David Zada

Toronto Piano & Drum Kit Teacher

HomeDrums, PianoDavid Zada
David ZadaABC Academy of Music2019-03-26T16:58:16-04:00

Project Description

B. Mus. (York)
B.Ed (York) in-progress

David Zada is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, who plays, variously, drums, piano, or his own voice, in clubs, festivals, fundraisers, churches, and other venues about the city.

Zada graduated from York University’s jazz program in 2015, having received the Olive Lower Prize in Jazz Piano in his final year. He hopes to continue making people dance and smile for as long as possible.*

Get to know David…Beyond the Bio!

Hobbies: I like stand-up comedy, singing with other people (anything from choir to karaoke), and petting dogs!

Musical influences: My earliest influences come from the interrelated worlds of jazz, classic rock, country, and folk. Mainly: Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Gordon Lightfoot, Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, The Doors, Queen, and so on. But I’m always absorbing whatever I’m exposed to, learning and adapting, as is necessary.

Favourite food: Anything spicy!

Least favourite food: Cooked spinach.

Favourite music: I’m REALLY into neo-soul right now. Erykah Badu, Lalah Hathaway, and Hiatus Kaiyote exemplify this style for me.

Favourite song: Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life, especially as performed by Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane’s Quartet.

Favourite movie: Twelve Monkeys is up there.

Favouirite movie music: Bernard Hermann’s score from Psycho is a personal favourite.

Favourite musical theatre/opera: Favourite show: Cabaret (Kander & Ebb). Favourite Opera: Satyagraha (Phillip Glass).

Best quote from your teacher: “Now I know this all sounds overwhelming, but I’ll show you what to listen to, what to listen for…what to listen six.” – Kelly Jefferson

Favourite quote: “I’d rather be one of the few than one of the many. […] If I was suddenly to become popular, I’d have to think that something was wrong with me.” – Barry Harris

Favourite book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Best thing about teaching at ABC: I find the students are excited about the instrument, and willing to learn. That’s all I ask!

Latest Homework from David

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Homework from September 5th, 2019

Daniel - Play the C-D-E song with crossing hands. Experiment with it. Try playing it backwards. See what other creative ideas you might have. Also play "Merrily We Roll Along" and "Old MacDonald", paying special attention to RHYTHM. Oscar - Pick a song (any song) and try to figure out the chords by ear. Come back next week with your findings. Was it difficult? Easy? Why? Reflect on your experience. Also, revisit hand position, pentascales, and broken chords from last year. Avril - Practice the following exercises: 2 octave scales (major: Bb, F, C, G, D; natural AND melodic minor: g, d, a, e, b); triad sequence both broken and solid (same keys as scales). Work on playing and singing 'Duke's Place' or 'C Jam Blues'. Listen to a bunch of recording and when you come back let me know your top 3 favourites.

Homework for June 20th, 2019 (last regular lesson day before summer)

DANIEL - Here is what I'd like you to work on over the summer: 1) Keep working through your book. 2) Keep singing songs and clapping along to the beat in time. 3) Keep practicing READING rhythms which use half notes and quarter notes. 4) LISTEN to music. Listen to a lot of music to figure out what you like. Once you figure out what you like, listen to similar stuff. Start building a library or playlist of Daniel's Favourite Music. OSCAR - Here is what I'd like you to work on over the summer: 1) Listen to A LOT of jazz. That is the absolute most important thing to do if you want to learn to play jazz, listen to it. If you get a chance to see some live jazz, do so. The Pilot, The Rex, and The Home Smith Bar are 3 venues that frequently have great jazz players coming through. 2) Lift lots of music. Either by ear and straight to the piano or write it down if you want (that part is not necessary). It can be jazz, blues, pop, rock, folk, classical, whatever, as long as you're using your ears and figuring out how to play what you ear. 3) Improvise. 4) Get the RCM technical requirement books for the first few grades, and practice that stuff...with a metronome...focusing on proper hand position, no tension, lateral movements with the wrist, and so on.AVRIL - Here is what I'd like you to work on over the summer. 1) Listen to A LOT of music...and especially music that involves improvisation: jazz, blues, R&B, rock -- anywhere you'd hear somebody play a 'solo', that's what you should be listening to. What similarities do you notice between styles? What differences? What do you like? What do you dislike? Why? 2) Just as a fun(?) little challenge, try working your way through the exercises in this video and see if you can understand what's going on. IT'S OK IF YOU CAN'T -- this is for university students, not middle school! -- but since you expressed excitement when we were working on chromatic embellishments, I thought you might enjoy leaping ahead and doing something extra challenging. https://youtu.be/vQOa1q8QL6o 3) Keep working through the Czerny book, slowly and patiently. Don't move to the 'next' piece until you've really mastered the last one. 4) Start practicing the scales you already know, hands together, TWO octaves. 5) Improvise plenty. JULIE - Here is what I'd like you to work on over the summer. 1) Create a 'wish list' of ~20 pieces you'd like to learn on the piano. Don't worry about if the pieces look too advanced - we can always work up to them with pieces that are similar but easier. I want to get a clearer sense of your musical taste, and I want us to be working on the repertoire that YOU love. 2) Keep working on everything else you've been working on! 3) Get the Functional Ear Trainer app and [...]

