Bio and Teaching Philosophy

Over the years, award-winning actress/singer/songwriter Judy Marshak has gained respect and admiration in many facets of the entertainment industry – theatre, television, film, voiceover, and music. She has graced jazz clubs and concert halls across the country, and starred in such hit stage musicals as “Beauty and the Beast”(winning her a ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ nomination for Mrs. Potts ), “Anne of Green Gables”, “The Drowsy Chaperone”, “The Full Monty”, and many more, most recently appearing in Richard Ouzounian’s daring take on “Guys and Dolls”. Among her club appearances,  Judy has played the legendary Old Mill Inn for the Toronto Jazz Festival, as well as their intimate Home Smith Lounge for the Friday Night Jazz Vocalists Series. In the world of cabaret, Judy is renowned for her eclectic one woman shows and vocal trios.

Theatre highlights have included roles in such powerhouse plays as “Doubt” and “The Glass Menagerie”. Film roles have allowed Judy to share the screen with such actresses as Ellen Burstyn (“The Stone Angel”) and Darryl Hannah (“All the Good Ones are Married”). Favorite TV appearances have been on shows like “Being Erica”, “The Dresden Files”, and most recently, “Life With Boys” (in a recurring role). Listen for Judy ‘s voice as bossy ‘Mad Margaret’ on the animated TV series “Erky Perky”, every morning on YTV.

The release of her first solo CD “A Matter of Time” in 2009 was perhaps the most gratifying project in a long career.  Acclaimed as a gifted song interpreter – her vocal style often compared to the likes of Norah Jones and Blossom Dearie – she is now recognized as a fine songwriter as well.  With esteemed jazz artist John Alcorn as producer/collaborater/arranger, and featuring some of Toronto’s A-list musicians, “A Matter of Time” is a lushly produced album of soulful, sexy, feel-good music, featuring 9 original compositions and 4 cover tunes. CBC’s George Anthony said, “…at long last, veteran showstopper Judy Marshak has finally released her first album, and as expected, it’s a musical bonbon to savour…..”.  Rob Fogle (CHRY-FM) says “Marshak’s voice is right on the money”. The Toronto Star’s Richard Ouzounian calls it “slyly sexy and often touching….. a wonderful surprise on many fronts”, placing it alongside Michael Feinstein’s and 6 others as his prime picks for the ‘Broadway’ crowd. Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues named Judy’s song “Broken Radio” Outstanding Jazz Winner in his ‘Songwars’ Songwriting Competition. Toronto’s JAZZ.FM91 included “A Matter of Time” on their list of ‘Favourite New Releases of 2009’. It is currently on the regular playlists at JazzFM91, CBC Radio, CHRY105.5FM, WOSR-Radio, and many live streaming internet stations around the world.

Today, Judy’s #1 musical passion revolves around the ukulele. Her ‘Solo Ukulele Show’ has been drawing crowds in clubs around Toronto and as far away as the Isle of Tobago.  With 3 ukes and a banjolele, Judy treats her audiences to a repertoire covering everything from Dinah Washington to Jack Johnson to Santana,  demonstrating the astounding diversity of this hip little instrument. And her increasingly popular ‘UKEOLOGY’ Workshops for Beginner Ukulele studies have been sending fledgling players out the door with songs under their belt and big smiles on their faces. She has gained notoriety for being an innovative and inspiring teacher, able to transform total newbies into proud fledgling players in just a few lessons.

You can preview a few tracks from A Matter of Time here.


I believe in infecting people with the JOY of playing and singing, not through rigorous repetitive drilling but rather through creative play and learning easy but stimulating tunes from all genres – folk, jazz, pop, motown, oldies, country – (not just ‘Row Row Your Boat’). Through mastering each song, you gain pleasure, power, and skill. Can’t go wrong with that, huh?

My experience is that once a person learns a couple songs and can play them well (that would happen in the first class), it gives a sense of accomplishment and confidence, and inspires the desire to move forward. Traditional classes will usually focus more on musical theory, and I do understand that many folks want that. I’ve discovered that what I do as an actress and musician is more instinctive than studied, and so I teach what I know best – how to use all your senses to become the artist you want to be, to develop a ‘good ear’, to approach a song in your own way, to use your instincts, to be brave and push your limits, and to never say “I have no talent”. You’ld be surprised how many people say that on their first session. It’s my job to prove you wrong.

My classes are about fun, exploring, and creative learning. We cover all the basics –  chords, tuning, strumming techniques – but we also explore ideas on how to compose your own melodies, by experimenting with different patterns and sounds, all simple, but full of potential. At each subsequent class, we learn a couple new songs, with new chords and techniques. By the end of a 4 Week Beginner Workshop, you will know at least 6-8 songs well, and leave with a sense of confidence and pride. And the Level 2 Workshop will just take you farther, expanding your skills even more by delving into more challenging songs.

Classes are held here in Newmarket where I am based, as well as Toronto and all of the GTA. If you are outside those perimeters, contact me and we can work something out.  

Thirty years ago, I bought my first ukulele. The first song I ever learned was “Dinah”, and soon perfected my own version of it, based on the old Inkspots recording from the 30’s. That eventually became a highly requested party piece at gigs and benefits. And back then, I was unique. A woman with a ukulele. Cute. Funky. Different. Now, the fever has taken hold, and the uke has become a worldwide force. EVERYONE plays the ukulele. It’s an epidemic. Yay! So I’ve whittled my collection down to 7, and aside from expanding my repertoire and skills tenfold, and enjoying a healthy fanbase for my live Solo Ukulele Show, I have also evolved into a really good teacher. This is a revelation for me, and extremely happy-making. I am told that I am inspiring and entertaining. And my students always leave electrified and smiling. Who’ld a thunk?

4 thoughts on “About

    • Hi Debbie, I apologize for not getting back to you, but it seems my website messages have not been coming to me, so i missed this. Are you a total newbie -a brand new starter with no experience? or have you played a little? I have a workshop in Toronto halfway through, and another more advanced starting in Feb. Have a peek at the ‘Classes’ page to see what’s coming up. I’ll add your email to my update list and keep you posted. Let me know about your experience level so I have a better idea of what you need.

    • Hi Debbie, I’m not sure if you received my response to your note, saying that I didn’t see your message until too late for the Beginner 4 Week Course. The Level 2 Workshop starts this Monday, Feb.2, in Toronto, (Bloor and Dufferin area) but if you’re a total Beginner, then that won’t work. Please do let me know and I will keep you posted as to the next Newbie Workshop.

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