Meet Your R.H.M.A. Staff
Owner and Founder of Red House Music Academy
Guitar & Bass
Michael grew up in the small town of Medicine Hat, Alberta. He took guitar lessons from Tim Deis at "Tones and Tunes" music school and that changed his life forever. He thought, "wouldn't it be amazing if I could some day play guitar for living?" This pursuit of all things guitars and rock 'n roll, involved studying guitar briefly at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, three years in Calgary teaching at Guitarworks, while playing in bands, and eventually ending up moving to Toronto in 1994. Michael landed a gig with Canadian band Universal Honey, and spent years touring North America as support for The Goo Goo Dolls, Wallflowers, The Tragically Hip, 54:40, Alanis Morissette, and various other touring acts stateside.
Though he still loved teaching, and had always thought of having his own music school some day. This would involve a fresh new approach to teaching and inspiring students with the latest technology available, as well as incorporating recording, and a rehearsal space where students could play together as a band. Thus Red House was born in late 2009.
In addition to teaching, and running Red House, Michael plays and records with Canadian music stalwarts, The Lowest of The Low, The New Mendicants featuring Joe Pernice (Scud Mountain Boys, Pernice Brothers), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), and Mike Belitsky (The Sadies, Neko Case, The Good Brothers) as well as The Mick McKenzie Band, and Big Beat Corporation with Mark Holmes (Platinum Blonde) and his best friend session drummer Justin Kadis (Platinum Blonde, Yoko Casionos, The Mean, ).
*Michael teaches from Monday - Saturday
Born in Montreal, 1953, Al has always loved the drums. He played in high school bands, inspired by local heroes The Rabble, and various bands of the day.
A life changing moment occurred as a result of a generous invitation from Art Blakey, one of the greatest drummers of all time. He and The Jazz Messengers were just about to start playing an outdoor concert when suddenly it began raining ‘cats and dogs’. The crowd went running for cover. Al and a small group of die hard music fans were left standing in the rain, staring up at the stage. Mr. Blakey motioned for this small pack to join him on stage, which was covered and dry.
Perched beside the drums, Al was treated to a life changing concert. After high school, equipped with a little Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell and a lot of Art Blakey in his heart, Al went on to study percussion with Pierre Beluse at McGill University while working with many of Quebec's top performers such as Dianne Tell.
*Al Cross teaches on Wednesday/Thursday
Voice and Piano
A versatile singer and pianist with experience in all styles of singing from pop/rock to musical theatre to classical, Devin is a dedicated teacher who believes that music can change lives.
Performing professionally since childhood, early credits include singing with Juno Award winning children’s entertainers Judy & David and making it to the Top 100 of Canadian Idol at the age of 17. In addition to teaching, Devin now works in both the theatre and classical music industries, singing regularly with the Mississauga Festival Choir, at Humber Valley United Church and performing in musicals (The Wedding Singer, La Cage Aux Folles, The Pansy Craze).
Devin has a Master’s Degree in Musical Theatre Performance from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is a graduate of Randolph College for the Performing Arts, and trained in classical Piano and Theory with the RCM. With experience teaching all ages/skill levels, and a passion for making music lessons both fun and rewarding, Devin can help you meet your musical goals, whatever they may be!
*Devin is teaching on Monday and Tuesday.
Piano & Voice
Sarah holds her M.A in Music Theatre from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as well as a performing arts diploma in acting, voice and dance from The Randolph Academy of Performing Arts in Toronto.
Originally from St. John’s Newfoundland, Sarah began competing competitively in piano and voice competitions at the age of 5. She holds her Grade 10 Piano with the Royal Conservatory of Music and has trained in Estill Vocal Training.
As an actor and singer, she has performed at the National Arts Centre, Young People’s Theatre, The 2015 Pan Am Games, The Edinburgh Fringe and with The Acting Up Stage Company.
She thoroughly enjoys teaching music to children and people of all ages. She believes everyone learns differently and tailors each lesson to her students' specific needs, while focusing on technique, musicality and lots of fun!
She teaches many styles including pop, rock, folk, classical and musical theatre.
*Sarah teaches on Wednesday & Thursday
VOICE, PIANO, UKULELE
Originally from Calgary, AB, Priya sang in choirs from age 6, joined a vocal jazz group in high school, and began performing at open mics and writing her own songs from a young age. Priya loves improvising and has performed as a vocalist and improviser at festivals across Ontario. In addition to singing, she plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, and accordion.
Priya has worked with children and adults of all ages and abilities and believes in a person-centered approach to teaching. She teaches the fundamentals of singing, focusing on proper technique, and strives to identify and build on strengths, while also challenging students to try singing in a variety of styles and to incorporate improvisation. Her teaching focuses on contemporary styles including jazz, pop, rock, folk, soul, RnB, and musical theatre.
