Alejandra Ballon

Toronto Vocal (Singing) & Piano Teacher

Alejandra BallonABC Academy of Music2019-03-26T17:04:39-04:00

Project Description

B.Mus (University of Western Ontario)
Lieder and Poetry in Performance (Schubert Institut)

Alejandra Ballon is a freelance operatic singer successfully engaged throughout the city of Toronto. She has performed in such venues as the Toronto Centre for the Arts, Flato Markham Theatre, Heliconian Hall, Scarborough Civic Centre, Nathan Philips Square, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral and many churches throughout the city and in televised full-length solo concerts. She is also currently engaged as soprano soloist in the Toronto Oratory Ensemble, which focuses almost exclusively on renaissance polyphonic music. Her crystal clear light lyric voice has been consistently lauded for its emotional depth, textual clarity, and fluid ease throughout the entirety of her impressive range.

Alejandra graduated from the University of Western Ontario in Voice Performance (Opera) with Honours with Distinction and as a Western Scholar, in highest academic standing. She studied piano and pure mathematics concurrently with her operatic degree. She also studied at the renowned Hochschule für Musik Freiburg where she continued her operatic studies and focused on her much loved German Lieder. Alejandra was twice accepted into the renowned Schubert-Institut summer program for the Performance of German Lieder and Poetry.

In her earlier RCM studies, Alejandra gained top marks in her exams, on two separate occasions earning the Ontario Medal for the top examination mark in the province. Alejandra also competed successfully in the Toronto, London and GTA Kiwanis festivals, winning numerous awards and scholarships as well as being chosen to represent the Toronto and GTA Kiwanis Music Festivals at provincial finals.

While studying in Southwest Germany she met her husband. Outside her performance career she enjoys an active life with her four children in North Toronto.

Alejandra teaches with the same joy and passion with which she approaches her performances and enjoys passing along her years of experience, exacting standards for musicianship, and fun-loving attitude to each of her students.

For upcoming performances, join Alejandra’s notification list or visit her website at AlejandraBallon.com

Get to know Alejandra…Beyond the Bio!

Hobbies: hiking, dancing, praying, sports

Musical influences: My abuelita, the late romantics, especially Chopin and Rachmaninoff, church music, my favourite operatic singers (Leontyne Price, Placido Domingo)

Favourite food: Salads and smoothies and cake!

Least favourite food: pizza

Favourite music: classical music, especially from the romantic period

Favourite song: Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2

Favourite movie: too many!!

Favourite movie music: Lion King

Favourite musical theatre/opera: Rent

Best quote from your teacher: “durch die Nase!” Translation through the nose!!

Favourite quote: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt in the heart.”  -Helen Keller

Favourite book: The Tawny Scrawny Lion

Best thing about teaching at ABC: connection and community

Latest Homework from Alejandra

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Have you chatted with your teacher yet?

Hi!

In case you didn’t get our previous message, we are testing a new online chatting system for you to reach your teacher during the week, when you are not here.

Over our 15 years of operations, parents and students have often wanted a way to be able to ask questions of their teacher during the week. Since we keep teacher phone and email information private, this has been a bit of a puzzle to figure out, but we think we now have the solution.

Even if you don’t have a question for your teacher right now, we’d like you to try this out and say hello. This way we can see if it is working from the parent end of things, and to get some feedback from you.

Please visit your teacher’s page and say hello today.

If you have any feedback whatsoever, please call us in the office at 416-651-7529. We are monitoring the chats, so you can also put the information there.

Your help and feedback is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, April 3

Recital time is coming! Sunday May 5! This is a wonderful opportunity to experience performing in a supportive environment of other students just like you and their parents. I encourage all my students to take part .

Julia

We have a long list of repertoire to work through! Wonderful start on Sound of Music already, feel free to have a listen to the original song from the movie and sing along, let’s get this memorized in a couple weeks, it is a perfect fit for your voice so should feel sweet and easy to sing. We are also starting on Papillon, tu es volage, an equally sweet and easy sing for you! Bohemian Rhapsody will go on the back burner for now until we build up your technique a little more. Tone production and placement is the focus of our attention in these next weeks. The easiest and most helpful exercise for you was lip trills on ascending/descending scales.

