Music Faculty

 

For scheduling information or to schedule a free 15 minute introductory lesson please call The Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts (905) 528-4020

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Piano

 

Vitali Afanassiev
Piano/Theory/Flute/Sax/Clarinet

Vitali

Growing up in Moscow, Russia, in 1959 at the age of 6 I was attending private music lessons for piano which led me to get accepted into the Moscow School of Music by the time I turned 8. There I studied piano and gained full knowledge of musical literature, harmony, solfeggio, choir and overall musical theory.
By age 11 I started taking not only piano, but clarinet lessons as well which allowed me to perform in a symphonic orchestra. It was so exciting to learn such various aspects of music, that I starting looking at a future career in this field. At the age of 15, after I graduated music school with honors I was accepted into the Ippolitov-Ivanov State Musical Pedagogical Institute.
There I was introduced to many advanced musical subjects. I studied conducting, musical history and culture. Being a pedagogical institute, I was also trained to teach music and learned the required techniques to teach and inspire children as young as age 3. I even began teaching at the same schools I once attended. By 1973 I graduated from The State Musical Institute and having such an exposure and affinity to music allowed me to pursue my career as a musician at a Children’s Musical Theatre and teacher at the Moscow School of Music.
Having 20 years musical teaching experience in Moscow, I immigrated to Canada in 1996 and knew I could not let my past career go. Learning English, I began to teach at various private music schools throughout the greater Hamilton area. I taught students with ages ranging from 5 up to even seniors. I was able to teach not only piano and musical theory, but also clarinet, saxophone and flute. In 2012 the Royal Conservatory of Music awarded me a Gold Medalist Teacher for saxophone.

 

 

Michael Andrushko
Piano/Theory

michael

Ever since the first time he saw his teacher play the piano, at age four, Michael knew he wanted to master this wonderful instrument. Lessons began at age 9, and after three years he was playing Gr. VIII repetoire. High School was spent ploughing through Beethoven Sonatas and Chopin Polonaises, Bach Prelude & Fugues and Czerny studies. After studying with Valerie Tryon, Hamilton’s own premier concert pianist, he went on to obtain his ARCT at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. His teachers there were Marietta Orlov, Antonin Kubalek and Vera Danchenko. Subsequently, Mr. Andrushko was offered a teaching position at this venerable Canadian institution. He also taught for five years at the Kingsway Conservatory of Music in Toronto’s west end.Mr. Andrushko has over 30 years teaching experience (he started when he was 15) and teaches all ages and grades. Michael is honoured to be a member of the HCA, and is presently embarking on his second ARCT: the new 3-tiered Diploma course in Piano Pedagogy. His specialties include:

  • – establishing a secure foundation for beginners
  • – piano technique & studies
  • – intermediate and early advanced repetoire
  • – piano 4-hands repetoire (duets)
  • – small ensembles
  • – elementary, intermediate & advanced theory
  • – music history
  • – vocal and instrumental accompanying
 

 

Lauren Cho
Piano

lauren

Lauren is an active teacher and chamber musician performing frequently with vocalists. After receiving a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the University of Western Ontario, she continued her music education at the Glenn Gould Professional School of the Royal Conservatory of Music, receiving an Artist Diploma in piano pedagogy and performance. She has also studied extensively at Cecile Ousset’s summer program in France, the International Summer Academy and Aria International Summer Program with numerous distinguished artists. Lauren continues to explore and develop as a musician and teacher. She is determined to bring high quality teaching to each individual and provide a great musical experience.

 

Sue Ding
Piano/Keyboard/Flute

Ms. Ding taught music and ballet at the Art conservatory of Shanghai and attended the Shanghai Music Academy receiving diplomas in Western Music and Musical Composition with a B.A. in Music Education. Sue joined the HCA as a piano teacher. Teaching beginners to those preparing for RCM exams.

