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WHAT PEOPLE SAY
“Kristan’s mastery of music, both in music theory and as a performer, allows her to adapt my lessons to meet my needs. I’m grateful for the quality and value of her live virtual lessons, they allow me to stay focused regardless of what life throws at me. I wholeheartedly recommend Mrs. Toczko to anyone seeking a motivated, inspiring, professional teacher.”
"I’m grateful for the quality and value of her live virtual lessons"
Kristan teaches online full-time, teaching private lessons since 2008, and has a passion to impart the knowledge and mentorship she has received to aspiring musicians. Along with her weekly private studio teaching experience, she has experience teaching at various studios and schools presenting masterclasses, private and group lessons, and giving ensemble coachings. She has also been an invited adjudicator at several competitions and music festivals. Kristan has studied harp with Jennifer Swartz, June Han, Nancy Allen, Deborah Hoffman, Judy Loman, Elizabeth Hainen, Heidi Krutzen, Frédérique Cambreling, Dorothy Brzezicki; and studied piano with Mariette Lavoie and Roger Lord.
Kristan teaches harp to all ages, from complete beginners to advanced. She focuses on the fundamentals of performance with proper technique and ear training, as well as catering to the student's own interests and needs. Kristan aims to help students achieve their musical goals, to help guide them to becoming a versatile and well-rounded musician, and to instill a lifelong appreciation of music along the way.
Kristan's method includes working primarily through the Royal Conservatory of Music training program, using the below books as beginner guides through lessons. This will be supplemented by other exercises, etudes, pieces, as well as ear training:
Beginner youth harp: Plucky Bunny's Harp Adventures Book
Beginner adult harp: First Harp Book by Betty Paret
Students are encouraged to bring their own song suggestions they want to learn to their lessons! If the music is level appropriate, these songs can be worked alongside the regular curriculum. Kristan is always happy to guide you through learning any video game, film, holiday, classical, pop, or even metal music!
Do they work??
Kristan has taught complete beginners to be able to perform their favourite songs within as little as a few months, and has seen students grow to advanced players in as little as 2 to 3 years. She has also brought many students through successful university auditions, competitions, as well as RCM music exams – all receiving distinguished grades.
Online music lessons work very well! A lot of the aspects of learning music is visual, so learning an instrument over the internet works just as well as in a teacher's studio.
Although lessons through a screen may be difficult for some younger children, Kristan has found teaching online just as efficient and effective as teaching in-person.
Lessons are more accessible than ever to those who may not have a teacher in their area, and for those wanting to stay in the comfort of their home!
Debunking the myth of online lessons: The time it takes to learn a new instrument or its difficulty is not hindered by online teaching. Just as much work can be accomplished in online lessons. The speed students learn their instrument will depend greatly on how much they are able to practice outside of their lesson time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What age is good to begin learning?
There is no age requirement for adults to learn an instrument! Any age is appropriate to start learning harp, even if you have no musical background. For children, the best age to begin harp is between age 7 to 9.
How long are lessons?
Kristan offers weekly 30-minute lessons.
Would I be able to sign up for bi-weekly or once-per-month lessons?
Kristan offers once-per-month or one-time lessons to advanced players wanting supplementary lessons, such as a student with established technique preparing for an audition, university, a competition, performance, or an exam. She does not offer regular bi-weekly lessons. Weekly lessons are for the benefit of the student to progress well, to keep their interest in practicing, to help with goals, and most importantly to ensure the technique is being addressed weekly and repertoire is practiced/learned correctly.
What type of instrument do you recommend?
It's recommended that beginners start on a harp of at least 27-34 strings with levers, which are very affordable to rent or buy pre-owned. It's alright to begin with a lever-less harp, but students tend to outgrow them quickly within a couple months of lessons. Lyon & Healy or Salvi are reputable harp brands.
Harp rentals in Canada - Long & McQuade: link (contact your local store)
Harp rentals in the contiguous U.S. - Lyon & Healy Harps: link
What platform do you use for online lessons?
Kristan uses Zoom to teach lessons. No need to create an account, as personalized links are sent to each student. Lesson notes are typed in a shared Google Drive folder, making it easy to share homework, sheet music, and learning materials.
What do I need for online lessons?
You'll need a device with a camera (phone, tablet, or computer), a good internet connection, a bench (no swivel, recline, or wheels, but preferably adjustable in height), your instrument, music stand, the sheet music we'll be studying (or the book), and have a metronome and pencil nearby. Students should also be aware they must keep short nails to play harp. No need for any fancy microphone or video setup, but it is a bonus if you do!
Can I meet you before committing to lessons?
Yes of course! If interested in weekly lessons, before booking your first lesson, there will be a complimentary meet-and-greet onboarding meeting for new incoming students: a short meeting over Zoom to get to know each other, talk about your musical goals, how lessons are run, camera setup with your instrument, and answer any questions you may have. Lessons are month-by-month commitment.
Harp Teacher: private studio 2008-present
Piano Teacher: private studio 2008-present
The Cambrian Academy of Music: piano teacher 2019
Lippert Music Centre, Toronto: piano teacher 2018
Bannockburn Montessori School, Toronto: piano teacher 2016-2018
Guest Harp Teacher, Halifax: lessons and group classes 2014, 2016
Guest Harp Teacher, Ottawa: lessons and group classes 2016
Forest Hill Music Academy: piano teacher 2015-2016
Teaching Assistant, Yale University: undergraduate harp lessons 2011-12
Mount Allison, Yale, & McGill Universities, Harp demos 2005-present
Kristan holds her Grade 9 RCM in Piano, and holds a B.Mus., M.M., and G.D.P.P. in Harp Performance from McGill & Yale Universities.