We have not done piano the last two weeks, you are a great student for he piano, let’s consider the idea of adding a separate lesson for piano, if you want.

Miley

Miley we made AMAZING progress today, bravo! Sometimes the way is rocky but sometimes we experience a breakthrough and today was certainly a breakthrough for singing gently without pushing or wobbling and singing into the upper range without cracking. I am very proud and happy for you. We will focus Fr the next several weeks on repertoire that encourages a gentle approach to vocalization and use this time to build her technique so that in time we can revisit other styles with more confidence and secure technique. New song! Colours. This song is perfect for helping her and fits her voice so well. A reminder to please purchase the Preperatory Level of the RCM Resonance series for Miley at your earliest convenience. She can prepare for an exam with it and do very well. In Colours, sing gently while still with feeling to shape the phrases and bring out the words we underlined together.

NEW! Online Teacher Chats

Dear Students and Parents!

We are excited to announce we are testing an online chat with your teacher this spring.

For many years we have been looking for a solution to implement a way for you to directly contact your teacher without compromising teachers’ privacy, while maintaining accountability to the front desk for scheduling matters.

We think that we may now have a solution that will allow for this, and will be testing it from now until the end of June.

How do you use this?

It is very simple. Start by going to your teacher’s page:

You will see the chat on the right-hand side of the page.

There is a #general channel, which is where you will always start, and which we will use for school-wide announcements.

This is followed by your #teacher-name channel, which you can use to chat directly with your teacher.

To start using the chat, please click the green ‘Join this chat’ button. You will be prompted on how to access the chat. It is possible that you will also be able to download the app that drives this chat, Slack. If that turns out to be the case, you should be able to bypass using the website, and communicate directly from your phone or home computer. We are not sure about this, at present.

Please note

  • we are not requiring our team to respond to messages in real-time. For the test period we are asking them respond within 48h, or as soon as is practical for them. Our teachers have many things on their plates, and we want to be sure this system will be as practical for them as we hope it will be for you.
  • you cannot use this for scheduling, and teachers have been instructed to direct any and all scheduling queries to the front desk, as is currently the case.
  • for anything that is time sensitive, you should call the office.
  • bear in mind that this is essentially a public forum, which means that anything you post will be visible publicly.
  • we will be monitoring these channels and may interact with you directly.

That’s it! We look forward to seeing you in chats with your teacher, and encourage you to test it out by saying hello to your teacher just to see if it works, and even if you don’t have a question right now. We may call you over the next couple of months to ask you about your experience and see what you think about this.

Thank you very much!

Barnaby & the ABC Teaching Team

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Madison

Good work this week Madison. Over the March break, simply keep up your technique by playing through your two handouts everyday, making sure you maintain lifted fingers! Apply pressure with each finger as you play so that you strengthen them! In other words, remind yourself to play louder all the time! And trim your nails! Do Not Practice with Long Nails!

We’ve gone over all parts of Lone Star Waltz, you have two weeks now to put it all together smoothly and confidently, preferably with no pause. This is not a difficult piece for you. You should be able to get it together rather quickly.

Besides the handouts, practice some scales here and there. Especially, practice any scale two octaves hands separately until you feel confident with the crossovers between the thumb and third and fourth fingers. You’ve gotten the hang of this a couple times before but you haven’t yet maintained your progress because you do not practice scales consistently :)

All in all, 15-30min of practice on most days should do.

If I don’t see you after the March Break, I wish you the very best of luck, it’s been a real pleasure to have you <3

Julia

Julia you have made tremendous progress vocally with me and I am very proud of you! I don’t think you even notice the progress you’ve made!