In addition to teaching, Priya works as a music therapist, performer, festival organizer, and contemporary composer. Priya holds a Bachelor of Music with Honours in Vocal Performance from Carleton University in Ottawa, as well as a Master of Music Therapy from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.
*Priya teaches on Tuesdays
Voice, guitar, ukulele, songwriting and piano
Alexandra Babiak is a singer and songwriter from Toronto, Ontario. She began studying music at three years old at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Mississauga, studying violin and voice, and was a member of the Mississauga Children’s Choir. In November 2017, she was an independent musician in residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, where she was mentored by Linda McRae, and subsequently attended a songwriting workshop in Nashville, Tennessee, June 2018 at her home. Alexandra has worked at Hazelton Place Retirement Residence as a musician in residence. She has worked with children and adults, including adults with Alzheimer’s disease. She has worked for Music Can Heal since 2018, a non-profit which provides music to those in need.
She has completed all of her Royal Academy of Dance Ballet exams. In 2011, she completed a diploma in dance and movement at École Superieure de Ballet Du Quebec. In 2011, she studied Theatre, voice and speech, and singing at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She received her Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree from University of Toronto in June 2018. She has studied with teachers such as Beth Anne Cole, Brian Katz, and Stella Walker. She released her first EP “Luna”, on August 27th, 2017, which was recorded and produced by Calvin Love. Her first full length album was released January 18th, 2019, which was recorded and produced by James Gray. She has performed at festivals such as Canadian Music Week, Indie Week UK, and Northside Festival in Brooklyn, NY.
*Alie teaches on Tuesday
Guitar, Ukulele and Piano
Meet Will. Music has been the focus of his life for the past 17 years. Spending countless hours poring over music books, lifting songs and playing gigs, Will has studied closely with some very exceptional players (Tom Juhas, Reg Schwager, Andrew Marzotto, Pebber Brown).
When Will isn’t playing the guitar, he’s playing the piano, drums or bass, all in pursuit of becoming a strong, well rounded musician.
Although the benefits of a dedicated practice routine are tremendous, Will certainly knows how to get any student playing music. This is the art of practice: knowing how to keep it fun and exciting!
You can find Will playing in multiple bands across the city, playing coffee shop guitar in West End Toronto, or teaching people how to make their lives more musical.
*Will teaches on Mondays
Danie Friesen has a performance degree from the Randolph Academy of the Performing Arts, where she studied Theatre and Musical Theatre. She is an alumnus of COSI, a training program for opera and classical voice in Italy, and has completed her Vocal RCM Examinations.
As an instructor, Danie teaches many styles of music. She works to teach students a solid technique, while encouraging them to find their unique voice. Lessons are a balance of fun and work; ensuring students maintain and nurture their love for music, while improving their technical ability and confidence.
Outside of teaching, Danie works as a singer, actor and independent producer in Toronto.
Piano and Beginner Voice
Katarina has her Grade 8 RCM, and has years of experience teaching children and adults of all ages. She loves to teach and inspire young minds, and believes that a teacher is also a positive role model in their developing years. Her patient and friendly approach to teaching is one of her best assets. "I find the most joy working with children and teaching them because I feel as though a child's mind can easily absorb new things and as teachers we hold a big responsibility in trying to create a space for children to prosper and realize their potential."
*Katarina is teaching on Mondays and Saturdays.
Voice & Piano
Natalie grew up in Saskatoon, where she studied music from the age of 5. She studied classical music (RCM) and musical theatre, competing in the Kiwanis music festival by the age of 8 and performing in many musicals throughout her childhood.
She is a graduate of the Randolph Academy, Canadian College of Performing Arts, and studied drama at the University of Saskatchewan.
Natalie has been fortunate enough to teach children of all ages and abilities. Her experience includes teaching privately, in classroom settings, and coached competition pieces. In addition to this, she also has experience as a musical director.
She has a special gift with children and is passionate about seeing her students flourish and explore their self-expression. Natalie is an upbeat, energetic, patient and understanding teacher. Her specializations are pop, folk, musical theatre and classical voice.
*Natalie teaches on Wednesday and Thursday.
Drums and Percussion
Aaron has been studying and performing on drums, and other percussion instruments for over 35 years. Aaron has a depth of knowledge in many styles, from rock, pop, jazz, blues and beyond! His studies have included instruction at Drummers Collective in New York City, and with Jim Blackley, and Dave Weckl. Aaron's performance experience is in diverse styles such as Musical Theatre (Mama Mia, Lion King) to Small Combo Jazz (Bob Mover, Glenn McDonald) to high volume Rock shows (Simply Saucer), and many others. He currently plays for 2017 Juno Award Winner, Paul Reddick.
*Aaron is teaching on Monday and Tuesday.