2019 ORMTA Contribution to Teaching Award Recipients

Congratulations to these ORMTA members who are OCTA recipients. 

Based on nominations by their branches, each of these teachers received this award in recognition of their excellence in teaching and dedication to this organization.

Barbara Agnew

Kingston Branch

Barbara Agnew is a semi- retired music teacher with a diverse background in many areas of music. She has shared her musical talents for over 65 years in Eastern Ontario and continues to be an inspiration to many people. In 2017, she was awarded an Honorary Life Membership celebrating 50 years in the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association.

One of Barbara’s early memories was singing and playing guitar in the family band. Being attracted to any type of music, she was successful in passing her first RCM piano examination at a young age. Barbara went on to study piano, voice and pipe organ with Professor F. G. Mann in Peterborough, achieving an Associate in Music in Piano Pedagogy with McGill University. Shortly after, she accepted a position as an organist and choir director in Lindsay.

In 1962, Barbara and family moved to Ottawa where she began teaching students in her home, and before long was accepted as a member of ORMTA. She enjoyed going to meetings, attending workshops, and events where she could collect new ideas and meet with other teachers. As the children grew older, to increase her musical education, Barbara enrolled in music studies at Carleton University. She resumed piano lessons with Ross Pratt, a professor and international performer from Montreal, and assisted in the teaching of Keyboard Harmony classes at the university. She helped organize concerts for her church, sang in the choir and along with other teachers, auditioned music students for their performance at the Laurentian junior music concerts (including her own daughter).

Moving to Sharbot Lake provided new opportunities. Barbara taught at the local public schools and in her home studio, mostly piano, but occasionally voice and organ. In both Ottawa and Sharbot Lake, she also prepared students for RCM examinations, recitals and public performances. Under the direction of Charlotte Clark, she accompanied the Young Choristers Limestone Northern Choir for 18 years. Barbara played for a variety of musicals, for both the public school, and North Frontenac Little Theatre (NFLT).

Barbara continues to teach a few students, play the organ and direct a choir in Sharbot Lake. She plays at an annual church service on the beach, at weddings and funerals, and is currently collaborating with a fellow musician in composing a 40th anniversary song for the NFLT. Barbara’s life has been musically fulfilling. She also enjoys reading, gardening, baking and spending time with her family.

Alde Calongcagong

Windsor-Essex Branch

Alde Calongcagong was born and raised in Windsor and received his early piano training with Nancy Jobagy and Lorna Cameron. He later obtained his Bachelors of Music in piano performance from the University of Windsor and his Masters of Music at Western University. His principal teachers include Dr. E. Gregory Butler and Ronald Turini.

A former Rose Bowl winner at the Windsor Essex Kiwanis Music Festival, Alde was also the recipient of the J. Francis Leddy Entrance Scholarship, and the Ouellette/Yamaha Piano Scholarship at the University of Windsor. From Western University, he was a prize winner at the London Music Scholarship Foundation Competition.

Alde is proud to be a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association where he served as President for the Windsor/Essex County Branch. He is currently a member of Provincial Council where he serves as Western Zone representative and Competitions Convenor.

Many of his students have entered university music programs and have won top prizes and scholarships at local, provincial and national music competitions. Alde has been active as a collaborative artist, vocal coach at the Walkerville Centre for the Creative Arts, an adjudicator (member of the Canadian Music Festivals Adjudicators’ Association), sessional instructor at the University of Windsor, choral accompanist for both choirs at the university, music director at Paulin Memorial Presbyterian Church and an examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Highlights include piano soloist with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven Choral Fantasy and recitals at the Glenn Gould Studio and Koerner Hall.

Alde’s wife Cecilia is a music teacher for the Windsor Essex Separate School Board. Together they have four musical children.

Erin Coffey


Erin comes from a musical family and has enjoyed having choral singing and piano as part of her life from a young age. As a child she sang in the Inter Mennonite Children’s Choir, was encouraged to learn the cello through the school strings program and to participate in every orchestra, choir and school musical production available. She is delighted to receive this nomination from the ORMTA Kitchener-Waterloo Branch.

Erin studied piano with Raymond Yundt in Kitchener as a teen and Rosemary Collins at the University of Guelph, and theory with Helga Morrison and Terry Kroetsch at The Beckett School. She holds an Honours BA in both International Development & Music. As a student in a small BA Music program Erin had many unique opportunities for ensemble playing including dabbling with the harpsichord, accompanying oratorios, operas and period choirs under the instruction of Stephanie Martin and Larry Beckwith. Erin spent 10 years accompanying RAD ballet classes at the Royal City School of Ballet and continues to apply what she learned about dance to teaching Baroque dances on the piano. Life-long learning and professional development is important to Erin and she is currently working through the Piano Pedagogy Courses (slowly).

