Daphne Hughes had a modesty and self-deprecating sense of humour that veiled her immense impact on music education and the lives of musicians young and old through the Suzuki method across Canada and the USA.
Daphne was born in Toronto. She attended the University of Toronto and Bryn Mawr College where she received a Masters of Arts in English Literature. While doing doctoral studies in England she married William (Bill) Hughes in 1961. In 1965, they moved to Guelph, ON, where Bill took up a post as a philosophy professor at the University of Guelph and later served as head of the department. After a few years of being a stay-at-home parent, Daphne rekindled her love of violin and joined the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. She also embarked upon Bachelor of Music studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.
In 1972, the Suzuki method of teaching violin and piano was new to North America, so Daphne travelled to Tennessee to take her first course in the new violin method from American Suzuki pioneer William (Bill) Starr. In September of that year, the Suzuki String School of Guelph was created by Daphne, Hazel Comer, Gail Lange and Bill Hughes. Of course, all of Daphne’s four children were Suzuki string students. The SSSG remains one of the most respected Suzuki schools in North America.
Daphne was always looking for strong potential candidates to become Suzuki teachers. She became a mentor to hundreds of musicians who followed in her footsteps. Daphne also kept developing her own teaching, going to summer Suzuki institutes in the USA in the late 70s and to Japan in 1984 to study with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. Over the years, many of her students won awards and became professional musicians and teachers. However, her priority was always to support students in developing their character and sensitivity. In 1998, Daphne was given the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) and was instrumental in the development of two of their training courses. Daphne was on the Board of Directors of the SAA from 2002 to 2004. She was a frequent contributor to the American Suzuki Journal and also edited its Violin Column.
With a committee of the SSSG, Daphne inspired the creation of the Guelph Suzuki Institute (GSI) in 1983, a summer workshop now known as the Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute. After Bill’s early retirement in 1998 due to illness, Daphne and Bill moved to New Denver, BC. Daphne joined a small Suzuki program there which had been started by her daughter Miranda. In 2005, they together started the Suzuki Valhalla Institute. Daphne felt a strong affinity for life in her newly adopted tiny mountain village and remained in New Denver for several years following Bill’s death in 2003.
In 2012, Daphne returned to Guelph where she lived out her final years, enjoying reconnecting with friends and colleagues in the Suzuki community. After a period of illness, Daphne passed away peacefully at Hospice Wellington, in good care and in the company of family and close friends.
Daphne was predeceased by her mother Grace Knights (nee Robinson), her father James Joseph Knights and her husband Bill Hughes. She is survived by her sister Dawn Cave; daughter Anna Hughes; daughter Miranda Hughes and her husband Chuck Burkholder and children Erin, Noah, Sophie and Fiona; her son Jeremy Hughes and his wife Emma Bishton and children Olivia and Evie; and son Jonathan Hughes and his children Jessica, Alex and Paige.
For those wishing to honour Daphne’s memory, a suggested gesture of remembrance would be a donation to the Suzuki String School of Guelph, the Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute, or your chosen children’s music education organization. Donations can be made at canadahelps.org.
Jo-Anne was intelligent, witty, generous, loving, strong-willed and courageous. A gregarious person who made friends easily, she loved playing in the Oakville Symphony Orchestra. She often said that it was one of the best moments in a not always happy childhood when an uncle gave her a cello. She played in the Lawrence Park Collegiate school orchestra in Toronto, and entered the music program at the University of Toronto.
She was a superbly skillful and creative cello teacher, working within the Suzuki method yet sure-footed in adapting the method to the needs of each student. She ran a studio in Kitchener-Waterloo for some 30 years beginning circa 1974, then for another decade in Oakville. Several of her students went on to their own careers in music.
Diagnosed with ovarian cancer and heart failure, Jo-Anne slipped away from life over several weeks at the Ian Anderson House hospice, receiving the best care imaginable. She is survived by husband John Goyder, sister Nancy Ryan, daughter Jennifer Wood, son Matthew Esper (Laurie), step-daughter Jennifer Goyder, step-son Chris Goyder (Rachel Alger), grandchildren Kai and Malia Wood, step-grandson Simon Petridis, and dog Jenny. She was predeceased by her son Shawn, a brilliant cellist who died tragically in 1992 at age 18, a blow which saddened Jo-Anne for the rest of her life. The family thanks all the skillful medical professionals who did their utmost for Jo-Anne, these past several years, with especial mention to Dr. Vaz. Jo-Anne will be greatly missed. We request that in lieu of flowers, any donations in her memory go to the hospice.