Music notes

In 1991, Seneca College decided to close the
Seneca Suzuki School of Music, which had been
in operation for over 15 years. A core of teachers
wishing to continue in a school-like environment
created the North York Suzuki School of Music
as a not-for- profit organization. Since that time
we have also received charitable status.


Teacher Bios



Liz JohnstonLiz Johnston

Liz graduated from University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Music in Performance degree. She started teaching at the Seneca College Suzuki Program from 1988 and has continued at the North York Suzuki School as one of its founding members. She has completed Suzuki Books 1 - 8 with several teacher trainers including Michele George, John Kendall, William Starr, Alice Joy Lewis and Edmund Sprunger. Liz has been a member of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra since 1994, and freelances with many other orchestras in the Toronto area. She also has an interest in period instrument performance, and received a Canada Council Grant in 2002 to pursue baroque violin studies at Oberlin College, Amherst Early Music Festival, and the Tafelmusik Institute, and has become a frequent performer with Aradia Ensemble.
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David LokanDavid Lokan

Son of a long time Suzuki teacher Nancy Lokan, David began his violin studies at age six through the Suzuki method. He continued advancing through the method and private instruction from Gretchen Paxson-Abberger, playing both violin and viola until leaving for university. He completed his Bachelor of Music at Western University, studying violin, with a major in composition. He has perfomed in university orchestras and opera productions, and performed in solo recitals from a young age. He completed teacher's college through York University (primary school division) and is a registered teacher through the Ontario College of Teachers. He has a variety of teaching experiences in private and group settings, and has training in both the Suzuki and Orff approaches to musical instruction and enrichment. David is excited to join the community of the North York Suzuki School of Music and as such is completing the continuous circle of learning by the Suzuki method.
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Katie MaKatie Ma

Katie Ma holds her Bachelor of Music degree, majoring in Piano and Composition from Hong Kong Baptist University. She attended the world Choir Games in Vienna, Austria in 2000 and was glad to be a member of such world-class competition. Katie is passionate about playing piano especially in concert with other musicians. She studied Orff and worked in an Orff music studio since 2014. She loves singing, body movement and music "jam" with children. Studying music is a life-long journey and Suzuki Method continues to enrich her piano teaching. She is happy to join the community of the North York Suzuki School of Music with such an experenced and supportive team of teachers.
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Rob MacDonaldRob MacDonald

Sincere performances of bold and engaging repertoire have established guitarist Rob MacDonald as one of Canada's most exciting performers of new music. As both a soloist and chamber musician his persistent quest for fresh repertoire regularly leads to the creation of new works and the presentation of rarely heard pieces. He has performed with Soundstreams Canada, Madawaska String Quartet, Contact Contemporary Music, the Canadian Opera Company, Amadeus Choir, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, and Talisker Players. Alongside virtuoso guitarist, Tracy Anne Smith, he is co-founder of ChromaDuo, an ensemble actively commissioning, premiering, and performing new repertoire throughout North America. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, the modern classical guitar's technical and pedagogical birthplace, Rob teaches actively throughout Toronto and has recently undertaken training to teach Suzuki guitar.
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Jennifer MartynJennifer Martyn

Violinist Jennifer Martyn enjoys a busy career as performer, teacher, and researcher. Jennifer's performance career has taken her across Canada, as well as to Europe and Asia. She has performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Kingston, Ottawa and Windsor Symphonies, l'Ensemble Prisme, and Duo Felice, and has been a guest concertmaster with several orchestras, most recently the North York Concert Orchestra and the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In 2016 - 17 season, Jennifer performed two programs with the Talisker Players in the acclaimed "Journeys in Words and Music" chamber music serices. A sought-after teacher, Jennifer especially loves to work with children. Prior to joining the faculty of the North York Suzuki School of Music, Jennifer taught with Etobicoke Suzuki Music in Toronto, and was a founding faculty member of Ottawa Suzuki Strings where she had a studio of over thirty students of all ages. In 2017 Jennifer was an adjudicator at the Brantford Kiwanis Music Festival in Brantford, Ont. Jennifer holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in violin performance from the University of Toronto, where her research focused on the life and career of the nineteeth-century Swedish violinist and composer Amanda Maier. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and the Palmeson Graduate Fellowship in Violin. Jennifer has presented lecture-recitals about her reaserch in Ottawa, Toronto, and Calgary and in early 2017 performed the Canadian premiere of Amanda Maier's 1891 piano quartet. Jennifer holds previous degrees in violin performance from the University to Toronto (BMus), and Mannes College (MMus) in New York City.
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Jeanine NoyesJeanine Noyes

Jeanine earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Queen's University in 1989. She studied the Suzuki method at several institutes and received long term training with Gail Lange. Jeanine has been teaching piano at the North York Suzuki School since 1992. She also writes songs, has recorded two CDs, and performs regularly.
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Gretchen Paxson-AbbergerGretchen Paxson-Abberger

