Filled with Peace – New Album of Original Piano Improvisations Released

My solo piano album, recorded in the summer of 2017 at Roy Barnett Recital Hall at the UBC School of Music, is now streaming globally on all streaming channels (Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, CDBaby – with liner notes, and iTunes, among others). It’s called Filled with Peace (a bit of a play on the meaning of my name, which means ‘peace’ in Turkish) and is a set of original jazz improvisation pieces. For those of you who may have not known my musical background, I’ve written an artist’s profile to give some history.

Many of the pieces on the album are inspired by the natural beauty, peace and tranquility of West Coast British Columbia, Canada, specifically the beaches and forests surrounding the University of British Columbia (Acadia Beach, Pacific Spirit Regional Park, UBC Botanical Gardens). I’m hoping that the album transfers the feelings you get when you go to these places as well as moments of joy, calm, spiritual reflection, gratitude and wonder; these were the source emotions of the album.

The overall shape of the album is an arc going from a feeling of gratitude, joy and remembrance to a more somber and spiritually reflective mood. The album culminates in two longer, meditative pieces inspired by the sanctuary of botanical gardens and the peace induced by gently rolling waves on a West Coast beach.

Here are some notes on each of the pieces:

1. Crystal Joy
I composed Crystal Joy in 2011 and dedicated it to my brother Martin and his wife Melanie on their wedding day. Both of them are incredibly talented, visionary painters.

2. Lourdes: In Memoriam
I wrote this piece in 2012 for the memorial service of Lourdes Gonzalez, my wife’s mother, who was an amazing woman of courage, determination, hard work and talent. We miss her spirit dearly.

3. Haydee
This is for my wife, Ana, the love of my life and my better half, who completes me in so many ways.She loves 80’s music so there is a subtle nod to Queen at the end.

4. Crysalis
I named this piece from my daughter’s middle name, Crysalis. The idea of this name is a cluster of consonants that emerges into a playful, flowering melodies.

5. Anjel
This is for my son, who loves viral YouTube songs like “It’s Raining Tacos”. This is a bit of a variation on that tune.

6. Acadia Beach
Acadia Beach is my absolute favourite spot in Vancouver for spiritual reflection and prayer.

7. Hommage à Ludovico
I love Ludovico Einaudi’s work and he is an inspiration for my journey in music.

8. Magnolia
I had never seen such amazing Magnolia blossoms until I came to Vancouver, where they are everywhere in spring. This motif was originally part of a documentary on mental health, so it’s reflective. Planning to turn this into a full EDM track coming soon!

9. through a glass, darkly
This is a piano excerpt from my chamber music piece from 1996 by the same name, first performed at the Ottawa National Art Gallery. In the original piece, the ending is for piano solo over drum and bass, inspired by the Keith Jarrett trio. I wanted to resurrect the piano solo for this album.

10. Love: the most excellent way
This piece is based, word for word coinciding with the melody, on the chapter on love in 1st Corinthians 13, possibly the most eloquent statement on the centrality of love in this life, in my humble opinion.

11. The Sanctuary
There is a beautiful space at the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens in spring where the birds and flowers create this very calming and peaceful atmosphere.

12. Filled with Peace
This piece was inspired by the rolling waves at Acadia Beach, Vancouver and the feeling you get when you stare out at the north shore and look up at the distant mountains.

Virtual Liberating Structures Meetup – Monday, August 28th at 7pm PST

As part of the Vancouver Liberating Structures User Group, I’ll be coordinating our first Virtual LS meeting on this last Monday of August, the 28th at 7pm. If you’re interested in Liberating Structures and in particular applying LS in a virtual environment, you’re welcome to join! You can access the Zoom meeting here:

Please arrive early (we’ll open at 6:45pm) to iron out any tech glitches and make sure you have the Zoom software downloaded on either your phone or laptop (check

Here is a detailed structure for the session and also includes links to great resources that one of the Virtual LS specialists Jim Best has put together:

We’ll also invite those interested in V-LS from around the community. Hope to see you all there!

Authentic Experiential Learning – Reflections on UBCO Learning Conference Keynote

Reflections on Keynote at #UBCOLearnConf with Dr. Linda B. Nilson.

