Welcome to Upbeat Piano Studio! The studio motto is “Enriching lives through music.” Our teachers approach teaching with the goal of complete musicianship, taught in a step-by-step approach, using popular beginner methods and the Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum. Students also learn to play popular and seasonal music of their choice. We deal with each student as an individual and help them to achieve their own goals. We encourage parents and students to communicate openly with us about their goals and repertoire choices. A basic five-subject course includes: compositions, technique, ear training, sight reading and theory. We insist that students complete regular practice between lessons to maximize the value of their lessons and so that they make sufficient progress to keep them interested and motivated. Theory instruction helps students to understand what they are playing and to make music accessible to them. Performing is a very popular part of our program. Student success builds morale and increases motivation and we ensure that students are prepared so that these experiences are positive. There is a Halloween Piano Party, and also a Christmas Carol Concert for seniors and an end of year recital in June. Some students enter in the Kiwanis Festival and there is also an opportunity to enter Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association auditions. Our teachers have had many students successfully participate in RCM examinations: this is geared to student interest and personal goals.
Upbeat Piano Studio Director Melanie Dickson-Smith, RCM Certified Teacher: Advanced Specialist – Piano, Intermediate Specialist – Theory, has been teaching piano and theory lessons in the Greater Toronto Area since 1989 and she has been teaching in the Toronto community of Leaside and the surrounding area since 2004. She is known for her enthusiasm and keen interest in each student’s musical development. This year, the studio is expanding to offer even more services. There are new group theory classes and new teachers to accommodate even more students. Melanie began teaching piano in Leamington, Ontario in 1981 while an advanced piano student. She studied piano with Marion Stuart-Kosmala, M. Mus., B. Mus., A. Mus. (all in Piano Performance) in the 1980s and with Bill Keis, jazz/contemporary pianist, keyboardist, composer, producer, musical director, educator, and author of 488-page book “The Complete Guide To Learning Music” in the 1990s. She also studied theatre at York University and acting at the Banff School of Fine Arts and performed as an actor and singer in community, university and other non-equity theatre productions. She studied pedagogy with James Lawless, ARCT (Piano Performance), LRCT (Piano Licentiate, U of T), Chief Examiner Emeritus, Royal Conservatory of Music. Melanie has successfully completed the certificate program requirements for Intermediate Piano Pedagogy towards the A.R.C.T. Diploma in Piano Pedagogy from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has also attended many seminars and workshops presented by senior teachers and examiners in North America, to keep abreast of the latest innovations in teaching and learning music. She has had many student candidates succeed at RCM practical and theory examinations.
Jennifer Guillen holds a Bachelor of Music from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where she specialized in music history. She has studied with teachers such as Dina Namer and Valerie Tryon, and has taken part in numerous master classes led by well-known pedagogues such as Kendal Taylor and Earl Moss. Ms. Guillen is a former organist and assistant choir director at St. John’s West Toronto, where she had the opportunity to work with autistic children through music. Ms. Guillen has extensive experience teaching students of all levels and ages. Along with her private music teaching Jennifer works as the Administrator of the College of Examiners for Theory at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has been a member of the RCM College of Examiners since 1998 and is an RCM Certified Teacher: Advanced Specialist – Piano.
Christine Tsai, B.F.A. in Piano Performance (York University) and BM – Piano Performance candidate (School of Music, San Jose State University (SJSU), CA), RCM Certified Teacher: Intermediate Specialist – Piano, R.M.T. is a Founding Teacher of the National Music Certificate Program (Royal Conservatory of Music) USA, 2007. She is a professional musician and teacher with more than 20 years of experience in teaching piano techniques, theory, ear training, sight-reading, music history, music appreciation and musicianship development. She is serious about providing students with a strong technical foundation as well as developing their musicality. Lessons are tailored to suit each student’s abilities, interests, and goals. Christine is especially gifted at communicating with and teaching children and adolescents. She can teach lessons in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taiwanese. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Christine began learning piano at age 5 and a half. At age 16, she taught her first piano lesson. In 1988, she moved to Toronto with her family. She studied with the piano faculty of the Royal Conservatory of Music from 1989 – 1992 and continued to teach. Christine relocated to the Silicon Valley in California and lived there for 11 years, where she continued her studies. Her teachers included Hang Li, MM, who was honored with the title “Artists” of Sanremo Festival, Italy and in her undergraduate years in San Jose State, she studied piano with Dr. Gwendolyn Mok. She performed in concert series like piano showcase and Beethoven Center Hours. From 1998 – 2008 Christine taught piano lessons to hundreds of children in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. From 2000 – 2005 at Melody’s School of Music, Cupertino, California, she specialized in group piano classes for young children. At York University in 2011 and 2012, Christine studied with Christina Petrowska Quilico, BM, MS (Juilliard), who is the Professor of Piano Performance and Musicology, and the Head Coordinator of the Piano Department. In the past 6 years since returning to Toronto, Christine has successfully taught students with varying experience, from beginners to RCM Level 10 students, helping them achieve further and pass RCM exams. She has hosted 7 annual concerts and looks forward to engaging her students in the many performance opportunities at Upbeat Piano Studio. She is very pleased to be part of Upbeat Piano Studio and looks forward to working with many students on their musical development.
