"The important thing is to not stop questioning."
- Albert Einstein
My musical journey began at home with my family. My earliest musical experiences that I can remember involve singing nursery rhymes and playing musical games with my parents. My mother and father are both Canadian Actors and musicians in their own right and from a young age, they encouraged me to play and be creative in various art forms, including music.
My parents also wanted me to learn the foundations of music and enrolled me in private piano lessons at the age of 7 until I was 18 when I completed my Grade 8 Piano Performance certificate and my Grade 2 Rudiments with Honours through the Royal Conservatory of Music. While I enjoyed learning classical music by so many great composers I was curious about the process of self-expression and how these composers developed their own voices. As I grew up and began listening to all kinds of music that my parents played at home or I heard on the radio, I became even more curious about another musical genre with its own trademark of self-expression, Jazz.
I was able to try out the saxophone for the first time in my grade 7 music class at school, and I was hooked. I continued playing through high school in concert bands and jazz bands, in the pit band for musicals, in small ensembles, and more. Any opportunity I had to play, I took it. My passion for the saxophone and for Jazz led me to pursue post-secondary education in music.
I had the benefit of experiencing two different post-secondary programs. The first was York University's undergrad Bachelor of Fine Arts program with a focus in Music. This program allowed me to study Jazz and Classical forms of music and included learning the theoretical side of Harmony and Counterpoint. Being able to study the music of Bach and learn the rules of species Counterpoint proved to be an essential perspective when writing my own music.
After completing two years of this program I decided I wanted a more Jazz-centric approach so I auditioned and was accepted to Humber College's Jazz Program. I eventually graduated from Humber in 2012 with my Bachelor of Music.
During my time at Humber, I played in many ensembles, learned to play soprano sax and flute as “doubles” to my alto sax, studied privately with Canadian Jazz greats such as Kirk MacDonald and Pat LaBarbera, and studied arranging with a great Canadian trumpet player and arranger, John MacLeod. I fell in love with the process of writing and arranging music for small and large ensembles and eventually used these skills to provide music for my own group which I co-led, the Lansdowne Sax Quartet.
The quartet provided many arranging opportunities and some collaboration with various artists, such as David Occhipinti, Gene DiNovi, and Rob Teehan to name a few. I have also been an arranger on an original creative project by Canadian comedian, Danielle Léger on her album, “Get ‘Em.” Danielle won a FACTOR grant in 2014 to record this demo album.
I also arrange for my piano students for beginner and intermediate levels in various genres of music. I teach my students writing and arranging and find that it’s a great outlet for them to be creative as well as work on their music literacy.
I have always had an interest in pedagogy and in 2017 began my certificate in Early Childhood Music Education (ECME) through the Royal Conservatory of Music in association with Ryerson University. Through this program, I am able to study the biggest names in ECME, Dalcroze, Kodály, and Orff, as well as two courses in child psychology. I have taught a music class for children between the ages of 2-3 years old which was very exciting and fun, and I have also applied this pedagogy to how I teach my private students. I find that it’s very important to have a variety of perspectives and tools to meet an individual’s needs and to encourage creativity and play which is the ultimate form of education.
Music is in all of us from the time we hear our mother's heartbeat in the womb. Our first instrument is our body in tandem with our senses of sight, touch, and sound.
We learn music like we learn a language: by listening, imitating, and eventually finding our own voice.
Too often, students are expected to learn to play an instrument and read music before they have fully nurtured this connection.
The transition from ear/body/voice into reading and writing is a delicate process that requires a level of awareness and sensitivity.
I am passionately dedicated to fostering a holistic connection to music and when it is time, guiding them through the transition to music literacy.
One-on-one instruction in my home studio or in your own home.
*Due to COVID-19, as of March 2020, I am currently offering online lessons only.
Lessons in the Comfort of
Your Own Home*
Summer Music Recital
Become Musically Literate
Lessons in Melissa's Home Studio*
Learn Classical, Jazz, Harmony, Arranging, Composition
Early Childhood Music Education
Music in the Early Years
"Often a single experience will open the young soul to music for a whole lifetime." - Zoltan Kodaly
As a teacher, I am always searching for new innovative ideas and creative teaching methods. A few years ago I became aware of the Early Childhood Methods of Zoltán Kodály and was inspired to learn more.
In 2017 I was accepted and enrolled in the ECME Certificate Program with the Royal Conservatory of Music in association with Ryerson University.
This program not only gives me the opportunity to study the three major Early Childhood Music philosophies of Jacques Dalcroze, Zoltán Kodály, and Carl Orff but also provides child psychology courses at Ryerson.
I am excited to apply this new education to my own private lessons and to group classes for young children.