For our Phantom of the Opera songs, please make sure you have them memorized cold, if you haven’t already. These are almost performance ready, after memorization, we just need to run them regularly so that you get a deeper and deeper feeling for the song and pattern of your breath for each song.

RCM Level 1 song selections: Dites-moi, This Land is Our Land, Song of Summertime

Dites-moi- come cleanly off for those tests at the end of each verse, sing with you full voice, as if you will hold them for longer and then just close them off with your lips by ending the words on time. This song is charming and quaint and almost cliche, just enjoy it. This Land – we’ve all heard it before, and may have learned different versions of the melody but we need to make sure we sing precisely what is on the page, I’ve circled the trickiest notes, just be careful about those notes! And please sing the piece with feeling, thinking about the words and shaping (adding dynamics) accordingly. Well of course go over that more together. Song of Summertime is the only piece in the whole book that goes high enough. I will be looking into RCM levels 2 and 3 because I am feeling that very soon they will be more appropriate for your voice and ability.

Bohemian Rhapsody – I think this is such a cool song selection and would love to start you on it right after March Break.

Brazilian Song – I just wanted to again encourage you to reflect if there might a song in Brazilian which you would like to introduce me to. It would be lovely for you to have learned and memorized a couple Brazilian songs for performing whenever you like, they can be a valuable part of your repertoire since they express a big part of who you are!

Piano

After the March Break I will introduce you to scales.

Ride Down Hill and Little Tune are both easy for you, focus on the shaping and dynamics as spoke about and marked for you in your book. The bigger piece is Afternoon swing. Tackle this one over the break and we’ll go over it together when you return.

Have an amazing trip!!

Wednesday, January 9

Osten

Please practice your Hanon exercise every other day for 10 minutes. Remember to play ascending and descending. Also remember the whole point of the exercise is to strengthen your fingers while having fun! So  don’t play quickly, make sure your rhythm is really steady, play with the tips of your fingers (especially watch those ring fingers!), and play medium loud to loud, applying a fair bit of pressure. For fun, change up the rhythm pattern!

Entertainer: Have up to bar 16 comfortable under your fingers, hands together. Break your practicing into sections as we discussed, and be careful with you fingering. 10 minutes a day should suffice! Even just one section a day, putting it all together two days before the lesson will give you rewarding results. Have a good week!

Madison

Delightful to hear your Kumbayah, Lavender’s Blue and Nick Nack Paddy Wack. I support you wanting to learn London Bridge, which is an easy one for you, so if you can, have it memorized for next week! Please play through the Hanon exercise everyday to strengthen your fingers, see Osten’s note above. Nick Nack is a good piece for you, pay attention to where you need to play legato and remember it is a happy, upbeat song, so play loud, with lots of staccato at the beginning. Good work.

Miley

Let’s get more familiar with your breathas we explore the concepts and experiences of breath pressure and singing with relaxed strength. Singing out beautifully without becoming exhausted is the key here. Practice your candle blowing and ha ha exercises, change up the vowels as well, and stay withing the range of D above middle C to two F’s above middle C. I will bring even more music for you next week. Good work!

Wednesday December 12

For most students, today’s lesson was the last before the break! Please keep up your technique according to your individual recommendations below and have a wonder, WONDERFUL holiday surrounded by family, friends, peace and love. See you in the New Year 2019!

Madison

Madison, you can encourage your technique over the break by focusing on scales and Hanon exercise. Please practice the following scales in whichever order you prefer: C Major, G Major, D Major and a minor. Note you should always play hands together and two octaves, but if you find you are struggling with one particular scale, go ahead and practice hands separately first. Play each scale slow and steady and FORTE (LOUD), with lifted fingers. The same goes for the Hanon exercise. I wrote the pattern in your homework note, however you can also refer to Osten’s book if you have trouble remembering (I don’t think you will).

Please complete the two note recognition fun handouts I gave you. You have plenty of time!

Please also practice Knick Knack Paddy Wack here and there. The important point is just to make sure you play only 2 bars at a time when you do.