Homework from June 13th, 2019

Oscar - In addition to all of your pentascales and triad exercises, try arranging the chords from 'Hey Jude' in a way that makes sense according to the voice leading principles we discussed. You can also practice the blues improvisation concepts we have worked on over Mary Ann by Ray Charles. Avril - Today we discussed chromatic lower neighbours and enclosures of chord tones in jazz improvisation. Try these ideas on simple tunes like Autumn Leaves and When the Saints Go Marching In. Explore, and let me know what you discover. Remember that enclosures can look different depending on whether the next note up in the scale is a half step or a whole step above. Julie - You have a lot to work on in terms of repertoire and technique, but this week, focus on rhythm. First, put your metronome on at 60 beats per minute and try to clap every 3rd 16th note. Then, come up with your own rhythms using the 16th note grid. Write them out and show me next week. Kristin - Continue notating your piece in D major. As an extra challenge, try to figure out the additive metre used for the song Bulgarian Bulge by Don Ellis.

Homework from June 6th, 2019

Oscar --- Work on your pentascales, legato and staccato, in the keys of C, G, D, A, and E. Use both hands. Focus on keeping your hands relaxed, sinking into the keys (like your arms are very heavy) for legato, and leaping off (like a little frog) for staccato. In addition, pick another pop song (any pop song) and arrange the chords as we discussed last week. Voices move as little as possible, move in contrary motion against the bass if possible. Julie --- Complete the circle of fifths we started in lesson this week by adding the key signatures for the remaining keys (all 6 of them) and the relative minors for all the remaining keys. Go to YouTube and listen to some people playing Mozart's sonata in C major, K545. Use the slow down function in YouTube (under settings) and observe the different ways different pianists approach the trills and decorations. Write down your observations and show me next week. Also, of course, continue working on exercises from the Brown Scale Book in the keys of C, G, D, A, and E. Kristin --- In addition to all the stuff we've already been working on (including starred exercises from your scale book in the keys of C, G, D, A, and E), two assignments: 1) Start writing your D major composition down. You can either do so by hand, or use a free notation software -- MuseScore is good for this. Consider whether you want it to be for solo piano or other instrumentation. 2) Pick a few songs and identify spots where rhythm is divided up additively as we practiced today. When I say additive, I mean divided into smaller groups of 2s and 3s. An example we looked at today was "Unsquare Dance" which was made up of 7 units, grouped 2+2+3. Another example might be The Shape of You by Ed Sheeran, which is made up of 8 units, grouped 3+3+2. What other examples can you find out in the wild?

Homework from June 2nd, 2019

OSCAR – Pentascales – hands separately, legato and staccato, C major, G major, D major, and A minor. Triad sequence in C major, solid and broken. ALSO pick a pop song, figure out the chords, and arrange them with acceptable voice leading as discussed – moving as little as possible, keeping common tones in common, contrary motion where possible between bass and other voices. KATHELINE – Review time signatures as we discussed today. Choose 5 songs (any genre) and identify A) what you think the time signature is, and B) why you think that. Also continue to practice repertoire from your two books and all your scales. As an extra challenge, listen to Unsquare Dance by Dave Brubeck (available on YouTube) and clap along. GAVIN – Practice the triad sequence and pentascales in C and G major. Experiment with other keys if you want that challenge. Focus on form. Keep your fingers on the keys where they’re supposed to be. Make sure to use your arm weight, rather than finger power, to play each note. YOAN – Practice what we did today: basic rock beat with your hands, and pick (at random) 2, 3, or 4 spots on the 8th note grid to put the bass drum in 1 bar. Practice the beat you produced with those randomly generated rhythms. You can also practice the basic jazz beat (just quarter notes, no skip beat).

Homework from May 30th, 2019

Avril - Learn the following melodies by ear and add chords based on what we've learned the last few weeks. ONLY use the primary chords: I, IV, and V: When the Saints Go Marching In; She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain; My Bonnie. In addition to that, practice the new song in your Czerny book. Kristin - Practice the exercises I put an asterisk near in your scale book. Once you're comfortable with the broken chords in C, you can try them on other white-key chords (D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor). In addition to that, continue to work on composing and orchestrating your D-major-pentatonic idea.

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Ellis should practice 4-5 times per week at 10 – 15 mins per session

Lesson book

  • The Haunted Mouse/Classic Dance – practice between legato (smoothly) and staccato (short and detached) playing, with written dynamic (softness/loudness)
  • First line of piece using Treble ‘A’ – hold the tied ‘E’ note when left hand comes in

A Dozen a Day

  • New weekly assigned exercises


Chantal should practice 4-5 times per week at 20 – 30 mins per session


  • Practice and Review C+ and G+ scales and triads


  • Climbing on the elephant – mind the quarter note to eighth note rhythm, counting (1,2 on quarter note before eighth note comes on 3)
  • Swirling Leaves – Keep working on this hands together with more fluency!


