Biography - the Poetry version

I can remember when I was a few days old, hearing sounds which were patterns. In 1944, so much metal was used in hospitals, that it was impossible not to hear 'patterns'. These and many sound patterns following those first instances, have set my Life Map .

At four years of age, I was improvising music for fairy tales on the piano. Because my mother did not enjoy modern music whatsoever, she began to teach me the little fragments of knowledge about playing the instrument she knew. Although I learned quickly, partly because there were no other activities for me to enjoy in Montreal North, and because there was no teacher nearby, I returned to improvising and creating stories whenever I could. My younger brother and younger sister were not so inclined, so I had the piano to myself. I must admit that I was very lonely, because the neighbouring children enjoyed playing with dolls, playing house, and all those boring activities. I enjoyed playing school, reading, and creating plays. School was difficult socially for me, because no one else played a musical instrument. Not even piano or recorder. Sex roles were rigid. We were poor.

Another great influence in my life, was my Grandfather. He read nursery rhymes to me, from the time I was about a year or so.

I developed a love of poetry. I enjoyed the 'secrets' in it, the sound of it, and even the touch of it. He died when I was about 4 1/2. Since then, I have been creating poems. My first poems which were recognized as such, were when I was in Grade 4. Since then, the poem I wrote at 12 years of age, which was awarded Honourable mention in the High School Annual, set me writing , almost continuously . I have been rarely published, but have not pursued it energetically. I do plan to do so now. At nine years of age, a student piano teacher moved to our neighbourhood. She was young , enthusiastic and Francophone. scraped together I admired this teacher, and practiced well for her. She had new ideas. Little did I know then, that I'd be doing what she had begun to do in 1953. After two and a half years with a student teacher, we moved to St. Laurent, Quebec, where I began to study under Isabel Davis, and took exams at the Mc.Gill Conservatorium of Music. In 1961, after high-school graduation, I began my B. Mus. degree, with an honours in Music Education. I was awed by the professors, and overwhelmed by the amount of homework and practice. Mc.Gill has always been a 'heavy homework' university. This approach, however, rewarded me with the degree I sought. At Mc.Gill, My major instruments were: piano and voice.

I had actually began to teach in the semi-slums of St. Laurent, Quebec, at the age of sixteen, when the Canadian Institution for the Advancement of Music, had to find a replacement for a group piano teacher, (whom my sister had), in Westbrook School, fell very ill. I gave the school a two-year try, but found that group piano lessons in a school where most of the children did not have nearly adequate nutrition, or warm, clean clothing or proper shelter was not the place for the C.I.A.M. to be focusing. I also had about ten private students. I really enjoyed teaching.

The year I attended graduate courses at Macdonald College (part of Mc.Gill Universtiy), in 1964-65, I really enjoyed the Philosophy and Psychology of Education Courses, just as much as I enjoyed the Music Methods, History of Education, and other methods courses. I found that I really wanted to do several different types of teaching, as well as music teaching. One of these was music therapy, one was music education for exceptional children, and one was curriculum and strategic design for all levels and types of people, including adults at various stages of our lives. I was married at 23 years of age. In 1971, my son , Malcolm was born, and in 1978, my daughter, Moire, was born. I had a very busy studio on Otterson Drive. In addition to teaching, I did radio and television publicity for the Ottawa Music Festival, produced concerts for various artists, returned to university several times, (for three to four years to obtain a B.A. in Religion, for a summer course in French, and several courses in Special Education). I became an Occasional Teacher for several school boards, teaching ESL to adults, many subjects to students from ages five to sixty -five, exceptional students, and many others in between, from West Carleton to Hammond, Ontario. The years I spent 'supply teaching' began in 1975 and stopped in 1994. Diane Schmolka

After separating in 1984, I moved to Downpatrick Road, and revamped my studio. I began to teach voice and pre-schoolers. While I had performed in choirs, and in solo concerts, I believe one must be rather noticeably mature, in order to teach voice. After having several different voice teachers in my life, I found that I could develop strategies and curricula using the best each had to offer.

In 1991, I moved in to my then fiance's home. Here , I have been teaching private piano, private, semi-private and group voice lessons, chamber-music coaching, vocal therapy for those clients of speech therapists, and choir or vocal ensembles. Some of my students are exceptional, in that they are geniuses, dyslexic, dystonic, have attention-deficit disorder, slightly autistic, and also normal. Each is a person who believes in their musical, and other talents and abilities. They believe in themselves, because I believe in them. I have been teaching for over forty years, and I can truthfully state that I have never had a student who could not learn from me, if they practice the way I have instructed them to do.

I hope never to retire. Teaching others music teaches me humanity. Music is a language, a means of communication, a vehicle for expressing emotions, and is the integumentary core of language, mathematics and all thinking. I do not really discriminate much, between music and poetry. I am thinking of both most of the time.

April 18, I turn 61 years of age. I would like to be published more, so will work on it more. I am presently composing a song-cycle, with my own poetry. I hope to premiere it next year. This past Feb., I produced and performed in a concert about Night, in which I read some of my own poetry on that subject. I was in an ensemble of 7 musicians, all of whom love poetry, with a passion, almost as much as they love music. Diane Schmolka

In my mind, the past and present co-mingle, so this biography is not linear. Thank you for your presence here, in my life, today.

 Diane Reside Miles Stevenson Schmolka

Professional photography by Irena Georgieva

Page last modified on March 26, 2021, at 02:53 AM