Fort McMurray student Aarushi Vasal, 14, has won a National Gold Medal in the Royal Conservatory of Music Speech Arts Examinations. She won the medal for her Speech and Drama Level 7 performance.
The exams are open to anyone taking private classes for many different kinds of instruments, including piano, guitar, harp, winds, strings and accordion. Singers are also eligible. National medals are given out for each area every year. Students can also receive a National Diploma Gold Medal.
The examination had many different components, including reciting a poem, a monologue from a play, a scene from a Shakespeare play and a speech. These are prepared in advance and everything is done by memory, said Vasal.
The examiner also gives the student an improvised scene and reads a poem they are not familiar with ahead of the exam. Lastly, there is an in-depth discussion and analysis of the authors and pieces the student chooses to perform.
Vasal said preparing for the exam was difficult but was an overall positive experience. She said she always feels nervous in the beginning.
“Sometimes I get a bit nervous. I don’t want to mess up or forget my piece,” she said. “But I’m kind of used to it because I’ve done a couple exams already, like four or five. Once you get more used to it, it becomes less and less nerve-wracking.”
Vasal heard she won the national gold medal from her father after school. She was shocked and surprised, especially after winning the provincial gold last year.
“I never thought that would actually improve to a national gold medal as well. That was truly surprising, but overall I was really proud of myself and all of the work that I had done,” she said. “I know it takes a lot of hard work and I was glad that I put in all that hard work, and I was happy that my effort paid off in the end.”
Kimerica Parr, Vasal’s teacher, said her student has worked hard to win. Along with Vasal’s national award, several of Parr’s students won regional gold medals.
“We’re honoured that she received the award,” said Parr. “But of course, we don’t do it for the awards, we do it for the growth as artists and human beings.”
Vasal is in her fifth year taking speech and drama lessons. She first joined wanting to develop more public speaking skills and to push herself to be a better speaker. She was also interested in acting and wanted to learn more after seeing performances at different festivals.
“She’s grown immensely, she’s a beautiful young lady with a great spirit and incredible work ethic,” said Parr. “What I love most about the RCM examination program is the students have to work hard and you have this very high standard to meet just in order to pass.”
Vasal is finishing the Associate Diploma (ARTC) before finishing high school, said Parr.
In the future, Vasal said she hopes to pursue a career in the medical field with acting possibly as a side job.
“As teachers who teach the RDM program is that we teach art, but it isn’t about the are, it’s about growing as an individual through the art,” said Parr. “It just sets them up for success in any career they may chose later.”