Interview with Ray Guirguess

One of the most interesting teachers at the Frederic Chopin Music School is Ray Guirguess. He has been with the school since 2011. He teaches guitar classes and music theory classes.  What makes him interesting is his unique career trajectory and shift from mechanical engineering to music.  Ray gave up a career in the physical sciences to pursue his true passion and love: composing, teaching and performing music.

Interviewer: Ray, how old were you when you first felt “the calling” to music?

Ray:  That’s actually just how I would describe it!  “A calling”. Much like how some people feel a calling to join medicine or the priesthood.  I first began studying music when I was 6 or 7 years old.  I joined the choir in school and also decided to learn to play the recorder. Even at that age, I had the tenacity and discipline to commit to music.  I practiced a lot.  I craved all types of music education.  I gregariously accumulated all and any music recordings or books that I could get my hands on. I wanted to get my hands dirty and learn as much as I could about music.

Interviewer:  What was the first record you purchased?

Ray…And Justice for All” by Metallica – a cassette tape.  My parents always had vinyls around of Middle Eastern music– so technically, those were the first recordings that I owned. Not to mention all the homemade mixed tapes that I made while listening to the radio. But Metallica was my first real purchase.

Interviewer: What do you love most about your passion?

Ray:  I always found that music was a mysterious friend that I could count on.  As an only child, I often had to entertain myself and music was my greatest companion. I find music gives me this childish wonder and curiosity.  Even the most overproduced or most obscure material excites me.

Interviewer: Was there anyone that influenced you to take up music?

Ray:  There were a few people actually. Growing up, many of my neighbours were old than me and would blare music in their garages. This spiked my intrigue. My one neighbour across the street – I remember him blasting the Fugees.  My cousin was also a few years older than me.  He exposed me to lots of musical genres and because he played the guitar, he inspired me to take it up as well.

It’s like there was a series of mentors who expanded my musical repertoire – step by step. These mentors gave me more “music food” as I evolved. I was not aware of all the music that was out there but I had this unquenchable thirst to learn about as much music as I could.  The more I listened to it, the more my musical vocabulary expanded.

One summer, I was working in Montreal when I was in grade 10. I had a chance meeting with a man who found out that I’m a guitarist and he gave me 3 albums that he thought I should explore.  If my memory recalls correctly – it was two records by Yngwie Malmsteen and one by Jimi Hendrix. 

Interviewer: What do you love about the guitar?

Ray:  I’m a hands-on person. I like to feel the vibrations under my fingers. I love the way you can shape the sound… the way you can attack it.  More recently, I have become enthralled with the classical guitar. I still have all my amps and pedals from my speed metal days, but that’s not my current focus. The classical guitar is my love these days.  I find that it’s more expressive. It’s simple. Whatever you can get from your mind and your heart, the classical guitar provides the most direct and undiluted channel of expression.

Interviewer: You weren’t always in music though. How did you end up here?

Ray: I initially experienced a lot of stigma from my family about wanting to embark on a career in music. I mean, I always knew that I wanted a career in music but they dissuaded me because they didn’t feel I could make a respectable living.

After high school, I went to Sheridan College for Mechanical Engineering. My parents heavily influenced this decision and felt it was a proper professional career. It was a three year program, and then I went to McMaster for two more years.  I didn’t find the engineering field to be difficult and I did well.  However, I didn’t enjoy it.

Interview:  What guided you in to a music career?

Ray:  My passion still was in music. I took a job with an engineering firm and continued trudging through.  I was not dedicated to the job though and I frequently read music books when I should have been working.  I would hide the books from my boss. In my spare time, I continued working to complete my Grade 8 RCM in guitar.

On a family trip to Montreal, I was given an opportunity to take up a lucrative job with an engineering firm.  I turned it down because of how dull I found the field to be. I decided at that moment that since I could turn down such a great career opportunity, I was wasting my time in the field.

At the age of 25, I began my first year at York University’s music program.  At this point, my parents felt more comfortable with me pursuing music because I had this engineering degree to fall back on. I started teaching at the Frederic Chopin Music School that same year.

Interviewer: Was there a moment that crystalized your commitment to music?

Ray: I actually knew in high school that I wanted to commit to music – I just couldn’t do it right away due to parental obstacles.  I was involved in many band trips and talent shows, and our music teacher was very skilled.  I really learned a lot.  It gave me a space where I could also flourish socially – everyone was impressed that I was a guitarist.

