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In musical terms, a fermata is the sustaining of a note, chord, or rest for a duration longer than the indicated time value, with the length of the extension at the discretion of the performer.

If one uses a fermata to affect the last syllable of the word November, while rhythmically shifting from side to side, you can’t help but visualize the chilling, frozen picture it paints.


Here at The Toronto Institute For the Enjoyment of Music, we certainly hope the powers that be don’t use the fermata to extend the Ice Season past due this year.

In the meantime while the glare is shining off of the Arctic glass, things will no doubt be heating up in the hallways and studios of TIFEM.

Winter can be a very advantageous time for the practicing musician to sit down with some hot tea or a cup of coffee and really get into a piece of music without the distractions of the busy outdoor summer schedule.

The brisk, lonely winds. The heavy feeling that comes with dark days. These can be eased knowing that there’s an indoor pursuit that stimulates the imagination and warms the body from the inside out.

This November when you are pouring over that violin sonata or blazing through Heart and Soul, think of all the excitement the coming summer holds for you, when you emerge from your musical cocoon come June, ready to rock and roll.

TIFEM Choir & TIFEM Youth Band

On a regular basis, TIFEM offers an array of drop-in classes, which are a brilliant way to try something new out, no sweat.

Every group class is held weekly, and many people take advantage of the opportunity to have a regular, but casual music lesson where there is an element of flexibility, and a chance to interact and play with other musicians.

Playing music with others is a fast track to developing as a musician, and this is also why many of our current students enhance their private lessons by attending the group classes each week.

Group lessons are a great way to foster team building, and creativity. By being exposed to other's ideas, we share and continue to expand our musical vocabularies.

Of course, LISTENING, the holy grail of all musicianship, is constantly being practiced and strengthened by experiencing music in a group setting. The skill of listening is not only a valuable asset to any musician, but also to anyone who communicates with other humans on a professional or personal level.

This month, we feature two remarkable TIFEM group classes, The TIFEM Choir and the TIFEM Youth Band.



Led by the lovely and talented Asha Pieper, the Choir is held every Tuesday at 6:30pm. All levels are encouraged to drop in as each class is tailored to suit all abilities.

Repertoire for the Choir is also chosen by the student body, and all genres are up for grabs from classical to contemporary.

There are many benefits to singing with others.

For the shy beginner, it’s a nice security blanket to have all of your peers singing alongside you, and there’s a lot less pressure to be pitch perfect.

For the more advanced singer, a group singing situation is a golden opportunity to practice the art of harmony singing.

As a singer, one of your most important assets is your ear. Being able to “hear” something in your head and execute it with your voice is a skill many singers aspire to. Between a variety of repertoire and vocal exercises, the Choir constantly challenges the musical ear and will help any level of vocalist achieve their musical goals.  

TIFEM Youth Band

TIFEM Youth Band

At TIFEM, we are very passionate about educating young minds and helping them develop into sharp cookies, musical or otherwise.

It’s no secret that many studies have illustrated the correlation of musical study and academic achievement. ABC news recently reported a study that not only the study of music at a young age, but the continuing study of music is directly related to inventiveness and ingenuity in the global workplace.

Musical study helps minds think outside of the box and helps them solve problems more easily.

The New York Times recently published an article about successful people in business and politics and the connection of their success to ongoing musical study.

They give examples, “Condoleezza Rice trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.”

For all future world leaders and big players in business and finance, the TIFEM Youth Band provides a fun, creative and interactive learning platform for your child.

Whether your child has aspirations in big business, the arts, or simply wants to have a great time in a rewarding extra curricular activity, the Youth Band is worth checking out.

The Band is designed for kids ages 6-17 with two separate groups meeting each Sunday. From 3:30-4:30pm we welcome ages 6-12 and from 4:30-5:30pm, ages 13-17.

Some activities that are covered in the TIFEM Youth Band class are:

  • Playing and arranging popular songs
  • Writing original songs
  • Composing soundtracks to silent films and video clips
  • Learning to construct a groove
  • Incorporating improvisational techniques

The Youth Band is open to all instruments and skill levels, although it is recommended that participants have at least some background playing their instrument of choice.

TIFEM Student Shout-Outs

TIFEM Student Shout-Outs - Suzanne Andrew

Suzanne Andrew started out here at TIFEM about three years ago, having never held a bass. With a dedicated spirit and a discerning taste for aesthetic, she has blossomed into a full musician. Gigs and everything!