Above all else, play loud and strong in all you do. See you in the New Year my friend!

 

Osten

Here are my tips for you for the break:

Play scales or the Hanon exercise on most days, it should only take 10-15 min. Be sure not to play in a hurried way, use proper technique in order for practicing to be worth your while. This means NO pancake fingers! Please always play with tip, drawing your fingers up as you play, think of spider hands, or tiger paws, there should be strength building inherent in your hand position.

Please complete the two note recognition handouts I gave to you.

If you can, it would be great if you can continue making progress with The Entertainer. The ideal would be comfortably playing through the first page. If I had to choose one single thing to work on in this piece however, it would be LH bars 17-19.

Have a wonderful holiday, a beautiful Christmas, I’ll see you in 2019!

 

Julia

You’re doing a great job opening up into high register with a sense of freedom and ease! Continue bearing in mind that going up feels like those siren swoops we’ve been practicing, it should feel like a lot of breath flow and space without pushing, holding or stiffness in the body.

Memorize The Point of No Return over the break if you can! Then we can pick two new songs upon your return.

Give a thought with your parents whether you would be ok with transition to the repertoire from the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) The advantages are having age and level appropriate progressive repertoire and the option to take an exam IF you want to (gives you recognized status in your progress, concrete goals to motivate you, a certificate, encourages ear training and theory training, etc)

Have a wonderful break, Merry Christmas to you and yours, wishing you peace and love in this holiday season!

Load More Posts

Have you chatted with your teacher yet?

Hi!

In case you didn’t get our previous message, we are testing a new online chatting system for you to reach your teacher during the week, when you are not here.

Over our 15 years of operations, parents and students have often wanted a way to be able to ask questions of their teacher during the week. Since we keep teacher phone and email information private, this has been a bit of a puzzle to figure out, but we think we now have the solution.

Even if you don’t have a question for your teacher right now, we’d like you to try this out and say hello. This way we can see if it is working from the parent end of things, and to get some feedback from you.

Please visit your teacher’s page and say hello today.

If you have any feedback whatsoever, please call us in the office at 416-651-7529. We are monitoring the chats, so you can also put the information there.

Your help and feedback is greatly appreciated!

Thursday, April 4

Recital May 5!

Alex

I admire your courage and good humour in pushing through and having a productive lesson today. Excellent progress on your three pieces. Some small rhythmic things to pay attention to, especially the second quarter note in bars 2 and 4 and the staccato eighth note pairs of March Band, as well as the second eighth note of Bugle Call (hanging on to it for too long), we went over “The Riddle”, that’s your new song. There was some resistance to learning the Hanon exercises, but I think you would actually have good fun with them and they would help your technique a lot, so let’s give it a try next time. Please don’t forget to keep up with your theory!

Abi

We continued our discussion and observation today of the extraneous tension and need to control that gets in the way of a simpler and more natural approach to your singing, and we made good progress today, good job. Remind yourself continuously to relax and not overthink your vocal production. Excellent high notes during your warmup, we need to apply that simplicity to your (not so) high notes in June Magic and Frage. We’ve chosen Frage as the recital song, please memorize, and most importantly, practice it not by singing through but rather by speaking it with expression, following all markings, with proper pronunciation in a sing-song voice. Circle the words you want to emphasize to give the phrases more shape. Please remember your books for next week!

Ava

Please choose a piano piece you like for the recital on May 5, something later than page 36 (possibilities listed in your notebook). Warmup at home with that five finger scale, you were so good at it! Steps On the Staff is a helpful song for your piano and singing! Have fun singing along, really making an effort to sing the same pitch that you play. This will be good ear training for you. The Dance Band is almost there, practice the second line twice a span much as the first and count carefully (out loud?) We have chosen My Favourite Things for the recital as well, listen to your recording often and practice those jumps and the section where you sing “These are a few of my favourite things”, especially the third time. Good work!

NEW! Online Teacher Chats

Dear Students and Parents!

We are excited to announce we are testing an online chat with your teacher this spring.

