Sherry Goffin Kondor, the lead singer of the Sugar Beats, didn't grow up in the '60s with children's music in her house. Instead, she could count on the private serenades of her parents, Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Except for a guest stint at age ten on her mom's Really Rosie soundtrack, Kondor really hadn't been exposed to kids' music at all.
And then she became a mom, and her focus changed. "I knew there was a need for music that I could play in the car," something that parents and kids could listen together. So Kondor reached back into her own childhood, and decided to present those classic pop tunes to a new generation.
The result was Sugar Beats, a group of varying composition who specialized in re-recording classic pop songs for kids. Kondor's husband, Robbie Kondor, signed on as a keyboardist and composer. And Kondor's longtime friend Lisa Maxwell, better known as the sax player for Guns N' Roses, signed on as well. The group was rounded out with a small complement of kid backup singers. And, in the early '90s, the Sugar Beats hit the kids' concert circuit.
The group also formed its own label and released three successful albums in the '90s. The first, 21 Really Cool Songs, was released in 1993, and sported such memorable classics as "Everyday People" and "Big Yellow Taxi." It was followed two years later with Everybody Is a Star, a celebration of pop '70s tunes. One of the highlights of the album was a duet with Carole King on her own "You've Got a Friend"
Two years after that, the Sugar Beats returned to the '60s sounds with Back to the Beat. Kondor admits that the selections on the album were chosen as she sat in her den in her bathrobe and listened to classic records. The Sugar Beats' unusual selection process worked out, though: the albums have won recognition from Parents Choice and the National Parenting Publications. ~ P.J. Swift
Spots Still Available in Saturday Classes!
10:15 – Waitlist (email)
11:15 – Waitlist (email)
12:15 – Open
1:15 – Open (1 spot available)
Posted by Faria on Sep 14, 2021
2021 Fall Classes
For all my wonderful students who’ve missed in-person classes for the past year-and-a-half, and new families who want more music in their lives, we’re planning a tentative return for a Fall Session starting in October!
A few things are changing:
- We’ll use the big studio space to spread out into designated marked circles. But no worries, we can still interact musically with our instruments!
- Classes will be smaller, with 4-6 students in a group.
- We’ll be masked according to TPH guidelines. Singing and wind instruments are permitted, with specific safety measures described here (under “Music Education”).
- We’ll be able to do almost all of our usual activities, and have a great time!
Classes are planned for Saturdays at Windermere United Church. I hope to form age-specific classes at 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, and possibly 1:15.
The fee for the Fall Session is $225 (for 9 classes from October 16th to December 11th), but payment isn’t due until classes are confirmed. You can preregister and choose your preferred times using this form. And, as always, you can email questions to [email protected]
I’m looking forward to meeting you all in the studio!
Posted by Faria on Aug 26, 2021
Wow. Let’s take a moment to recapture what we’ve all been through in the past 5 months. For me here at Sugar Beat, it’s been a busy time and a worrisome one to say the least. Orff classes had to be cancelled mid-session; families had to be refunded. I had just started to reconnect with my past, working with toddlers and preschoolers at a couple of wonderful local daycare centers when they shut down. And then there’s my private piano studio.
Remote Piano Lessons
Thanks to the early encouragement of a few students and their families, we were soon up and running with Zoom. Anyone who knows me will say that I am somewhat technically challenged, if not a straight up technophobe. It took a week to learn the ropes and figure out what would work best, but now it’s become routine. I was able to embrace the challenge and continue to teach everyone who was willing to take that step into a brand new virtual learning scenario with me.
In mid-spring, I had the opportunity to start beginner piano lessons with a new student. She has already passed her first book and is moving along very well, despite never stepping foot into my home! Technology has really become my friend in these times, and I’ve shared many heartwarming moments over my computer with many students these past months. It’s been wonderful to keep going, to keep learning and honing those skills, despite the obstacles. As my students continue to learn and pass their pieces and move into new grades, it all feels like a huge win!
