Clinicians and Presenters

Keynote and Parent Talk

Rob Richardson

Mr. Richardson, a sessional faculty member at Brandon University, teaches and conducts at Suzuki workshops, Institutes and music festivals on a regular basis throughout North America and beyond. He has presented at the Suzuki Association of the Americas Teachers’ conference, leadership retreats and at International Suzuki Conferences. Along with maintaining an extensive violin and viola studio in the Suzuki Talent Education Program at Brandon University’s Eckhardt-Grammatté Conservatory of Music, he also conducts string orchestras and coaches chamber music. Robert performs regularly on both violin and viola in numerous chamber ensembles, including the Brandon Chamber Players of which he is a founding member. Mr. Richardson also teaches in the Community Schools Partnership Initiative (CSPI) Suzuki Strings Program, which is comprised of over 70 students. He has served on the board and on committees for the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers Association and the Festival of the Arts both locally and provincially and is happy to serve on the steering committee for the Canadian Suzuki e-Newsletter.  

Dr. Katy Clark

Canadian soprano Katy Clark has become known for her versatility as a singer, lecturer, and teacher of a variety of musical styles. She recently placed second, and won the City of Brandon Prize for the Best Performance of the Commissioned Work, at the 2023 Eckhardt-Grammatté National Music Competition. She was the winner of the 2020 Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song, and has also won prizes in the Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. 

Katy was a recipient of the 2017-2018 Rebanks Family Fellowship at the Royal Conservatory, and has performed as a soloist with companies such as the Amici Chamber Ensemble, Michigan Opera Theatre, The Grand Philharmonic Choir, Shoestring Opera, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. She performs regularly with the Canadian Opera Company Chorus, The Elora Singers, and Opus 8, and she is a former member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir. Katy holds a DMA from the University of Toronto, and appears as a featured soloist on the album A Woman’s Voice: Songs and Duets for Voice and Piano. In addition to her work as a performer, Katy teaches Vocal Techniques at Wilfrid Laurier University, and operates a voice studio in London. For more information, visit

Pierre Gagnon

Pierre Yves Gagnon, born in Montreal, Quebec, is fluent in French and English. He is an experienced viola and violin Suzuki teacher living in Oakville, Ontario. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Viola Performance from the University of McGill, where he studied under the direction of Steve Kondaks. He further pursued his studies with Ralph Aldrich at the University of Western Ontario where he received a Masters degree in Viola Performance and Literature. Mr. Gagnon was a member of L’Orchestre des Jeunes du Québec and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. He was also principal violist of the Canadian Chamber Orchestra in Banff. He is currently a member of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra, and has been a teacher for the Oakville Suzuki Association for the past thirty years. He is also a member of the Canadian Music Festival Adjudicators’ Association.

He was introduced to the Suzuki method while studying at McGill University and took his first unit training at the Guelph Suzuki institute in 1983. He has now completed all ten violins units as well as viola units 4 to 9. He has attended many conferences in Canada, United States, Germany and Japan, including three workshops with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki.

He is a regular teacher at the Oakville Performing Arts Day Camp where he teaches violin, viola, recorder and chamber music. Additionally, he has taught at several Suzuki Institutes in Canada and United States.

Ursa Meyer

As an experienced multi-instrumentalist and neurodivergence specialist, Ursa Meyer has been teaching music for 8 years and performing since she was 9 years old.

She began her musical journey at age 5 on the piano through Music for Young Children, and added the violin at age 6 through SuzukiMusic and the Ottawa Suzuki Strings under Rosemarie Klimasko. Ursa attended Canterbury High School where she studied in the strings program under John Pohran and Janice Mah. During this time, she discovered her love of the viola and began lessons with NACO’s Paul Casey. In post-secondary, she studied Viola Performance with Michael van der Sloot and received a Bachelor of Music Education.

Ursa has performed extensively on both the viola and violin in classical, fiddle, klezmer, folk, and pop. She was the principal viola in the Ottawa Youth Orchestra and the Ottawa Pops Orchestra, and played viola for Cadenza Quartet. She played violin with Stellae Boreales, the Ottawa Klezmer Band, and Maplewood Ceilidh Band. She was a part of the folk trio Fiddlehead Soup, in which she played keyboard, violin, viola, and vocals.

Ursa teaches group classes at SuzukiMusic as well as private students. She also teaches the Music for Young Children (piano group class) method from her private studio. Ursa loves Suzuki and how it imbues a solid foundation within a musical community.

Ursa loves to create neurodivergent safe spaces in her private studio and the Lotus Centre for special music education (where she also works), and her specialization is teaching children with ADHD.

Ursa is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach your children and to impart her love of music to them, whether on violin or viola!