Reflection involves self-debriefing and helps students know what to look for through an educational experience. Reflection leads the way to metacognition and self-regulated learning. That can encapsulate self-observation, self-monitoring, self-analysis, self-evaluation. Students, upon reflecting, can start creating decision-making rules and patterns to take with them to other similar experiences. Ultimately, as a teacher, it is the reflection that you will assess. You as a teacher will be able to see the quality of their reflection

Reflective Probes

The term “probes” is new to me in this kind of educational context. “The authentic experience & reflection require corresponding outcomes” – Dr. Linda B. Nilson. Here are some examples of probes:

  • What skills did you gain or improve?
  • How did you overcome your challenges?
  • Describe your decision-making process?
  • What steps did you take along your research process?
  • What problems did you encounter?
  • When and how will these skills be useful in the future?

Learning Outcomes

Questions teachers need to ask themselves before creating authentic learning experience reflection assessments are:

  • What are my learning outcomes for your students’ authentic experience?
  • Given these outcomes, what are your most effective reflective probes to ask and assess (detail important here)

Thoughts on the presentation

It was fascinating to see the breadth and depth of best practices in student reflection on authentic learning. What I would have loved to see was more opportunities for the audience themselves to do some reflection on the presentation itself. Dr. Linda B. Nilson would have benefited from using one or two Liberating Structures such as 1-2-4-All or 15% Solutions!

Reflections on PIDP Courses so far

I’ve taken so far 6 courses in the VCC Provincial Instructor Diploma:

  • PIDP 3100 Foundations of Adult Education
  • PIDP 3210 Curriculum Development
  • PIDP 3230 Evaluation of Learning
  • PIDP 3240 Media Enhanced Learning
  • PIDP 3250 Instructional Strategies
  • PIDP 3260 Professional Practice

3100 opened me up to the world of Adult Learning. I had never studied that before, so words like Andragogy and Heutagogy were new to me. Concepts like transformative learning, self-directed learning were brand new. This course definitely broadened my view of all the varieties of adult learning and adult learning theories there are out there. And certainly it helped me start reflecting on my own learning.

3210 helped me get acquainted with curriculum development in the sense of planning out all aspects of how to shape a curriculum into a workable document. Especially helpful was guidance on how to create proper learning outcome statements, and also studying the difference between competency and outcomes based learning.

3230 brought me into the world of assessments and how to properly assess students, especially in informal assessment contexts. Formative/Summative assessment instruments were looked at and constructed. Knowledge instruments were built, norm versus criterion based tests were compared.

3240 introduced me to “Teaching Naked”, how higher education is changing rapidly and ways to incorporate more creative uses of technology in learning. I had never heard of Pecha Kucha slides! That was interesting.

3250 – biggest revelation was the myth of learning styles! Huge revelation for me. I had been sold on this idea until then. That was very insightful, how it’s not that we have different learning styles but that we all are capable of using different learning styles depending on what the learning demands. I think it’s here where I learned about Hattie’s ground breaking Visible Learning research. Very cool!

3260 – Ethical dilemmas, The Skillful Teacher and how student learning experiences must be brought to the light, CIQ and how simple it is to implement to get anonymous feedback from students about their learning. Really interesting, eye-opening stuff!

David Helfand’s out-of-the-box thinking on higher ed

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb

David Helfand gives a fascinating TEDTalk on “Designing a university for the new millennium” at TEDxWestVancouverED:

What I found insightful about this TEDTalk was how out of the box Helfand is about his thinking on higher education. He doesn’t believe in tenure (turned it down at Columbia University), believes faculty should not be divided into hierarchies and that their focus should be on the student learning, that they should not silo themselves into departments but instead interact with other disciplines. What he has done as president of Quest University is astounding. Quest University “offers only one degree, a bachelor of arts and sciences, has no departments, and students take just one four-week course at a time through its block plan” (Charbonneau 2015).

This is a radical break from the traditional university, and they’ve not only succeed, they are influencing other similar initiatives around the world. What I especially like about it is the focus on student learning, engaging students in ways that help them learn. Quest University was ranked “highest among Canadian universities on five key criteria: academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, supportive campus environment, active and collaborative learning, and enriching educational experience” (MacQueen 2011). That is pretty astounding, and there are certainly many lessons that traditional universities can and I believe, must learn, to stay viable in the 21st century higher education landscape.



Charbonneau, L. (2015). David Helfand reflects back on a decade at the head of Quest University. Available at: Accessed May 1, 2016.

MacQueen, Ken (24 February 2011), “The student’s Quest”, Maclean’s. Available at