For many years we have been looking for a solution to implement a way for you to directly contact your teacher without compromising teachers’ privacy, while maintaining accountability to the front desk for scheduling matters.

We think that we may now have a solution that will allow for this, and will be testing it from now until the end of June.

How do you use this?

It is very simple. Start by going to your teacher’s page:

You will see the chat on the right-hand side of the page.

There is a #general channel, which is where you will always start, and which we will use for school-wide announcements.

This is followed by your #teacher-name channel, which you can use to chat directly with your teacher.

To start using the chat, please click the green ‘Join this chat’ button. You will be prompted on how to access the chat. It is possible that you will also be able to download the app that drives this chat, Slack. If that turns out to be the case, you should be able to bypass using the website, and communicate directly from your phone or home computer. We are not sure about this, at present.

Please note

  • we are not requiring our team to respond to messages in real-time. For the test period we are asking them respond within 48h, or as soon as is practical for them. Our teachers have many things on their plates, and we want to be sure this system will be as practical for them as we hope it will be for you.
  • you cannot use this for scheduling, and teachers have been instructed to direct any and all scheduling queries to the front desk, as is currently the case.
  • for anything that is time sensitive, you should call the office.
  • bear in mind that this is essentially a public forum, which means that anything you post will be visible publicly.
  • we will be monitoring these channels and may interact with you directly.

That’s it! We look forward to seeing you in chats with your teacher, and encourage you to test it out by saying hello to your teacher just to see if it works, and even if you don’t have a question right now. We may call you over the next couple of months to ask you about your experience and see what you think about this.

Thank you very much!

Barnaby & the ABC Teaching Team

Thursday March 7, 2019

Alex

Alex your Pogo Stick and Dropping are polished and ready, good job! Let’s keep Reaching for one more week, you had occasional hiccups with the F sharps and are slowing down a little too dramatically and out of rhythm in the second last bar. :) Add dynamics as I marked for you as well, crescendoing through each mini phrase, it makes it sound like you’re reaching! I’d like to continue with the idea of black Dropping and Reaching one after the other thereafter!

Two new songs: March with Drums and Bugle Call and Echo – in March, make a big contrast between the two lines by playing the first very smoothly (legato) and don’t cheap out on the staccato in the second line, really enjoy that contrast! Remember, staccato is about how long you stay on a note, which is not the same as the rhythm, make sure you keep the rhythm exactly consistent with the first line. If it helps, play the whole piece legato to experience the proper rhythm all the way through before making the second line staccato.

:) wonderful work as usual Alex, please keep up with your theory homework :) and next week I’ll introduce you to scales.

Abirami

Wonderful work Abi, the next chapter of our learning is a lengthy and deep one where we address freeing up and finding the strength and support in your breath/sound by noticing how you tend to be too much “in your head” when it comes to singing and you need to shift to being more “in your body” and breaking through to the experience of “feeling exposed” while singing.

Throughout the week practice both swinging your arms and making your arms dead weights, as we did in class.

Please memorize June Magic *properly* and use the swooping we practiced to help you relax and feel at ease with your head voice singing.

Please always remember to bring all your books to your lessons with me :) work away at your theory book too, ideally 5-6 pages a week, or a minimum of 2-3 pages if need be.

You’re doing great, let’s keep going!

Ava

Wonderful work Ava, your My Bonnie is starting to sound so polished! There were only a couple last hiccups to with rhythm and how long you are holding certain notes (too long or not long enough). Sing along with your recording and next week we’ll focus on any left over quirks.

In My Favourite Things we need to focus on getting those jumps in pitches in your muscle memory as they repeat throughout the song and we want to find some confidence and consistency in our accuracy. Sing along with your recording especially those leaps of a fifth such as in “Raindrops” “Bright Co-” and “Cream co-” also have a close listen and sing along everyday to the “staircase” notes (it’s a scale) that I recorded for you, at “These are a few of my favourite things”. Lastly for that song, make sure your are not clipping your syllables, make the vowels long and add any consonants between syllables to the beginning of the next syllable. This is necessary countless times throughout the piece and is similar to what we’ve worked on in My Bonnie.

