A new Mozart has risen in Richmond, and his name is Spencer Tsai.

The young violinist and pianist - a third grader at James Whiteside elementary - is sharing his musical talent with the community, hosting two concerts, featuring his own compositions.

Performing pieces influenced by composers like Bach, Beethoven and Schubert, Spencer's teachers and fellow students - all averaging around ten years old - are participating in the recitals, too.

Just like Spencer, "they play like professionals," said KC Foong, who has taught the musical wonderboy to compose for the past two years.

Claire Cheng first discovered her son's talent when he was barely four; impassioned by classical music, he would play melodies he had heard elsewhere using the same keys.

He then began piano and violin lessons at the age of five.

Since then, he has been trained to trans-form ideas into compositions, resulting in more than 100 pieces.

"I love composing, because it's very relaxing. I don't need to work hard and I have a lot of imagination," Spencer said, now 8, adding he likes the challenge of creating a new melody nobody has ever heard before.

Foong praises his student's extraordinary talent. "Never in my 29 years of teaching experience have I come across a boy like Spencer. Whatever I teach him, he remembers straight away."

A glorious future is in the cards for Spencer, according to Foong. "I can see him in New York or Europe, places where musicians have the opportunity to grow and showcase their talent."

Nevertheless, Foong trusts Richmond is a good place to start.

"We're using his music not only to introduce Spencer to the rest of the world, but also to raise money for the Richmond Hospital Foundation," he said.

It was Foong - who spent three years serving at the hospital - who deemed the facility the deserving recipient of proceeds.

Spencer strongly supports the idea of fundraising, said Cheng, adding he wants to perform for the benefit of others, not himself.

"I enjoy it a lot. And I'm not scared of the audience," said Spencer.

As her son has won 10 violin competitions in the past year and a half, and continues to write difficult compositions, Cheng beamed with pride.

Except for his maternal grandmother, who was an outstanding soprano at a young age, Cheng said nobody else in the family shares Spencer's incredible talent for music.

"Sometimes I cannot believe I have this special boy. He has something unique to bring."









With Love and Gratitude

A blessing a day keeps the doc away

The Power of Music During Happy Times and Sad Ones

Words we might need to embrace during these times: "All is calm. All is bright."

Writing Christmas editorials or columns can either be a breeze or a challenge. This year journalists faced a particularly difficult situation. Our season of joy was marked by sadness. Nonetheless, we must embrace hope for the future on this Christmas Day 2012. Sing, smile, and sing again and take action. The Power of Music is an adaptation from my Providence Journal column. It is followed by links to “Demand a Plan,” other PT authors writing about mental health, and gratitude columns. Wishing you a glorious day!


The power of music to heal, to uplift

Music resonates within us. We sing and dance on air when we are in love. When romance is over, we might weep to the strains of “Time To Say Goodbye.” And what is most remarkable during the Twilight years is learning that music will awaken words and memories for people with dementia.

Music and its relationship to our brain is a relatively new science and yet the Library of Congress: Music and Brain series has already enhanced its concert series with what is defined as “new research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and music.” The podcasts, available online, highlight scientists, scholars, composers, performers, theorists, physicians and psychologists.

Joseph Cardillo, writing here, pointed out: “Music can be powerful medicine. It has been with us since our very beginning.” Cardillo is one of the authors of “Your Playlist Can Change Your Life:10 Proven WaysYour Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness and More.” He reminds us that the first rhythm many of us heard was the vibration of our mother’s heartbeat. Adele’s Music Awakens Coma Victim, What Else Can Songs Do?

Christmas music

Music and song can heal the body and uplift the soul as well as set a mood. At Christmas we sing carols dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries with the traditional hymns “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “The First Noel.” By the 16th century songs “O Christmas Tree” — which with “Silent Night” is one of the most popular of holiday songs became entrenched in our culture.

Saturday Night Live and a tribute to the children lost

We turn to music during times of joy, sadness and even shock. Saturday Night Live opened its show two weeks ago with the New York City Children’s Chorus. Dressed in red, they sang “Silent Night, Holy Night.” The words, “Sleep in heavenly peace,” had special meaning as a tribute to the children and adults lost atSandy Hook School Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Perhaps the words that each of us might need to embrace during these times marked with joy to grief on the emotional spectrum are words of hope for the future “All is calm. All is bright.” Music has the power to heal hearts and uplift the spirit.





Related Topics



British Columbia Registered Music Teacher Association


Canada Federation of Music Teacher Association


Richmond Music Festival Society



Student Composer Competition 2013 (entry form at www.bcrmta.bc.ca)


The National CFMTA/CFMTA Essay Competition 2013

For applications visit www.cfmta.org or contact canadamusicweek@cfmta.org


Call for Compositions

Direct submissions and questions to yehp@shaw.ca  Canada Music Week Chairperson


CFMTA/FCAPM National Piano Competition

Application form at www.cfmta.org contact hblakley@sasktel.net Competition and Awards Chairperson


Music Inspires July 3-6. 2013 Halifax Canada



CFMTA/FCAPM National Voice Competition 2013



Music from Canada (Canadian Composers)



Recent neuroscience and behavioral research shows that the earlier children receive music education, the more they benefit in overall eduational development. Comprehensive and holistic music training and program allow students celebrate musical achievement earlier and help them develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives....in all aspects of their lives.

The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Canada www.rcmusic.ca


Monthly recitals and concerts at various locations in Vancouver and Richmond.


A Mother's Love concert on May 12th, 2013 at RBC British Columbia.