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Home2022 OCTA

2022 OCTA Recipients


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Edith Aeschbacher-Covach (Kitchener-Waterloo Branch)
Edith Aeschbacher-Covach (Kitchener-Waterloo Branch)

Edith Aeschbacher-Covach: ARCT Piano Performer and Composer; RCM certified ELEMENTARY, INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED CERTIFIED THEORY & PIANO teacher;.ORMTA and ACWC Affiliate. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Moved to Canada back in 1995 at the age of 23 with a Piano Professor degree and training in Early Childhood Music studies. While in Argentina, she taught music at her own private studio as well as in several Public Schools. She also worked as a keyboard instructor for the Yamaha Music Corporation for a number of years. After settling to a new life in Canada, new language, new family, she has managed to always remain active as a teacher and musician- performer, teaching in her private studio, pianist to her church orchestra and choir and constant projects on the side. Currently a teacher at the Renaissance School of the Arts in Waterloo, Ontario and at her private Studio. With the help of Professor Terence Kroetsch became an accomplished Piano Performer alongside a high pursuit for an LRCM Diploma. Composing studies were early encouraged in her youth by her Harmony teacher Miguel Costanzo.. Edith embraced them in 2008, enrolling as counterpoint student at the Royal Conservatory of Music with Prof. Roman Toi in Toronto, currently under the instruction of Gary Kulesha (a well-established Canadian composer) and Terence Kroetsch..Her training also included Orchestration lessons with Prof. Trevor Wagler, in Waterloo, Ontario. Her ongoing musical activity is broad, going from teaching at her private studio into composing and performing, regular entries to composing competitions in different styles and also busy performing. Her repertoire often includes pieces by Bach, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Albeniz, Piazzolla -to name a few- and she is often performing in Buenos Aires, Argentina at Conservatory "Carlos Guastavino", where she took her foundational music courses while living there. Edith has accompanied the local Wellington Winds Ensemble and the KWCO at several performances. Her compositions and arrangements have found a way into our local orchestras as well (KWCO, Valhalla Brass Ensemble). Her songs have been performed at Kiwanis festivals, Love for Music Marathon and several studio recitals. Edith also has attended composers Workshops, having had the chance to work personally with composers such as Gary Kulesha and Kevin Lau. Other workshops included working with British composer Christopher Norton. Constant improvement and development are a MUST for Edith, balanced by the enjoyment that making music brings.


Congratulations Edith! The Kitchener Waterloo branch of ORMTA nominates Edith Aeschbacher-Covach for this year's OCTA award. Edith’s community spirit and leadership are inspiring. Throughout her instructional career she has passed on her passion and appreciation of music and theory as a musician/accompanist, composer, pianist, and teacher. She supports our musical community with an abundance of warmth, integrity, and a smile. She gives her time to ORMTA (current president of the KW branch), ACWC, the Renaissance School of Music, her private studio, and also as a pianist to her church orchestra and choir. The support she demonstrates within all these associations and affiliations is fabulous. We are thrilled to honour our colleague, leader, and dear friend Edith.

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Thuy Vi Bach (Etobicoke-Mississauga Branch)
Thuy Vi Bach (Etobicoke-Mississauga Branch)

Mrs. Thuy Vi Bach has been involved with ORMTA for over 14 years. She became a member in 2008 then started her work as treasurer for the Etobicoke-Mississauga branch in 2013. Located in Etobicoke, her piano studio has housed countless students through all life stages. She’s known for being a detail-orientated and relational teacher. She has extensive experience teaching piano in both online and in-person settings. Thuy was studying under the guidance of Christopher Kowal, Jana Skarecki, and Martha Dorland. Her teaching journey began in 1991 when her father’s passion for music and belief in his daughter’s skills inspired him to recruit students, whom she taught in the evenings after work and school. Thuy was also a Parenting supply teacher for the Toronto District School Board, from 1999 at 14 different schools across the GTA. When her second child was born in 2004, Thuy decided to focus only on piano teaching, gaining a waitlist of students through word-of-mouth. In 2021, Thuy’s father passed away from brain cancer. Bach continues to serve as a pianist at her Vietnamese Baptist Church in Mississauga where he dedicated his life. To this day, Thuy teaches up to 61 students and participates regularly in RCM and ORMTA workshops/masterclasses. Her students have won awards in both local and regional competitions, such as the Level 2 Gold Medal from RCM in 2003, scholarships from Milton Festival, ORMTA Etobicoke-Mississauga branch competitions, Vietnamese Talent Show, Peel Festival. Her students are also attending Arts High Schools, such as Mayfield or Cawthra, or attending Music Major in Universities, and registered internationally with programs such as Con Brio Examinations.


