From the Director


Music Without Borders : Live Online Instruction with Joe Ringhofer

Since 2009, Joe Ringhofer (director, of the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, and Chief Examiner Emeritus, Theoretical Subjects, RCM Examinations) has been breaking new ground in live online instruction of music theory. Harnessing the newest web conferencing technologies available, he makes learning both stimulating and fun. His virtual classroom is made up of students from across North America: from Quebec to California, from northern Ontario to Tennessee, from Canada to the United States and Europe!

Here are TEN reasons why you should consider choosing Music Without Borders: Live Online Instruction with Joe Ringhofer, when preparing for examinations offered through the Royal Conservatory (Canada) and the Carnegie Hall-Royal Conservatory: The Achievement Program (United States):

  1. Convenience. Attending an online course eliminates the hassles of driving your children (or yourself) to and from the lessons.
  2. Comfort. Students feel relaxed and receptive, learning at home in a familiar environment. Feeling under the weather?  Students who might otherwise not attend a live class because they are feeling unwell can attend the online class with little strain.
  3. Accessibility. Students may attend classes anywhere there is a high-speed internet connection. Over the past year, students vacationing with their families signed on from as far away as Munich and Hong Kong!
  4. Equality. The virtual classroom makes everyone equal and ageism a thing of the past. Neither a ten-year old child, nor a mature adult student, need feel intimidated by each other’s presence; each participant learns on an equal plane.
  5. Technology. Computers, headsets, the internet, YouTube. These are the tools of today, tools that students are skilled at using.  Marshall McLuhan saw the future when he wrote, “The medium is the message.” The future is now.
  6. Feedback. All assignments are marked electronically and returned to the students before the next class, providing a more immediate and streamlined assessment of their work. Practice examinations are marked and returned in a video tutorial format featuring a voiceover explanation of the marked paper. An unparalleled and ground-breaking service.
  7. Reinforcement. All classes are recorded. Afterwards, students may request to be sent the link, allowing them to revisit the lecture. This opportunity for review is a valuable feature unique to this type of teaching.
  8. Time Shifting. Students can register for a class, but choose to watch the recordings at a time best suited to them. Now, trying to schedule their piano lessons, soccer practice AND their online theory classes is not an impossible feat.
  9. EXPERIENCE. Joe Ringhofer draws on almost 40 years of teaching experience. He has been an RCM examiner since 1976; since then, he has marked over 55,000 examinations for the Royal Conservatory.  He served as the Chief Examiner of Theoretical Subjects at RCM Examinations (2002-2007). He is the author/coauthor of 20 books on music theory published over the past 30 years, and has spoken regularly to teacher groups across Canada and the United States. Having committed himself to mastering the technology of today, he is able to share his expertise and passion for music with a wide and diverse audience.
  10. RESULTS! Students perform as well, or better, than learning in a live classroom setting, thanks to the many benefits that the technology offers. (For example, the bar was raised high in the very first year of Music Without Borders when Melissa L. of Timmins, Ontario, achieved 98% on her Counterpoint examination – a rare achievement for this examination!)

Music Without Borders: Live Online Instruction with Joe Ringhofer makes the study of music theory both stimulating and fun. See for yourself - success is just a click away!

I look forward to helping you achieve your musical goals.

As always,

Keep the Faith! Believe in the Phoenix. The Phoenix believes in you!

Joe Ringhofer

April, 2013

Music Without Borders: Live Online Instruction with Joe Ringhofer


Special News!


 ONLINE COURSES: Music Theory & History (preparing for RCM exams)

Online Registration is now open for Fall 2016 and Winter/Spring (commencing January 2017).

Review Fall 2016 course details here and register here.
Review Winter/Spring course details here and register here.

Until Monday, September 5th, 11:59 pm (Labour Day), every registration received
via PayPal will promptly receive a $25 early registration rebate (via PayPal).
Register as soon as possible to take advantage of this opportunity!

Read the feature article by Joe Ringhofer:
Online Learning: The Portal to a New World of Discovery , published in the
Winter 2014 issue of MUSIC MATTERS, the RCM’s newsletter for music teachers.
Click here.

  August 23, 2016 


Joe Ringhofer has been a leader in theory pedagogy. Through Music Without Borders, he provides a unique opportunity for music teachers to broaden their experience by registering for his music theory classes to gain a close-up view of his teaching methods and practices. Teachers are encouraged to submit the weekly assignments for evaluation. Moreover, they are invited to stay online after each class for a brief roundtable discussion of the lecture and raise any pedagogical questions they might have concerning the teaching of a particular subject or topic.