She has been teaching piano and theory since 1995, and is thankful for great mentors who encouraged her to start teaching and provided support and resources; including her mother, who was an MYC and early childhood music teacher, and would not let any of her three children ‘quit’ piano when they went through difficult practicing seasons. Erin has been an active participant in a small teaching association in Elmira since taking on her first four students at the age of 16. The group’s primary purposes are to support and encourage each other, connect new or young teachers to the local musical community and work with the Kiwanis Club annually to plan the Elmira Kiwanis Music Festival.

After many years of teaching a full daytime studio at a private school & group theory at The Beckett School Erin currently enjoys having a small studio at home and working part time for a faith-based non-profit organization; while still making time for accompanying, playing at church, time with family, and dog Coda.

Erin has submitted more than 770 students for RCM Exams. She particularly enjoys teaching the Advanced Theory Levels and has the privilege of working with the students of many her local colleagues as a result. Erin’s favourite part of teaching music is variety – from working with young beginners to coaching University students, every day is different.

Brenda Eisener

Ottawa Region

Growing up in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, music was a large part of Brenda’s life, involving piano lessons, church choirs, and school music activities. She went on to study music in the Special Music Class at Nova Scotia Teachers College under Dr Catherine Allison. After Summer School classes at Dalhousie University she graduated with a Specialized License to teach School Music.

In 1962 Brenda married her military husband Bernie Eisener. She continued to teach school music in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as she and her husband moved around in the military. While living in northern Quebec, she was organist and choir director at the military chapel.

In 1974 Brenda and Bernie and their three children were posted to Baden-Soellingen, Germany for three years. While in Germany Brenda realized that maintaining a school teaching career as a military wife was too difficult. She then started further piano studies with Pat Lemoine who was on assignment from the RCM.

Returning to Ottawa in 1977 Brenda continued piano studies with Netta Gale and started teaching piano privately. She completed her ARCT with Verna Jacobson at Carleton University whom Brenda credits with much of her success as a piano teacher. While at Carleton she studied voice and sang in the University Choir, fulfilling her love of singing. In her piano teaching she has always stressed the importance of singing with her students.

In 1988 Brenda joined ORMTA and was soon invited to become a Council member by then President Joan Clarkson. Her duties included Social, Membership List, First Class Honours, Workshops, Competitions and President from 1992 -1994. A highlight of her Presidency was the hugely successful 1993 CFMTA Convention at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. This success was largely due to the phenomenal work of Sandra Cooke and her convention committee. Also, from 2012-2014 Brenda looked after Cards and Flowers.

As Zone Representative from 1996-1999, she was responsible for Provincial Competitions, a challenging and rewarding portfolio. Brenda also served as Zone Rep again in 2004-2005 completing her friend Shirley Efford’s term. During this year, Brenda was responsible for Bylaws and later served on a committee to rewrite the Bylaws.

Brenda’s commitment to music was also manifested by her years of community work with the Gloucester Music Teachers, Gloucester Music Club and the Gloucester Concert Assoc.

Her years of teaching piano and theory (harmony and history) have been extremely rewarding and she has had the satisfaction of seeing several of her students go on to further studies in music. Her role in ORMTA has also broadened and enriched her life.

Ann Fasciano


Ann Pichette Fasciano grew up in Kapuskasing, ON, and studied voice there with Barbara Beckett. She received the vocal plaque in the Kapuskasing Music Festival for three consecutive years.

Ann studied music at Queen’s University in Kingston, where she studied voice with Carol-Lynn Reifel. While attending Queen’s, she performed in Gabriel Faure’s “Requiem” at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Ann also studied with Professor Marion Harvey at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

After university study, Ann moved to Timmins, where she established her voice studio. She has been teaching in Timmins for 23 years, and lives with her husband Darren and their two boys, Brennen, 19, and Logan, 12.

Ann sang with the Timmins Concert Singers under the direction of Rosanne Simunovic, where she had the privilege of singing with the Elmer Eisler Singers in Toronto. She has also performed with the Northern Harmony Singers, a theatrical choir in Timmins.

Ann’s students have won many awards throughout the years including multiple Rose Bowls in the Porcupine Music Festival de Musique, and a silver medalist in a voice exam of the Royal Conservatory of Music.

She has been a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association for ten years and is enjoying her second year on the ORMTA Provincial Council as the North East Zone Representative and Fundraising Convenor. She is also currently the President of the Timmins Branch and actively participates in Zone Conventions and Branch concerts.