Emma Grant-Zypchen

Born and raised in Ottawa, Emma began her musical studies with the National Capital Suzuki School of Music at the age of 7. There she studied with Kirk Starkey and Margaret Tobolowska. At Canterbury High School she attained a Fine Arts Certificate in the Strings Program where she was taught by John Pohran and Janice Mah. After high school she decided to pursue her musical studies further at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music where she obtained her Bachelor’s of Music in Cello Performance with Outstanding Achievement in Cello, Dean’s Honour List and the McGill Alumnae Society Prize under the tutelage of Matt Haimovitz. During this time, she was twice a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada whose tours saw them performing such venues as Montréal’s Maison Symphonique, the National Art Centre’s Southam Hall, Toronto’s Koerner Hall, the Berlin Konzerthaus and Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.

After graduating from McGill in 2019, she returned to Ottawa and began her career as a music educator, becoming a teacher at the same Suzuki school that fostered her as a child, as well as at OrKidstra. She finds great fulfillment in this path, aiming to share her love of music and the cello with the next generation, and enjoying witnessing each child uniquely grow through their musical experiences. Emma has completed Units 1 and 2 of Suzuki teacher training with Susan Gagnon and Tanya Carey, respectively. She received her Master’s of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Montreal where she studied with Yegor Dyachkov.

In her free time, she enjoys various outdoor pursuits such as running, cross country skiing and backcountry canoe camping as well as hobbies such as watercolour botanical illustration and knitting.

Debbie Hammond

Violinist Debbie Hammond began her studies at the age of four in London, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of Toronto and a Master of Music in Performance from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Debbie has completed Suzuki Pedagogy training with several noted trainers including Edmund Sprunger, Alice Joy Lewis, Mark Mutter and Dr. Timothy (Terry) Durbin. Her principal violin teachers include Patrick Burroughs, Geri Arnold, Dr. Robert Skelton, Mark Fewer & Yehonatan Berick.

Debbie is the director of the Hammond Suzuki Studio, a private Suzuki violin program in the Bells Corners area of Ottawa (Canada). The Hammond Suzuki Studio program features not only private lessons, but a developed group class program rich in supplementary musical styles, ensemble development and performance opportunities. Prior to establishing the Hammond Suzuki Studio in 2014, Debbie was a faculty member of the Suzuki String School of Guelph (2007-2010) and the National Capital Suzuki School of Music (2010-2014).

Before Debbie focussed her career on Suzuki pedagogy, Debbie was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (200-2002). She also served as the Assistant Concertmaster of Orchestra Toronto (2004-2005) and the Cambridge Community Orchestra (2007-2010). Debbie was also a regular member of the Jackson and Battle Creek Symphony Orchestras in Michigan. In Canada, Debbie has performed with both the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra London Canada.

Equally at ease with beginning and advanced level students, Debbie is becoming a frequent guest clinician, chamber coach and adjudicator at festivals and workshops. Debbie is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with so many violinists in cities across the province.

Debbie is proud to serve as the Chair of the Suzuki Association of Ontario Board. Debbie is the proud parent of two very energetic girls.

Sharon Jones

Sharon Jones is a violinist and singer. She began her violin studies as one of the first Suzuki students in Ontario, Canada. At the age of ten, she met Dr. Suzuki and participated in his group classes at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Three years later, she had the unique opportunity to work with Dr. Suzuki at an International Society of Music Educators Conference in her hometown of London, Ontario, Canada as part of a small group of North American children. She later worked with Dr. Suzuki again in Berlin and in the United States. Other Suzuki mentors over the years include Alice Joy Lewis, and Bill Starr.

After spending four months in Japan in 1985, her mother, Dorothy Jones, returned home and began work on the Suzuki school she had promised Suzuki she would start. It was at this time she asked Sharon to begin developing the baby/toddler curriculum, which is now known as Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE) and used in SECE classrooms worldwide. Sharon Jones is also the singer on the original SECE English Language Curriculum recording. Sharon is an SAA registered Teacher Trainer in Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE). She is the founder and director of the Thames Valley Suzuki School in London, Ontario where she continues her work as a violin and SECE teacher in addition to her Teacher Training and mentorship of many SECE teachers around the world.

In London, she also directs and performs with the celtic group, Haggis Stew. Sharon has been a presenter, clinician, teacher, and trainer at conferences, institutes, and workshops in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, Japan, and Australia.

Laura Nerenberg

Montreal native Laura Nerenberg began violin studies at age 3. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Ottawa (Canada) and a Master of Music degree from the Hartt School in Connecticut. Laura completed Suzuki Pedagogy training with Teri Einfeldt at the Hartt School. Her violin teachers were John Gomez, Mitchell Stern and Katie Lansdale.

