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In the Tao Te Ching, an important and influential Chinese text, author Lao Tsu writes, “In action, be aware of the time and the season.”

2014 will introduce a new era, and this simple but effective piece of advice that Tsu offers us could be applied to all of our lives in the coming weeks. The Holidays have given us time for rest and for reflection, but the Time and Season at hand encourages us to realize that the Magical Carousel of Reality is still in full spin, and to get on a horse, and ride.

We are all making choices to affirm our place in the new year. Many of these choices revolve around bettering ourselves, improving our minds and bodies.

When the Time and the Season suggests change, we have the option of embracing or resisting, saying yes or saying no.

Our hunch is that Lao Tsu would recommend that we do not go gently onto that merry go ‘round. Welcome the Time and the Season and try something new, or else reaffirm your love and your passion for what you Enjoy.

Happy New Year everyone, all the best!

TIFEM Presents: James Hill - Lyricism & Line: How to make the Ukulele Sing Workshop

TIFEM Presents: James Hill - Lyricism & Line: How to make the Ukulele Sing Workshop

We are very honoured and delighted to present an instructional workshop and performance by ukulele giant, James Hill.

With the release of his new album, A Man With A Love Song, Hill is poised to be held among the ranks of today’s finest young songwriters.

Hill’s specialty is of course, the Ukulele, and James has gained a reputation as one of the world’s leaders on the instrument. The Ukulele is often seen as a folk instrument and as an instrument with limited scope. Hill takes the uke to levels of virtuosity reserved for that of the guitar, piano or violin, and does so in many genres from jazz, to classical to adaptations of popular song and more.

Many lucky folks worldwide have seen and enjoyed James’ performances. The Wellington-Dominion Post calls his show, “A perfect evening of tunes, stories and musical virtuosity.”

Highly recommended for any of our students studying the uke, either privately or at the Sunday Group Uke Class. Everyone who thinks they might enjoy seeing the uke being played in a truly revolutionary way is welcome. See you then!

Date: Tuesday,  January 28th
Time: 7pm
Where: TIFEM - 821 Queen Street West
Duration: 90 min
Level: Intermediate
Price: $30 (To reserve a seat, you can purchase your ticket in advance over the phone or in person at TIFEM.)

TIFEM Presents: Suzuki Plus! Group Violin Classes for Kids

Suzuki Plus! TIFEM Kids Group Violin Classes

Introducing a brilliant new edition to our already shining lineup of Group Drop-In Classes.

Suzuki Plus! is a group violin class geared just for kids and it will be led by Lea Kirstein, who has had enormous success with the TIFEM Adult String Enselmble.

Lea works with youngsters on a regular basis, and her latest venture promises to be a natural extension of what she is great at; getting people together, and making beautiful, harmonious music that is larger than the sum of it’s parts.

The class takes place on Sundays at 3:30pm-4:30pm, and costs $15.

Group classes can be an important and joyful supplement to private lessons, and the goal for Suzuki Plus! is to provide an enriching and fun first ensemble experience for young violinists from the ages of 4-9, give or take.

The class is offered to violin students who are already enrolled in private Suzuki violin lessons, either at TIFEM or elsewhere. Although the Suzuki method is the basis for curriculum, the choice of repertoire is excitingly varied.

In addition to playing arrangements from the Suzuki Violin Book 1, the ensemble will also look at pop, traditional, and world music arrangements dear and familiar to the hearts and ears of it’s participants.

Students will develop ensemble skills through memory, rhythm and beginning improvisation games, co-ordination obstacle courses, listening activities and group concerts.

Parents are requested to stay and observe.

WARNING: Parents may be asked to drum, clap, and participate in mini parades. TIFEM is not responsible for the effects of continued exposure to extreme cuteness.

TIFEM Group Guitar Classes

TIFEM Group Guitar Classes

Every Saturday evening at 5pm, TIFEM offerers guitar players a chance to learn something brand new, and the opportunity to play with other guitar players at our Group Guitar Class.

Learn some new tips and tricks to help with rhythm playing, soloing, and improvisation. Strengthen those fingers; improve dexterity and speed through a series of inventive warm up exercises. Concepts for applying scales and modes, and songwriting analysis will be covered in addition to learning songs together and arranging them for the Group.

This is a wonderful opportunity for  those of you who have always wanted to learn the guitar but have wanted to do so in more of a social situation, or on a budget.

The Group Guitar class welcomes students who are already studying guitar lessons privately, as an accent to their one on one sessions.

The interactive aspect of the Group class will offer a new dimension to the student by challenging them to respond, react, and create in real time, alongside their musical counterparts.

The only thing better than one guitar is two!!



As a musician it’s good to be humble, and unless you happen to be Kanye West, it doesn’t always sound too good to toot your own figurative horn. Now and then however, a good boost of confidence can be motivating, and it can feel good to give oneself a little acknowledging pat on the back.