David King, A.R.C.T. Performance, Bachelor of Music U.W.O., R.M.T., has been teaching piano students of all ages and musical backgrounds for the last nine years. Whether preparing his students for RCM exams or helping them read and improvise from chord charts, David brings flexibility to his teaching that allows students to pursue a variety of goals in an encouraging environment. David holds an ARCT in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Western Ontario. He has had the privilege of studying with a number of top piano teachers (Andrew Markow, John Paul Bracey, Stephan Sylvestre) who have each had a profound impact on his teaching style. As well as being comfortable teaching a wide range of classical repertoire, David can also offer a strong introduction to popular music. Supplementing his training in classical piano, David studied music production and song writing at university and has written, recorded and performed his own music. For the last four years, David has been teaching regularly at Long and McQuade Waterloo where he continues to teach once a week. David and his wife Jenn moved from Waterloo to Toronto this past summer when David began a new job at St Matthew’s Church Riverdale. Part of this job included launching a jam session for youth that happens regularly on Friday nights. David is very pleased to be part of the teaching team at Upbeat Piano Studio.
Megan Worthy, Honours B.F.A. Jazz Humber College, R.M.T., is a professional pianist and teacher who began playing the piano when she was six years old. Her first passion was classical music, which she studied through the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto with Barb Morrison, her teacher and mentor for many years. By her early teens, Megan had achieved First Class Honours at the Grade 8 Level of the Royal Conservatory of Music program and received many awards at music competitions, including the Kiwanis and Davenport Music Festivals. As a music lover, Megan explored other instruments, including cello, guitar and voice, but piano remained her passion. She also explored other genres and an emerging interest in jazz led her to Humber College’s Intro to Jazz and Commercial Music’s Diploma program. After graduating on the Honour Roll, Megan was offered a scholarship to enter Humber College’s prestigious four year B.F.A. degree program, where she focused on jazz performance and pedagogy. She also had the opportunity to study jazz with many great jazz piano players, including David Virelles, Nancy Walker, Brian Dickinson, and Bernie Senesky. While at Humber, Megan began singing with Pork Belly Futures. Megan recorded vocals on their album, The Crooked Road, released in October of 2010 and on their self-titled album, Pork Belly Futures, released in 2008. Megan also recorded a single with Turkey-based EDM artist DJ Tarkan, creating an international pop song that has been making waves online. Currently Megan is composing, playing keys and singing harmonies with local band Edgewater Hotel who recently celebrated the release of their debut EP. Edgewater Hotel can be seen playing at iconic Toronto venues such as The Horseshoe Tavern and The Silver Dollar. Megan also plays jazz piano with an emerging vocalist, Kayla Crosby, at various locations including Toronto’s Jazz Bistro. While Megan enjoys performance, her experience with the outstanding educators in Humber’s music program strengthened her desire to share her love of music through teaching. Megan has been teaching private piano, theory and ear-training lessons for more than ten years. She enjoys developing both technical and musical skills, while varying her approach to meet the evolving needs of each student. She is delighted to join the teaching team at Upbeat Piano Studio to share the joy of music!
Priya began studying music at age 5. She continued to take piano lessons while pursuing an undergraduate degree in science at the University of Waterloo and has completed grade 10 piano with the Royal Conservatory of Music. She then moved to Montreal to study biotechnology at McGill University and has completed a Master of Science degree. She has participated in many local competitions including the Peel Music Festival. Currently she is preparing for the ARCT in piano performance and is studying advanced theory. Priya began teaching piano in both group and private lessons at age 14. She has taught students of various ages, from as young as three years of age to adults. She is very excited to be working with Upbeat Piano Studio!
Bowen Li is an Australian pianist currently studying a degree in classical piano performance at the Glenn Gould School with scholarships. He has won prizes at numerous competitions in Australia including the Allison/Henderson Scholarship of the Sydney Eisteddfod and the 2MBS FM Young Virtuosi Awards. His performances at these competitions have been broadcast on radio in Australia. Bowen has been awarded the Licentiate of Music Diploma in Piano by the Australian Music Examination Board. He also frequently participates in master class festivals in Australia, North America and Europe where he has studied with teachers such as Robert Mcdonald, Julian Martin, Yong Hi Moon, John Perry, Leon Fleisher, Douglas Humphreys and Marietta Orlov. In addition to performance, Bowen also has a strong passion for teaching music. He has been teaching piano since 2009 and has taught students from the ages of 5 to 50 and from beginner to advanced level students. Bowen also does accompanying and has accompanied a variety of instruments and vocalists and has been employed by the Royal Conservatory of Toronto as an accompanist since 2014.
