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Excellent Newtown Pianist Recognized At Royal Conservatory Celebration



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Joséphine Borne showed a very strong interest in music from a very young age.

By the time she was 3½ she would watch intently while her mother performed on the piano. That early curiosity, followed by lessons from her mother before the 10-year-old Newtown resident found her way to Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, recently led to the talented pianist winning state-level honors on the Royal Conservatory of Music’s recent exam.

Joséphine recently received the Celebration of Excellence award as a result of a perfect score for her Music Theory exam, and First Class Honors with Distinction — the highest category of exam marks given by the Royal Conservatory (RCM) — for her piano performance exam.

As a Celebration of Excellence winner, she has been invited to participate in a virtual award ceremony and recital. Joséphine will be recording a piano performance for the ceremony, which had been scheduled to take place at Carnegie Hall.

The virtual celebration for the Northeast United States is scheduled for Saturday, December 5.

The goals of the RCM since the virus outbreak have been to support teachers and to enable tens of thousands of registered students to complete their exams as planned. The music education institution addressed those goals by making online teacher resources available and offering online testing.

Joséphine’s mother, Rachel Borne, admits she was unsure if online lessons would be effective for her family “when everything shut down in March.

“We weren’t sure if it was going go work, or if there would even be any exams this year, but both Joséphine and her instructors adapted seamlessly,” Borne recently told The Newtown Bee. “She continued with weekly lessons on all three instruments, as well as Music Theory classes. We were amazed as well at how quickly and thoroughly RCM adapted their exams — normally held on site at Neighborhood Music School (NMS) — to an online format while maintaining their rigorous standards.”

Borne credits “the outstanding teachers at NMS” for guiding her through practice, recitals, competitions as well as the very challenging Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum and exams.”

Following her first year at NMS, Joséphine was invited to participate in the school’s Young Artist’s Program. The preparatory program is equivalent to Juilliard’s preparatory school.

She also studies violin and recorder at NMS, and “has taken to those instruments as easily as she took to piano and loves playing all three,” according to her mother.

Joséphine’s RCM exam was two parts, requiring a demonstration of her music theory skills and knowledge as well a live piano performance. For the music theory segment, she studied for several months using RCM’s online preparation tools. The exam topics included music history, major and minor scales, keys, time signatures, transposition, intervals, and musical notation.

For her practical, Joséphine spent the spring of 2020 preparing five pieces from various music time periods (three repertoire pieces from the Baroque, Romantic/Classical and Modern periods and two Etudes) which were required to be played from memory over Zoom. Joséphine performed wonderfully, scoring a 90 out of 100 and earning a First Class Honors with Distinction mark, which is the highest category of exam marks given by the Royal Conservatory.

In her spare time, Joséphine loves reading (especially Warrior Cats), crafting, drawing, playing with her cats, catching crayfish at Dickinson Park, and playing with her friends.

She is homeschooled bilingually in English and French by her parents. Joséphine also enjoys studying electric and acoustic guitar at Rte 7 Music in Brookfield and loves having jam sessions with her mom and dad, who are also musicians.

Joséphine Borne sits at the piano. The 10-year-old Newtown resident recently received the Celebration of Excellence award from The Royal Conservatory of Music.—photo courtesy Rachel Borne
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