Laura is the director of Rideau Falls Violins, a private Suzuki and Creative Ability Development (CAD/Improvisation) program in Ottawa. She has been a Suzuki teacher since 1997 and a CAD (improvisation) teacher since 2003. Equally at ease with beginning and advanced students, Laura is sought after as a guest clinician at several Suzuki institutes and workshops from British Columbia to Newfoundland and New England to Africa. She was thrilled to return to Canada’s Yukon territory to adjudicate and give workshops in 2014 and 2017.

Laura is an active performer, playing music of all kinds, from Schmelzer to Miles Davis. She is also the proud Suzuki parent to a creative and energetic second-grader. Laura has been, since 2012, a board member of the Suzuki Association of Ontario. She is the representative of her region in Eastern Ontario, including the city of Ottawa and its surroundings.

Since 2015, Laura is also an Improvisation teacher-trainer. She knows that every human has immense creative capacity. As teachers, we can nurture this creativity in our students which changes their brains to be more flexible and adaptable to the changing world.

Laura runs unique online courses to empower teachers with all levels of improvisation experience to nurture creativity in their studio and in their own playing.

Lauren Taylor

Violist and violinist Lauren Taylor is an emerging young musician from Ontario. She is an enthusiastic beginner Suzuki violin and viola teacher, with extensive performance training in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings, as well as with her band, Safe as Houses.

Lauren began her Suzuki teacher training journey in the fall of 2020, when she began her two-year long-term teacher training course under teacher trainer Paule Barsalou. She completed Violin Units 1-4 in April of 2021, and is set to complete her training in Violin Units 5-8 with Practicum in April of 2022.

Lauren has performed as a soloist with the Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Concorde Performing Ensemble, and has participated in the OMFA Provincial Finals for her solo work, as well as with string quartet, chamber orchestra and symphony orchestra. She was a founding member of the Formare Piano Quartet, second place prize winners of The 2019 Glenn Gould School Chamber Music Competition. Prior to ths, she attended Quartetfest 2017 with the Oniero String Quartet as Penderecki String Quartet Prize winners. There, they were invited to perform the Golijov Last Round nonet with the Penderecki String Quartet and Dave Young at the Quartetfest twenty-fifth anniversary opening concert, as well as the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with James Campbell at the Quartetfest opening gala. She was a member of the Concorde Performing Ensemble, an award- winning youth chamber orchestra, during their exchange tours in Edmonton, AB., St. John’s, NL, and Poland, as well as their performance at the 2012 Suzuki Association of the Americas bi-annual conference. Lauren has also toured with The National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and performed as principal viola with The Royal Conservatory Orchestra and the Wilfrid Laurier University Symphony Orchestra.

Lauren began her musical journey at the age of four in her hometown of Guelph, Ontario, where she studied at the Suzuki String School of Guelph under Paule Barsalou, Witold Swoboda, and Elspeth Durward. She then attended Wilfrid Laurier University in the violin studio of Jerzy Kaplanek and the viola studio of Christine Vlajk, where she earned Alumni String Scholarships for outstanding performance and the Alumni Gold Medal for highest academic average in her graduating class. After her BMus, Lauren completed the Chamber Music Diploma program, focusing intensively on string quartet playing with the Penderecki String Quartet. She then went on to attend The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in the studio of Steven Dann on The Patrick and Barbara Keenan Foundation Scholarship, where she earned an Artist Diploma and stayed an additional year as an Orchestral Scholar. When she is not performing classical music, Lauren is a member of Kitchener-Waterloo indie-folk band Safe as Houses, who have released three full-length albums, and have been touring Canada in support of their latest FACTOR funded record, Lucky Lucky (Deluxe), since its release in April 2019.

Liz Biswas

Liz Biswas has been teaching violin and viola since 2002. She is a founding director, teacher, and administrator of Suzuki Talent Education of Waterloo; a not-for-profit, charitable Suzuki school in Waterloo, Ontario. Liz’s Suzuki teacher trainers have included Allen Lieb, Elayne Ras, Joanne Martin, Mark Mutter, Carrie Beth Hockett, Ed Sprunger, Sharon Jones and Dorothy Jones.

Liz has been an active member of the Suzuki Association of Ontario since 2002, including acting as Secretary on the executive from 2018-2021 and seven years as a member at large on the SAO Board of Directors.

Liz completed her B.A. from the University of Waterloo in 2009. Liz currently plays viola in the Waterloo Chamber Players and acts as 2nd violin in the Quinten Quartet.

In addition to her work as a violin and viola teacher, Liz has worked as a personal support worker with the City of Kitchener in community services. Liz worked for several years one-on-one with children with special needs as an Inclusion Facilitator and was the Summer Inclusion Co-ordinator for the City of Kitchener in 2010. She has taught children and adults of all abilities. She believes in Dr.Suzuki’s motto that Every Child Can.

She lives in Waterloo with her husband and is a Suzuki parent to her two daughters.

