Twenty-nine-year-old Paul Ivey hadn’t taken a formal music lesson for over two decades when he first sat down at the keyboard with Fort Saskatchewan piano teacher Moira Buck.
Not even a couple years after that first lesson, the talented Ivey is on his way to a career in the music and film industry.
Ivey started his lessons at Buck’s home-based piano studio after hearing about her from local guitar instructor and music shop owner Glenn Nielsen. Partway through Ivey’s second year as Buck’s student, he came to her with some exciting news -- he’d gotten a job composing original music for Cor Values, a feature-length independent movie.
Cor Values, filmed in Red Deer and Lacombe and starring Erika Eleniak, tells the story of a man who returns to his hometown and finds himself dealing with a series of murders.
Buck was more than impressed by Ivey’s news.
“I was incredibly amazed and surprised to find out that he had scored two hours of music,” she said.
Ivey, who is from Westlock but now lives in Fort Saskatchewan, said his first attempt at the piano, when he was about six or seven years old, lasted only a year.
He moved on to guitar for a while before letting the instrument take a back seat to hockey and other interests. Music became a part of his life again when he was 21 and discovered electronic dance music.
“So I started getting into composing,” he said. “Then I decided I wanted to add some more feel to the music, and I figured piano is a good route to trying to learn that and try to get my ideas out a little bit more concrete.”
That’s when the lessons with Buck entered the scene. She started working with Ivey on sight reading, theory and chord structures, getting him ready to pass his Royal Conservatory exams.
“He worked with electronic music doing composing on a computer which I know nothing about,” Buck said. “So I explained that I was classically trained but I could teach him to read music and work through that.”
Cor Values is the first film Ivey has scored, a job he landed after successfully submitting some of his original music during an audition process earlier this year. He spent a few months composing the score at the piano, working with the director and producers to get the music right for every scene.
“[You] ask questions like what do the characters need to feel here and what are you kind of trying to put across here, feeling wise?” Ivey said of the creative process.
Ivey is currently employed as a power line technician but hopes to build on his recent success and make music his full-time career. In the meantime he is continuing his lessons with Buck, who he said does a good job of keeping him motivated.
Buck, who spends 41 hours a week teaching piano, has 29 adults on her 82-student roster. Her oldest student is 73.
“I'm really proud of my students,” she said. “And I think what's very important is that Fort Saskatchewan understand that we don't have to take a back seat to north Edmonton, to Sherwood Park. We have wonderful teachers here. We do have a hotbed of music.”
Cor Values premiered in Red Deer in April. It’s unclear yet when the movie will be distributed, but a trailer and video interviews with cast and crew are available on the film’s Facebook page.