This month, we do just that. We’re here and it’s our year. Here are the top ten reasons why studying music at TIFEM is good for the mind, body, and soul.

1. We Want You To Enjoy Music
Each lesson at TIFEM is tailored to the particular student. Some of us want to learn how to read music, and some want to learn by ear. Some folks want to learn how to play their favourite songs, others desire to give their musical knowledge and technique a push via musical theory. Whatever the case may be, TIFEM is there to support and nurture the student and their interests, and guide them to their musical goals and then some.

2. We Have A Talented, and Dedicated Staff
Our faculty are some of the hardest working, and open minded musicians in the city, with a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in music today, and an extensive knowledge of music past.  Staff are friendly, easy to approach and support the students with enthusiasm and positive vibes.  A versatile bunch, there are teachers for every avenue on the musical map. From AC/DC to Tschaikovsky, from pick control to pitch control, to Better Get Hit in Your Soul.

3. The TIFEM Environment
American Designer Albert Hadley once said that rooms should not be put together just for show, but to nourish one’s well being, and provide a functional aspect towards supporting one’s lifestyle. Our spacious, clean environment is bright and often soaked with the sun. The walls and halls are there to encourage the creative spirit, providing the musician with a space that nurtures one’s focus, enabling improvement at an accelerated pace.

4. The Hang
Most music schools don’t exactly kick you out when you are finished your lesson, but it’s expected that when your time is up you’d not want to really stick around, you’ve got places to go. At TIFEM we’re not going to hold the unwilling captive, but we welcome students, parents and music enthusiasts alike to come in and say hi, and enjoy a cup of tea. We are often pulling various selections from our wonderfully extensive collection of vinyl and our digital music library. If a cup of tea ain’t your cup of tea, feel free to help yourself to a candy and have something sweet to chew on while listening to the sounds. You may want something to get the juices flowing while you’re engaged in that friendly musical debate about the Greatest Album of All Time or which Beatle was the coolest Post-Beatles.

5. Location, Location, Location
TIFEM is located at 821 Queen street, right in the heart of the Toronto arts community. Calling this neighborhood home has had untold benefits, among them being in the vicinity of a rich pool of artists and their inspiring work. It’s impossible to not be inspired when you are crossing paths with so many creative people on a regular basis and sharing ideas. Over the years we have had some very talented visual artists present their work here and TIFEM has become somewhat of a gallery in it’s own right. So many talented and eclectic folks have come through our doors and enriched our Group Classes, workshops, or Private Lessons, it’s hard to imagine a bunch this fun and eclectic gathering in any other Toronto locale.

6. Your Brain Is A Muscle and We Are Here to Pump You Up
Music is often used in the treatment of brain injuries. Perhaps one of the most recent and notable cases was that of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Much like concentrating on different muscle groups promotes a more effective workout, music works with neural pathways not normally accessed by the brain and helps to make connections for language, and speech. Not only a treatment, music is also a powerful tool for early childhood brain development, as well as a means to keep the brain sharp into adulthood and into old age.

7. Music Makes You Healthy
It’s a scientific fact that soothing music can decrease levels of stress in the body, due to a marked decrease in the body’s natural stress hormone, cortisol. Upbeat music can increase the number of antibodies in the system which are crucial in detecting and eliminating harmful bacteria and viruses. The physical act of strumming on a guitar or uke, or the soothing mindframe one enjoys while playing a calming piano piece, for example, is truly a preemptive medicine that no human should do without.

8. Music is a Universal Language
It’s a great feeling knowing that one can travel anywhere in the world and put a smile on someone’s face, just by playing a few bars of, “Smoke on the Water”. Learning music allows one to express joy, and excitement, also, sadness, loss, and a whole other gamut of emotions that require a big box of Kleenex.(We have lots of those here.) Expressing emotional feelings is necessary to move forward and live a full life, and music will help you do that without creating too much paper waste.

9. There are Instruments Here, Waiting for You
Here at TIFEM we have an assortment of amusing musical gadgets, as well as some good quality instruments to ease and accelerate the learning process. From the standard; the array of acoustic and electric guitars, and synths we have in house, to the more eclectic instruments such as the Tenori On or the amazing theremin, we have many things in store for your steady progress or sheer entertainment.

10. Music is Fun
It’s always a good time to meet new people, and try something brand new. Even though studying music is challenging, as soon as your first accomplishment is realized, even if it’s playing your first few chords or hearing your birdlike voice for the very first time, you get the reward of that priceless feeling. The good news is that priceless feeling never depletes, it’s only enhanced by the exhilarating cycle of challenge, and achievement. Enjoy!!

TIFEM Students Shout Outs - Chris Lo

TIFEM Students Shout Outs - Chris Lo

Chris Lo is a face we’re always happy to see around TIFEM.

The guitar player has been studying at TIFEM for over two years and Chris has certainly seized the day and taken on a fantastic musical journey for himself. An ambitious and creative player, Chris and two other TIFEM students have started a band of their own. Malahat, named after a BC coast highway that the three share a connection with. The BC exports rehearse religiously right here in our lower level rehearsal space and are working through covers and writing their own original songs.

