N.S. piano teacher lands alongside Mozart in prestigious U.K. composition book

A piece by a Nova Scotia piano composer has been published in the London College of Music's 2018-2020 Grade 1 handbook.

Rebekah Maxner's piece Jazz! Goes the Weasel is in London College of Music's 2018-2020 Grade 1 handbook

Rebekah Maxner's piece Jazz! Goes the Weasel was first published in her own book, Old MacDonald had the Blues. (CBC)

When Rebekah Maxner gets an idea, her mind doesn't relax until she's penned the notes.

"I get so obsessed with it that I can't do anything else. I can't eat, I can't take care of my children. It's so terrible. I have to keep going down that bunny trail of inspiration until it's all done," she said with a smile.  

Now one of the Hantsport, N.S., piano teacher's ideas — and the piece that flowed from it — will be available to piano students across Europe. 

Her piece Jazz! Goes the Weasel, and a full-page write-up, is published in the latest edition of the prestigious London College of Music's 2018-2020 Grade 1 syllabus, alongside works by composers such as Mozart. 

Maxner's piece Jazz! Goes the Weasel was first published in her own book, which was based on well-known nursery rhymes. (CBC)

When Maxner received an email last summer requesting her banking information, she was skeptical. But after finding out her work's inclusion in the book wasn't a hoax, she was "thrilled" to learn her music would be published in the U.K.

"It's fun because my music is going all over the world and I can't wait to follow it there," she said from her home studio. 

The same piece — a jazzy take on the popular children's song — had earlier been picked up in a publication by the Toronto-based Royal Conservatory of Music and was originally published in Maxner's first book. 

Though she studied composition in university, the demands of teaching piano and caring for her family meant it was a "big accomplishment" to finally compile her own work. 

"Being a composer is really where my heart is," she said. "A sound will grab me.… I've been playing the piano so long, my fingers just know where to go next. And then I write it down, so I don't forget."

Jazz! Goes the Weasel was published in the latest edition of the prestigious London College of Music's Grade 1 syllabus 0:38

Now she gets her students to try out her pieces and tries to create work they'll enjoy playing. 

She said it's a challenge to choose music for students because it's important for them to like piano lessons and enjoy what they're playing. 

"I think it's really important to give kids music that they're passionate about. That has become my passion, to write really good, high-quality, but fun pieces for my piano students."

Maxner is in the process of publishing her original book, Rock that Trail, based on '50s and '60s music inspired by the likes of the Beatles and Twenty One Pilots. 

"All the world needs is love, and something positive. What I feel like I'm doing is putting that into the world," she said. "What I want to do is give children music that they love and music that puts a shine in their life."

With files from Colleen Jones