Myra Yeung

Dr. Myra Yeung is an adjudicator and guest clinician in Canada and the USA. She is a Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Certified Teacher as an Advanced specialist.

Dr. Yeung is a proponent of lifelong learning and enjoys working alongside colleagues to offer enriching programs for students, parents, and teachers. Some examples include directing and co-chairing Suzuki workshops, coordinating children’s summer camps in Whiteshell Provincial Park (Manitoba), and directing a mentoring program for teen girls in inner-city Winnipeg. She is a past Artistic Director in Toronto, past Program Director in Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, and past violin and viola faculty in Ann Arbor, eastern North Carolina, and Winnipeg. She served on the Suzuki Association of Ontario Board of Directors from 2018 to 2021.

In 2018, she presented a pedagogical project at the 45th International Viola Congress in the Netherlands.

Myra grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, learning Suzuki viola from Joanne Martin and RCM piano from Lydia Wiebe. For a few years after completing her undergraduate computer science degree, Myra worked in IT full-time and taught evening violin lessons and group classes. While she continues to enjoy working on computer projects, Myra’s passion for teaching became quite evident during that time and she went on to pursue graduate studies in music performance and pedagogy. She credits her music teachers for instilling in her a wholehearted joy of teaching with excellence.

Recent achievements by students in Dr. Yeung’s studio include Concertmaster chairs, 1st Place awards, scholarship awards, and university scholarships. She herself is the winner of many competitions and awards for viola, piano, and chamber music.

Dr. Yeung is currently on faculty at Etobicoke Suzuki Music in Toronto, Ontario. She teaches a full violin and viola studio with levels from young beginner to collegiate.

Paule Barsalou

Paule Barsalou holds a BM in performance from Laval University and an MM in performance and Suzuki pedagogy from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Paule has been teaching at the Suzuki String School of Guelph since 1989 and was artistic director of the school in 2004 to 2021. She is the coordinator of the SSSG long-term teacher training program. She has been a sanctioned Suzuki teacher trainer since 2003 and trained musicians in the Suzuki approach at institutes and workshop throughout Canada, Barbados and El Salvador. She is also the co-founder, with Christie Zimmer, of Practice Notes, a reflective note taking system for fostering independent learning in young musicians.

She teaches at workshops and institutes across Canada and adjudicates at festivals throughout Ontario. She is the principal second violin of the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. Paule is a former director of the Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute, which she led from 1996 to 2009. 

She is highly committed to Dr. Suzuki’s vision that every child can learn a musical instrument and should be taught in a way that nurtures the whole child and allows them to reach their full potential while acquiring healthy playing habits.

Anne Rankin

I am a passionate educator of children and advocate for the arts. I have taught children in private and group settings for over 20 years. I am a certified Suzuki Method Cello teacher and have held teaching studios in Toronto, Boston, London and Peterborough.

Trained as a cellist, I received my Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Artist Diploma from McGill University. I have freelanced with the Vancouver CBC Radio Orchestra and the Boston Lyric Opera.

I am the Executive Producer and Founder of Shoestring of Shoestring Opera, a charitable organization that performs opera for children and families in schools and theatres. Recognized widely for its innovative programming, the company has delighted over 30 000 children throughout Canada.

At Etobicoke Suzuki Music I am the Director of the cello program and the Coordinator of our Suzuki Early Childhood Education program, called Sprouts. It is my pleasure to be a faculty member of this fine program, both as a cello and Sprouts teacher.

Natasha Zado

Information coming soon!

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is a mental health speaker with the Federal Speakers Bureau on Mental Health in Ottawa. A communications professional with the Department of Canadian Heritage, Michael founded The Happiness Project mental health support group in West Ottawa in 2022. His group has staged several fundraising events for mental health causes since its inception. This summer, he launched the Happiness Project mental health podcast on all streaming platforms.

Michael is also a men’s mental health advocate in the Knights of Columbus, member of the Our Lady of Peace School parents’ council and social media director at his local church.

A former journalist in Peterborough, Sarnia, Kitchener and Ottawa, Michael is also a published author, Suzuki parent and big believer in the power of music and teachers to change the world.

Rebecca Ashworth

After watching Itzhak Perlman perform on Sesame Street, she began studying violin through the Suzuki Method at age 4 and a half, competing in Kiwanis competitions at the provincial level.  At 16, she was accepted into the University of Western Ontario Symphony Orchestra and received her B.F.A in Music Performance from York University in 2007. 

She taught Suzuki violin in Toronto, ON, for over 10 years and is currently a project coordinator with the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the administrator for the Suzuki Association of Ontario, a volunteer with the London Multiple Births Association, a mom of two, and a fiddler performing regularly with her band, Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost.

Have questions?

Contact the 2023 SAO Conference team at