniel
  • March of the Goblins – Zoe
  • Rigadoon – Kailee
  • A Place In This World – Holly
  • Divertimento – Hannah
  • Galop – Devin and Hannah
  • “Name that Tune” game, PRIZES, and food!

UpTown Winter Gala

Come support UpTown’s music teachers as we and our students perform a festive concert! I’ll be accompanying two pieces, one of them with my student Hannah.

Winter Registration

I will send an email about registering for next year’s lessons in mid December. My schedule will be changing so we may have to reschedule lesson times. For my private students, be aware I am raising my rate to standardize it across all lesson types – I’ll let you know the details privately.

Upcoming Dates

  • Sunday, Dec. 7 (10:30am) – studio masterclass
  • Friday, Dec. 12 (7pm) – UpTown Winter Gala at Holy Trinity
  • Saturday, Dec 13 – last day of lessons (following week for make-ups)
  • Saturday, Dec. 13 (7pm) – Keyano dance recital: I will be accompanying ballet