Our guitar instructors
Michael’s performances have taken him to Europe and major concert halls across North America as a soloist, band member and chamber musician. He has toured and recorded extensively with the legendary Canadian guitarist Liona Boyd, and has shared the stage with artists such as Bruce Cockburn, Tom Cochrane, John McDermott, Dan Hill and Michelle Wright.
Michael has appeared and been heard on local and National television and radio.
In addition to receiving many scholarships and awards for his playing, he has been invited to play at numerous music festivals and university/college workshops. Several pieces have been composed for him and he has performed in the premiers of many new Canadian compositions.
Michael’s playing can be heard on his 2010 debut release “Folk Songs”, Liona Boyd’s 2013, 2014, and 2015 releases and Tara Beier’s debut album “Hero and the Sage”
Michael received his Bachelor degree from The Glenn Gould professional School and his masters degree from the University of Ottawa in guitar performance. He has participated in many international guitar festivals and has performed in master-classes for prominent guitarists including David Russell, Manuel Barruecco, Leo Brouwer and Norbert Kraft. He also attended the Humber College jazz program in Toronto.
Michael has a busy private teaching studio instructing students of all ages and levels. He also gives workshops and master-classes at universities and colleges and has adjudicated performance exams at the University of British Columbia, Douglas College and Kwantlen College as well as Kiwanis and Rotary music festivals across Canada.
Tom Ionescu is young Canadian guitarist currently living in Toronto. Born in Romania, Tom was introduced to music at a very young age through his father, an acclaimed European jazz guitarist. Tom holds an undergraduate degree in fine arts from York University, and a masters degree in jazz performance from the University of Toronto. Tom is also a graduate of the Concurrent Education Program at York University, where he specialized in teaching music and history at the secondary school level. As a music performer, Tom has played regularly with Shad, Ferraro, The Devin Cuddy Band, and the Soulkicks, as well as co-leading his own original band, Janes Party.
"Music is my passion and for over ten years I've shared that passion with others through music workshops and private instruction.Originally from Toronto, I studied jazz guitar at McGill University before moving to England where I qualified as a sound engineer at SAE Institute. Based in London for 12 years, a career as a freelance guitarist, drummer and audio engineer gave me the opportunity to work with such artists as Pete Townshend, The Cure, The Staves and Mumford & Sons. I also worked for the London Borough of Westminster as a classroom teacher of music technology and a facilitator of workshops in music production, jazz improvisation and rock band performance. Some of my former students have embarked on successful music careers of their own and gone on to work with artists such as Brian Eno, Wolf Alice and Heaven 17."
John Testar has been teaching guitar for over 9 years, and is a teacher who knows how to mould to the needs of each and every student. Johns teaching revolves strongly on making a connection with his students, where an atmosphere of kindness, support, and exploration are encouraged.
John teaches a wide variety of music and caters to the needs of each individual student. Classical, rock, popular music, improvisation, composition and theory are only some of the areas in which John offers his students. An emphasis on personal creativity, such as getting his students to write their own music, is an important factor in his teaching. John feels that each student is unique in what they can say and experience in music, and he feels that he is lucky to help guide them through the process of music making.
John Testar is in demand as a classical and improvisational concert guitarist, having been invited to play solo concerts at the Guitare Alla Grande Festival (Gatineau, QC), the Sauble Beach Guitar Festival (Sauble Beach, ON) and concerts for the Toronto, Brantford, Winnipeg and Ottawa Guitar Societies. He has as also obtained his Bachelor and Master degrees in classical guitar performance from the University of Ottawa, and has done additional study and performing in Toronto.
A Canadian guitarist and composer from Ottawa, currently based in Toronto, Justin lends his unique voice to various projects ranging from jazz / improvised music, to folk, and ambient / electronic music. He has performed at festivals such as the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Canadian Music Week, Toronto Indie Week, and can be found playing regularly with the chamber folk group decoration day, electronic duo blanking, the psychedelic rock collective Poly Trap Super Six, as well as various new music and jazz groups. Justin has studied guitar & composition with musicians including Roddy Ellias, Lorne Lofsky, David Occhipinti, Kieran Overs, and Justin Haynes.
An experienced teacher, Justin's lessons are always structured around the interests and needs of the student, with an emphasis on the basic fundamentals of music. As well as basic skills such as practicing effectively and setting & attaining achievable goals, students will also be introduced to a wealth of new music, a greater appreciation of the music that they encounter in their everyday lives, and some methods to unlocking their own unique musical voice.
Shawn Pickup is a national and international prize-winning guitarist, and has been praised for “a technique of the highest level,” and “masterful interpretation” (Lippische Landeszeitung). Recent performance highlights include a live broadcast performance from Cologne, Germany for Radio WDR3, performances for the Iserlohn Guitar Symposium, Annapolis Valley Festival, Toronto Guitar Symposium, Sauble Beach Guitar Festival, Hamilton Guitar Festival, and a concerto performance with the HfM Orchestra of Wuppertal, Germany.
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Shawn completed his Bachelor Degree with Eugene Cormier at Acadia University. Upon winning 1st Prize in guitar and the Grand Award at the FCMF National Music Festival, Shawn travelled to Germany where he studied with Prof. Dale Kavanagh in Detmold, and later with Prof. Gerhard Reichenbach at the Hochschule für Musik Köln, where he received the Master of Music degree.
Shawn has been a prize winner in international guitar competitions in Germany and The Netherlands, and winner of the Solistenauswahl Concerto Competition, Wuppertal. Shawn was interim guitar instructor at Acadia University in 2016, and is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Toronto under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey McFadden.
Shawn has been a dedicated teacher for the past 15 years, teaching students at all different levels in many styles of guitar playing. From beginners young and old, to graduate level classical musicians, Shawn draws from a range of teaching experience to help each student explore their musical interests and goals.
Andrew began playing music at an early age starting on Piano, then taking up the Clarinet and eventually the Guitar later on. He went on to study Guitar at Humber College where he obtained a Bachelor Degree in music. He had to opportunity to study with the likes of Geoff Young, David Occhipinti and Pat Labarbera to name a few during his time there. He was a member of the Toronto All-Star Big Band where they performed at various venues and festivals around Toronto and Ontario including the Beaches Jazz Festival, the Old Mill, Casa Loma and the Harbourfront Centre. Andrew spent three years living abroad in Berlin, Germany where he was actively involved in the local music scene, playing original and improvised music in different venues around the city. Andrew enjoys composing music as much as playing and encourages students to find their own voice and enjoyment for music