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Thursday, 18 December 2014 06:19

Swift Current teenager sets golden RCM standard

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On Nov. 29, nearly 60 Saskatchewan students of the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) were honoured in Regina as recipients of the 2014 Gold Medal in each of their respective disciplines.

Students in piano, voice, guitar, violin, violin-cello, double bass, flute, french horn, trumpet and percussion were in attendance at the Riddell Centre at the University of Regina, ranging from beginning students taking Preparatory exams up to the highest levels, Grade 10 and pedagogy. 
Lauren Levorson-Wong, of Swift Current, was the recipient of the gold medal for Grade 5 double bass, and Jaymeson Bateman, of Shaunavon, earned the gold medal for preparatory  voice.
Winning a gold medal is a significant accomplishment.
“It was very exciting to receive the news, but it’s a huge relief that it’s all over and done with,” says Levorson-Wong. “There were definitely some challenges with my bass studies last year. My lessons were in Regina at the University of Regina Conservatory, so every other weekend, we would take all day Saturday to go there for an hour-long lesson.”
Levorson-Wong comes from a musical family — her mother teaches piano and was herself a previous gold-medal recipient for piano pedagogy, and her younger sister, Lesley, also studies piano and voice. 
This can sometimes create pressure within the family to perform.
“Yes, there is definitely pressure,” explains Levorson-Wong. “In a house so filled with music between mom’s students and my lessons and bands, it seems crazy sometimes to think of doing anything other than music. People often are shocked that my life aspiration isn’t to become a music teacher or a performer.”
Still, she couldn’t imagine her life without music. 
“Music means so much to me. It’s been a massive part of my life from very early on, and it gives me a way to express myself in a way I find difficult to do sometimes. I’ve met some of my greatest friends through music, whether it is bands or choirs or just in the network of students and their teachers within the province. When I play music, I want whoever is listening to feel what that particular song makes me feel, and it’s really a very intimate thing to share.”
Winning the medal is one of Levorson-Wong’s fondest musical memories. 
“Winning this medal has probably been one of my greatest musical experiences. Meeting composers like Jeffery Straker and Christopher Norton were also amazing,” says Levorson-Wong. “I go to a jazz camp every summer in Regina, and working with talented musicians like Brent Giglione, John McCaslin, and Gord Foote is an amazing experience every time. But if I’m honest, one of the greatest things about all the music I play is the people involved along the way. My amazingly patient piano, voice, and band teachers, both past and present, who have helped me grow so much as both a musician and a person, and my wonderful fellow band and choir members who make every performance the best it can possibly be.”
Levorson-Wong sees music in her future, and has continued goals to achieve. 
“My goal is to earn my Grade 8 on piano. I am currently studying for that and my Grade 8 voice, which I am taking in June, and hopefully attaining my Grade 9 voice next year. I want to still play after high school, because it’s such an important part of my life, and has helped me through a lot. Music is so important to everyone, really, whether you play in a symphony or just sing to the songs on the radio. Music is the one thing that can somehow reach out and touch everyone, and I think my crowning achievement would be to help people realize that.”
The Royal Conservatory is one of the largest music education institutions in the world.
 Levorson-Wong’s mother, Barbara Levorson, is also the RCM Exam Centre representative for the Swift Current area. RCM theory exams are offered three times a year in Swift Current, and practical exams run in June. 
“The examination process is a wonderful way to recognize accomplishment,” explains Levorson. 
The gold medal is awarded to the student who receives the highest mark in his or her region for his or her discipline and grade, and must achieve a minimum of 80 per cent in the exam.
RCM has more than five million alumni worldwide, and is Canada’s national standard in creative music achievement.

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