Magical musical journeys on Bayview

MELODY SCHOOL OF MUSIC: Director Grace Kakoian, administrator Arabella White and manager Isabella Conliffe. Photo from Janis Fertuck.

For centuries, philosophers have commented on the power of music to enrich our lives. Plato, for example, said, “Music gives soul to the universe and wings to the mind.” No wonder so many of us enjoy listening to music and even taking music lessons at some point in our lives.

One local venue for pursuing an interest in music can be found right on Bayview at the Melody School of Music. The school first opened at Brentcliffe and Eglinton 18 years ago and moved to 1624 Bayview two years ago. School director Grace Kakoian explains that the school was drawn to the more central location by the friendly and family-oriented atmosphere on Bayview, reminiscent of European towns, with its shops and restaurants for parents to enjoy while the children are taking their lessons.

Melody offers classes in many instruments including piano, violin, guitar, ukulele, drums, clarinet, saxophone, flute, trumpet and voice. There are also small group programs in preschool, glee club and rock band. The most popular courses are piano, vocal, guitar and violin. Currently, Melody employs 20 teachers with professional degrees in music and several years of teaching experience. There are about 300 students, ranging in age from three to 90, most being between the ages of seven and 15.

Sean Trudeau-Tavara has been teaching guitar and ukulele at Melody for nine years and has 22 students right now, some of whom he has taught for five years. He is also the director of the rock band and enjoys having a committed group who are “hungry to learn,” making it easy for him to “bring his A game for them.”

Grace Kakoian, manager Isabella Conliffe, and administrator Arabella White all agree that the secret to Melody’s success is the emphasis they place on “the students’ happiness and satisfaction.” To that end, they offer unlimited make-up lessons and complimentary practice rooms for students without instruments at home. In addition, as Grace says, “If a student wants to try a different method of instruction, we’ll switch them to another instructor without missing a beat.” The students can also try a different instrument without losing any credits.

Nicoleta Barbure and her daughter, Elisa, 13, are big fans. Elisa has been taking piano lessons at Melody for eight years and is now preparing for her Level 7 exam at the Royal Conservatory. They appreciate the skills and knowledge of the teachers who “match their lessons to the personalities and needs of the students.”

Nicoleta also praises the school’s recitals, held twice a year, which “provide a great opportunity for the students to perform in front of an audience.”

Grace explains that the recitals allow the students not only to showcase their talents, but “to develop a foundation of self-confidence that can be applied to all areas of their lives.” This June’s recital was conveniently located at Leaside United Church.

In the future, the staff at Melody hope to offer a wider range of music lessons and groups, and to expand the school. But in the meantime, they are happy to be rebounding from the pandemic and to see the smiles on the faces of their students.

Debora practising. Photo from Janis Fertuck.

One of those happy students happens to be Leaside Life’s gardening columnist, Debora Kuchme, who says that her piano playing, like her gardening expertise, was largely self-taught until she decided to pursue her dream of improving her skills at Melody a year ago. She credits her teachers there with making her feel comfortable and helping her achieve her goals. In fact, she refers to her experience as “her magical music journey” and says she “feels elated after every lesson.”


About Janis Fertuck 108 Articles
Janis Fertuck is a retired English teacher who spent the last 30 years of her career at Leaside High School. She enjoys writing about the vibrant Leaside community where she and her husband have lived for 22 years. Her other favourite pursuits include a part-time job at a boutique on Bayview and volunteering with the Bayview Pixies.