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João Thiré: Why even a Grammy winner goes back to school

João Thiré, Music Industry Arts and Performance student, holding his Latin Grammy Award

Music Industry Arts and Performance at Centennial College is a unique opportunity for students who want to turn a passion for music into a career and prepares you for a wide variety of music-related careers. Graduates will be versatile, culturally aware musicians, singers or producers with the technological and business savvy needed to work in the music industry.

An exceptional program demands exceptional students, like João Thiré, who came all the way from Brazil for the program. Already an accomplished audio engineer, João took home a Latin Grammy Award for Best Samba/Pagode Album, as the recording and mixing engineer on the album “+Misturado” by Mart’nalia in 2017. So why would a literal Grammy-award-winner come all the way to Canada for this program? Here’s his story. 

Winning a Grammy

João had already gone to university in Rio de Janeiro, for Music and Technology, in 2011, and had secured work as an Audio Engineer, mixing and recording albums. 

“I worked for four years in this record company in Rio de Janeiro,” he explains. “It’s a Brazilian label that works with popular Brazilian musicians and alternative artists, too.” 

“I worked as an assistant engineer for three and a half years and, when I started recording and mixing there as an engineer, the first album they called me to do was for a great samba artist,” he continues. “I got very lucky, because it was my first full album for this company as a main engineer and it ended up winning the Latin Grammy as best Samba album. It was like my debut.”

Leaving Brazil 

Despite his success, João and his wife were looking for a way out of Brazil.

“The city and the country was facing tough political and economic times,” he says. “We wanted to find a new place for us to rebuild our lives and find new opportunities in a fair country, outside of Brazil, because we were really worried about the future.”

He credits his wife with giving him the push to move in the end.

“I wouldn’t move alone, so her advice and willingness to get an experience outside of our country was important,” he says.

Getting a new education

“Everyone keeps asking me, why are you here back in school studying, when you already have a Grammy?” João says of his decision to go back to school when he moved. “It helped me a lot in the industry in Brazil, but it’s not enough to have an award like this if you don’t know people and you’re not familiar with the local industry, so it’s so important to build a network, to know people and the studios here. That’s why I chose to come study.” 

And as for where they’d go for this education? “I found some interesting courses in the States,” he says, “but they don’t have a job link to their studies, so you go there and you study, but you don’t have permission to work there or anything, so you have to basically go back after your studies, while our plan was to immigrate. Here in Canada, they have awesome job opportunities for international people, and it’s a very open country.” 

“It was a perfect match,” he says of Centennial College. “You meet people, start to network and improve your learning. It’s a clever way to get into a society and that’s where I found Centennial.” 

Centennial’s Program

João Thiré, Music Industry Arts and Performance student, in recording studio

“It’s three years long, it’s a very complete program,” João says of Music Industry Arts and Performance. “This would enable us to live here for three years and feel comfortable being here.”

One of the biggest advantages of the program is how it gets its students on their feet, making and practicing music to hone their craft.

“The simplest example is the ensemble lesson,” João says about this practical experience. “It’s like a band group. We play together and we have this performance at the end of each semester as a final test. We get together and every group presents. It’s very practical and very helpful, because you get to know other musicians, exchange musical experience and play with your peers.”

Challenges and rewards

“I had the challenge of studying in another language for the first time,” João says of his time in the program, “so it was this balance. It was easier for me for some courses because I was familiar with the content, but also challenged by the language."

Nonetheless, he’d overcome these challenges, and even go on to earn the Lise Aerinne Waxer Memorial Scholarship from Centennial, which is awarded to the first-year MIAP student with the highest GPA.

“I finished my first year now and I won this scholarship,” João says. “I got the best-rated average for my program. I also started to build some friendships with the students and with the teachers. I’m feeling very welcomed here. I think we made a good choice, coming here. 

As for what’s next, João is looking forward to the second year of the program, after the first one went so well. 

“The studio part, which I’m very interested in, because it’s in my field, starts in the second year,” he says. “The first year is more of an introduction, so I’m looking forward to next year, when we head into the studio and make recordings.” 

“I’m already applying for Permanent Residence here,” he says. “I want to make connections and become a part of the rich and diverse music scene of this city. Also, performing as a drummer. I'd love to play some good music around here."

He’s also getting himself set up as a freelance Music Producer and Sound Engineer in his home studio, JT Audio Studio, composing soundtracks for plays and films, and mixing indie artist’s albums. He brought his equipment to Toronto and is looking to collaborate with Canadian artists here. 

“It’s important to learn the local culture, and how music is taught in Canada,” he continues. “If I want to learn here, it’s important to build a foundation of knowledge, culture and meeting people. That’s why it’s important to go back to school. I can always learn something new.”

By Anthony Geremia