When 15-year-old Camille Belair found out she won the regional gold medal from the Royal Conservatory of Music on Bloor Street West, she had no idea such an award existed.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Camille. The York resident was told she scored the top mark in her level 4 guitar examinations.
To be eligible candidates had to score more than 80 per cent and have the top grade in their province. Camille scored 88 per cent, the highest mark in all of Ontario and Quebec.
Her mother, Suzanne Hartmann, received the congratulatory email. Her initial thought was that it was spam. But it was the real deal; Camille had won and would be honoured at the conservatory’s Koerner Hall on Jan. 13.
‘We know that she’s really talented and we’re proud.'
“We were really excited and the more we found out about it, it was even more exciting for us,” said Hartmann. “We know that she’s really talented and we’re proud of her...she’s done so well.”
More than 47,000 examinations take place across Ontario and Quebec and the award is given out each academic year to students in levels 1 to 10. Camille’s exam consisted of five songs, scales, a sight reading test, intervals and a rhythm clap back.
Camille has been playing the guitar since she was four. It first sparked her interest by watching her father play.
“I’ve always been around it,” said Camille. “(One day) I picked it up and started strumming the strings not really knowing what it was.”
And from there she was hooked. She was enrolled in Little Fingers Music Studio, where she took vocal lessons and then guitar.
Fast forward 11 years and Camille now attends Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, practices every day for up to three hours a day depending on when she has guitar class at school. And on top of that she’s been leaning how to play the violin for the past three years.
Camille also plays lead guitar in a five-piece rock band called Pins and Needles that came together last August at Girls Rock Camp Toronto. Together they’ve played at The Academy of the Impossible, The Gladstone, and Lee’s Palace.
She also plans to complete her guitar training at all levels. “It’s been one of goals from the beginning is to go through all,” said Belair.
When asked about whether she’d like to work in the music industry, Camille said she isn’t putting any pressure on herself to go down that road.
“It’s always been something I’m not sure if I want to pursue,” said Camille. “If it happens, it happens.”