Native of St. John’s Newfoundland, Danielle Greene holds a BMus in Violin Performance from the University of Toronto, where she studied with Toronto Symphony’s Concertmaster, Jonathan Crow. Currently, Danielle is full-scholarship student at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory, in the Artist Diploma Program. Here, she studies within the studios of both Barry Shiffman and Erika Raum. In previous years, Danielle studied with Toronto Symphony’s Principal Violist, Teng Li, as well as Memorial University of Newfoundland’s violin Professor, Nany Dahn and pianist, Timothy Steeves. Ms. Greene has performed in masterclasses for Berlin Philharmonic’s Concertmaster, Noah Bendix-Balgey, the Julliard String Quartet, and the New Orford String Quartet, to name a few. She is the 2016 winner of the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, as well as a $5000 Award of Excellence recipient on behalf of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. During her time in Toronto, Danielle has performed at many prestigious venues, including Koerner Hall, Montreal’s Maison Symphonique, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the University of Toronto President’s Residence. Danielle’s teaching experience began in her high school years, where she taught violin classes in a group setting with the ProjectGrace program in St. John’s – a program offering music lessons for under-privileged students of all ages. She also thoroughly enjoyed her time teaching private violin and piano lessons at MAX Arts Athletics Wellness. Her students ranged from ages three to fifteen, all levels, and performed in the Kiwanis Music Festival. In addition, Danielle taught fiddle classes and served as piano accompanist at the Atlantic Canada Suzuki Institute. Danielle’s teaching knowledge is not limited to classical music; she also enjoys teaching genres such as pop and folk. In addition to Danielle’s teaching career in St. John’s, she is a past member of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, where she had the opportunity to perform with numerous artists; including Canadian operatic tenor, David Pomeroy, violinist Mark Fewer, pianist Jan Lisiecki and the world-renowned vocal group Rajaton. In 2011, Danielle performed as a featured soloist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra during their Atlantic Tour.
Cellist Sophie Choi, a native of South Korea, began studying cello at the age of ten. When Sophie was an undergraduate at Ewha Womens University in Seoul, she was invited to visit Indiana University, where she later studied with renowned cellist János Starker. Sophie has attended master classes with such distinguished artists as Aldo Parisot, Jens Peter Maintz and Maria Kliegel. She has attended summer music festivals in France, the Czech Republic, the United States, Canada and South Korea. As the first prize winner at the American Protégé International Concerto Competition, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in December 2014. Sophie completed her Master of Music degree in 2014, and the Professional Studies program in 2016 at Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of Richard Weiss, First Assistant Principal Cellist of The Cleveland Orchestra. Currently She is doing her Doctor of Musical Arts at Faculty of Music, University of Toronto with Shauna Rolston as a recipient of Yo-Yo Ma Fellowship for Strings 2016.
Shannon Pelletier-Doyle is a recent graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University having earned a Bachelor’s of Music Education focusing in Percussion Pedagogy and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s of Education (Primary/Junior Division) at York University. Along with this she also formerly studied at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan; however, she transferred to Wilfrid Laurier University to complete her degree. She has studied under several celebrated percussionists, both in Canada and in the United States, including: David Campion, Brennan Connolly, Julie Strom, Dan Maslanka, and others. Shannon has been studying percussion since the age of 10 and made the decision to make it her career at the age of 12. She also studied piano and voice from a young age, and during her time at Wilfrid Laurier learned to play guitar, flute, clarinet, and more. She has performed with a variety of ensembles throughout her career including: Stratford Symphony Orchestra, Oakland University Steel Pan Ensemble, Oakland University [Steel] Pan Jazz Ensemble, Oakland University Contemporary Music Ensemble, Oakland Symphony Orchestra Wilfrid Laurier University Percussion Ensemble, Wilfrid Laurier Symphony Orchestra, Wilfrid Laurier Wind Ensemble, and many more. Shannon is a highly passionate percussion and piano teacher; she is incredibly excited to be joining the Upbeat Piano Studio teaching staff and share that passion with new students.
Jordan Circosta teaches drum lessons, available as in-home sessions in the East York, North Toronto, and North York area. Jordan holds an Honours Bachelor of Music degree in Drums from Humber College and has worked professionally in the music industry for more than four years. He is an active member of the band Ginger Ale & the Monowhales as their songwriter, manager, producer, and bandleader. Jordan believes in preserving traditional methods of teaching music while also embracing cutting-edge technology. His methods keep students engaged while staying abreast of new trends in the rapidly-changing music industry. He utilises apps like Garageband, the leading iOS app for music creation, giving students the ability to practise and create music on the go. At Upbeat Piano Studio, our music lessons are of the highest quality and are tailored to help each student meet his or her individual goals. We offer more than just standard lessons because we ensure that our students work closely with qualified music professionals who are passionate about what they do. We teach students that learning a musical skill isn’t just about passing exams or hitting milestones. Our teachers convey both the joy of making music and the innate benefits of focus and discipline to instill a lifelong love of music in their students. Just as music lessons provide cognitive benefits across all disciplines, percussion lessons offer numerous advantages to students, musical and otherwise. Early elementary-age children learn and reinforce mathematical concepts like counting, and drumming is excellent for the development and refinement of both fine and gross motor skills. Older students can apply the principles learned in drumming to fractions, frequencies, and the science of sound. Drumming also fosters an interest in history, culture, and the arts as students learn more about drumming traditions from around the world. We look forward to guiding your student through their musical journey. To register or learn more, please contact us.