It is an honour and a privilege to nominate Thuy Bach as our OCTA recipient for 2022. As soon as we welcomed Thuy into Etobicoke Mississauga Branch, we were most impressed with her willingness to take part in our Branch activities.. Thuy always has a beautiful and engaging smile, which denotes her bright and happy personality! This permeates everything that she accomplishes, as well as the joy that is obvious in her teaching. Thuy presently is our Treasurer, and definitely keeps us on the straight and narrow path financially. Thuy approaches her position as with care, professionalism and is always most prepared for our Executive meetings. Thuy successfully coordinates our “Fun Afternoon”, where the students enjoy snacks and perform “Fun Pieces”. During this activity, we also have a Silent Auction, where we raffle off donations from our contributors. The proceeds go to our Scholarship Fund, and we credit each year’s success of our “Fun Afternoon” to Thuy’s capable leadership. We are proud to acknowledge Thuy’s teaching abilities, and celebrate with her as her students move forward with great success. Thuy’s students demonstrate not only her expertise as a teacher, but also showcase her sunny personality and her dedication to them. It is with great joy that I present Thuy Bach as our 2022 OCTA nominee.

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Anita Beaty (Central Toronto Branch)
Anita Beaty (Central Toronto Branch)

I became fascinated with the sound of the piano as a small child in England. I am not sure where our piano came from – but it had me at “hello”; so much so that I proceeded to chip all the ivory keys with a ruler. A friend of my sister’s played, and when she would visit, she would play little games at the piano with me. She was, in some ways, my first teacher. We moved to Vancouver a short while later. It was very different; the kids were merciless in their teasing of my accent and foreign ways. The piano was there for me. My teacher was a lovely woman who enjoyed my enthusiasm and fostered my creative spirit. I was finding my way and growing comfortable in my new surroundings when, lo and behold, we were off again: to Montreal this time. In Montreal, my mother found me a new teacher whom I clearly didn’t feel comfortable with. I am not sure how I articulated that to her, but I do remember being too scared to even ask to go to the bathroom... and the obvious results ensued. My next teacher made me nervous too, but we continued, nonetheless. I even ended up teaching some of her students when she grew too busy. I continued my piano studies through college and two University degrees. The Eastman School of Music was a high-pressure community of talented but also competitive people – I survived. Indiana University offered more anonymity and camaraderie. I was a teaching assistant and learned a whole lot about Academia. I was invited to stay and do a doctorate...I ran screaming; I had had enough of university. With school in my rear-view mirror, I began to follow my passion for composition. I composed and performed with many theatrical productions. My favourites: Destiny (a live, improvised weekly soap opera), Star Trek Live (three seasons), Rick Miller’s smash MacHomer: The Simpsons Do Macbeth, and a rollicking rendition of Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park). At present, I am a portfolio pianist: teaching, adjudicating, collaborating, composing...everything but tuning and moving. I am always working towards developing new skills and improving the existing set. I am grateful that I have been able to teach so many people over the years, and hope that through piano I have taught them about the magic that comes from a shared experience like no other.


Anita Beaty has been an active member of the Central Toronto Branch of ORMTA since 2006. She has made significant contributions to the organization. As executive member, for many years, she prepared the ORMTA-CTB newsletter ran our very successful yearly Children’s Hallowe’en Recital and participated in the Teachers Recital. Anita is still a very active member of our executive, passionately participating and involving her students in many events.

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Janice Beninger (Hamilton-Halton Branch)
Janice Beninger (Hamilton-Halton Branch)

Janice (Strifler) Beninger is an independent piano and theory teacher in Dundas Ontario. Musical activities have been central to her life, and she has been teaching piano for over 50 years. Her teaching focus has been to bring out the creative, musical, and intelligent best in every student, of any age, or any level of motivation and ability. Her continual objective is to share her love of music with those who show an interest. Janice did undergraduate music studies at Ambassador College in Los Angeles (B.A.) and graduate studies at the University of Toronto and at the University of Western Ontario (M.Mus.), receiving instruction from many excellent and prominent teachers including Ronald Turini, piano, Simon Streatfield, new music ensemble, and Jerry Long, conducting. Later, while raising three children, Janice continued studies in voice, organ, conducting and even jazz piano. She is active as pianist (concert organ/piano duo Four Hands Two Feet with husband, Simon Irving), and has performed as a big band pianist (Speakeasy Band in Brantford), as accompanist (for college music department plus for numerous instrumental, choral, vocal performances), Church Organist/Music Director and Senior and Junior Choir Director (Knox Preston Presbyterian Church; St. Paul’s Hamilton, Knox Waterdown), Music Director for professional and community theatre (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Joseph; Bye Bye Birdie; Annie), church vocal soloist (Church of the Ascension, Hamilton), and choral conductor (Kaleidoscope Singers; Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts Children’s Choir; McMaster Vocal Ensemble; Burlington Welsh Male Chorus; Burlington Welsh Ladies Chorus). Janice has also created various choral arrangements, taught First Year Harmony at McMaster University, and school music at the Waldorf School in Burlington. She served in Hamilton-Halton ORMTA as Recital Convenor and President and has volunteered with Symphony Hamilton, running the Young Artists Competition, and assisting in performance with keyboard and small percussion and conducting parts. Janice wishes to thank ORMTA for your invaluable community of music teachers and for the honour of receiving this award.


