Why Try Sugar Beat Classes?

In my many years of teaching music, I’ve had the privilege of watching hundreds of children discover and explore music. Years ago, I realized something that has stuck with me ever since:

Learning how to make music—not just consume it—is one of the most rewarding experiences we can offer our children.

Our Piano Orff music classes are designed around this idea. They teach foundational musical concepts (like melody structure, harmony, and rhythm) in a fun, welcoming environment. If you’re planning to start your child with formal instruction on an instrument—or you’ve already started—Orff classes are the perfect complement. But if your family isn’t ready for the grind of daily practice, Orff classes provide the musical learning without the stress.

Orff classes also give children the chance to develop their musical creativity. They learn to listen to their peers, respond musically, and improvise. I’m always amazed to see how creative they’ve become when they perform for their parents at the end of our session!

If you’re curious to see some examples of what we do, check out our videos page. And feel free to contact me with any questions at faria@sugarbeat.ca or 416-767-5455.


Piano Orff Experts

I’m so proud of my Piano Orff students! This year we worked through many fun and challenging pieces, and we performed a few of them for the parents in our year end Open Classes. Below are a few clips from the Piano Orff Experts class. Although we were missing a few members due to early vacations, our slightly smaller group still did a fantastic job.

Here they are performing Little Silver Moon Boat. To perform this piece, each student needs to have mastered several skills, including singing while playing, and playing an independent part in time with each other. They end with a small improvisation. As Carl Orff noted, improvisation may be frightening for adults but it’s freeing for children, because there are no rules!

Here they are fine-tuning their beautiful singing voices for the song I Love the Mountains. When learning a new piece, we often begin by singing, then putting the rhythm on our bodies (clapping, stomping, moving in time, and so on), and finally playing it with our instruments.

And here they are demonstrating a fun game that builds awareness of beat and rhythm. It’s set to the song Obwisana, a children’s song from Ghana.

Interested in seeing more? You can watch a few more clips on our video page.

Questions about our Orff classes? Email us at faria@sugarbeat.ca.

Farewell Spring

The end of spring brings the close to another year of great classes. My Orff students continued to grow and develop their musical skills, amazing both me and themselves (you can see some of their work in the videos on this site).  Our group classes for younger children were a delight. I’m truly fortunate to have so many enthusiastic families making music with us, and I’ll miss you all over the summer break!

This year’s spring recital marked our 10th anniversary. We celebrated with great snacks, some very old student pictures, and (as always) our student’s wonderful performances. I’d like to congratulate all my students for their hard work, and give special recognition to those who took exams this year and those who attended the Davenport Festival. It’s been an honour to accompany each one of you on your musical journeys.

Two Videos of What We Do in Orff Class

In Piano Orff Experience classes–our group classes for older children–we have a great
time. A large part of the fun is our huge repertoire of music games and activities.
Here are just a couple of examples of what we work on.

In music, a canon is a musical form where a melody (or an imitation of a melody) is
overlapped over itself at different times. In Orff, we play a three-part movement canon game, where children pair up and perform different actions in time to the music. It’s good practice for playing or singing in any music ensemble, because each player needs to focus on their part while other parts are being played. It takes a surprising amount of concentration, but I think our students did great!

In our younger Orff classes, children have free reign to improvise in time to the music
to a song we’ve learned, in a key we’ve chosen. In our more advanced Orff classes, we
take a song we know and apply different techniques, including imitating a motif and
part-playing. This video shows a clip of a younger class improvising and an older Orff
class planning and rehearsing their instrumentation of a song.

Questions about our Orff classes? Email us at faria@sugarbeat.ca.

It’s a Wrap!

Sugar Beat has had another wonderful year with music and children both new and familiar. We relaunched our infant classes which were very successful, and fun for all involved. For the families who enrolled, thank you so much for making this precious class such a positive first experience for our little babies! My little Aisha has really been missing these classes over the summer.

The Orff classes again were full throughout the year. We did a simple version of Street Song this year, as well as a scattering of material from other cultures. The children had lots to show me–I even learned a new song from a student which was then performed on our own composed instrumental background! It is so nice for me to see the span of what the children can accomplish at each stage, from beginner to advanced. I am again so grateful for the participation from such musical families and children. Together we learned so much and had a great time doing it.

And so as to not leave out my beloved piano students, I must also mention that our two recitals were great fun. Kiwanis festival students did me proud, with several students making placements in the top 3 of their classes. Many students did exams this year also, some for the very first time. All passed with a minimum mark in the honours category, all the way up to first class honours with distinction. When I said “I am so proud of my students” at the end of this years spring recital, I truly meant it. This has been a wildly rewarding year. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication!

Have a great, relaxing remainder of summer and hope to see you in the fall. In the meantime, enjoy this clip of Keira rounding out our spring recital.

The New York Times on the Benefit of Music Education

Two recent articles in the New York Times highlight the remarkable benefits of musical training.

The first, “Is Music the Key to Success?” (full article here), describes the sometimes surprising correlations between music education and outsized success in other, seemingly unrelated fields. Although the examples are anecdotal (who knew Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was also a professional clarinet and saxophone player?), it’s fascinating to find that so many musically trained people credit the enriching effects of their own music educations, claiming that it has sharpened their “collaboration, creativity, discipline and capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas.”

A second piece, titled “Long-Term Benefits of Music Lessons” (article here), picks up on a recent studies that show the neurological benefits of childhood music lessons. Neuroscientist and study author Nina Kraus gives us this winning quote: “Our general thinking about music education is that it is for our children,” she said. “But in fact we are setting up our children for healthy aging based on what we are able to provide them with now.”