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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.

Nominations are now open for the 2019 RCM Teacher of Distinction Awards and are being accepted for both Canada and the United States. Nominations should highlight the outstanding achievements of the nominee and clearly explain why the individual should receive The Royal Conservatory’s most prestigious teacher award.
Please read the guidelines and submit your nomination.  The deadline to submit is July 21, 2019.

  • Nomination Guidelines


    All nominees must be active or recently retired music teachers in Canada or the US who have demonstrated engagement with the RCM Certificate Program.

    Teachers may be nominated by any person or group (i.e., students, parents, other music teachers, exam centre representatives, examiners, members of their community etc.) who have direct knowledge of the teacher’s contributions to the musical life of their community. Self-nominations will not be accepted, but nominators are encouraged to consult with the nominee as they prepare their submission.

  • Selection Criteria
    Concrete examples in the areas below should be provided to better highlight to the review committee why the teacher should be considered.

    1. Innovative and Exemplary Teaching Practices

    RCM Teachers of Distinction have demonstrated exemplary teaching practices by creating a stimulating and innovative learning environment. They provide inspiration and motivation to their students, and continue to explore new teaching strategies and pedagogical approaches as a result of their commitment to lifelong learning.
    2. Student Achievement and Engagement

    The success of an RCM Teacher of Distinction is best demonstrated through the engagement and achievements of the students they have inspired. These include student success in RCM Certificate Program examinations; awards in competitions and festivals; and community and school involvement.
    3. Teacher Commitment and Leadership

    RCM Teachers of Distinction have demonstrated their passion for music and the arts by actively participating in the musical life of their community. Their success has been acknowledged through teaching and community awards and other professional achievements. They serve as role models and continue to mentor other teachers and participate in ongoing professional development.
  • Timeline
    • Nominations will be accepted online until July 21, 2019.

    • Award recipients will be notified beginning week of August 26, 2019 and will be posted online September 2019.

    • Awards will be presented at Convocation or regional Celebrations of Excellence (teacher’s choice) beginning October 2019.

Previous Teacher of Distinction Award Recipients

  • 2018 Teachers of Distinction


    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.


    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.


    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


    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.



    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


    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.


    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


    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.


    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.


    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.