Before Dad and I began work on From The Top Down, I had been asked to help with a project for the Western Board of Music. The Western Board Of Music at that time was a long standing institution for musical education in the western provinces of Canada.
I was approached by the (then ) Vice President of Finance to see if I would take part in the revision of their guitar syllabus. For those of you dear readers who may not be familiar with what that is, I will explain. It is a book that sets out requirements for examinations leading to a qualification from the Board.
It was a complete surprise to me when they handed over the original handwritten copy of the existing syllabus to work with. It was an even bigger surprise then they did not ask to have it returned and so I have this "document" of sorts in my music library along with many wonderous things.
The format of the existing requirements was excellent but I saw a way to improve it. Also there were many listings in the repertoire that had to be considered in terms of placement at the most appropriate level.
There was little in the way of latin american guitar music and virtually nothing about improvising at all. I knew that Dad had been doing a lot of writing so he got together a group of fourty compositions for me. The storey of getting
40 COMPOSITIONS IN STANDARD REAL BOOK FORM
actually published involves a fun french canadian family and their french horn playing dad, but I digress.
Eventually 40 COMPOSITIONS IN STANDARD REAL BOOK FORM became part of the substance of the guitar syllabus as a supplemental piece requirement. Realizing that not all those students moving through the system would be improvisationally inclined other types of supplemental pieces were listed as well.
Just as Western Board of Music was an institution for the Western Canadian Provinces, the Ontario Conservatory of Music functioned the same way in the east. Both were established around the late 1800's around the same time as The Royal Conservatory of Music, which in 1997 became home to the Glenn Gould School. In 1998, I received a call from London, Ontario. The president of the Ontario Conservatory was on the phone asking me if I would help write a completely new guitar syllabus. The Western Board of Music and the Ontario Conservatory of Music had decided to merge into one National Institution. It was, a moment of considerable importance in the history of Canadian Music. I was, of course, honored to co-author the book with Kevin Love of London, Ontario.
The newly formed Conservatory became Conservatory Canada. The book Kevin and I wrote is still in it's first edition and has not been revised. Kevin included a supplemental book on technical exercizes for guitarists and the 40 COMPOSITIONS IN STANDARD REAL BOOK FORM were used in the same way as they were for the Western Board.