West Island Music Academy (WIMA) was founded in 2010 in Pointe Claire. Things are going well for the music school and a second campus is due to open in Cote St. Luc in early September. The fall semester will start at both locations on September 3, running through December. To date, some 1,000 students have graduated from the school, often to go off and form bands.
“Guitar, voice, piano and drums are our most popular courses,” says head teacher and co-owner Joel Ovadia as the Times interrupted him giving an electric guitar lesson. “We also offer lessons for bass, violin, flute, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, percussion, etc. We offer lessons in many styles from blues, jazz, classical, rock, R&B, heavy metal, folk, and so on…”
“We like to bring together students of about 12—16 years and put them together in bands in our Rock`N Roll Academy program,” notes co-owner, Derek Ovadia (Joel’s brother). “The kids learn to compose, jam, rehearse, and perform together, invariably becoming good friends. Parents benefit by not having to endure noisy practices in their basements!” The Rock`N Roll Academy involves two hours of rehearsals per week.
“No, sorry, we can`t yet name off our most famous alumni at WIMA,” jokes Derek. “The school has only been around for three years!” The two owners did proudly show off their “Wall of Fame” covered with photos of bands formed at WIMA over the various semesters. Their smiles suggest that WIMA students have a lot of fun…
Some 50 teachers offer courses between the two locations. WIMA’s architecture is conducive to one-on-one or small group lessons in different rooms set up with various instruments. All told, WIMA has some 3,200 square feet, most of which is dedicated to learning spaces.
“Compared to some other music schools, we try to make it fun here,” asserts Derek (who is only 25). “It’s not really that strict. We try for a relaxed, modern approach, but it’s still education.”
“We have music lessons for students as young as nine months to 4 years old in our ‘Music for Toddlers’ program,” explains Joel. “The program helps enrich the children’s development and environment. Students learn about rhythm, melody, percussion, dynamics as well as basic songs using fun, unique and educational musical material. By age five, we can introduce them to the violin and piano and by age eight to drums and guitar. And while we take students nine-months to over eighty-years-old, our main clientele is with youngsters aged eight-to-fifteen.”
Lessons at WIMA cost $25 for 30 minutes while one-hour lessons are $42. Courses are tax-deductible for students up to age 15. And for those bringing in a copy of the ad from The Times are eligible for a 30-minute, free private lesson (certain conditions apply).
West Island Music Academy
61 Place Frontenac, Building E
Pointe-Claire, H9R 4Z7
WIMA Cote St. Luc
5555 Westminster #312
Cote St. Luc, H4W 2J2
Picture on top: Joel Ovadia (left) teaching electric guitar course at WIMA
Photo: ©John Symon