Derek Gray, Artistic Director
Music and Movement / Hand Drumming
Derek Gray has a friendly personality that makes him a wonderful motivator for children, and his positive attitude encourages a respect and appreciation of music that will last a lifetime.
His experience includes working with the Toronto District School Board, Humber College and University of Toronto, where he is currently pursuing the third year of his Doctorate of Musical Arts (Drums/Percussion – Performance) with a focus on “Improvisation Pedagogy in Our Global Village”.
Derek has traveled the world studying, performing and teaching. He has spent time in Ghana, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and the U.S.A.
At home in Toronto, Derek works extensively as a bandleader, composer, and performing musician (drumset, Batá, cajón, djembe, Tibetan Singing Bowls, and other sound-makers) with a variety of projects.
Derek tours internationally with Georgian Bay (2016 Polaris-nominated bilingual contemporary folk duo/mini-orchestra), Gray Matter (2016 Julian Award runner-up contemporary-jazz quintet), Franco-Ontarian family band Ariko, Indo-jazz chamber ensemble Synthesis, and the trans-Mediterranean group, Tamar Ilana & Ventanas (4X Canadian Folk Music Award-nominated).
Joseph Hsieh was born in Taiwan and started to learn the piano at the age of 5. He attended an arts high school in Taipei, Taiwan where he studied piano and voice. After completing high school, he attended the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, Ohio where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree. He has taught piano to children for many years in both Taiwan and Canada. He joined Springboard to Music five years ago and has enjoyed working with the students ever since.
Joseph’s other musically related activities include working as a freelance recording engineer and singing professionally with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the The Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto.
Cathy’s love for piano started when she was eight years old on a mini grand piano that her father refinished. She studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music and is passionate about motivating students and teaching music. She has been Organist and Pianist at Bridlewood Presbyterian, and at Safe Haven. Currently, Cathy is Organist at Arbor Memorial, McDougall & Brown, and it is her 11th year teaching at Springboard to Music.
Phyllis Coulter, one of the founders of Springboard to Music and current Board President, is a retired teacher who has been teaching piano for over 20 years and holds an ARCT diploma in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Throughout her teaching career Phyllis has also extensively worked as a choir accompanist.
Phyllis generously donates her time and expertise teaching at Springboard to Music.
Juan Carlos Medrano
Music & Movement and Hand Drumming
His first EP Seeking The Truth, was declared by Exclaim Magazine as “a truly, special and upcoming talent that brought something creative and new to music in Toronto”. Later his CD, Poco a Poco, released in 2011, continued to display not only his ingenuity, but his talents as a session musician; playing all the drums and auxiliary percussion for the album.
A graduate of Humber College’s acclaimed Bachelor of Music program, Juan Carlos has had the opportunity to share the stage with some of the top musicians in Canada, such as Juno award winners Hilario Duran and Jesse Cook, Larnell Lewis, Mark Kelso, Roberto Occhipinti, Chendy de Leon, Luis Mario Ochoa, to name a few. The diversity of his music performance experience has allowed him to work with many different musicians in a variety of musical styles including Jazz, Latin, Funk, R&B, Pop, Rock, and Klezmir. Recently, Juan Carlos has had the wonderful opportunity to play percussion for Juno Award Winner Jesse Cook for parts of his 2015/2016 “One World Tour” in the U.S. and Canada.
Music education is also a passion for Juan Carlos. As a workshop leader and music director for Drum Artz’s successful “Samba Kidz” school program, he is able to travel to different schools across the GTA, sharing his excitement and love for music with kids of all ages. He and a team have also been building a new program for at-risk youth in Toronto under the name “Baru Life”. Inspired by his own experience coming from Colombia and finding his path in music, Juan Carlos knows firsthand how music can help struggling youth find purpose and focus in many aspects of their lives.
Currently, Juan Carlos is also developing a new business creating live percussion and drum loops for use by producers and DJs. “Just Beat This” gives producers and DJs the option to add tracks to their recordings, help during the stages pre-production in recording, or to add percussion to their beats as an alternative to the digital options that currently exist for loop-making.
Recordings include the role of Donna in Handel’s Rinaldo (Naxos) and Purcell’s Theatre Music (Naxos), with the Aradia Ensemble under the baton of Kevin Mallon.
She completed a master’s degree in Voice Performance at the University of Western Ontario, studying under Ted Baerg and Irena Welhasch. On a scholarship from the DAAD, Nicole traveled to Germany, learning the language and studying with Arthur Janzen at the Köln Conservatory. Mary Morrison, Ben Butterfield, Tracy Dahl, Wendy Nielson and Nancy Argenta have also been influential in her vocal development. Prior to postgraduate studies, Nicole completed an Artist’s Diploma in Voice and a B.A. in music and theatre.