My band and I performed in the high school talent show. I remember performing lead guitar in “November Rain” by Guns n’ Roses. I remember practicing the guitar solo nonstop leading up to the talent show. I didn’t care about food or sleep – I just wanted to nail that 5 second loop and do Slash justice.  On the day of the performance, I remember looking around the cafeteria and many students had their lighters out.  And that moment made me feel so powerful and motivated and I realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Interviewer: So what advice would you give to aspiring musicians who may not have the support of their parents to embark on careers in music?

Ray: I would say that if you have the conviction and “calling” to music, then follow it.  You will find resistance wherever you might go – whatever industry you choose. Use it as fuel for the fire.

Follow Ray Guirguess @rayguirguess or by clicking here to see his website.

 

If you would like to learn more about Ray Guirguess and the Frederic Chopin Music School, please contact us.

Call 905 279 7761 or send us a note!

 

  • Pre-School Music Classes

    Prepare your pre-schooler for instrumental lessons with our one-hour group sessions for children under the age of 7. Children will have fun learning the basics of music through movement, dance, and language in preparation for annual pre-school recitals.
     
    Lessons

  • Striving for Excellence

    The Frederic Chopin Music School has a strong track record of high performance. Each year, our students gain experience and collect awards at Festivals. On average, the grade attained by our students on Royal Conservatory of Music exams is in the 90th percentile.
     
    Why Choose Us

  • Lessons in English and Polish

    At the Frederic Chopin Music School we understand the factors that can threaten the effectiveness of a lesson. This is why we employ a diverse line of teachers that help us minimize language and cultural barriers. We now offer instrumental lessons in both Polish and English.
     
    More About Us

Testimonials
  • "I applaud The Frederic Chopin Music School for the work they do to inspire in our youth an appreciation for arts and culture through music."
    MP Wladyslaw Lizon
    Political Support
  • "I was so proud to win first place at Peel and Kiwanis Music Festivals"
    Beata Raczynska
    Personal Testimonial
  • "Music taught me discipline and patience, which helped in University."
    Marta Michna
    Personal Testimonial
  • "These were some of my best memories from childhood and high school"
    Diana Fuszara
    Personal Testimonial
  • "Most of the instructors are parents, and it really shows how much they care about my kid's success."
    Satisfied FCMS Client
    Personal Testimonial
  • "I'm so grateful for Grazyna's patient instruction - My son scored over 90% on his grade 6 RCM exam! Thank you."
    Recurring FCMS Client
    Personal Testimonial

 

 

If you would like to learn about more the Frederic Chopin Music School, please contact us.

 

 

Privacy Policy

Mission Statement:
Performance-with-middle-age-group

The Frederic Chopin Music School (FCMS) is an exclusive music school in Mississauga for both children and adults, located near the corner of The Queensway and Cawthra road. Since 1992, our mission has been to nurture students’ intellectual and social development through the study of music, while providing the environment and instruction to reach the highest scholastic merits in music. The FCMS respects the unique needs of students and fosters a creative, interdisciplinary, and empowering space to reach individual goals. Our methods are based on the European method of music lessons and instruction, which relies on laying a strong foundation in musical theory, proper hand placement to refine motor skills, as well as developing creativity.

 

 

If you would like to learn more about the Frederic Chopin Music School, please contact us or call 905 279 7761

Why Choose The Frederic Chopin Music School?

1. We offer a one-time $15 nonobligatory lesson to all new students. 

The trial lesson includes an ear test, evaluation, and a mini-lesson. . This lesson will be conducted by an instructor of the music school to assess the skill level of the student. We can then recommend an effective learning plan with an instructor that fits the student’s personality and music style.

2. Classical European method of teaching to prepare for Royal Conservatory Exams.

This means that we oversee the sculpting of a musician from the ground up. Your voice or hands are the tools in your craft, not the instrument. Meaning, that proper tuning of your musical tools will ensure their longevity. Celine Dion’s voice never failed her due to rigorous vocal instruction – she even sounds great when she has a sore throat!

3. We don’t rely on short cuts – Guaranteed.

FCMS is a music school where instructors are educated masters in their craft, who do not use tablature, “Coles notes”, or other simplification methods. There is a reason why Bach, Mozart, Gershwin, Hammerstein, and of course, our personal favourite, Mr. Chopin, will never be forgotten as musical geniuses.

Want something more modern?

