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Salem piano teacher earns second Royal Conservatory gold medal

Gold medal pianist - Patricia Reimer of Salem won a gold medal from the Royal Conservatory of Music for earning the top mark in Ontario for her Elementary Piano Pedagogy exam.       photo by Jaime Myslik

Salem piano teacher earns second Royal Conservatory gold medal

by Jaime Myslik

SALEM - Patricia Reimer of Salem won a gold medal from the Royal Conservatory  of Music for earning the top mark in Ontario for the Elementary Piano Pedagogy examination.

Reimer wrote the exam,  which tested her ability to teach piano, about a year ago. She didn’t learn about the medal until this fall.

“My marks were really great and I was thrilled, I was just over the moon and I never thought about it again until I got an email back in ... early October saying ‘... Your marks were the highest and we’re giving you a gold medal, come and get it,’” she said.

“That was like the sprinkles on the cherry on the icing on the awesome cake.”

She received the medal on Nov. 22.

Reimer took her first Royal Conservatory exam when she was 8 years old and completed an exam almost every year until she received her Association of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto (ARCT) diploma in voice in 1989 when she was 25.

She earned the top mark in the province in the voice ARCT exam,  earning her first gold medal.

“It is much rarer ... much more unusual and commendable to have somebody who got this for piano teaching and also has voice, so it’s a high level of achievement in two different instruments which is really wonderful,” said Janet Lopinski, director of academic programs at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Once Reimer completed high school, she pursued a post secondary education involving music and her voice, graduating with a bachelor of music honours degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1988.

She chose to pursue her teaching degree in piano. It all happened when her husband’s sons began learning to play piano.

“I used to help them and the older one in particular was really focused and he liked to practice a lot and I used to work with him a lot and I found it very fulfilling,” she said.

“So I thought well maybe I could teach some other kids too, so I went about trying to search for students and I got one or two and then I got three or four - before you know it I had a studio.”

She said the more she taught the more she liked it, until eventually she landed a job at St. John’s-Kilmarnock School in Breslau teaching students piano separate from their academic studies but still during the school day.

“There’s all these great statistics about kids that learn a musical instrument have a greater chance of reaching their academic potential,” Reimer said. “The most important thing I think is to study arts for art’s sake.

“There’s a lot of great music and a lot of great art out there and I think that it’s worth knowing about.”

In her private piano practice, Reimer said she has 10 students, and one who inspired her decision to take the elementary piano pedagogy examination last year.

When Amber Horst asked about the exam, Reimer decided she would complete the test too.

“I thought, ‘well you know, what the heck? Maybe I should try to do this because this looks like really good stuff and if she’s doing it I should do it too,’” Reimer said. “I can’t have a student who’s more qualified than me.”

The pair studied together and both did well on the examination, but it was Reimer who took the top spot.

Lopinski said that the examiners’ report showed they were impressed with Reimer.

“It starts off with the words, ‘your enthusiasm for teaching is readily apparent and acknowledging that you always have something to learn is wise,’” Lopinski read.

“The conclusion is, ‘overall you seem to have a wonderful gift for teaching, you are well informed and open to new ideas.’”

For Reimer the overall experience was a positive one.

“I went in there thinking I was a good teacher, but I came out really knowing that I was a good teacher,” she said. “The process is very affirming.”

 Reimer said in every lesson she focuses on the music.

“I try to always try to make sure that every student that leaves my studio feels better about themselves or feels like they’ve learned something ... but mostly that music has had a positive influence on their lives, even if it’s just that half hour,” she said.

“It’s there to make our lives better and those of us that are involved with it, and full-time, I think have the best jobs in the world.”

Although she teaches primarily piano, she says the best way for a pianist to improve is to sing.

“You have to make music sing in order for it to come alive and for it to be more than just blotches on the page,” she said. “It’s got to live, it’s got to be beautiful.”

Reimer also carries her love of music into her everyday life.

She has been involved with the Elora Arts Council, a not-for-profit organization that has helped to facilitate arts and artists in the community since 1995.

She believes strongly in promoting the arts because it’s what the community is known for.

“People come to Elora because they know that we’re an artistic community,” she said. “People move here because they want to live in this kind of community and they want to be nurtured in this community and that’s exactly what we want to do.

“The whole arts in the community is so synergistic in that one success feeds on another and the positive experiences that come out of one really help to feed another and we’re so lucky in this community to have the Elora Festival and the Highland Games and even the fall fair, there are arts components to all of these things.”

She added that all have creative aspects attached.

“It’s what keeps people sane, it’s what gives life perspective,” she said.

“It keeps you going in hard times and gives you ways to celebrate in other times, it’s like a constant ... and I think people should be encouraged to express themselves.”

Those interested in inquiring about lessons may contact Reimer at 519-807-2614 or


December 4, 2015


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