The Phoenix Has A New Home

The Year in Review:

The Church (New Lowell, Ontario)

For more than 125 years The Church (New Lowell, Ontario) has stood tall among the pastures and fields of this rural Ontario community. The nineteenth-century stonework, steep rooflines, Gothic portals and stained glass windows are a proud testament both to its rich Anglican heritage and a gentler bygone era. Today sunlight streams through the coloured panes igniting the contemporary interior. Art and design resonate in joyful counterpoint with the Victorian past in this unique residence cum studio. The stage is set for friendship and laughter - for music and art.

In person or via the internet I look forward to welcoming you to The Church.


The Phoenix Onstage with the GSO


On January 1, 2013, I appeared on stage (as narrator) with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra and soloists of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble in a concert performance of Johann Strauss’ sparkling operetta Die Fledermaus.

On April 7, 2013, I returned to Guelph to deliver a pre-concert chat on Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5 in C Minor, op. 67. Congratulations to Judith Yan (Artistic Director and my former student!) and the Guelph Symphony Orchestra for another exceptional concert season!

The Phoenix Storms Rogers Television! (in a good way)


In November, 2012, I appeared as a guest on Barb Richard’s The Seniors Show (Collingwood). In the opening segment talked about my lifelong musical journey. In a later segment we talked about life the adventures of making a new home inside a 130-year old former Anglican church. Barb is a dynamic host and dedicated advocate for seniors.

In January, 2013, I appeared on Georgian Bay Life (Collingwood) where I was invited by hosts Melanie Pockaj and Katie Smith to talk about my pioneering efforts in the teaching and learning of music theory, history and appreciation online. Melanie and Katie are fun and gracious hosts.

In April, 2013, I will be appearing on Daytime (Barrie) where I will be testing the classical music knowledge of co-hosts Melanie Case and Melissa Hamilton and the live studio audience. It will be fun!

Teacher Mentorship Program


Theory Syllabus 2015 - In Preparation


Over the past several months I have had the privilege of playing an active role in the creation of the upcoming Theory Syllabus 2015 of the Royal Conservatory.  Among other duties I was asked to conduct a comprehensive survey of teachers from across Canada and the United States to find out their views on the current syllabus as well as their visions for the future. Congratulations to the Royal Conservatory for its ongoing dedication to musical excellence and their visionary leadership!

March (2013) I was in residence in Tucson, Arizona.  Less of a vacation and more of a live-work arrangement it allowed me to give all of my online lessons and classes surrounded by the beauty of the southwest desert and the majestic Catalina Mountains. While delivering my webcasts students were treated to a background of palm trees, cacti, golfers, deer and javelinas!

Music Without Borders: Live from Tucson, Arizona!


Since launching Music Without Borders  I have the pleasure of working with students from across northern and southern Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, New York, Virginia, Georgia and California. This spring I welcomed Tessa M. from Florence, Italy, one of the most beautiful and musical cities in the world.

Music Without Borders Goes Transatlantic!


For the fourth year in a row the Etobicoke-Mississauga chapter of O.R.M.T.A. (Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association) has invited me to give a 3-day (9 hours) theory refresher course for teachers.  Members and non-members are welcome to attend. We have had a terrific turn out each year. Seminar participants will come away feeling inspired, energized and ready  for the new academic year.

Theory Refresher Course for Teachers: Aug. 26-28


During the fall of 2012 I hosted several pedagogy seminars for theory teachers at The Church (New Lowell, Ontario). Teachers from across southern Ontario attended seminars on Rudiments, Basic Harmony, Intermediate Harmony and Advanced Harmony.  Their commitment to ongoing professional development and their willingness to travel are testaments to the dynamism!  Bravo to you all!

For more details about our theory pedagogy courses click here . . .

Music @ The Church: Theory Pedagogy Courses




 The Phoenix is Rising! 
With a new year comes exciting new initiatives. I am pleased to announce my online theory courses for the winter/spring term of 2014. With these course offerings the Phoenix Conservatory of Music is moving in a new direction making online learning both fun and more affordable! Check out the new fee structure for my online courses (click here to register now!). Each course will offer the same amount of instruction as before but with one added feature: all classes will be limited to 10 students (for the live  lecture presentations). This will optimize teacher-student interaction and ensure a personalized e-learning experience for each student.

If your are new to Music Without Borders – E-Learning with Joe Ringhofer – I bid you, “Welcome!” If you are returning to Music Without Borders I am glad to say, “Welcome home!”

Keep the Faith!

December 17, 2013


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