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RCM Teacher of Distinction Awards

RCM Teacher of Distinction Awards

RCM Teachers of Distinction are leaders in the field of music education, recognized for their contributions of creativity, dedication, innovation, and passion. Through their years of teaching experience, they provide mentorship to other teachers and instill a lifelong love of music in their students. RCM Teachers of Distinction are an inspiration to others and are influential in creating a brighter future for music education.

Congratulations to our 2019 RCM Teachers of Distinction


Alberta, Northwest Territories & Nunavut

Janey Scott studied piano in the UK. She has been teaching in Fort McMurray for nineteen years and each year students from her studio have received Gold Medals from the RCM. In June of this year, two of her students won piano competitions at the Alberta Provincial Music Festival. Janey works with children who have learning difficulties to help improve their piano practice. To Janey, the most important thing about teaching involves helping students who find piano practice a challenge and encouraging students to enjoy music and to play the piano well!

Kathy Dornian is a nationally respected pedagogue, collaborative artist, adjudicator, examiner and teacher, and she has been on the faculty at the Mount Royal Conservatory since 1985. She has collaborated with the internationally recognized Morningside Music Bridge Program and coordinator of the Academy of Music for gifted musicians. Her students are frequent award winners in festivals and competitions, as well as excelling in their RCM examinations. Her students have been accepted into programs, such as Morningside Music Bridge and at post-secondary institutions.

Atlantic Canada

Lynn Stodola is an active soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative pianist, having performed all over the world. In 2009, she was the recipient of the first Hugheen Ferguson Distinguished Teacher Award presented by the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Association, and, in 2018, was named NSRMTA Teacher of the Year. Recently retired after a distinguished career as Professor of Piano at the Fountain School of Performing Arts, Lynn now devotes her time to teaching young, gifted pianists, many of whom have won numerous awards at local and national festivals. She holds a B.Mus. from the American Conservatory of Music, and an M.Mus. (post-graduate Professional Studies) from The Juilliard School.

British Columbia & Yukon

Rebecca Cheng began piano lessons in Hong Kong at age six and accomplished her LRSM in Piano Performance (Licentiate Diploma from The Royal School of Music, London) at sixteen. She completed her education in Canada with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Mathematics and accomplished the ARCT in Piano Teaching from The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rebecca began teaching both private and group classes 37 years ago. She adjudicated various local festivals and is an Examiner for the Yamaha Piano Graded Examinations. Presently, she is the Music Director for Tom Lee Music Academy in Vancouver, helping to promote Music Education in the Community. Various students from Rebecca have won the Gold Medals from The Royal Conservatory and performed both nationally and internationally with the Yamaha Junior Original Concert.

Richard Haack began his music studies in Saskatoon with Lyell Gustin and Murray Adaskin. He also started his teaching as an assistant at the United Conservatory in Saskatoon. Upon moving to Vancouver, he resumed studies with Dr. Dale Reubart and Dr. Harold Zabrack. In 1981, he co-founded the Western Conservatory of Music in Langley. 18 years later, he co-founded the Fraser Valley International Music Festival, which has since grown from 2000 to 6500 participants! He has also been the RCM centre representative in Langley for 25 years. Mr. Haack's students have won numerous awards, scholarships, and medals in examinations and festivals, such as receiving First Class Honours with Distinction on RCM exams, Alumni Awards by the RCM, and one of his many ARCT students receiving the highest mark in BC for the ARCT Teacher's Degree in Advanced Pedagogy. Mr. Haack continues to enjoy his teaching career of over 49 years.

Manitoba

Jacqueline Ryz holds an Associate Diploma (ARCT) in piano Performance, a B.A. in Music from the University of Winnipeg, an M.Mus. in performance from McGill University, and is a senior piano examiner with the RCM College of Examiners. Jacqueline has been teaching piano for over 30 years and has performed concerts all over the world. Her students have achieved success at festivals, auditions, and RCM Certificate Program examinations, earning over 25 provincial gold medals to date. Jacqueline always encourages, guides, and mentors her students in both their musical and personal lives. She would like to thank her past teachers: John Melnyk Sr., Dr. Lorne Watson, and Professor Charles Reiner.

Ontario

Dr. Chunson Park has nurtured a great number of excellent students who have won festivals and competitions over the decades. Her passion for music shows through her teaching and inspires her students to strive for the best and discover their love for the art. Her education includes the University of British Columbia, Juilliard, and Boston University (DMA). She has been awarded as Top Music Teacher by Steinway Piano Gallery Ottawa in 2017 and 2016. 