 

 

Katarzyna (Kasia) Gasior-Kossek
Piano

Katarzyna earned her Master of Arts from the Academy of Music in Krakow. She studied vocal technique and opera ensembles in the Chicago Music Institute and in Northeastern Illinois University. Katarzyna taught piano and conducted a children’s choir in Chicago. She worked as a choir member in the Krakow Opera and Operetta and was a soloist and choir member of the Lira Ensemble in Chicago. She is currently a member of the Opera in Concert Choir. “Music was very important in my life. Singing is my passion and an avenue to express my enthusiasm and excitement for life. I would like to share my passion for music with others because I believe everyone has the ability to make and enjoy music. Music simply makes our lives better.”

 

 

Janine Hunt
Piano

janine

Janine Hunt   B.A., Orff Certified (RCM), Working on the teacher’s ARCT (piano), Past projects have focused on children’s education (coordinated “Children’s Arts in Education” with the school system); led teacher workshops in Orff; some vocal work and organ experience.  My primary focus at present is in the area of teaching piano – teaching influenced by Orff wherein one acknowledges the importance of learning with the engagement of the whole body – not only physically, but as well the senses and spirit so that the process is one of joy and discovery.

 

 

Irina Jacob
Piano, Theory

Irina Jacob is a qualified music teacher and accompanist. She has completed 17 years of specialized music education and holds a Diploma of Piano Teacher and Accompanist from Russian State Rachmaninov Conservatory. Irina taught piano and music theory in the Russian Music Academy and later at her private music studio in the Middle East (Kuwait). The majority of her students who took internationally recognized music exams consistently achieved excellent results. Many of them received Awards and Diplomas in regional music competitions and festivals. She is a Registered Music Teacher with the Associate Board of Royal Schools of Music (London) and the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association. Irina offers lessons to students of all levels and ages teaching classical repertoire, popular piano, church music and more. She also offers preparation for RCM Exams (all grades) in piano and music theory and various music festivals and contests.Teaching philosophy: offer best of opportunity to every student, those aiming for excellence in music and those who just want to learn to appreciate music and to get basic piano skills.

 

 

Svetlana Kopeleva
Piano/Theory/History

Svetlana_Kopeleva

Svetlana Kopeleva’s musical journey began at the age of 7 as she entered Saratov Regional Music Academy in Russia. All the way through the Academy, she participated in many different piano competitions and activities on the local and state level. After moving to Canada and graduating from Mohawk College with a diploma in Applied Music, she earned a degree from McMaster University. Svetlana holds her ARCT Diploma in piano performance from The Royal Conservatory of Music and is a Registered Music Teacher with the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.

Svetlana offers lessons to students of all levels and ages. She specializes in Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) exam preparation, as well as audition, festival and competition preparation. Svetlana is passionate about providing students with the opportunity to do and achieve anything they desire with music and become well-rounded musicians. Her goal is to enable students to make music independently and become self-sufficient learners. As a result, students can enjoy music for their own playing and/or choose to become professional musicians. She believes that piano lessons should be a part of every child’s curriculum, and that the benefits are immeasurable. With Mrs. Kopeleva’s teaching style, students not only learn music theory and musicianship, but they also learn important skills such as self-discipline.  They are taught the benefits of staying committed to a long term goal, even when it isn’t always easy. Svetlana strongly believes that musical talent is a learned skill and has to be nurtured. Every child can be educated and the environment is the key.

 

 

Nevena Kovacevic
Piano

Nevena Kovacevic

Nevena Kovacevic is a classical pianist with 19 years of performing experience and a piano teacher with 12 years of experience. Nevena has attended Mohawk College and has earned a music diploma in 2004. Also, she graduated from McMaster University and holds a Bachelor Honours Degree in Music since 2007. Nevena has been teaching piano since 2001 and has a wide experience of teaching different styles of music, especially Royal Conservatory of Music classical repertoire and jazz. Also, she has taught music from a great variety of books such as Alfred, Faber & Faber, Bastien and many more.

 

 

Nancy Leung-Simmons
Piano

Nancy Leung

Nancy is a classically-trained pianist with an ARCT Diploma in Piano Performance. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with an Honours Bachelor of Music Therapy degree and has been working as an accredited music therapist since 2013. Nancy has taught music to students of all ages and abilities. She is passionate about facilitating community music experiences and has developed numerous goal-based group music programs for camps and music school.

