Steve Briggs, Director
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”, were short-listed for the 2017 Polaris Prize and the 2018 Polaris Prize here in Canada. He is the recipient of the Fraser MacPherson and Galaxie Rising Star Awards.
Piano, Voice, Guitar, Bass
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced musician, Bram Gielen is versatile, supportive and engaging instructor for students of all ages. Compelling composition, dynamic improvisation and sound foundation of theory are his musical passions as an instructor, equally adept in the classical, jazz and contemporary worlds.
Bram is an award-winning composer, lyricist, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. 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. As an instructor he has conducted Master Classes for graduating Musical Theatre students in performance and interpretation of new musical material at Sheridan College.
Todd Lefever is a skilled and respected guitarist, songwriter, recording artist and teacher. Experienced and versatile, he is accomplished in several musical genres.
This Medicine Hat native studied classical guitar at Medicine Hat College, then went on to major in performance at the prestigious Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton. He spent several years touring Canada and the United States with Lisa Dodd and Shameless, and played lead guitar with EMI recording artists Alpha Galates. While teaching guitar for four years at the Medicine Hat College Conservatory of Music, Todd was a member of the critically acclaimed Lyle Rebbeck Jazz Quartet. He later became lead guitarist for Juno-nominated, pop-rock singer and songwriter, Fefe Dobson, with whom he toured in both Canada and the United States. In recent years Todd has performed in Toronto and southern Ontario with The Soundtastics, The Mick McKenzie Band and ProCon, and with singer MacKenzie Porter.
Todd’s heart is soundly rooted in the art of teaching of music to all levels of developing musicians. He has been teaching in Toronto, both in a classroom setting and as a private instructor for over twenty years. His lessons are comprehensive and fun, and can cover any number of music styles including rock/metal, pop, blues, jazz, country, folk, and classical guitar.
Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Mandolin, Beginner Piano, Theory, Songwriting
An Honours Graduate of Grant MacEwan College’s Jazz Performance program, Mike is a multi-instrumentalist and enthusiastic instructor with over 16 years experience, specializes in theory and songwriting. From Michael Hedges to Leo Kottke, Danny Gatton to Jerry Reed, Lenny Breau to Kenny Burell and John Renbourn to Pierre Bensusan, Mike has studied almost every guitar style there is to offer.
As a performer, Mike has toured Canada and parts of the US with a variety of bands including famed aboriginal artist Leela Gilday. He recently took time away from touring to focus on recording and composition, and is currently developing several recording and performing projects for the coming year.
Piano, Voice, Guitar
Since receiving his Bmus in jazz piano performance from the University of Toronto,
Joe Organ has written music for big band, string quartet, choir, chamber group,
corporate events, advertisements, theatre, and film. In 2015 he composed all the
original music for a multi-million dollar event hosted by Stella Artois during the
Toronto International Film Festival wherein he worked with Michelin Star chef
Richie Farina to compose music that complemented each course of a five course
meal. In 2017 his music was featured in the Palm Springs International Film Festival
in the short film “I Lost My Mind”, directed by Michael Tobin. That same year he
initiated in cooperation with Zach Bines (Weaves) The Nearest Faraway Place, a
weekly summer concert series which focuses on the unique geography of Toronto.
In 2018 he was invited to write and conduct choral music for the multi-arts festival
In Situ in Mississauga. This was his debut writing for choir. Joe has toured with
bands throughout Canada, and has led his own band in Toronto since 2010. He has
written and continues to write in a multitude of styles from garage rock to folk, from
solo piano to choral music.
As an instructor, Joe’s emphasis is not only to teach the technical aspects of playing, but also to fan the creative spark in his students that move them to compose, to perform and to share their growing language of music.
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 15-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). 2018 sees the band releasing an ambitious two-album project entitled Courage.