Dr. Nina Soyfer has had nearly 30 years of music experience. She holds an ARCT and an LRCM with Honours in classical piano performance, along with BFA (Honours), MA, and Ph.D. degrees in Music from York University in Toronto. She has received various awards in piano performance, academics, and visual arts, as well as Provincial and National higher education scholarships. Her multi-artistic experience enabled her to envision an effective method of teaching and developing musical and artistic talents within students, which in turn inspired her Ph.D. research on her new Integrated Arts MethodTM (IAM). She recently published a book, Poems and Art, and a piano performance album, Radiant Classics.

Quebec

Marlene Elaine Gregory began singing solos at age three in preschool and flourished at age fourteen when she won a Jeunesses Musicales du Canada scholarship to study at the Centre d’art Orford. Marlene earned her ARCT in Performance while completing her Bachelor of Music degree at McGill University. Following graduation, she taught Piano and Violin at McGill Conservatory of Music, then in 1979, immigrated to the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. There she created her conservatory of 70 students and introduced Suzuki Talent Education to this community for both Piano and Violin. In 1997, she opened Bermuda’s RCM Centre 912, hosting Canada’s RCM examinations in her own home. Inspired by an autistic piano student, Marlene returned to Canada to complete a Masters of Music degree from U of T, with a research concentration in “Music and the Brain’ (2005).

Saskatchewan

Sarah Konecsni has been a professional teacher in Regina for 31 years. She maintains a diverse studio with talented students from beginners to a Licentiate level. Her students have won 53 gold/silver medals from Preparatory A through to Level 10 and have been consistent provincial finals and national winners. Entirely self-taught as a composer, Sarah is a past winner of the Canada Music Week national composition competition. An adjudicator, clinician, and RCM examiner, she seeks to motivate students and teachers to develop their artistic and technical awareness. Sarah is currently studying the Taubman Approach through the Golandsky Institute in New York City, a revolutionary, holistic technique designed to cure injuries and develop an effortless piano technique.

US - North Central

Tracey Ford has taught singing for over fifteen years. She is recognized in her community as a young-voice specialist, who trains singers in both classical and musical theatre genres. Since 2012, Tracey has prepared students for voice and theory examinations (Preparatory through to Level 8), and she is a Certified Teacher in Elementary- and Intermediate-Level Voice. Her students often achieve top scores at the centre and state levels, including one National Gold Medal winner. Originally from Michigan, Tracey holds a B.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, as well as an M.Mus. and a D.M.A. in Vocal Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her performing credits range from opera to musical theatre.

US - Northeast

Dr. Kairy Koshoeva teaches in the Princeton area, performs internationally, and is a member of the faculty of The New School for Music Study. She studied at the Moscow Gnessin Academy of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory before earning her D.M.A. in Piano Performance at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Many of her students have won prestigious piano competitions, some leading to performances at Carnegie Hall. She has won top prizes in competitions including the International Piano Competition in Vicenza and the Nikolai Rubinstein Competition in Paris. For her collaborative performances of the Goldberg Variations and Hindemith’s Ludus Tonalis with the Owen/Cox Dance Group, she received the Marian Bowker Davidson Pianist Award and the Berta Eisberg Award. In 2003, her homeland named her the Honoured Artist of Kyrgyzstan.

US - Northern California

Muza Mdzinarishvili received a B.M. and M.M. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Tbilisi State Conservatory of Music, and a M.M. from the San Francisco Conservatory in Collaborative Piano. She has distinguished herself as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative pianist internationally. Muza started her teaching career at the Tbilisi State Conservatory Experimental Music School. She has continued her teaching career for 27 years and serves on the piano faculty at the Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA) in Mountain View, California. She teaches students of all ages and levels, and among her students are gold medalists of several international piano competitions. Additionally, Muza has served as an adjudicator for piano competitions and workshops and is the past President of CAPMT.

US - South Central

Dr. Gloria Tham-Haines, DMA, NCTM, has taught for twenty years. She is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention® Practitioner and a national presenter on trauma-informed pedagogy for the piano studio. She is an advocate for ergonomically sized, smaller piano keyboards. She holds piano performance degrees from Southwestern College, Winfield, KS; Wichita State University; and the University of Alabama. While growing up in Malaysia, she completed the ABRSM Grade 8 Piano and earned the Performer’s Certificate from Trinity College, London. Since the fall of 2017, Gloria has been an adjunct piano professor of class piano at Oklahoma Baptist University.