Nancy’s goal is for all her students to feel comfortable applying their musical abilities in ways that are relevant to them – whether it is to prepare and excel at their RCM exams, to learn to play a piece that is meaningful for them, or to learn to sing and accompany themselves. Each lesson will be individualized to the student’s learning needs and will include 4 major components: technical skill building, learning and reviewing repertoire, ear training, and basic theory & keyboard harmony.

Nancy welcomes the opportunity for musical collaboration and looks forward to accompanying all prospective students on their journey to becoming creative and passionate musicians!

 

 

Teresa Sanecki
Yamaha Keyboarding

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Teresa has been passionately and successfully teaching the Yamaha Music Education Programs to children and adults for over 35 years. She helped develop the curriculum for Tunes for Twos, an enriching music class for two year olds. After extensive training in Japan, Teresa also helped pilot and train teachers across Canada for Music Wonderland for three year olds. She has been a consultant for teacher training and development with Yamaha Music and, at present is an examiner for the Yamaha Grade Exams, an unparalleled and internationally recognized music exam system. Teresa’s extensive knowledge on the physical and emotional development of young children has been invaluable in her teaching and goes hand-in-hand with Yamaha’s unique and age specific courses – developing a child’s full potential, not only in music but in other aspects of life!

 

 

Shelley Crossman
Yamaha Keyboarding

Shelly
Shelley has been playing piano since the age of 4 and has been teaching piano students of all ages and levels for 8 years. She has received her Grade 10 Royal Conservatory of Music diploma. In addition, Shelley has also been teaching the Yamaha  Group Classes of Music Wonderland and Junior Music Course since 2007, as well as receiving her Grade 5 Yamaha teacher diploma. She brings a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm in helping her students discover the joys of music as a path to achieving success in life.

 

 

Alina Shmanova
Piano

Alina Shmanova was born and grew up in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She finished musical college in the name of S.Prokofiev. After graduating from the musical college (in which she studied extensively the subjects piano music theory, solfegio and history of music), Alina studied 3 years at Kazakhstan’s National Conservatory of Music to improve her skills in performance and expression. Alina went on to university to obtain a degree as a computer engineer, which she feels is very important; music and mathematics always go hand in hand, and one is easier learned when there is knowledge of the other. In 2002 Alina moved to Hamilton, Ontario and has longed to educating children. She dedicated herself to teaching piano, working both at home and at The Music Stand for more than 10 years. Alina enjoys her job immensely and finds great pleasure in watching her students learn how to play piano and rise above their expectations to play well. In her profession, Alina feels that each student is unique and an individual approach is needed for everyone. She develops a method for every student which is best suited to them and helps them achieve their very best, of which she is very happy.

 

 

Sophia Werden Abrams
Piano, Voice
Sophia Werden Abrams

Sophia Werden Abrams has just completed her Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Memorial University of Newfoundland. A passionate pedagogue, she has been teaching and working with students of all ages one on one and in ensembles for 10 years.

Sophia completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo, Conrad Grebel University College, where she studied piano performance. She continues to be an active accompanist for soloists and choirs and has worked as Vocal Director for a variety of musical theatre productions including an original premiere.

An avid choral singer, Sophia sang with the 2016 National Youth Choir of Canada on their Alberta tour this May and has sung with the Memorial University Choirs, and the University of Waterloo Choirs.

Sophia values vocal technique and holistic pedagogy and strives to create a healthy sound with all her students. Sophia is passionate about bringing music and singing to everyone!

