Twelve-year-old Graham Normand is certainly hitting all the right notes.
The Ecole Julie-Riel student is among the Manitobans recently named as Regional Gold Medal winners from the Royal Conservatory. Normand won his medal in the Grade 3 piano category, tying with Frieda Bi and Lauren McIlroy.
The medals are awarded each academic year to Conservatory examination candidates in Preparatory A and B and Grades 1 to 10 who achieve the highest mark in their respective province or designated region, organizers say. More than 3,000 annual examinations take place in Manitoba.
The Grade 7 student received his award at a recent public recital and ceremony held at the Muriel Richardson Auditorium at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Despite his success, Normand remains modest about his musical achievements.
"It feels pretty good. It’s nice to win," said Normand, who lives in River Park South and started playing the piano when he was five. "It’s just something I always wanted to do. I’ve always enjoyed listening to music."
The keen sportsman is also a master of time management, as he gets up at 6:30 a.m. every day and practices for an hour before school.
And when he’s not tickling the ivories, Normand is busy playing the trombone in his school band, playing school volleyball, running cross-country, swimming, throwing rocks at Pembina Curling Club, playing goalie for the Bonivital U-12 boys’ developmental team, doing a Bronze Star life-saving course and taking part in a youth group at Eastview Community Church in East St. Paul.
Acclaimed pianist and teacher Jacqueline Ryz, who has taught Normand for the past couple of years, said he has lots of potential.
"As we say in the business, he has swift fingers," said Ryz, who has taught piano for more than 30 years and is also an examiner for the Royal Conservatory.
"He likes to keep busy and learn a variety of styles, including baroque, classical, contemporary and jazz. It’s really important to be well-rounded and play a good variety of repertoire. I try to choose music that showcases Graham’s fingers, so anything fast works for him."
Ryz added the opportunity to win Conservatory medals can help a young musician’s personal and musical development.
"It’s a wonderful recognition and can certainly serve as a platform for encouragement and inspire confidence," said the Southdale resident. "My philosophy is to try and inspire students to be the best they can be."