  • Chris Martin of Coldplay was the son of a music teacher and honed many instruments – Youtube any Coldplay song to identify the complexity of his compositions.
  • Kirk Hammett of Metallica look private music and guitar lessons from guitar magnate Joe Satriani in order to perfect his shredding style.
  • John Mayer attended Berklee College of Music in Boston.
  • Lady Gaga began piano lessons at the age of four, wrote her first piano ballad at thirteen, and started to perform at open mic nights by the age of fourteen.

4. Rome was not built in a day – excuse the cliché.

A thorough understanding of classical music and its foundations will ensure your longitudinal retention of this information, improve your creativity, as well as provide new inspiration.

5. Proven Success Record – and we have the bells and whistles to prove it!

We don’t like to brag (but we will anyways) the average grade attained by our students on Royal Conservatory of Music exams is in the 80th-90th percentile – we’re not happy with simply passing.

Each year, our students gain experience and collect awards at Festivals. We participate in the following:

  • Royal Conservatory of Music Examinations
  • Kiwanis Music Festival
  • Peel Music Festival
  • Davenport Music Festival
  • The Canadian Music Competition
  • Canadian Chopin Festival
  • Yearly School Recital

 

If you would like to learn more about the Frederic Chopin Music School, call 905 279 7761 or send us a note!

 

What We Offer

All music lessons last between 30-60 minutes, based on student needs.

We offer a $15 non obligatory trial lesson which includes an ear test, evaluation, and a mini-lesson. Each student is assessed and recommended the best teaching plan to suit their personality and learning style.

Due to our diverse faculty, we offer music lessons in both English, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian.

instrumentsB&W
We Offer Music Lessons in:

  • Theory of Music 
  • Drama
  • Musical Theatre
  • Piano
  • Vocal
  • Guitar
  • Accordion
  • Piccolo

  • Violin
  • Recorder
  • Clarinet
  • Saxophone
  • Flute
  • Ukulele

We also provide:

  • Royal Conservatory Exam preparations (expected 80% or higher score)
  • Yearly recitals to showcase our talent
  • Discounts for students taking multiple music lessons (ex. Piano lessons and Vocal lessons)
  • Discounts for families with multiple children
  • Participation and preparation in Music Festivals

Preschool Music Classes (Ages 3 – 6 years old)

Empowering your child through music lessons

The FCMS offers one hour group music lessons for children under the age of 7. Our music teachers are trained in the method developed by Carl Orff, which focuses on engaging young children in music – when they are still too young to participate in instrumental work. The Orff approach uses the elements of speech, rhythm, movement, dance and song to explore children’s creativity. Essentially, children learn music through the integration of movement, dance, and language. We use hand-held instruments (like shakers, tambourines, and bells), singing, as well as many components to musical theatre to establish confidence in performance and the love of music. Our aim is to make music lessons a positive experience to ease children’s transition in to routine practice and music theory. The beauty of this method is that it’s a lot of fun and a great way to boost your child’s self-esteem.  We can promise that our yearly preschool recitals are a “must see”!

Please call ahead to register to ensure that our teachers have enough materials for all students. Call now to register! 905.279.7761


Is My Child Old Enough?
We believe everyone should have the privilege to learn the art of music.  We accept ALL AGES and ALL LEVELS of experience – novice to intermediate.

A lot of our clients ask when their child should start taking instrumental lessons. Although some schools may accept children as young as 4 years old, we believe this is irresponsible. Instead, we recommend group music lessons for children ages 4 to 6 years old that focus on fun and play with music. Under the age of 7, children are not ready for music lessons because:

  • Bone Ossification: This is the process by which osteoblasts (bone cells) build and fuse to form strong bones. Often, pre-schooler bones are not strong enough for the rigorous demands of instrumental work because the secondary ossification centres are not fully formed in the hands.
  • Knowledge: A child will need to know the alphabet from A to G and backwards, as well as have a working knowledge of reading and writing.
  • Hand dexterity: Playing any instrument requires fine motor skills, which are not well developed in children younger than 7 years old.
  • Hand size: The size of the hand must be able to reach and cover at least 5 piano keys – not to mention the neck of a guitar!
  • Attention Span: Private lessons require 30 minutes of focused attention – a difficult task for most pre-schoolers

 

If you would like to learn more about the Frederic Chopin Music School, please contact us.

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unnamed3 unnamed2 unnamed1 group shot Music School Recital June 2015


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The Frederic Chopin Music School
2465 Cawthra Road Suite  #201Mississauga, ON  L5A 3P2

905 279 7761

Just North of the Cawthra and Queensway Intersection

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