In her term as President, Janice effectively led the branch Executive Committee in a professional and positive manner. She is very involved in the community as the Music Director of the Burlington Welsh Male Chorus and Burlington Welsh Ladies Chorus. Janice has devoted her entire life to teaching and to music. She is multi-talented as a church musician, theory instructor, choral arranger, jazz musician, performer, choral conductor and so much more!

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Amy Boyes (Ottawa Region Branch)
Amy Boyes (Ottawa Region Branch)

Amy Boyes is a piano and theory teacher from Ottawa, Ontario (soon-to-be, Warman, Saskatchewan). Amy holds Associate Diplomas in Performance (ARCT) and Teaching (ARCT) from the Royal Conservatory, a Licentiate in Performance from Trinity College (UK), a Bachelor of Music (Applied Piano) from Brandon University and a Master of Music (Performance and Pedagogy) from the University of Alberta. Currently, Amy is the Public Relations and Marketing Chair for the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations. For ORMTA, Amy was a Provincial Zone Representative and then later a Member of the Executive. She was President of the Ottawa Region Branch (2017 – 2019). A national council member and content writer for the Canadian Music Festival Adjudicators' Association, Amy has adjudicated music festivals from Prince Edward Island to Manitoba. Amy is also a member of the Royal Conservatory’s College of Examiners (piano and music history) and has examined in Canada, the US and online. As a speaker, Amy has presented at music teacher conferences in both Canada and the US on topics such as studio management, strong interpersonal relationships with students and diversifying students’ repertoire. Amy’s writing has been featured on multiple occasions in The Globe and Mail, Piano Professional, MTNA Music Teacher Magazine, Frances Clark Center’s Piano Magazine, and CFMTA The Canadian Music Teacher Magazine. Her first book, Micro Miracle was published by Signature Editions in 2019 and her second book, Yes, Miss Thompson will be released from Now or Never Publishing in 2023. Through writing and speaking, Amy has focused on clear communication and strong relationships with students, their parents, and teaching colleagues. In the dozen years she’s taught in Ottawa, she has valued working with students and appreciates the ongoing support of her colleagues both for the move to Saskatchewan and the giving of this award.


The Ottawa Region Branch has nominated Amy Boyes for her commitment and hard work that she puts towards both teaching and ORMTA. Amy is a valued member in the teaching community who inspires all of us. Her commitment to her students is apparent through the strong relationships she has built with her studio families through recitals, performances, and lessons. The Ottawa Region Branch wishes Amy and her family all the best as they make their move to Warman, SK. Congratulations Amy!

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Dr. John Burge (Kingston Branch)
Dr. John Burge (Kingston Branch)

Dr. John Burge was born in Dryden, Ontario in 1961. While still in high school, he received his Associate Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto in Piano Performance. He also holds degrees in Composition and Theory from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. Since 1987 he has been teaching at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where he currently holds the position of Full Professor and has served as Director of the School of Music. In recognition of his very successful career as a composer, John Burge was awarded a Queen’s University Excellence in Research and Scholarship Prize in 2013. In 2014 he was inducted as a Fellow into the Royal Society of Canada. John Burge has written a large body of vocal, chamber, and orchestral compositions. In addition to his large output of piano music, he is particularly well known for his choral works, many of which are published by Boosey and Hawkes Music Publishers. His composition Angels’ Voices, for choir and orchestra, received the 2006 Outstanding New Choral Composition Award from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors and was performed at Carnegie Hall in 2005. Burge also has a strong affinity for writing for string instruments, having composed over a dozen works for string orchestra. Sinfonia Toronto’s recording of his composition Flanders Fields Reflections received the 2009 Juno Award for the Best Canadian Classical Composition. Continued Juno recognition was received in 2015 with a nomination of his Piano Quartet, as recorded by Ensemble Made In Canada, in the same category. His orchestral compositions include a number of concertos and two symphonies. With titles like Snowdrift, Rocky Mountain Overture, Upper Canada Fiddle Suite, and The Canadian Shield, it is obvious that many of his works for large ensemble draw their influence from a distinctively Canadian perspective. The most recent addition to this collection, Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, is a work commissioned and performed in 2017 by three Canadian orchestras in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. A passionate advocate for Canadian music, Burge was a member of the executive council of the Canadian League of Composers from 1993-2007, serving as President from 1998-2006. He is currently a board member for the SOCAN Foundation. An active music festival adjudicator and clinician, John Burge enjoys working with musicians young and old, greatly enjoying the opportunity to share musical ideas and insights.