 

 

Frances Gower
Piano/Theory/Clarinet

Frances Gower

I started piano lessons at 6 years of age; and I have never stopped playing. When I turned 14 I decided that I wanted to learn another instrument; so the clarinet and all its wonderful sounds came into my life. I played in my high school band, the Hamilton Concert Band and the McMaster Concert Band. I have completed the Grade 10 Royal Conservatory of Music Piano examination and I have graduated from Mohawk College with an Associate Diploma in Applied Music; studying piano with Patricia Rolston and Avis Romm; clarinet with Terry Basom. I auditioned for the DuMaurier CBC Search for the Stars two seasons being a semi-finalist and finalist; with my own compositions. I have fond memories of teaching music at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind for 23 years. Several years ago I taught at one of the Summer Camps at HCA and I am presently at Unity of Greater Hamilton as the Music Director. Being at HCA is a coming home for me this time as an instructor. I made more than many climbs to the top floor for my piano lessons with Alla Brat. I welcome the opportunity to teach you and guide you along in your musical journey.

 

 

Guitar

 

Marco Bressette
Guitar

Marco Bressette

Marco Bressette is an active teacher, musician and audio engineer. With 15+ years teaching experience and several more playing music, Marco encourages his students interests in any musical genre. As a guitar teacher, learning to speak the musical language from a guitarists perspective is a key philosophy that dictates the lesson structures. This approach to learning the fundamentals of music can be done through Rock, Pop, Classical, Jazz and just about any other style of music that appeals to the students. Marco has toured North America and Europe playing with Rock and Heavy Metal bands and releasing music from these projects along the way. These experiences are what have shaped Marco’s approach to teaching guitar to students of any level.

 

 

Marc McNamee
Guitar

Marc McNamee

Marc McNamee has been teaching guitar and bass for many years. He holds a diploma in Music, specializing in jazz guitar, from Mohawk College in Hamilton. He furthered his studies at York University where he studied with Canadian jazz legend Lorne Lofsky. Marc is known for his enthusiasm in the classroom. He is patient and knowledgeable and his lessons are geared to support each student’s individual needs. Versed in many styles of music, Marc enjoys teaching all levels and styles of guitar including: rock, pop, acoustic, jazz, country and blues.In addition to his role as an educator, Marc is also a professional musician who can be seen performing live throughout the GTA.

 

 

Emma Rush
Guitar

emma

Over the past decade, Hamilton’s own Emma Rush has established herself as one of Canada’s preeminent classical guitarists. Known for her innovative programming and powerful stage presence, along with her warm sound and virtuosic technique, an event with Emma Rush is one to remember. She is a compelling and engaging performer, a passionate educator, and a dynamic arts impresario. Emma Rush’s career has commanded world recognition. Highlights of her 2014-15 season include a ten-day, 4-city tour in China, starting with the Altamira Shanghai International Guitar Festival, appearances at guitar festivals including Festival de Guitarras Lagos de Moreno (Mexico), Guitarfest Peru, the Lonestar Guitar Festival (Texas), the opening concert of the ’Women of the Guitar’ Festival (Buffalo, NY), and a prestigious concert at the International Gitarren Symposium, Iserlohn (Germany). Canadian appearances of this season have included concerts in Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax, Moncton, and Winnipeg, along with performances throughout Ontario as both a soloist and a duo and chamber musician.
Rush has been a prize winner at international music competitions (Great Lakes Guitar Festival and Competition, Columbus State International Competition), and was nominated for a Woman of the Year Award for Arts and Culture (Hamilton, YWCA). She is the only artist to have received three City of Hamilton Arts Awards (for the Established Musician category in Music, in Arts Education, and in Arts Administration categories).  Rush completed her post-graduate studies at the Hochshule für Musik in Detmold, Germany, following an honours Bachelor of Music degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS.
She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Guitar Hamilton concert series that includes the Hamilton International Guitar Festival. This year, the Festival celebrates its 6-year anniversary. The Festival brings together classical guitar enthusiasts (students and a widespread community) to appreciate world-renowned artists for a 3-day celebration of master classes, musicians/artists-in-concert, guitar makers, and lecturers.
At HCA, Emma Rush focuses on intermediate and advanced students, exam preparation, and preparation for college and university music programs.

