Monday, March 7, 2011


Front doors
The first time we walked through the front doors of this beautiful old building, Tomee was 2 years old and we were starting a Music with your Baby class. Twelve years later,  after a huge renovation and temporary relocation, we continue to come to this newly transformed house of music every week for violin lessons. 
In those early years, we would watch the 'big kids' with their instruments pass us in the hall and would hear their music emanate from the classrooms as we passed and Tomee would say that she wanted to be like be a violinist.
 The RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music) has been inspiring students and teaching them to create beautiful sounds for over 100 years.  It was first founded in 1886 as the Toronto Conservatory of Music and has undergone many changes since then but its' mission has always remained the same, "to develop leadership potential through music and arts education." 
This building, at 273 Bloor W, the original McMaster University, has been home to the Conservatory since 1962.  
How did the name change from Toronto Conservatory to Royal Conservatory? Well, in 1947, King George VI awarded the Conservatory its Royal Charter, "in recognition of its status as one of the Commonwealth's greatest music schools." 
The RCM has recently undergone one of its most major changes. The original heritage building has been restored and a new performance and learning centre has been built and tastefully attached to it. I love the open space that connects the two buildings with a glass ceiling, where the original outer stone wall of the heritage building is now an inside wall.  This is also where you find a wonderful little cafe...great for an espresso and a biscotti. It is open to the public, not just RCM students/families, so if you're out for a stroll along Philosopher's Walk, or just finished visiting the ROM next door, it's a great place to stop for a coffee, a small snack and if you're lucky, some beautiful sounds.   
Part of the new building also includes Koerner Hall, a warm, inviting, and acoustically amazing 1135 seat concert hall where we had the pleasure of hearing world famous violinist Hilary Hahn last Tuesday. It was the perfect space to hear someone of that calibre play--just her and the piano accompanist. Truly inspiring.    What was also inspiring though, was seeing children and young people there absorbing the beauty of Hilary's playing. 
For me, the RCM is a true Toronto treasure, as it continues to produce talented, inspired musicians and I cherish my weekly visits there with my daughter. Now I sit and wait for her at the cafe, and cannot help but smile as I watch parents with their toddlers scurrying to or from a music class, or when I see a little one with her teeny quarter size violin in hand. Will she be the next Hilary Hahn? I wonder.  Probably not. But will she be inspired enough to continue playing well into adulthood and learn to appreciate music other than Top 40?  I hope so. 

For more information on the Royal Conservatory of Music and its programs, visit :   
For more information on Hilary Hahn, visit:
Inside Koerner Hall
At the cafe between old and new
Entrance from Philosopher's Walk