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An Interview With Kristian Alexander of International Music Academy


International Music Academy (IMA) opened their second location in 2016 at 3-50 Innovator Drive in Stouffville; their first location being on Highway 7 in Markham. IMA, Stouffville is positioned across from Soccer City in a fast growing commercial “industrial condominium” neighbourhood. Many family and service-oriented businesses have taken up residence along Innovator Drive.

At first look, the stark-white newness of IMA’s location is, well – stark. Music Director Kristian Alexander greeted us at the door with a warm welcome. Kristian is tall and lean, well-dressed, refined and enjoys a full head of wavy brown hair. He speaks in clear English, but with a European accent of an origin that is hard to discern.

Upon entering the space, we realize that it is everything but stark. The white walls bring out the warmth of the hardwood clad floors and dual staircases that lead up the Recital Hall. The front of house “living room” (as opposed to a waiting room) also provides warmth by way of dark brown leather comfy chairs and oriental throw rugs. There is enough space for perhaps 8 patrons in wait.

I immediately point out how nice the space is to Kristian. I recall the place where my own children have taken music lessons, which is the epitome of the “waiting place” from Dr. Seuss: bright lights, steel or plastic chairs arranged in school-room rows, hoards of people (and germs), dirt trodden tile floors and an active combat between repeating television news and pumped in pop music. I was always left thinking – hopefully, my youngest did not hear the grizzly news over the blaring music. We don’t go visit the waiting place anymore, because it was a music factory.

Kristian explains that IMA is 100% focused on instruction – “We do not use instruction as lure for a retail store.” Here are some fast facts about IMA:
• IMA’s tuition fee is lower than the big box music stores;
• They had 16 teachers at the time of the interview, more have been added since;
• All teachers have Master’s degrees and are registered with the Royal Conservatory of Music;
• IMA is approved by both school boards in York Region to conduct assessment and teach within the schools;
• IMA holds monthly recitals and two large scale music festivals (Winter and Summer);
• They produce a monthly newsletter that highlights the activities of students and teachers;
• IMA teaches all styles from rock, pop, jazz, country, and blues to classical, Broadway and opera, with all types of instruments – guitar, piano, woodwinds and brass;
• All lessons are intimately private, not group taught; and, • Some students are as young as 3 years old.

Kristian Alexander has an impressive resume: he is the founding Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Kindred Spirits Orchestra, the founding Music Director of the International Music Academy and the founding Artistic Director of Markham Contemporary Music Festival. He was also the founding Music Director of the Mozarteum Symphony Orchestra in Sofia (Bulgaria). He is fluent in English, French, Russian, and Bulgarian. In addition to Master’s degrees in orchestral and choral conducting, music theory and history, he also holds degrees in anthropology, psychology, theology, and arts management from academies and universities in Toronto, Montreal, Stuttgart and Sofia.

Kristian has been a resident of Stouffville since 2006. He previously lived in Downtown Toronto, but with age, he developed a desire for less noise, fresh air, and less congestion. He opened the Stouffville location because he had an increasing number of students travelling to IMA’s Markham location for instruction.

We give him an On the Road two-thumbs-up, not because IMA is very qualified for musical instruction, but also because we look forward to nestling into their living room for a quiet, unmolested hour with a book while we “wait”

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