US - Southeast

Marie Powers Ellis has taught piano for over 30 years, including at the Flint School of Performing Arts, Boulder Arts Academy, and the Ivy Piano Studio in Charlottesville, Virginia. Between 1998 and 2008, Marie was a member of the RCM College of Examiners and has founded RCM Examination Centres in Boulder, Colorado and Charlottesville, Virginia. She earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Marie is a registered instructor in the complete series of Suzuki piano pedagogy by training with Mary Craig Powell at The Ohio State University and Capitol University. Marie is a certified Music Together teacher and serves on the board of the Charlottesville Music Teachers Association, as chair of its student recitals. She began teaching at the age of seventeen and loves to impact her lifelong love of music to students of all ages in Charlottesville.

US - Southern California

Kathleen Kranz has been President of La Jolla Conservatory of Music for sixteen years. She is a legacy examiner with the RCM College of Examiners and was the second woman to achieve the Ph.D. in music theory at UCSD in 1985. Kathleen was fortunate to study with Aube Tzerko, head of UCLA Piano Department for eleven years, and Leonidas Lipovetsky of FSU for her M.Mus. in piano performance; she was also advised by composer Robert Erickson for six years at UCSD. She is a nationally certified teacher of music with MTNA and was a featured Lifetime Achievement Award winner from Albert Nelson Marquis.

US – Southwest and Northwest

Annette M. Freston, NCTM, has been teaching, performing and accompanying on the piano since high school and has played harp since 2002. A Uintah Basin native, Annette studied music at BYU Idaho, BYU and Dixie State University, holding an A.S. from BYU, B.S. from USU and M.A. from NAU. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher with Music Teacher’s National Association, a member of UMTA and founder of Music for Life, music studios in Kingman and Arizona and Vernal, Utah. Her studio was honoured as Arizona’s first and one of only three founding schools for The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program and Kingman’s Business of the Year in 2015. She is Centre Representative with centres in Kingman and Vernal, participating since 2012 with students receiving centre/state awards. Annette served as faculty at Tuacahn School of Arts, Northwestern Community College, Mohave Community College and Terra Academy in Vernal.


Previous Teacher of Distinction Award Recipients

  • 2018 Teachers of Distinction

    ALBERTA

    Kathy Dornian
    A nationally respected pedagogue, chamber musician, adjudicator and examiner, Kathy has been on Faculty at Mount Royal Conservatory for forty years. Known as a kind, inspiring and imaginative educator who fosters curiosity in her students, she is one of Calgary's most sought after teachers. Her students are frequent award winners in festivals and competitions. They consistently achieve high results in examinations, and many have been accepted into programs such as MMB. Many of her former students have forged on to create successful careers of their own in the music profession, although she is equally proud of those who have chosen other fields but maintain their passion for music and continue to show support for the arts.

    Thomas Schoen
    Violinist and teacher Thomas Schoen (B. Mus U.B.C) teaches students of all ages and levels from Suzuki Early Childhood Education classes for parents and children (0-3 yrs), to violin and viola students from 4 to adult. Teaching positions include Augustana Faculty of U. of A., Society for Talent Education in Edmonton, and privately in his home studio. Mr. Schoen is also director of the Alberta Suzuki Summer Institute in Edmonton AB. Residing in Edmonton, Alberta, Thomas enjoys a busy and varied performing career performing on both modern and baroque violins. He has subbed frequently with the Edmonton Symphony and has performed professionally with orchestras across Canada. He performs regularly throughout Canada with the Schoen Duo, who have been broadcast on the CBC.

    ATLANTIC CANADA

    Noreen Greene-Fraize
    Newfoundland musician Noreen Greene-Fraize is the Music Director of St. Teresa's Church and Greene-Fraize Music Studio and is an RCM Certified teacher in voice and piano. A retired choral/classroom music educator, Noreen has served in numerous positions: Vice Commissioner of the Teacher Allocation Commission, Regent of Memorial University, past president of the NLTA Music Council and is currently a director of NLRMTA. She holds a B.A. from U.N.B, a B.M/B.M.Ed. and M. Phil. in Humanities from M.U.N. with a thesis topic of "Music as a Manifestation of Truth". Noreen and her husband Tom have three daughters, Lara, Kalli and Alanna and a granddaughter Scarlett.

    Cheryl McCarthy
    Cheryl McCarthy earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Education from the University of Toronto, graduating with ARCT diplomas in both Voice and Piano as well as certification in the Carl Orff Method of Music Education for Young Children. Her teachers at that time included Patricia Blomfield Holt, Helen Simmie, Doreen Hall and Bernard Diamant. After teaching in Toronto and Ottawa where she raised two sons,, Cheryl re-located to Halifax in 2000 and began teaching at Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts where she served as Dean of the School of Music for five years. Her long involvement in teaching has included choral conducting, festival adjudication and leading workshops for both students and colleagues. She continues teaching a full studio of all ages.