Alyssa should practice 4-5 times per week at 45 mins – 1 hr per session.


  • Practice and review everything with the metronome at required tempo

Sunset in Rio

  • Memory – review

Sonatina in C

  • Stay at tempo 120, and start practicing with dynamic changes

Scherzo in C

  • Work up to the required tempo starting around 130 to the eighth note

Allegro in D

  • Section B – Practice with the metronome, get used to staying in tempo

In Church

  • First half – mind the tempo when you begin, it should be no faster than the seconds on the clock. Like how we played during our class, keep on working to improve phrasing and dynamic changes
  • Second half – use una corda pedal from bar 29 to the end


Maria should practice 4-5 times per week for 20-30 mins per session.

Lesson Book

  • La Raspa – Keep working on this with more fluency, and keep the 6/8 (1 2 3 1 2 3) rhythm in mind – make sure to play the pick up note ‘G’ on second (3)
  • Raisins and Almonds – learn each hand separately, and review d harmonic minor scale we learned in class!


Simone should practice 4-5 times per week for 15-20 mins per session.

Lesson Book

  • Dinosaur Stomps – double check which G you place your fingers on before you start! Both hands should be in the same position, but different octaves


  • Weekly assigned pages
April 1st, 2020|

Homework To Be Completed For April 7

Hi Everyone,

Here are your assignments for this week:


Recommended minutes to practice: 10 min/day

What to practice: #50

How to practice it most effectively: Take 2 bars at a time and 1 line at a time, use a metronome.


Recommended minutes to practice: 10 min/day

What to practice: #72 + #77

How to practice it most effectively: Use a metronome and try one line at a time, then putting lines together.


Recommended minutes to practice: 10 min/day

What to practice: Blues

How to practice it most effectively: Look at the first two lines, one bar at a time is a good way to practice also. Start looking at the 3rd line.


Recommended minutes to practice: 10 min/day

What to practice: #22 Yankee Doodle

How to practice it most effectively: Use a metronome, set it at 70 and practice playing one note every 2 clicks.


Recommended minutes to practice: 10 min/day

What to practice: Fingerpicking Patterns and Note Reading Sheets

How to practice it most effectively: Use a metronome, start by mastering at a slow speed and then increasing the tempo.

Have a good week everyone!


March 31st, 2020|
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Preferred Books for David’s Students

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Cover of Stick Control for the Modern Drummer

George Lawrence Stone’s Stick Control is the bible of drumming. In 1993, Modern Drummer magazine named the book one of the top 25 books of all-time. In the words of the author, it is the ideal book for improving: control, speed, flexibility, touch, rhythm, lightness, delicacy, power, endurance, preciseness of execution and muscular coordination, with extra attention given to the development of the weak hand.

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Indigo


Cover of Syncopation by Ted Reed

Voted second on Modern Drummer’s list of 25 Greatest Drum Books in 1993, Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer is one of the most versatile and practical works ever written for drums. Created exclusively to address syncopation, it has earned its place as a standard tool for teaching beginning drummers syncopation and strengthening reading skills.

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Indigo


Cover of Groove Essentials

Represents a new-generation play-along package and a quantum leap over anything else previously available in this vein with over 6 hours of music, including 47 grooves and feels from all over the world most in two tempos 88 tracks in all, truly professional sketch charts and incisive text by Tommy. An interactive groove experience for all level drummers with rhythm tracks that feature some of New York City’s top musicians.
Buy on Amazon (Book/CD)
Buy on Indigo (Book/CD/DVD)


Cover of The New Breed

Gary Chester was one of the busiest studio drummers of the ’60s and ’70s and played on hundreds of hit records. His systems have been used and endorsed by drummers such as Kenny Aronoff, Danny Gottlieb, and Dave Weckl. This is not just another drum book, but rather a system that will help you develop the skills needed to master today’s studio requirements. By working with this book, you’ll improve your reading, concentration, coordination, right and left-hand lead, and awareness of the click.

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Indigo

Faber & Faber Piano Adventures

Lesson Book Primer Level

Cover of Faber Piano Adventures Lesson Book Primer Level

The 2nd Edition Primer Lesson Book introduces the keyboard, note values, and the grand staff. Students play in C 5-finger scale patterns, develop recognition of steps and skips, and learn letter names independent of finger number. Musicianship is built through the use of dynamics and coloristic experimentation with the pedal. The book is organized into units which represent the major concepts and skills. As new units are introduced, earlier concepts and skills are constantly reviewed.

Buy on Amazon

Dozen A Day

Preparatory Book

Cover of Dozen A Day Preparatory Book

The Dozen a Day books are universally recognized as one of the most remarkable technique series on the market for all ages! Each book in this series contains short warm-up exercises to be played at the beginning of each practice session, providing excellent day-to-day training for the student.

Buy on Amazon

Dozen A Day

Mini Book

Cover of A Dozen A Day Mini Book

The Dozen a Day books are universally recognized as one of the most remarkable technique series on the market for all ages! Each book in this series contains short warm-up exercises to be played at the beginning of each practice session, providing excellent day-to-day training for the student.

Buy on Amazon


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