French music lessons now available in Barrhaven, Riverside South communities

Barrhaven Music Academy opens its doors to students seeking music lessons in both French and English

Press Release

Barrhaven Music Academy’s studios in southwest Ottawa.

OTTAWA – With the rise of French-speaking families moving to the city’s southwest neighbourhoods, a call for music instruction in both official languages has finally been answered. After officially opening its doors earlier this month, Barrhaven Music Academy is now providing students the chance to learn music in English, French, or both.

“We have a great team of qualified, professional teachers working with us and we are happy to offer French music lessons to our community,” explains co-founder Ashley Martyn, 25. Students of all ages can now register for piano (the school’s most popular instrument) and violin in either language. Barrhaven Music Academy aims to offer French music lessons for all instruments in the near future.

As University of Ottawa alumni, Martyn knows well the importance and benefit of learning in more than one language. Four years of post-secondary study in a bilingual atmosphere strengthened her knowledge and appreciation of both English and French, and she wants Barrhaven Music Academy’s students to have those same advantages while learning in an environment that “provides a bridge to professional, academic, cultural, and personal growth.”

It’s no wonder that Barrhaven, with a population climbing to 84,266 in the 2011 Census, has seen a rise in demand for French language services. The community is already home to three French elementary schools: Michaëlle Jean, Jean-Robert Gauthier and Pierre Elliot Trudeau; together all three have a combined population of nearly 1,300 students.  There’s also Barrhaven’s first French high school, École Secondaire Catholique Pierre-Savard, built in 2009, housing students from grades 7 to 12.  And, don’t forget the adjacent community of Riverside South, home to an additional 3,300 households and projected to be the fastest growing community in the city with an anticipated annual growth rate of 13.5%. Two French schools are nestled within Riverside South’s boundaries as well: École élémentaire catholique Bernard-Grandmaître and the French Catholic Secondary School Franco-Cité, with a student body of over 1,100.

Founded in 2009 as a home-based music studio, Barrhaven Music Academy has shown notable growth and acquired an excellent reputation as a haven for quality music education. Their newly-renovated location on Woodroffe Avenue include a handful of teaching studios with state-of-the-art sound isolating technologies and warm, inviting colours that promote a fun, friendly learning environment.

With the introduction of French music lessons, Barrhaven Music Academy is enthusiastic to give francophone families the opportunity for their children to learn music in their first language. “It’s another way we can give back to our community,” Martyn affirms, “and music itself is a universal language.”

For more information on Barrhaven Music Academy and to register for lessons, contact 613-459-6027 or, or visit their website at


Bellydance, salsa, burlesque, oh my! Why Summer Sizzle 2012 should make our arts community proud

I had the privilege to catch a glimpse of some of Ottawa’s dance talent this past weekend for the Summer Sizzle Dance Extravaganza 2012 at the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) in Westboro.  Acts of all shapes, sizes and colours took the stage — from bellydance to tap and everything in between— all to raise awareness and money for a handful of local charities including The Distress Centre, The Snowsuit Fund, Bereaved Families and the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Program.

For a city that has received much criticism in the past for its lack of culture and “things to do” (see Andrew Cohen’s ‘The Unfinished Canadian’ for a recent example), the spectacle held this past Saturday was a welcome night out. The fusion of different styles of dance and music kept things interesting and left the audience to guess what would be jumping out on stage next.

Some highlights:

First and foremost an amazing (bordering on professional) Salsa/Tangoesque dance routine.





A colorful and energetic belly dance number from one of teacher Jalilah’s evening classes at the Studio School of Dance.




Beautiful French-inspired ballet/burlesque combination from one of Carleton University‘s dance students.




Lastly, a drum-pounding and sword-tapping number courtesy of the Ottawa Zaffeh Group. (Zaffeh, a traditional Lebanese folkloric dance and wedding procession, is a lively group routine used to lead the bride and groom into the reception.)



Despite the heat outside, the Summer Sizzle Dance Extravaganza 2012 seemed to be a success.  More importantly, since arts and culture — whether it’s music, dance or fine arts — show the heart of any community, it was great to see it out in full force this past weekend.

Why you should get your piano tuned…regularly!

Piano is likely the most popular instrument for music students, especially for young beginners when choosing what musical direction to take first. That means a lot of parents will invest a great deal of money into buying an acoustic piano for their child to practice on and progress with, which is great in the long run and well worth the price.

However, many students, parents and teachers alike don’t realize how often a piano should be serviced. Once a year? Every time it’s moved? Many experts, including Ottawa-based Tuner-Technician Kazimier Samujlo, B. Mus., B. Ed., actually disagree with both answers. He recommends a piano be tuned at the change of every season. That means, in countries where the climate changes three or four times a year, your piano should be tuned each and every time.

Is it worth it, though?

The Piano Technician’s Guild ( explains why it could be: Because your piano contains sensitive materials such as wood and felt, it’s affected easily by climatic conditions. Extreme swings in temperature can cause unrecoverable damage to the instrument. When the weather goes quickly from hot to cold, or dry to wet, the piano’s materials will warp and change, causing some parts to swell and contract. Ultimately, this can affect a piano’s tone, pitch, action response and touch.

On top of seasonal tunings, Samujlo goes one step further and often suggest his clients follow an all-around care routine for their beloved piano. “A regular maintenance program keeps your piano operating perfectly, makes the player happy and willing to practice more,” he explains on his website,

Regular care involves the following practices to consider:

  • Keeping your piano clean. Clean the keys by occasionally wiping them with a damp cloth and drying them immediately.
  • Avoid cleaning with aerosol spray polishes that contain silicone.
  • Maintain consistent temperature and humidity where your piano is placed. It’s important to keep your piano away from a heating register in winter, an air conditioning vent in the summer, a fireplace, a frequently opened window or outside door, and direct sunlight.
  • Play your piano regularly. Tuning a piano after years of not having been played often requires more repair than just a standard tuning, such as a pitch raise. As a piano ages without being used, it may begin to develop more major problems — like rebuilding or reconditioning.
  • Keep all food and drink away from the piano.
  • Select your technician with care (Hiring a certified piano technician, like Samujlo, is your best assurance.)
  • Never, ever, perform repairs yourself.
  • When it comes time to move, use only a professional piano moving company to do the job.

On top of regular tuning, a certified and experienced piano technician will be able to help sort out a handful of problems that you may encounter with your piano. Services often include refurbishing, restringing, cleanings and appraisals to make sure your instrument looks, feels and sounds as good as new.

Kazimier Samujlo is based in Manotick, Ontario, and provides piano tuning and repair services in and around the Ottawa area. To get in touch with him, call 613-692-2701 or visit his website.