Born and raised in Toronto, I've been a musician and a scientist from the age of six when I first sat down at a piano and when I opened my first book on astronomy. They took parallel paths in my life as my childhood was occupied both by building pinball machines out of wood and nails in my parents' garage and learning to play the Theme from Cheers on piano. All the while I was dreaming about programming video games and playing Chopin's Heroic Polonaise in Ab.
When I became a physics teacher years later, it occurred to me that the reason I became successful at both music and science is because I had role models in my life who made it clear to me the value in achieving both: in music, I had a piano teacher who could sight-read any piece of music you could put in front of him. When you're an eight year old boy and you give your piano teacher the Theme from Superman and he sight reads it on the spot, well, it's one of the greatest experiences of possibility you can have. So my father bought every piece of music he could find from garage sales, and I spent my 10 000 (and much more) reading through it all. When people ask me how I have such a "natural talent" for music, I tell them that I don't. I had supportive parents and a great teacher. I had inspiration and I put the work in because I knew the end goal. I knew the possibility.
Now that I'm an educator, I believe the most important way to enable students to achieve success, in science or any field, is to give them those inspirational experiences, to give them a glimpse of the end goal. Science education has to be exciting, has to mean something to them, and has to give them opportunities to learn in the context of what they love. This is why we build instruments in physics and we make computer games in computer science. Last year, I was fortunate to be asked to teach the computer science course. I have since become a programmer and now design desktop and mobile apps that have helped my teaching immensely.
In the past three years I've also seen that a music theater education, even as an extra-curricular, is one of the most important things a child can undertake because it teaches teamwork, modesty and compromise. It challenges them to work with visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities all at once, and it gives them an opportunity to rise to and accomplish, as a community, a challenge like no other school subject can. In fact, I've had students ask me whether they "should take physics or music next year". Despite being the physics teacher, I tell them to take music.
I became involved in music theater through my training as a staff member at the National Music Camp of Canada when I was 19. Since then I've worked on countless music theater productions for companies in Toronto including Bravo Academy, Mainstage Theatre, Scarborough Music Theater, First Act Productions and more recently The Barbara Pinchuk Unsung Heroes Project and, of course, the school musicals at the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto.
I'm also the keyboardist for a rock cover band, Fool's Paradise, and I play many free classical and jazz recitals with singers at retirement homes around Toronto. In addition, I currently play for weekly church services at the First Unity Church of Toronto.
Ten years ago, quite by accident, I took a ballroom dancing lesson when I was teaching in London. Then I took another. Soon enough I was going three times a week over six months. After a number of fortunate coincidences I became a modern jive dance instructor with Jive Nation Toronto for it's four-year existence. Three years ago, my friends and I ran a charity dance lesson, Dancing For Life, to raise money and awareness for the Canadian Cancer Society in memory of a friend of ours who passed. Sometimes I think that's the reason I got into ballroom dancing. We can still come out of retirement for a dance lesson if you'd like.
Thanks for visiting the site. I you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them.