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Remembering Author and Educator Forrest Kinney

Remembering Author and Educator Forrest Kinney

Published on December 11, 2019

Remembering Author and Educator Forrest Kinney

Teachers, students, faculty, and friends are mourning the loss of beloved author and educator Forrest Kinney, who passed away on December 8, 2019, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

“Forrest made a considerable contribution to music education—he changed teachers’ lives,” said Elaine Rusk, Vice President of the RCM Certificate Program. Through his acclaimed Pattern Play and Chord Play series, Forrest gave teachers the confidence to integrate improvisation and arranging into their lessons and inspired many of their students to pursue careers in performance and teaching. He gave hundreds of presentations to educators around the world and produced arrangements for more than 40 books published by The Royal Conservatory.

Forrest believed improvisation was central to music education. He saw it as a means of expressing feeling, as well as a conduit through which artists could communicate their musical ideas. His belief in its importance came from a very personal place; in a 2011 interview for The Royal Conservatory’s Music Matters newsletter, Forrest described improvisation as “[a] daily journal, a musical diary, a way of discovering and expressing my feelings each day…[it] has been at the heart of my lifelong friendship with the piano.”

Forrest took a singular approach to music education that reflected his approach to life. Always creative, he even invented a patented computer key system that allows users to type every letter of a word at once, as if playing chords on a piano. He established a career as a frequent guest performer at the home of Bill and Melinda Gates. He lived very quietly, residing deep in the woods of Washington state, pursuing what he called a “19th-century lifestyle.”

“Forrest was a creative, kind, and sensitive soul,” recalled Rusk, who added that he often doubted the impact of his efforts. However, in a heartfelt Facebook post published before his passing, Forrest revealed that the many expressions of appreciation he received assured him that he had fulfilled his mission.

Forrest’s commitment to this personal mission has strengthened music education in many innovative ways. His life’s work changed the lives of many others, and he will be deeply missed.

The Royal Conservatory Remembers Forrest Kinney