The hard working and talented Suzanne came to class week after week, having learned to play the previous week’s piece, accompanied by a thirst for knowledge and an appetite for increasingly more challenging bass lines.

Suzanne has opened up and broadened her musical horizons. In conjunction with her doing justice to any style from goth to hip hop and motown, she has expanded to learning about musical theory and bassline construction.

Recently she has done some work in cover bands and in the past few months has formed an original group with other TIFEM students, featuring her own songs.

Suzanne and her band performed at the last TIFEM open mic where she showcased her songwriting and lyrical prowess. Oh and did we mention she also sings!?

It’s safe to say that we’ll no doubt be writing more about Suzanne as time passes. I can picture her now with that cup of tea, in 23 below C, bass in hand. Last name: Andrew, first name: Suzanne.

1. How has studying at TIFEM helped you with some of your musical experiences?
At my first lesson with Roey, if you would have told me that a year later I would start playing in an all-girl rock and metal cover band. Or that I would play a show at the Bovine. Or that two years later I would be collaborating on writing original songs, basslines and lyrics with Malahat, my new band. Or that I’d ever be in a place in my life that I could not only play bass but also sing in front of a roomful of people. I would never have believed you. Nobody’s been more surprised by my progress than me. But what happened is I managed to find a teacher who gets me, who makes every single lesson fun and who helps me believe anything is possible. Roey is an incredibly generous, supportive teacher. And he answers all my questions! (I have a lot of questions!)
2. What do you love most about studying at TIFEM?
Oh, definitely the people and the community—I found my bandmates through TIFEM! But it’s the vibe too. When I started lessons I was in a place in my life and career as a writer where I hadn’t been a beginner at anything for a long time. Beginning was humbling, but somehow being vulnerable in such a positive atmosphere created some kind of alchemy that opened me up. I think in a roundabout way the experience made me a better, more honest writer. And a stronger, more hopeful person too.
3. What are some of your future goals in music you’d love to accomplish over the next few years?
I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and grow musically, to writing songs and lyrics and to collaborating with awesome people along the way. One thing I’ve learned is no matter what happens in life, music is always there for you. I want to learn how to become a better performer and songwriter so I can find ways to give back some of the happiness that music brings to me.

TIFEM Novemberrrrrrrrr Playlist

TIFEM Novemberrrrrrrrr Playlist

A soundtrack to keep you Sheltered from the Storm of November Rain.

You’re going to need some something to get you going and keep the blood flowing during those times when outside your window it looks like scene 1 from Empire Strikes Back.  These tunes are your Han and your Ton Ton.

Also included are a few jams to enhance the experience of hibernation when you just want to check into the carbon freezer.

01. Shelter From the Storm - Bob Dylan
02. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground - The White Stripes
03. Angel in the Snow - Elliott Smith
04. Keep On Movin’ - Soul II Soul
05. Things Can Only Get Better - Howard Jones
06. Wintertime Love - The Doors
07. Kid A - Radiohead
08. The Working Hour - Tears For Fears
09. Winter - The Rolling Stones
10. November Rain - Guns N’ Roses

TIFEM Movember Special

TIFEM Movember Special

It’s difficult not to think about moustaches during the 11th month of the year.

As we write this, the stubble has broken through the skin as the moustachioed month of Movember is well underway.

In this tribute to the most memorable musical mustaches of all time, we highlight some of the biggest Bristle Barons in the history of upper lipholstery.

  • John Oates (The Cookie Duster) - One Half of the great rock and soul duo, Hall and Oates.
  • Freddie Mercury (The Bro-Merang) - Rock legend. Lead vocalist for the British rock band Queen
  • Sir Edward Elgar (The Lip Luggage) -  British Composer best known for writing Pomp and Circumstance. (The graduation song)
  • Alexander Scriabin (The Soup Strainer) - One of the greatest and most influential of the early modern composers.
  • Giacomo Puccini (Mr. Tickles) - Has been called the greatest Italian Opera composer after Verdi. Perhaps best known for composing Madama Butterfly (1904).
  • Julius Fucik (The Manometer) - A Czech composer whose composition, “Entrance of the Gladiators”, is universally recognized as one of the most popular entrance themes for circus clowns. He’s not clowning around with that stache!!
  • Burton Cummings (The Grass Grin) -  Lead singer, chief songwriter and founding member of Canadian rock legends, The Guess Who.
  • Frank Zappa (The Zappa: A Moustache meets Soul Patch combo) - All time great composer, musician, recording engineer, record producer, songwriter and film director.
  • Jimi Hendrix (The Face Lace) - The greatest guitar genius who ever lived
  • James Hetfield (The Handlebar) - Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for metal giants, Metallica