 

Cello

 

Patricia Birch
Cello

patricia

Education: B.A. and B. Ed., University of Wales
A.T.C.L., Trinity College of Music, London, England
R.M.T., Canada
Experience: Teacher of Music and French in secondary schools: United Kingdom, British Columbia and Ontario.Teacher of piano, cello and rudiments: Maritime Conservatory of Music, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Cellist: Victoria Symphony Orchestra (B.C.), Oshawa – Durham Symphony Orchestra (ON), Symphony Hamilton, Orchestras & Chamber groups in Nova Scotia and Southern Ontario.
When teaching piano and cello, my objective is to encourage students to develop a love and appreciation for the art of music in its many varied styles; to play with accurate and solid technique; to display perfection and poise in performance; and to pursue the exam/certificate program if desired. I adopt a firm but gentle approach to teaching.

 

Violin

 

Helen Hong
Violin

helen

Helen has a Bachelor of Music in Performance degree from the University of Toronto and was a postgraduate student of renowned violinist/concertmaster Rodney Friend (London, England). She was the Associate Concertmaster of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra for eleven seasons (2002-2013) and has performed with numerous other orchestras including the Toronto Concert Orchestra, Toronto Philharmonia, Sinfonia Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and the World Rock Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed for the Canada Walk of Fame Gala, Luminato Festival, Nuit Blanche, and the Toronto production of Anne of Green Gables. In addition to performing for popular artists such as Rod Stewart, Andrea Bocelli, Il Divo, Sarah Brightman, Seth MacFarlane, the Canadian Tenors, Gino Vanelli, and the Moody Blues, Helen has recorded for films (violin soloist in Intern Academy), television commercials, and music albums for Hallmark Canada and Fisher Price. She is also the Personnel Manager and Librarian for the Toronto Concert Orchestra and Grand Salon Orchestra.

 

Marianna Pijewska
Violin

Marianna_Pijewska

Marianna has a Masters of Music in Violin Performance. In additiom to working and performing throughout Europe and the US from 1992-2010 and has performed in competitions, concerts and Symphony Orchestras.

Her love and passion of music and violin propels her to teach and share her gift with others. Her teaching method is simple in that she believes that no one has insensitive ears, and that we are all created uniquely with a focus and awareness that is capable of being developed and trained. Music trains our ears and imagination. Marianna helps develop strong ear training and sensitivity to musical tone with the understanding that every student requires a different approach and speed to learn. Marianna teaches all music levels, from Six years and up, preparing for RCM exams, if requested. She looks forward to giving her students the joy of learning and performing for pleasure or for their career.

 

Vocal

 

Roland Fix
Voice, Diction

roland

German-born baritone Roland Fix is a graduate of the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria with a Master’s degree in Opera performance. While in Europe, Mr. Fix has participated in the Hallein Music Festival in Austria, and in Germany Mr. Fix was invited to sing in the Rossini Festival in Rügen, where his performance of Mustafa in Rossini’s Adina was recorded on the Canterino label. His Italian debut was in recital at the opera house in Città di Castello. Since his return to Canada, he performed with Opera York, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Opera Anonymous, Opera in Concert, and TrypTych.A flair for light opera and musical theater classics became evident in concerts and recitals, as well as the staged production of Frank Loesser’s Most Happy Fella in the title role, a concert performance of  Les Mis  as Javert, and several Gibert & Sullivan productions with Edmonton Opera and Toronto Operetta Theatre. He appeared as soloist with various choirs and orchestras where oratorio performances include Handel’s  Samson, the Fauré Requiem, the Duruflé Requiem, Mozart’s Vesprae solennes de confessore, and Coronation Mass, Liszt’s Via Crucis, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Mass in B Minor and SaintSaëns’ Oratorio de Noël. Upcoming performances include the Duruflé Requiem in Hamilton in March 2013.As a voice teacher with 18 years of experience, Roland has seen his students succeed on many levels. His students have won silver medals for the highest Royal Conservatory grades in Ontario, have won scholarships and awards at competitions, have successfully auditioned at and/or graduated from Western, Laurier, U of T, and McGill, and have in some cases gone on to successful careers in music.Roland is in demand for master classes, as an examiner and as an adjudicator.