    BRITISH COLUMBIA

    Jean Ritter
    Jean has spent the majority of her teaching years in Abbotsford instructing piano students from beginners to Teachers ARCT, including all levels of theoretical subjects and Piano Pedagogy. Her passion for teaching began at a very early age and with 48 years of teaching behind her she hopes to continue as long as possible. Students of all ages and skill levels are welcome in her studio with the stipulation that laughter must be present in every lesson! Jean is proud to count 3 RCM Gold Medal winners among her students who have gone on to be teachers.  They carry on her mandate of instilling a love of music in the hearts of their students with all the knowledge and enthusiasm she has passed on to them.

    Tina Wang

    MANITOBA

    April Gibson
    April Gibson began her music studies at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Her principal teachers were Winnifred Scott Wood, Edward Parker, Susan De Burgh, Alma Brock- Smith and Jean Ethridge. Mrs. Gibson obtained her AVCM and completed the Piano Pedagogy Program through Victoria Conservatory of Music and Camosun College in 1982. April is active as an adjudicator, workshop and masterclass clinician. She has taught Piano, Composition and Piano Pedagogy in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba. Presently, April teaches at her studio in Killarney, as well as at the Eckhardt-Gramatte Conservatory at the University of Brandon. April is on faculty for the "Kick Start" Piano Ensemble Camp at the University of Brandon.

    Loren Hiebert
    Ever since he was a quiet little boy growing up in rural Kansas, Loren has felt a close connection to music. Since 1980, he has been sharing that rich musical relationship with up to eighty piano students a year. Drawing on his active professional life as performer, recording artist, collaborator, and adjudicator, he has been eager to bring his students into that world of vibrant creative experience. In addition to a university music degree, he holds RCM diplomas in performance and teaching. He remains a key member of the piano faculty at the International Music Camp. In 2012 Loren received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for his work with youth choirs, music within the community, and private music instruction.

    ONTARIO & QUEBEC

    SASKATCHEWAN

    Janice Elliott-Denike
    Working professionally in Regina since 1978, Janice is known for her excellence in the music profession. Her students consistently achieve top results in exams and competitions at local, provincial and national levels. Many have continued in successful music careers of their own, and she remains a mentor to many. Janice performed professionally in numerous concerto, solo recital, chamber music and collaborative concerts, often broadcast on CBC Radio, regionally and nationally. She has adjudicated across Western Canada, given numerous masterclasses and workshops, and been a frequent presenter at Provincial conventions of the Saskatchewan Music Educators and Registered Music Teachers. Janice is a dedicated teacher who makes her students her top priority, helping them to develop their piano skills and love of classical music.

    Nicole Wilton
    Nicole Wilton has taught piano in Saskatoon for 27 years. She now owns Wilton Academy of Music - a large music school with 12 staff and over 500 clients. Nicole has nurtured many students from beginner to advanced through the RCM curriculum. Even at early ages, her students stand out in the music community, known for their quality of tone and dynamic range. Although Nicole emphasizes the learning qualities of the Suzuki philosophy, she has always demonstrated a great balance and respect for the elements and standards of the Royal Conservatory of Music as all her students participate in RCM education and exams throughout their studies Nicole holds a Master of Education degree with an emphasis on early childhood education, an ARCT in piano pedagogy from the Royal Conservatory, a Bachelor of Arts degree, and is a Registered music teacher in Saskatoon as well as being the Vice President of her local chapter. This year, Nicole was nominated for a Woman of Distinction Award in the "education"; category as well as receiving the Canada 150th award for her contributions to her community.

  • 2017 Teachers of Distinction

    CALGARY

    Colleen Athparia
    Colleen Athparia is an internationally recognized pianist, musical educator and recording artist with ten CDs. A faculty member of Mount Royal University Conservatory and University of Calgary, as well as a Senior Examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music since 1980, she has toured as a performer and guest educator from Mexico to Taiwan, Russia, India and the Far East. Her background includes a Master of Music degree with Distinction from Indiana University, as well as receiving the Ontario Gold Medal and placing first in the Canadian Music Competition. Heralded by the National Post as one of the top four Canadian pianists of contemporary music today, she was among the top 50 esteemed performers and conductors honoured in Ottawa for her significant contribution to the Canadian Music Scene over the past 50 years. Her studio features many extremely talented students, two of whom have been listed in CBC's top 30 classical musicians under 30. In 2015 she was nominated to the Order of Canada.