Dr. John Burge gives 100% to everything he does, and his passion for teaching and composing is evident to all who cross paths with him. He is a fierce, loyal musical leader in our community and uses all of his talents and skills to lift other musicians up. He’s been a particularly strong advocate of young talent over the years, despite his significant university responsibilities. He has always been extremely generous with his talents and time, adjudicating many festivals and working with many individual students. His contributions in planning the upcoming ORMTA convention in Kingston have been phenomenal. We’re very fortunate to have John as part of our musical community.

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Otello Haddad (Windsor-Essex Branch)
Otello Haddad (Windsor-Essex Branch)

Hailing from a highly accomplished musical family with an international reach stretching from Asia, and Europe, to North America, Otello Haddad studied music in both Moscow and Brussels. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Music Education and Chamber Music from the world-renowned Gnessins Academy of Music (formerly known as the Gnessins Pedagogical School of Music) in Moscow and a Master in Piano Performance from the equally esteemed Royal Conservatory of Brussels. Otello studied under the noted pianist A. A. Alexandrov, as well as under V. P. Starodubrovsky, who held the title of National Artist in his native Russia. In Brussels, Otello worked with renowned pianist and composer Boyan Vodenitcharov, 1983 laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition. Otello also participated in one of the International Masterclasses held by the world-famous soloist, Wolfgang Manz, in Trier, Germany. Following his international training as a pianist and pedagogue, Otello Haddad began his performing and teaching career in Amman, Jordan, at the National Music Conservatory, founded in 1986 by the Queen Noor al Hussein Foundation. The Conservatory trains Jordanians and others from the Middle East in classical Western but also Eastern traditions, and aims, through the power of music, to break down cultural barriers. While in Amman, Otello performed regularly at the Royal Cultural Centre, where his performances were highly regarded and appreciated. Following his time in Jordan, Otello became a regular performing artist, both as a soloist and collaborative pianist, at numerous cultural centres and music venues throughout Belgium, and most especially in its capital, Brussels. While in Belgium, he also established a highly successful private teaching studio. In the early 2000s, Otello left Europe to embark on a new journey, settling in Windsor, Ontario, where he has extended family. There, along with his wife, the pianist Valia Van Parys, Otello followed their dream of combining music performance with teaching. He taught piano and music theory at the local Académie Ste. Cécile, then opened a new private piano studio with the goal of training Southwestern Ontario’s musicians of tomorrow. Today, his private music studio is flourishing, with its students regularly winning awards in both local and provincial competitions. Otello is keen to give back to the community and performs regularly. Notably, he has performed at the University of Windsor, the Windsor Public Library, as well as at Assumption Chapel and at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church. Currently he is choir director and pianist at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Windsor. A member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association (ORMTA), Otello currently resides in Windsor, Ontario with his wife Valia and their award-winning sons, aspiring pianists Leander and Sebastien.


Otello Haddad has made his mark on Windsor’s musical community over the last 20 years through the excellence of his teaching and his eagerness to share the insights he received and developed during his formative years in Russia, Belgium, and the Middle East. The wisdom he acquired through years of study with eminent pedagogues and the experience he gained performing and teaching Classical music in settings that fostered openness to cultural differences have contributed to his unique pedagogical approach. Otello's students have consistently distinguished themselves in festivals, examinations and concert performances, and his involvement in many facets of Windsor’s development as a growing cultural hub make him worthy of this award. We are proud of his achievements and wish him continued success as a teacher. 