Hogtown Hometown Heroes: The Rheostatics

Hogtwon Hometown Heroes: The Rheostatics

From the 427 to the River Rouge, Lake Ontario on up to Steeles Ave, we bring you the city’s best, past present and future.

The Rheostatics were writing about the Leafs even before Bill Barilko’s story was catapulted into Canadian consciousness by the likes of the Tragically Hip.

The Ballad of Wendel Clark Parts 1 and 2, among many other pieces of music in the Rheostatics catalogue, were hugely influential to Canadian music and culture.

Two of their most noteworthy musical endeavours, the albums Whale Music, and Melville, have been recognized as among the greatest Canadian albums of all time by critics and listeners alike.

The band performed their first gig in Etobicoke at a club called The Edge in February,1980  and went through many personnel changes before morphing into the classic era Rheostatic lineup.

The 80’s saw the band release some independent singles before signing to Intrepid records and recording Melville. The single, Record Body Count garnered the band much radio play and Muchmusic air time.

In 1991, The band signed to major label, Sire records and recorded Whale Music, inspired by the Paul Quarrington book of that same name. Quarrington himself was so impressed by the album that he commissioned the band to record music as a soundtrack to the film version of his book.

Soon after the National Gallery of Canada commissioned the Rheostatics to write music to accompany a retrospective on the Group of Seven. The project also involved Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies.

The band was also invited to go out on tour with the Tragically Hip, who were big fans of their music. Vocalist and lyricist of the Tragically Hip, Gordon Downie can be heard giving a mad shout out to the Rheostatics as the introduction to the Hip’s 1997 live album, Live Between Us.

In their career, the Rheostatics did achieve 1 top 40 hit, called Claire, part of the Whale Music film soundtrack.

As to why the band never broke out to further commercial success is the stuff of speculation. Bobby Baker, guitarist of the Tragically Hip perhaps said it best,  "I think maybe they're a little too good for their own good.”

TIFEM Faculty Shows

TIFEM Faculty Shows

We know it’s important to have an active and creative musical faculty in order to constantly generate new ideas and approaches to musical education.

In order to foster this idea we make it a practice to check out some shows put on by our own amazing educators.

Hope to see you at one of these great shows:

Irena Perkovic:
December 03, 2013 - REENIE @ The Cameron House | Time: 9pm | Toronto, ON

Lea Kirstein:
November 23, 2013 - Counterpoint Community Orchestra @ St Luke's United Church | Time: 7:30pm | Toronto, ON

December 16, 2013 - Euphonia Christmas Concert @ Lula Lounge | Time: 7-9pm | Toronto, ON

Lydia Persaud:
November 23, 2013 - The Soul Motivators @ The Mercury Lounge | Ottawa, ON 

November 24, 2013 - The O'Pears @ The Cameron House | Toronto, ON

November 30, 2013 - The O'Pears  - The Waterloo House Concert Series | Waterloo, ON

December 11, 2013 - The O'Pears @ Hugh's Room | Toronto, ON

December 15, 2013 - The O'Pears @ Village Vinyl | Toronto, ON

Matt Giffin:
November 22, 2013 - KCLR with A-Skillz @ Revival | Toronto, ON

November 23, 2013 - Shugga @ Joe Mama's | Toronto, ON

December 12, 2013 - KCLR @ The Measure | Toronto, ON

December 18, 2013 - Woodhouse Quintet with Jennah Barry @ Stayner's Wharf | Halifax, NS

December 22, 2013 - Woodhouse Quintet with Jennah Barry @ Marigold Centre | Truro, NS 

December 31, 2013 - Sounds of Motown @ Caesar's Casino | Windsor, ON

Roey Shemesh / Howard Goldbach / Jeff Butterfield
November 30, 2013 - Fighter/Lover @ Baltic Avenue (875 Bloor St. W) | Time: 11pm | Toronto, ON