    Sandra (Alexandra) Munn
    Alexandra Munn studied at the Julliard School of Music. Her career includes many summers at the Banff Centre as Opera Coach, Academy of Singing, and as one of the founding faculty of the Musical Theatre Division. She has performed as soloist, assisting artist, and host for regional and national programs for CBC Radio/TV and CTV. She has also served as music festival adjudicator form Victoria to Charlottetown to Yellowknife. Alexandra is honoured to be a member of Edmonton's Cultural Hall of Fame, Y.W.C.A. Woman of the Year in the Arts, a recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, and the Alberta Music Education Foundation 2012 Recognition Award. A Professor Emerita, University of Alberta, she is faculty member of Alberta College Conservatory of Music, Grant MacEwan University.

    TORONTO

    Marietta Orlov
    Marietta Orlov studied in her native Romania with the renowned teacher Florica Musicescu (teacher of Dinu Lipatti and Radu Lupu) and graduated from the Faculty of Music in Bucharest with a BM in Performance and Master's Degree in Performance. Starting at the age of 16, she was active as a soloist for 10 years, and she had the honour of being appointed Romanian State soloist. Over the course of Ms. Orlov's career, she has participated in numerous concert tours across Europe and North America, most notably the Prague Spring Festival and Bromsgrove (England) Festival, among others. Ms. Orlov currently resides in Canada and is a dedicated teacher, renowned for fostering some of Canada's most promising young musicians. She is a member of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music and The Royal Conservatory of Music's Glenn Gould School, and has presented master classes across North America.

  • 2016 Teachers of Distinction

    VANCOUVER

    Keiko Parker
    Keiko Parker is a much-admired theory teacher who has taught generations of students from a classroom in her Burnaby home. Among her students were internationally acclaimed pianists Jon Kimura Parker and Jamie Parker, who have praised their mother for the many hours spent listening to them practice, and for teaching them everything they know about music theory.

    CALGARY

    Linda Kundert-Stoll
    Linda Kundert-Stoll has been a private music teacher for 30 years and has been on the faculty at Mt. Royal University since 2014. She is an active adjudicator and has adjudicated at most festivals throughout western Canada. Ms Kundert-Stoll is a senior member of the RCM College of Examiners, and is an active member of many music teacher associations. She received the Alberta Registered Music Teachers'; Association (ARMTA) Recognition Award in 2006 and the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Association (CFMTA) Hugheen Ferguson Teacher of Distinction Award in 2011. Many of her former students have gone on to be prominent musicians, including two who performed at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center in 2011.

    Elaine Case
    Elaine Higgin Case is a third generation singing teacher who has devoted her life to musical education. Her fifty year teaching career began under the watchful eye of her mother and father who were prominent in the musical life of Calgary. Highlights of her career include founding the Mt. Royal Vocal Academy where she served as Artistic Director, adjudicating music festivals throughout western Canada, chairing the Rozsa national voice competition and mentoring voice teachers through vocal pedagogy classes. She has served as President of the Calgary Registered Music Teachers Association and as Regional Governor of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Her students have gone forward in international careers in opera and in musical theatre. Elaine is married to Allen and together they enjoy their two daughters with their husbands and four lively grandsons.

    TORONTO

    Linda Fletcher
    Linda Fletcher has taught voice and piano privately for over 40 years and has been Music Director at Walton United Church for 35 years. Her students have won many provincial and international awards and numerous RCM Silver and Gold Medals. Linda has adjudicated major music festivals across Canada and is co-founder and President of the Oakville Vocal Arts Festival. She was a featured composer in the 2002 Canadian Composer's Calendar. In 2006, Linda received the Pauline McGibbon Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award and in 2012, the ORMTA Special Teacher award. Linda was part of the creative team for the 2012 RCM Voice series. Some of her songs are included in the syllabus.

    Judy Hunter
    Judy Hunter has influenced countless students, teachers, and fellow musicians in Milton and surrounding communities. She has been an active participant in all musical activities in and around Milton and particularly as the founder of organizations central to the local musical community: the Milton Choristers and the Milton Music Teachers' Association. Judy taught music at Milton District High School and Mohawk College and was organist and choir director at St. Paul's United Church for 40 years. Judy presently teaches piano at McMaster University, plays cello in the Milton Philharmonic Orchestra and continues to maintain a longstanding voice and piano studio from her home.