Another win that I must acknowledge happened this spring and summer. My oldest daughters were scheduled to take their piano exams when the pandemic broke. The Royal Conservatory took things virtual, and both girls were still able to have their exams. Brenna blew the adjudicator away on Zoom, while Maya completed her grade 10 through a YouTube submission of her pieces performed back to back in a single take along with a Zoom component for her technique, sight reading, and ear training. I am very proud to say that both girls earned first class honours with distinction graduating from grade 8 and 10 respectively. (You can hear Maya’s piece submission here.)
In-Person Piano Lessons
I will once again begin teaching from my home in September to a small group of students for whom Zoom was not a pleasing option. Piano lessons will resume on Zoom for those students who prefer to continue that way. If you are looking for a very experienced teacher for you or your child, you may choose either Zoom or in person. I am currently accepting new students. Please contact me to discuss the options and other details.
Piano Orff Classes
Normally at this time I would be finalizing my Saturday Orff classes for September, planning out a new session of music to learn with my enthusiastic group of children, ages 4-14, with some new faces and some old familiar ones. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to think of a satisfactory way to adapt remote learning to Orff. I dearly miss my Orff classes, especially the fantastic groups I had the privilege to work with over the past year. (Check out our last open class here.)
With the current situation, I do not yet feel comfortable to bring children together in groups into a church where so many others gather for multiple reasons. As a result, I’ve decided not to run my Orff program this September, but I remain very optimistic that we can return to the classes in the new year if the numbers of infected continue to move in the right direction. Please visit the website for updates in January.
Good luck to all of you returning to work and school. Please keep those masks handy, and stay safe!
Sugar Beat Music for Children
Posted by Faria on Aug 26, 2020
Piano Orff December Open Class
What an abrupt end to the year! Sadly, we weren’t able to show parents some of the exciting new pieces we were working on after the sudden COVID-19 shutdown. But here’s a look back at a few pieces from our last open class in December.
Our younger Orff class (minus a few students) did a great job with “Four White Horses.” A special thanks goes to our assistant Maya!
Our two Orff classes joined together for a performance of “Leaves Are Falling Down.” Older students had the chance to add their own question/answer improvisations, while the younger class sang and performed their dance as trees.
In our second combined performance, we worked on Ghanian folk song Che Che Kule.
We also had the chance for another presentation of one of my favorites, “Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie.”
Posted by Faria on Aug 11, 2020
A Few Highlights from 2018-2019
It was a great year of Orff classes and piano concerts. I’m so proud of all we were able to accomplish! Here are a few videos from our final open classes.
Here are our Orff experts doing a composing exercise. Over the year, each student gets the chance to invent a piece on the spot, assign parts to their friends, and then conduct the result!
We played a few different rhythm passing games this year. In this one, I assign different rhythms to different students using eye contact. The fact that they pull it off so well shows that they’ve built connection as a group.
Here’s our junior class playing a follow-the-beat game. They did a great job playing in time, and they didn’t get caught when the beat stopped.
Here are clips of our students working on a couple of pieces (first a canon and then the piece Raggle-Taggle Gypsies).
We had such a variety of students performing in our piano recitals this year–young and old, beginner and advanced–and they all did so well! They also came away with inspiration for new pieces (and more than a few brownies). Here’s Maya ending the winter piano recital with a Chopin waltz.
Posted by Faria on Aug 15, 2019
Classes for Fall 2019
Faria’s fabulous Orff classes are back this September!
- Piano Orff Experience II is for beginner to intermediate students, ages 4 to 7, with one year of previous experience or no previous experience. It runs Saturday at 1:00 PM.
- Piano Orff Experience III is for intermediate to advanced students with two years or more of previous experience. It runs Saturday at 2:00 PM.
Do you have an older child that hasn’t taken Orff before? No problem! Contact us to check about placement.
For the complete fee and schedule information, and to register for a class, visit our Piano Orff page.
If you want to see more of what we do, check out our videos!
You can also talk to Faria for more information by email ([email protected]) or phone (416-767-5455). We look forward to making music together!
Posted by Faria on Jul 18, 2019
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