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Reginald Miller (North York/York Region Branch)
Reginald Miller (North York/York Region Branch)

He did his early studies with his mother in Saskatoon. He did his intermediate and advanced studies with Lyell Gustin in Saskatoon under whom he obtained his ATCL, LTCL and FTCL. He began his private teaching career in that city in 1973. In the summer of 1977, he studied at Fontainebleau under the famous Nadia Boulanger. She subsequently agreed to teach him in Paris and through her auspices he obtained a French government scholarship for three years. Melle. Boulanger passed away shortly after his arrival in Paris and he then studied with her longtime assistant, Annette Dieudonné. With her he studied harmony, counterpoint, analysis, fugue and solfège. He also studied piano there under Josep Colom. The three years spent in Paris were an enriching time both musically and culturally and the skills and knowledge acquired there have been of great benefit in his own teaching. It was a great pleasure to get to know many prominent musicians. Melles. Boulanger and Dieudonné had personally known many renowned composers and performers. In 1979, Reginald returned to Canada to work toward his BMus and MMus in piano performance at the University of Toronto. These were achieved in 1981 and 1982. His teacher was Patricia Parr, a former child prodigy and an excellent chamber musician. He taught at the University of Toronto for 20 years. Subjects taught there were sight singing, dictation, keyboard harmony, written harmony, and piano departmental literature. He also followed closely Rosemarie Landry's French diction classes, two of his great interests being the French mélodie and the German Lied. Many years of auditing Douglas Bodle's oratorio class at the university also gave opportunity for greater depth and enrichment of his musical experience. When Greta Kraus injured her hand and was no longer able to accompany the students, he played for several years for her lieder classes; again, a great learning experience. During this time, he was teaching piano and theory privately, adjudicating music festivals and examining for the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. In 2003 he relocated from Toronto to Markham and has been a member of the North York/York Region Branch of ORMTA since then. For many years he taught harmony classes and piano at the Euromusic School, now associated with the Steinway Piano Gallery. He has also taught private piano and advanced theory at his studio in Markham. Some of his students have achieved very high marks in examinations and festivals. The pandemic of the last two years brought with it isolation and much down time. Reginald has used this extra time to prepare documents for his students and other teachers. They can be found under “Resources” at reginaldmillerpiano.com.


Reginald Miller is a versatile and well-rounded musician and teacher who has taught numerous practical, theoretical and musicianship subjects. As a teacher, he is highly appreciated and commended by his students. He has given many workshops for the ORMTA and has posted music theory study guides and notes on Lyell Gustin's teaching on his website. Our branch is honoured to have him as one of our members.



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Sheila Vandikas (Newmarket & Area Branch)
Sheila Vandikas (Newmarket & Area Branch)

Pianist Sheila Vandikas has led an active musical career that has taken her across North America, Europe, and Asia. With over three decades of teaching experience, her passion for cultivating a love of music in aspiring musicians has driven her to build a thriving music studio based in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada. A graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto, Sheila has studied with Patricia Parr, Irina Kugucheva, and Ruth Nieboer. Sheila is the recipient of several awards and scholarships, both as a performer and as a teacher. She is a former music teacher, course liaison, and national consultant for Yamaha Canada Music and their corporate school where she taught both students and teachers alike. Active as a collaborative pianist, she has worked alongside the University of Toronto's Contemporary Music Ensemble and Early Music Ensemble, as well as the Tapestry Chamber Choir. As a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers' Association, she has served as an executive member for both Newmarket and Area branch and Markham-Stouffville branch. She held positions in the ORMTA Provincial Council as GTA Zone Representative, Young Artist Convener, and Pedagogy and Member Initiatives Convener. In her spare time, Sheila enjoys writing compositions, transcriptions, and arrangements. Most notably, her arrangement of Libertango for piano four-hands was featured on CBC's In Concert by the piano-duo La Fiammata. Over the years, she has been an associate member of the Association of Canadian Women Composers and has adjudicated exams and music festivals in Ontario. Currently, she is the Newmarket Royal Conservatory of Music Exams Representative and the director of MuSix Studio and Services, where her family of six maintain a busy teaching and performing schedule. The entire family was showcased in Visual and Performing Arts Newmarket's 2018 series, Three for the Show. Most recently, she and her husband, George have taken on the position of Young Artist Showcase organizers with VPAN. Sheila holds a black belt in Goju-ryu Karate and maintains an active lifestyle with her husband.


Sheila Vandikas is the Newmarket and Area Branch nominee for this year’s OCTA award. Sheila has been an active member of Newmarket ORMTA as well as provincial ORMTA for a number of years, serving as a branch president, vice president, secretary and treasurer! We are so grateful for her involvement with the branch! In addition to this, she has devoted 35 years and more to teaching students of every level both piano and theory. Music has been such a big part of Sheila’s life, as well as in the lives of her husband and children. The joy of music, in particular, the joy of teaching piano is evident in the many successes that her students have achieved throughout the years!