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Wednesday, 04 June 2014 14:59

Worthwhile experience for gifted Bow Island teenager

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Graham Schaufele, 15 gets ready for cello practice. Graham Schaufele, 15 gets ready for cello practice.

Graham Schaufele, 15,  experienced the 2014 Alberta Music Festival — twice.

Schaufele competed in two categories, piano concerto (one movement) and cello solo. He was one of a healthy contingent from southeast Alberta and the only one to be in two disciplines. The prestigious event was held May 28-31 in Edmonton and featured 18 students from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the Medicine Hat College.
Schaufele was pleased with how well he did.
“With my cello, I felt I played well for myself. (It was) one of the best performances I’ve had — for me,” explains the youngest of a family of six. “(With the piano) it was a clean performance and I was able to clean up and smooth out the (nook) and crannies ... it went very well. There were some amazing performances.
“Overall, it was good to get that picture across of what my instructors want me to do and that’s an overall positive experience. (It reinforced) the things they taught me. Some things they taught me were demonstrated by others there and that was good to see (such as wrist and finger movements).”
Both Schaufele and his mother Leila were pleased with the feedback from the professional and articulate judges and adjudicators. They all provided blunt, informative, but yet positive overall assessments of the performances. It was critiques the students could appreciate and learn from without feeling guilty about making mistakes.
Both are also happy with Graham’s instructors who have done a good job. They include current conservatory instructors Elaine Dobek-Shandro (piano) and Christine Bootland (cello). He started when he was five and like his siblings was given the option to quit when older. Graham says gratefully he received encouragement from his mother who told him to push further after the odd time of difficulty. It’s that will to succeed which has helped him grow as a person.
It was not Schaufele’s first high-pressure experience. He was also able to draw from his Skate Canada experience in December 2013 when he won a bronze medal in pre-novice men’s figure skating as a member of Medicine Hat’s Cypress School of Skating.
“I guess that helped me with the psychology of the competition; I was just able to enjoy the music too,” explains Schaufele. “I found the skating more intense, going to nationals (in figure skating). It helped me prepare myself the best way possible.”
“There’s not the pressure or expectation to win,” adds his mother. “He has to practise focusing — that’s where it pays off.”
The gifted teenager enjoys both disciplines and has to work hard to be able to practise both athletics and music.
His older siblings were all first-class in music doctrines as two of them are finishing related university degrees. While he’s not sure what he will do with his musical prowess specifically as he gets older, Schaufele says it’s helped him in other ways.
“It’s more for life lessons:  learn how to deal with certain things (like handling adversity, discipline, etc.),” explains Schaufele. “It’s good for your brain. Music is just something which is (the) basis for other things.
“It’s a realm of knowledge. Everyone needs to be able to read, work in social sciences, need to be active, etc. I put knowing music right up there,” explains Leila.
It was an also especially exciting weekend for one performer as southeast Alberta native Shaunakee Clark, won first place in solo viola (16 years and under) at the event. Clark was joined by instructor Elaine Dobek-Shandro.
Other awards included Meagan Bauman who took home first in the national class for woodwind. Bauman was a former student of instructor Lyle Rebbeck, and was accompanied by Dobek-Shandro. She will now go onto represent Alberta at Nationals in Kelowna, B.C. this summer. Samantha Dolter, a student of instructor Constantine Shandro, placed second in both her piano solo (grades 9-10 class) and in the piano concerto (complete).
“We are immensely proud of the hard work and dedication, not only of our students, but our instructors as well,” said Catherine Annau, manager of visual and performing arts in a prepared statement.
“Their passion and commitment to music has resulted in phenomenal performances at provincials.
“I think the number of representatives sent to provincials from our institution says a lot about the quality of our program. We are proud of all of those that attended and look forward to continuing to work with them.”
For a full list of students who attended this year’s Alberta Music Festival visit

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor