Composer. Pianist. Budding adult

Growing up is seriously overrated, in my opinion, but The-Oldest took on some serious adulting this weekend – He had his first college/university audition.

For 3 hours, he would take a series of tests, do performances and be grilled about his skills, weaknesses and musical knowledge. Honestly, I don’t know who was more nervous. Him? Me or his mom, AKA The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World?

I mean, this was some important sh*t. Failure would mean they wouldn’t accept his application and he’d have to try out for another school.  Not that there weren’t other schools, but this one was close to us so he wouldn’t have to spend Ghana’s national budget on room and board, and he already knew some of the professors there. In other words, it was his first choice.

Heck, even making that choice was part of the whole nasty ‘adulting’ thing. The choices can be overwhelming. All have different versions of the same programs, but they all seem to specialize a bit more in one or the other. For example, one may not have any technology classes that would teach you how to be a music producer, but they have extensive classes on musical theory.

Then there’s the school’s reputation. If I was 17, again, I would probably over-research this and drive myself insane, but The-Oldest and his mom were more practical, reading up on reputations, but not being driven by them. It made no sense to go to some place that was iffy, but who’s to say what was really the best?

And, lastly, there was the whole how-far-will-his-money-go thing? Post-secondary education is massively expensive, far more so than when I went to school. Colleges offer a nifty alternative to the outrageous fees. Take 2 years of college for a lesser cost, then transfer to the more prestigious universities.

So that’s what he chose.

Because we didn’t want to overwhelm him with parental company, I stayed home while The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World took him to the college. I waited, chewing my nails off and wishing I could drink (but it was 11am),

He had the talent and the drive, for sure, but nerves are a funny thing and if they got the best of him, it would be a disaster. Professor: “So, tell me what you like about the piano?”

Him: “Liszt wore wigs.”

“Right. Yes. I’m sure he did. About the piano.”

“Oh, no, I didn’t mean to talk about wigs, oh boy, no, not that there’s anything wrong with wigs, I mean, you there, you could use one being bald and all, but not that there’s anything wrong with being bald, I think I’ll be bald sometime, but I don’t think I’ll wear a wig.”

But then I got the news. He had passed and passed with flying colors!

I actually bounced up and down with joy and relief.

They were so impressed with his ability, his talent and his attitude. They said he was at a 3rd year university level and could probably get into any school he wanted! His technique on piano could be worked on if he took more piano courses, but his ear and his ability to understand music on a very high level were outstanding.

When he told them what interested him the most, composition and music production, they thought that was an amazing choice for him with the skill-set and talent that he had demonstrated. When they found out he’d only being doing this for 4 years, they were flabbergasted. No, wait, gobsmacked. Yes, gobsmacked, and praised what was clearly a gift.

He came home a completely different person – happy, chatty, and full of hope. But the most important thing he said to us was that he felt comfortable there. “They are my people! No one talked to each other, they all looked massively awkward and all they want to do is play music. I’m going to fit right in!”

And so he will.

Growing up is hard to do

He had said that grade 12 would be his best year ever, but I believe that his couple of years in college and university will be even more amazing. Imagine being able to learn about what you love, do what you love, chat about what you love with people that are equally nerdy and awkward? It would be like me going to D&D school.

I know he’ll love it and I know he’ll do amazing. He was born for this.

I am so very proud of the man he’s becoming and the adulting that he’s doing.

The Composer

The Composer at Long & McQuade

There may come a time when The-Oldest playing on stage doesn’t wow me, but on one Saturday in Dec., not only was I wow’d, but I have to confess, tears leaked out of this old guy’s eyes as I listened to him play at the Langley Community Music School – a piece he’d written.

As a struggling artist (writer, not composer), I felt his anguish as he wrote, then perfected his sonata. For weeks, I heard him trying new things on his piano, playing with themes, progressions, chords and musical thingees I don’t pretend to understand. He’d curse the results sometimes. Sometimes he’d leave to walk around, muttering to himself as he sorted out a problem in his mind. A few times he even shouted with triumph.

But make no mistake, creating his latest composition took time, he suffered in its creation, and he put a lot of his soul into it.

Being a perfectionist, though, he wasn’t happy with the piece even as he sat waiting for his turn to play on stage. Nervous, like anyone having to perform, he talked out the issues swirling in his head, hoping to calm the butterflies or chase away the fear that everyone would hate it, that he’d wasted his time, that he didn’t have the talent.

Worse, as he sat there, he found out he had to do a speech.

A speech!

He hadn’t prepared for that! What was he going to say?

Keep it simple, I told him. What is your name? What is your quest? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

He didn’t laugh. I don’t even know if he heard me.

Then his turn came.

Christ, I was as nervous as him. I knew there were complex parts he struggled to play. I knew when he let his nerves get the best of him, he’d rush through the piece like a ferret on speed. I knew that he still wasn’t sure one part worked and might even attempt to change it on the fly.

He stood up.

His mom took his hand for a moment. Just a brief moment. Then he marched up on stage.

And played his heart out.

He played his piece fearlessly. He played with passion and power. He played loud and proud, which in our living room sometimes sounds like he’s trying to bring the walls of Jericho down, but in the concert hall, he filled the huge room with incredible music.

After he finished, he stood, bowed with flourish, like a man used to being on stage, like a performer who knew he’d hit it out of the park. Not like someone who just took up the piano 2 ½ years ago.

I dabbed away the tears.

Last blog, I talked about ‘firsts’, and how special they can be, but this, too, was special. Not his first concert. Not the first piece he’s played to an audience, but it was, by far, the best performance that he’d done thus far.

Thus. Far.

Who knows what’s next?

As sat back down, he said he was already working on his next creation, and it would be even BETTER.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I both posted the performance on Facebook and Youtube, but if you haven’t heard it, check it out below. Like and subscribe to his channel, if you think he did a good job.

Help him get to 1000 subcribers. 🙂

Check out his Youtube Video for more

Thanks for reading! If you like what you see, please hit the subscribe button, buy me a coffee (button at the top) or follow me on FB or Pinterest, or heck, just tell your friends.

The Piano Man

One of the most amazing things about being a step-dad is that you get to watch your kids grow up, learn new things, or develop new talents.

There have been a good number of posts about The-Youngest who loves to play baseball and hockey. I’ve watched him go from being a goalie whose early strategy seemed to be to fall on his face and hope they hit him in the top of his helmet with the puck, to doing great butterfly splits, getting all pro with his glove hand, and learning to play the angles. Oh sure, he still takes more than his fair share of pucks in the face, like it’s a secret tactic of his, but he’s come so far and it’s been so great to see (even at 6 am in the morning.)

But The-Oldest has gone a different route. He’s not a sports guy. He’s a music guy.

Last year in April, he started on the piano and it’s like the two understood each other, like he’d found his soulmate.

He’s gone from plunking away aimlessly to creating freaking sonatas, preludes and piano concertos.

In less than 18 months.

When he wakes up, he races to the piano right after breakfast. When he comes home from school and he goes on the piano. When he finishes supper, he’s on the piano. When he’s asked to go to bed, he says, no, just another few minutes on the piano.

This, my friends, is what it takes to succeed at something. Lots of raw talent followed up by endless hours and hours of practice.

Below are the results. To quote him. “This is my satirical love song. Taking all the pop tropes and having many hidden references. This piece is made for the public. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s everyone’s favorite prelude.”

Please support him on his youtube channel.



The Piano Man

Well, we survived the wedding, had a blast on the honeymoon, but now it’s time for real life. And something special for you-all.

Time for hockey, you ask.

Sure. That’ll come.

Time for tales about school?

You bet, but that’ll have to wait.

In the meantime, please check out The-Oldest’s latest video. Remember, he’s only been that this since April. 🙂 I wish he’d shown his fingers at work, but whatever, it’s still awesome playing.


10 Best Moments For Me On the Vegas/Grand Canyon Trip

The Venetian sky. Real or not real?
The Venetian sky. Real or not real?

There were a lot of great moments on this trip. Big moments. Small moments. Funny moments. But here a few I might not have mentioned (or in desperate need of re-mentioning.)

  1. Debating with The-Youngest whether or not the sky in the Venetian Hotel was real. He said, no and cited these facts: The Venetian sky was blue, but when we came in, it was night outside. None of the clouds moved. There were no birds in the sky. He could see where the paint had chipped off. He pointed to an access panel in the ‘sky’, like one Truman had seen in the Truman Show. I told him if he hadn’t seen that show, he’d be fine with the sky. Thank you very much, Jim Carey.

  2. Watching The-Oldest follow the piano player’s every move at the Venetian. In later years, he might watch a stripper with such fascination or AI robots controlled by Skynet, but for that moment, that pianist was his world. That we actually found the musician in what I will now describe as ‘an epic quest’ was also a great memory, and I was so happy we could do something cool for The-Oldest who seemed always to be doing stuff other people wanted to do.