Gretchen holds a Bachelor's degree in Music Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, a Master's degree in Historical Performance from the Mannes College of Music, as well a 2 year Long Term Certificate in Suzuki training from the School For Strings in New York City studying with Louise Behrend. Further Suzuki studies have been short-term training courses with the following: Ronda Cole, Daphne Hughes, Allen Lieb, Carol Smith, Ed Sprunger, and Carey Beth Hockett. Gretchen has been teaching and freelancing in Toronto since moving here from New York City in 1994. She teaches all levels at the North York Suzuki School of Music, as well she is the artistic director for the Miles Nadal JCC Suzuki Program, and summer music camp. Gretchen founded "Thanks to Dr. Suzuki Concert Performances", a charitable organization whose mission is to create community among students and teachers of Toronto are Suzuki schools. She approaches the Suzuki philosophy from 2 sides of the Suzuki Triangle, as a teacher and also as a parent of 2 teenagers who have been learning violin by the Suzuki method since they were toddlers.
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Bijan SepanjiBijan Sepanji

Originally from Iran, Bijan earned his Bachelor of Music from McGill University and Master of Music from Indiana University. While at Indiana University, Bijan was introduced to the world of Suzuki through the String Pedagogy program led by Mimi Zwei and Brenda Brenner. Since moving back to Toronto in 2013, Bijan has spent a considerable amount of time working with students of various backgrounds at Sistema Toronto, and he also conducts the junior division of the Moordale Youth Orchestras. In additional to teaching, Bijan is active with his professional string quartet, the Ton Beau, performing concerts and giving masterclasses throughout Canada and the United States.
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Kate ShanerKate Shaner

Kate is a dedicated and passionate Suzuki teacher, music educator and arts administrator who brings enthusiasm and energy to each of her interests. As well as teaching at North York Suzuki, she is also Managing Director of the Miles Nadal JCC Suzuki Program in downtown Toronto. Prior to moving to Toronto, Kate was the assistant director of Greenwich Suzuki Academy and head of development for the Friends of Greenwich Suzuki Academy fund. She wss also a primary member of the violin, viola and SECE faculty. Earlier she served as the director of the Milford Branch at the Music School of Delaware and was a core violin and viola faculty member in the school's Suzuki Academy from 2013-17. In 2016 Kate was selected as one of Delaware's top young professionals and received the Delaware Business Times "Best 40 under 40" award. She also taught violin and chamber music at Interlochen Arts Summer camp and served on the Board of Directors for the Greater Phildelphia Suzuki Association from 2016-17. Kate holds degrees from the University of Memphis and Ithaca College and completed the long term Suzuki training program under Sanford Reuning and Carrie Reuning-Hummel with additonal instruction from many others such as Edward Kreitman. Kate also studied Suzuki Early Childhood Education and viola. Kate's students have been accepted into prestigious training programs including Interlochen Arts Academy and Sphinx Performance Academy. In her spare time, Kate enjoys reading, playing chamber music with friends and gardening. She lives in Toronto with her husband Rabbi J. Shaner and their son.
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Cindy SongCindy Song

Cindy holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance for cello from University of Toronto (1993). She studied cello with Daniel Domb, Vladimir Orloff, and Walter Joahim. Cindy has taught cello and music in many different settings and to different ages. Her students are extremely well received at RCM exams and Music festivals. Cindy received Suzuki training from Chicago Suzuki Institute, Ithaca Suzuki Institute and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Her instructors include Barbara Wampner, Nancy Hair, Carey Beth Hockett and Suzun Gagnon. She is a long-time membeer of Suzuki Association of the Americas and also Ontario Music Teacher's Association.
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Elena SpanuElena Spanu

Elena started playing the violin when she was three. She began her studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Katherine Rapoport. Her formative training was in the Suzuki method and the RCM method. She received her Bachelor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Western Ontario, where she studied with Robert Skelton, Virginia Baron and Mel Martin. It was at Western where she discovered Baroque violin and moved on to complete an Artists Diploma in Baroque violin at the University of Toronto. There she studied with Jeanne Lamon and various other members of Tafelmusik. Elena has also studied with such notable teachers as Kelly Parkins and Burton Kaplan. Elena has had the opportunity to travel with her violin. In France, she participated in the Saintes Music Festivel with the Jeune Orchestre Atlantique and in Powell River, British Columbia she participated in the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific program. Elena has received teacher training in the Suzuki method at the Southwestern Strings Suzuki Institute (SOSI), completing books 1 - 7. Her teacher trainers have been Edmund Sprunger, Daphne Hughes, Kathleen Spring, Allen Lieb and Brian Lewis. Elena continues to expand her teaching skills by attending workshops and institutes. In addition to teaching, Elena enjoys working as a freelance violinist around Toronto. Her favorite hobbies are knitting and taking ballet classes.
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Jeanine Noyes >
Katie Ma >




Liz Johnston >
David Lokan >
Jennifer Martyn >
Gretchen Paxson-Abberger >
Bijan Sepanji
Kate Shaner
Elena Spanu >







Cello &
Cindy Song >









Musicianship &
  Toddler Program




Rob MacDonald >


Kathryn Klos



Although neither my husband nor I play an instrument with any proficiency, our life
has been immersed in beautiful music. Along with our children we have developed a love and appreciation of music and musicians.
At North York Suzuki this love of children and music was nurtured by the most generous and enthusiastic teachers.


D. Bestvater

Teaching is an inspiration because of the variety of people who come into your life, whether they are the children, parents, colleagues, or mentors. I learn lessons from each one, and have absorbed many things from my students about teaching & learning violin.


Gretchen Paxson-Abberger,