 

Marta Greda-Kicek
Voice, Diction

martaPhoto Marta received a Bachelor of Arts and Opera from the Academy of Music, Krakov, Poland. She emigrated to Canada in 1989 and earned a Diploma in Performance at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo. Marta has sung with the Hamilton Opera Chorus and has studied with Irene Welchash-Baerg, Professor Shirley Verrett and advisor to Metropolitan Opera. As well as teaching and further studies, she maintains a career as a classical singer giving concerts in Canada and the U.S.

 

Natalie Spencer-Katzmann
Voice

natalie

Natalie Spencer-Katzmann is a classical vocal major graduate of the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. During her studies, she performed three solo recitals and was part of the Glenn Gould Opera School where she performed in the chorus of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aneas”,  as the Third Spirit in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and as Gretel in Englebert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel”.Before her studies, Natalie was the vocal soloist and children’s choir director at her church in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. There, she dabbled in a little musical theatre performing with Theatre Cambrian and working as a musical theatre specialist at camps during her summers. As a teen, Natalie was also a competitive dancer. She took classes in Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Hip Hop.Natalie has now been teaching private vocal lessons in and around the GTA since 2006. She specializes in classical but enjoys teaching pop and rock to students of all ages. In addition, Natalie teaches Glee classes and is involved with the Triple Threat classes at HCA.

 

Sarah Shelley
Voice

Sarah Shelley - Voice Teacher - Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts

Sarah Shelley graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, in the UK with a Masters of Music degree in Historical Performance. Prior to graduate studies, Sarah studied at the University of Toronto and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice Performance, along with an Advanced Certificate in Voice Performance for Early Music.

Sarah is an outstanding performer of oratorio, early music, and concert repertoire. She has been a part of several opera and concert productions, including Soloist with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Vernon; Opera Hamilton’s production of Carmen; the University of Toronto’s production of Rob Ford, the opera; the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s production of the Magic Flute; and Bute Park Opera’s production of Riders to the Sea.

Sarah is a creative and dedicated teacher. She frequently uses games and activities to teach musical concepts to students. Her enthusiasm and patience make her an ideal teacher for both beginner and advanced students.

 

Woodwinds

 

Michael Ricci
Flute, Saxophone

Mike Ricci

Mike Ricci is a veteran professional saxophonist from Southern Ontario. He has played jazz venues and festivals in Canada and Europe and studied with Paul Brodie – Saxophone, Karen Shindler – Flute, Bob Erlendson – Theory, and Frank Falco – Jazz Piano. A versatile musician who worked in many styles of music, with an extensive list of performance and recording credits. Mike is on the faculty at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts teaching saxophone and flute while maintaining a very busy schedule performing in the Toronto/Hamilton area.

 

Drums

 

Kevin Fournier
Drums

Kevin Fournier

Kevin Fournier is a Hamilton based drummer and song writer who loves teaching and connecting with students. Kevin is an honours graduate from Mohawk College’s applied music program, majoring in contemporary drum set. His playing credentials include extensive musical theatre drumming, independent and professional bands as well as playing as a show band musician for Carnival Cruise Lines. Kevin believes in making music lessons fun and that getting a new student involved with music, first and foremost means getting them excited about all the fun they can have as a result of learning an instrument. Kevin is also a skilled band leader and has led many youth combos in achieving the ability to play as a group. He believes that’s where the fun really starts. Kevin is thrilled to join the HCA family and can’t wait get students started on the amazing journey to musical discovery.

 

Mark Timmermans
Drums

With his father a music educator, Mark and his five siblings had instruments put in their hands at a young age. He studied Jazz performance at Mohawk College and the University of Toronto and also studied privately with many established drummers/educators in Canada and the United States. He has perfomed in many music situations through out Canada and parts of the United States and continues to perform around the GTA. As an instructor Marks lessons are geared towards the individual emphasizing the fundamentals of the drums. He strongly pushes coordination, control and clarity. Mark implements many styles of music and is open to the interests of the students.