  3. Wearing those silly balloon hats in Senor Frogs. Now, this may not be a cool moment for everyone, but I tend to be too serious sometimes or too concerned about what other people think, but on that night, I proudly wore my balloons and didn’t care what anyone thought. PS, I was also a little drunk.

  4. The 1001 faces of The-Oldest. Outside of the Bellagio
    The 1001 faces of The-Oldest. Outside of the Bellagio

    Having The-Oldest vow to pull a different face for every picture we took of him. He pretty much succeeded, though I think we caught him genuinely smiling, once.

  5. Becoming an honorary Avenger. Or a member of the Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network. (Don’t judge me.) I know I wrote a whole blog about this, but whatever, it was totally fun, and I’d do it, again. Only next time, I might wear my Captain American pajamas.

  6. Pictures never do the Grand Canyon justice
    Grand Canyon almost defies description

    Seeing the Grand Canyon, again. For all the lights of Vegas, for all the concrete used to make the Hoover Dam, looking upon such a great natural wonder should be on everyone’s bucket list.

  7. Getting the nerve up to take a picture of the bikers in Flagstaff. Sure they were French, and with their girlfriends, but had that gone wrong, I would have found out how good the trauma care is in the States or hoped that at least someone would get time for beating me to death.

  8. Watching The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World laugh and play with her children. Her love for them is beyond measure, and the happiness they bring her is beyond value.

  9. I  kind-of actually understood the Cirque du Soleil – Beatles show. I mean, who really understands these things? But I got closer than I ever did before. Plus, the show made me cry. I can’t explain why it would, but something in the way they moved…

  10. You can even find a bit of Paris in Veags.
    You can even find a bit of Paris in Vegas.

    The last walk on the last day. Night time. Full-on Vegas. I loved the smells, the sounds, the sights, the crowds, the energy, the colors, the odd-ball loonies… everything. That was my Vegas. Wild Vegas. Untamed. Sure the kids may be in therapy for years over that short walk from the Bellagio Fountains to the Venetian, but listening to the street preacher preach about sin or pushing our way through a mob of Hangover doubles is something you just can’t experience in Vancouver.



Oh, you know what, there’s really 11.

The last highlight was getting to spend so much time with the boyz and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World. Seeing Vegas, alone, had no great appeal for me. Ditto with the Grand Canyon. Or the Hoover Dam.

Experiencing it with them, though… priceless.

I am one lucky SOB.


And that concludes our epic adventure down south. But wait, isn’t there a wedding coming up?

I may have a few things to say about that.

Top 10 Quotes From the Vegas Trip

Is he being thoughtful or thinking up something funny?
Is he being thoughtful or thinking up something funny?

So, our trip is done, the boyz are back in school, and it’s time for a recap of our trip to Vegas. And what better way than the 1st of 4 top 10 lists.


Top 10 Quotes From The-Oldest

  1. “I am providing the laugh track.” After he laughed, and I commented that he doesn’t often laugh at a lot of my super funny jokes.

  2. “The smell just comes at my face.” It was the smell of Vegas after the rains came. A wet, kind of sulphuric, moldy smell.

  3. “He’s the Beeth.” Now this means, ‘he’s the best.’ ‘The most amazing.’ It comes from his favourite composer, Beethoven. I have no idea how it got morphed into ‘beeth.”

  4. “Coffee tastes like black.” Yes, yes it does.

  5. His new word of the trip – “Danger noodles.” For snakes. I think this one will catch on.

  6. The Grand Canyon “has been touched more by cameras than by humans.” Wow, I mean, wow. That’s actually deep.

  7. “Girls? What girls? There were girls? Looking at me? What? Where? When? What?” After I told him about the incident in Dunkin Donuts where 2 girls checked him out.

  8. luigi-and-marioEvery morning in our hotel room, he’d write a quote on the foggy bathroom mirror to his brother. My favourite… “Will you become Luigi?” It meant, will his brother get taller than him. See, ‘cuz Luigi, from Mario Brothers, is taller than his older brother. Yeah, I didn’t get it until he explained it to me.

  9. “I am funny. I had meat.” After I told him he was on fire one night for all the funnyisms.

  10. Then the words that may define him. “I’ve found my passion, Joe. Music. It’s what’s in me.” How cool is that? It brought manly tears to my eyes.

I know there were more, but being old and forgetting things, these were the best that I could recall. When did he become such a funny guy? A deep thinker? Or has it always been that way and he’s just becoming more comfortable belting it out so I can hear him.

Either way, he’s an astounding cool guy.

Next up, the best things to do in Vegas with Kids. In my opinion.

Peace out.