Steve Briggs, Director
Guitar, Jam Facilitator
A native of Powell River B.C., Steve studied at Malaspina University, and then the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He has taught music for over twenty-five years in Toronto, has been featured twice as “Best Guitar Instructor” in Toronto Life Magazine and has released two instructional CDs. Steve is also an instructor at Seneca College in its Independent Music Production and Performance & Songwriting programmes.
His noteriety on the Canadian music scene has evolved to venerable. Steve has performed, arranged and recorded with a wealth of artists including Sylvia Tyson, Quartette, Russell deCarle, Murray McLauchlan, Leon Redbone and Carroll Baker among many others. His popular western swing orchestra, the Bebop Cowboys, has garnered many glowing reviews and accolades across the country.
A graduate of Fanshawe College with two diplomas from the Music Industry Arts programme, Steve started playing guitar at the age of 12 and has been an active musician for over 30 years. He has also studied with Steve Briggs for nine years, focusing primarily on advanced jazz guitar theory. His thirst for musical knowledge has also led to an interest in studying mandolin, dobro and vocal studies as well.
Steve has been a member of the Blackflies (Cajun/Zydeco/Trad. Quebecois) for 8 years and toured with them across Ontario and to British Columbia. Overall, his musical interests are mainly Blues/R&B, Jazz, Rock, Folk, Bluegrass and Classical genres: “Pretty much any earthy music with soul.” In addition to teaching guitar, Steve is also Kitchen Music’s primary jam session facilitator.______
Spencer is a Toronto-based freelance musician, composer and teacher. Born to professional musicians, he excelled first in piano and voice, then classical percussion, touring with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. As his interests expanded into jazz experimental music, he attended the School for Improvised Music in Brooklyn, studying with Jim Black and Tyshawn Sorey, and then later at the Banff Centre, studying with Clarence Penn and Han Bennink.
In 2008, he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Toronto under the tutelage of Terry Clarke. He has since completed several world tours with the action percussion ensemble Scrap Arts Music with whom he performed at the Closing Ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Most recently, Spencer is a member of the strange pop/rock outfit Weaves who were named Rolling Stone’s “Band to Watch” and were short-listed for the 2017 Polaris Prize (short list) here in Canada. He is the recipient of the Fraser MacPherson and Galaxie Rising Star Awards.
Matthew Elwood is a versatile teacher and musician with over a decade of performance and teaching experience. He began studying acoustic guitar at a young age, but at seventeen he discovered bluegrass and his passion for banjo emerged. He has performed and toured across Canada and the United States with various bands including The Unseen Strangers, The Fugitives and Hard Ryde. Last year The Strangers won the band competition at Delfest making them the first Canadian performers to win the competition hosted by Bluegrass legend Del McCoury. Matt plays with several bands regularly at the Dakota Tavern, the Drake, Castro’s Lounge, and the Tranzac here in Toronto.
He loves teaching students of all ages and levels and pays particular attention to training the ear. He has taught private lessons and festival workshops on Banjo, Guitar, and Mandolin.
Guitar, Mandolin, Bass, Ukulele
Max Filazek brings formidable talent and an approachable appeal to the Kitchen. A graduate of Wexford Collegiate School of the Arts, Max‘s prowess as a guitarist earned him a handful of scholarships for the University of Toronto’s Music Degree program. He also studied flamenco guitar with Ruben Diaz (a disciple of Paco De Lucia) for six years, in addition to master class instruction and theory with Kitchen Music’s own Steve Briggs for two years. Max is thrilled to be returning to the Kitchen as an instructor to share his love for music with students of all ages and skill levels.
Piano, Voice, Guitar, Bass
Bram Gielen is an award-winning composer, lyricist, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist living in Toronto. As a theatre artist, he has received commissions from the Canadian Music Theatre Project and Acting Up Stage; as an instrumentalist and arranger, he has collaborated with such artists as Guido Basso, Patricia O’Callaghan, DIANA, and Weaves; his film music has been heard at international festivals in Cannes, Toronto, Seattle, Tokyo, and Melbourne, to name only a few.
Ariel Shetzen is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist who draws influence from Sarah Vaughan and Norma Winstone. She studied classical piano and theory with the Royal Conservatory of Music, holds her Grade 9 Piano, Grade 4 Theory, and is certified through their Elementary Piano Pedagogy program. Ariel is currently completing her final year in the University of Toronto Jazz Undergraduate Program and has studied with Juno-award winner Sienna Dahlen, and acclaimed vocalist Alex Samaras. In 2013, Ariel was one of six Canadians nominated for the Slaight Family Scholarship for the Berklee College of Music, which is a full-tuition scholarship offered to two Canadian students.
In addition to her studies, Ariel had the opportunity to sing with Carol Welsman at Koerner Hall, for Havergal College’s 120th Anniversary. She has been teaching for several years and is passionate about helping people learn music.
Guitar, Mandolin, Bass, Ukulele, Banjo
Kyler Tapscott has been gigging and teaching professionally for over ten years, both privately and in institutions. Kyler has studied a wide range of genres extensively, everything from blues/rock to delicate finger-style guitar. Kyler studied flamenco in Southern Spain and blues/jazz guitar with Mike Francis, one of Canada’s top recorded guitarists. His training earned him the role of private instructor at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, where he taught guitar and music theory for two years.
It is no doubt that music flows through Kyler’s veins, as he hails from a family rich in musical experience. His grandfather had a show on the CBC called The Carl Tapscott Singers, and Kyler’s father has been a professional musician and composer for over forty years. Kyler has toured with blues/rock group, The Romi Mayes Band, and Pat Temple and the Hi Lo Players playing western swing and jump rhythm & blues. He can also often be found playing blistering bluegrass with long-time friend Jimmy Bowskill, or a smokey jazz set at downtown Toronto’s oyster bar, The Chase.
Kyler brings passion, young energy, and versatility to his teaching, always searching for moments to share and exchange his musical knowledge with students and colleagues. He offers hand-tailored lessons to a diversity of students, in both age and skill level.
Described as “one of the most inspiring young guitarists of his generation” by mentor Geoff Young, guitarist Nick began dissecting the musical language of classic rock and blues at an early age. As his skills progressed, his musical tastes widened to include hip hop, country, gospel, jazz and nearly every other established genre in Western music. His tireless pursuit for diversity led him to Humber College, where he was awarded the Gordon and Anne Wragg Memorial Scholarship and held the guitar chair in the prestigious Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble.
He has performed with the New York Voices and jazz fusion legend, Mike Stern, who showered him with praises: “he plays his heart out.” Nick can be found performing with Denzal Sinclaire and Juno winner, Kellylee Evans, as well as with neo-soul singer songwriter Ashley Bea, hip hop/rock party band Dead Penny Trio. He is currently working on music for his debut EP.
Voice, Piano, Guitar, Ukulele, Composition
Throughout her 14-year teaching history, multi-instrumentalist Joëlle Westman has been a music educator for all ages in a wide variety of skill levels, and in many genres. She has advanced training in both classical and jazz vocal studies (2009 U of T Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance with Christine Duncan). Joëlle also provides audition prep for postsecondary music education, as well as prep for RCM exams in voice, theory, and piano. Her main goal in the learning studio is to cultivate technique, dictation, arranging, composing, and improvising, through developing aspects of self-awareness and creativity. She teaches all styles, with a special love for teaching songwriting and arranging for pop music.
As a composer/singer, Joëlle performs regularly with her bilingual duo, Georgian Bay. In 2016, Georgian Bay‘s album Patience was nominated for the Polaris Prize (long list).