I’ll photocopy your new song Edelweiss for you :) and we need to purchase for you your first theory book!! I usually recommend RCM Celebrate Theory Prep Level book, however I am aware that Piano Adventures, the series you are currently learning from, have their own theory book, so I will look to see at what level they teach and recommend one to you for next week :)

Thursday December 13

For most students, today’s lesson was the last before the break! Please keep up your technique according to your individual recommendations have a wonderful, WONDERFUL holiday surrounded by family, friends, peace and love. See you in the New Year 2019!

Thursday December 6

Congratulations to my students who performed in the recital, you did a fabulous job and I am so proud of you! I look forward to even more spectacular performances from even more of my lovely students at the spring recital!!

Alex

Good job, you fixed the rhythm in Who’s on Third! Could you memorize it for next week? Could you also try out detaching the notes which are not slurred together?

New Pageants for Piano: I’m excited to work on this piano method book together, I think it is a great fit for you. Please practice pages 2 and 3, ‘And Also E’ and ‘And Do a March’

Back to the Alfred, be sure to play through the practice exercise on pg 24 before practicing Rock Song. Great job Alex!

Abirami

Abi, please remember to purchase your Theory Rudiments Level 6 book so we can get cracking at it :)

Review songs for intervals we went over in lesson :)

We’ll start working on arpeggios etc, to increase your agility and stamina.

Remember your books for next week :)

Please pick at least one new song for next week :)

Ava

Hello Ava! Wonderful work with the Ode to Joy! Play loud and strong every time!

We learned about intervals today, the unison and the second! Intervals measure the space between two notes aka how far away they are/sound from each other!

New Song: Sea Story :) Trying practicing this at home while singing!

New Song: My Bonnie. What a lovely song for you! I will make a copy for you next week. Listen to the recording we made often in the coming weeks

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Beta Test Our New Direct-to-Teacher Chat System

Please note that:

  • No scheduling may be done with this system.  All scheduling matters must be handled by the front desk at 416-651-7529.
  • Response times are not guaranteed, although a 48h window will be our goal.
  • This test is just that, a test.  For any matters that are time sensitive, you must call the office.
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Preferred Books for Alejandra’s Students

Click to buy them here, and they’ll come right to your house!  What could be easier?

RCM Voice Repertoire

Prepratory Level

Cover of RCM Voice Preparatory Level

A Comprehensive Voice Series serves as the official resource for voice assessments of the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program. Featuring an outstanding selection of voice literature and supporting materials, this series offers a truly enriched learning experience to help ensure student success.  As in previous editions, Resonance encompasses a rich and varied selection of Repertoire, Vocalises and Recitatives that students of all ages and voice types will find appropriate to their musical interests and level of technical ability.

Buy on Amazon

Alfred's Basic Piano for the Later Beginner

Book 1

Cover of Alfred's Basic Piano for the Later Beginner, Book 1

Complete Level 1 is a faster-paced version of Levels 1A and 1B that gets to staff reading more quickly. Perfect for a student who is 8 or older, or for a younger beginner with great musical aptitude. This course is most effective when used under the direction of a piano teacher or experienced musician.

Buy on Amazon

Alfred's Basic Piano for the Later Beginner

POPULAR HITS

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library: Popular Hits answers the often expressed need for popular music to be used as supplementary music for students. Soon after beginning piano study, students can play attractive versions of the best-known melodies of today.

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Hanon

Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises - Complete

Cover of Hanon's The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises

Since the first release of this classic Schirmer edition over 100 years ago, almost anyone who has taken piano lessons for more than two years has played from The Virtuoso Pianist . Millions of copies have been sold of these progressive exercises which guide a player’s technique, building finger independence and strength. This was the first American edition released of this music, and remains a classic at a remarkably affordable price.

Buy on Amazon