We asked Chris to sound off on his experience at TIFEM and asked him a few questions about himself and his music.

1. How has studying at TIFEM helped you with some of your musical experiences?

I came to TIFEM as a beginner to the guitar a few years ago. I brought in an acoustic to my first lesson and remember meeting my teacher, Simon Akirov, who blew me away with what he could do with an electric. Right after that experience, I stopped by the music store, picked up one of my own, and haven't looked back since. 

2. What do you love best about studying at TIFEM?

Hands down, the warm and supportive atmosphere. I met my bandmates here and we rehearse often at the school. Our teachers give us feedback as a group and continue to help us grow individually as a musicians. 

3. What are some future goals in music that you would love to accomplish over the next few years?

When i was learning the rudiments of playing, I focused on playing songs as close to the album as I could. Now when I learn music, its more to open my mind to new ideas, and of course, for the sheer enjoyment of playing. I’m looking forward to improving my improvising and to completion of our band's first EP.

TIFEM Teacher Shout Outs! - Lea Kirstein

TIFEM Teacher Shout Outs! - Lea Kirstein

Lea Kirstein walked into TIFEM in the winter of 2012 and we knew right away that she was good vibes. Aside from a very impressive teaching and playing resume, Lea had a bright and vibrant west coastness to her that we were sure would be a good fit for TIFEM.

A supremely motivated and enthusiastic violinist LK is in top demand with her private teaching schedule as well as her exponentially expanding Adult Strings Ensemble.

Lea tells us that her favourite thing about music is bringing people together, and she certainly accomplishes this feat each Wednesday night at 7pm when a veritable string orchestra fills the lobby of 821 Queen west. No exaggeration, she has grown this group from a small string trio or quartet to an ensemble so full and powerful that they threaten to be heard all the way at Ossington.

Lea is active teaching private lessons to a wide variety of ages and to students with varied musical tastes and interests. She is knowledgeable and equally proficient playing classical, pop, jazz, folk and Celtic music and can teach any or all of these styles.

Her talents bring her and her fiddle playing to various venues across the city, and her future plans include exploring the music and magic that Spain has to offer. We wish Lea could stay with us forever, and we’re glad to have her around as long as she is not playing de Sarasate on the shores of La Concha.

TIFEM Presents: Kit Dynamo Snare Drum Launch

TIFEM Presents: Kit Dynamo Snare Drum Launch

We can’t speak for everybody but we do know that when we are in the market for a custom made instrument, we always want to look for a craftsperson not only familiar with the ins and outs of building instruments but also with the dynamics of live and studio performance.

Enter Jon Fedorsen; TIFEM faculty member, drummer, painter and last but not least, craftsman and entrepreneurial force behind Kit Dynamo, a local Toronto custom drum shop.

As a means of spreading the word about Kit Dynamo, and adding some eye candy to the TIFEM Environment, Jon is going to be showcasing a new snare drum each week and offering our students and friends a generous promotional special.

Feel free to come on in and scope out these beautiful snare drums. The first installment is quite a handsome devil and is in our storefront as we speak.

TIFEM Faculty Upcoming Gigs

TIFEM Faculty Upcoming Gigs

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 this month:

Eli Bender:
- Every Thursday night in January - Shoeless Trio @ The Tranzac | Toronto, ON

Emma Hewson:
- Jan 24, 2014 - Current Sessions from the Central, presents: Emma Hewson, Rory Taillon, Birds of Bellwoods, and Kenisha Humber  @ The Central | 9:30pm | Toronto, ON

Lea Kirstein:
- Jan 25, 2014 - Magenta String Quartet @ TIFEM’s Open Mic | 8pm | Toronto, ON
- Feb 1-2, 2014- Beatlemaniacs (Beatles tribute band) & Magenta String Quartet @ Burlington Performing Arts Centre | Burlington, ON
- Feb 07, 2014 - Beatlemaniacs (Beatles tribute band) & Magenta String Quartet @ Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts | Richmond Hill, ON
- Feb 08, 2014 - Beatlemaniacs (Beatles tribute band) & Magenta String Quartet @ River Run Centre | Guelph, ON
- Feb 28, 2014 - Beatlemaniacs (Beatles tribute band) & Magenta String Quartet @ Regent Theatre | Oshawa, ON

Lydia Persaud:
- Jan 25, 2014 - The Soul Motivators @ This Ain’t Hollywood | Hamilton, ON
- Feb 01, 2014 - The Soul Motivators @ The Horseshoe Tavern | Toronto ON
- Feb 09, 2014 - The O'Pears @ Peterborough House Concert | 7pm-9pm | $20 | Peterborough, ON
- Feb 24, 2014 - The O'Pears @ Monarc Tavern | 9pm-10pm | Toronto, ON