Alan Hobbins

Markham Stoufville

Canada is home to acclaimed Jamaican born pianist Alan Hobbins. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and a graduate Artist Diploma from The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music. Alan has studied with world renowned concert pianists like Oxana Yablonskaya, Adele Marcus, Leon Fleisher and Chopin specialist Marek Jablonski.

Alan has given many successful solo and chamber music concerts in Toronto, Waterloo, London, Ottawa, New York City and Jamaica, West Indies. He has performed at The Royal Conservatory of Music, Glenn Gould Studio, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, National Library of Canada, and Toronto Centre for the Arts. Additional concert appearances also include, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York and the Ward Theatre in his native Jamaica. Alan’s artistry brought concert engagements with The Frédéric Chopin Society of Canada. In 1999, he was awarded the Chopin Medal of Recognition by the Society for his all-Chopin debut CD recording. Alan’s discography also includes works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Gershwin. His recordings have been broadcast nationally on CBC Radio and Classical 96 FM.

In addition to Alan’s solo endeavors, he is also a superb collaborative pianist. He has worked with many singers in a variety of styles and performed in concert with the Upper Canada Children’s Chorus.

In 2008, Alan was honoured for Black History Month by the Markham African Caribbean Association for outstanding contributions and service to the community. In 1994, he received the Canadian Harry Jerome Award for Outstanding Professional Excellence. Other awards came from the Ontario Arts Council, Chalmers Award and the Classical 96 FM scholarship for study at The Royal Conservatory of Music.

Alan has been a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teacher’s Association since 2003, and is currently the Co-President of the Markham-Stouffville Branch. Over the years his students have won first place awards from ORMTA, Richmond Hill, Markham North York and Pickering Music Festivals, Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival and The Royal Conservatory of Music Silver Medal. Many of his students have pursued undergraduate music study and embarked on successful professional careers as musicians.

Alan is currently a member of the College of Examiners at The Royal Conservatory of Music.

Susan Kelly

Thunder Bay

Susan Kelly, from Redbridge, ON, began her piano studies with Mary Sirrs in North Bay at the age of 7. She studied music theory with Sister Jacqueline Fawcett. She completed her Grade 10 RCM piano before leaving for university. After moving to Thunder Bay, she earned her ARCT in piano pedagogy with Sister Immaculata, Sister Irene Morrow, and Deborah Buset. After 14 years of part-time study, she graduated from Lakehead University with an Honours Bachelor of Music. She is committed to life-long learning, and has attended many workshops throughout the years. Her insatiable curiosity led her to study the Suzuki piano method at SOSI with Caroline Fraser. (Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute.) She is certified to teach Books 1 and 2. She borrows freely from all the different methods of teaching in her efforts to help her students be successful.

She has taught piano for over 30 years. She uses all of her knowledge to find the best way to teach each student. One of the best compliments she ever received was when a parent said: “You teach each of my children differently.” She shares her love of music with all whom she is blessed to teach.

After a mentorship with Delores Dickey, she began teaching music theory. She discovered that she loves to puzzle out music theory problems, and is constantly fascinated with the structure of music. She has known great satisfaction in helping students complete their theoretical requirements. She owes many thanks to her colleagues for referring their senior students to her studio.

Susan co-founded the Thunder Bay Children’s Chorus in 1995 with friend and colleague Susan Sutherland-Richards. She served as co-ordinator and accompanist until 2001. She has been a member of dulcisono women’s choir for over 10 years. Her latest venture was to sing in the chorus of “Messiah” with the Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus last December. What a thrill it was!

Susan is married to John, and has two sons, John Jr. and Ian, and four grandchildren—Claire, Kane, Finn and Nola. In her spare time, she likes to go hiking, camping and fishing with John and her dog, Riley.

Mary Lim

North York / York Region

Mary Lim has been an active ORMTA member since 1992 and has served as the workshop convenor of the North York / York Region branch since 2004.

In Hong Kong, Mary graduated from the Baptist University with distinction and from the Chinese University with first class honours, majoring in piano performance and harpsichord respectively. She became a piano Fellow of the Trinity College of Music of England at teenage. She also holds six British licentiate diplomas – three in piano teaching, one in piano performing, one in harpsichord performing and one in school music.

Among the many scholarships Mary won from her music studies, the most coveted was a German government scholarship which provided 14-month full sponsorship for her to further her studies in Germany. Subsequently, in Mozarteum Salzburg, she passed her harpsichord concert examination with distinction and was conferred a master’s degree. She was also invited to study at the Vleeshuis Museum in Antwerp and at the Minsk Music Conservatory in Belarus by scholarships. Studies of a large variety of keyboard instruments enrich her understanding of the entire history of keyboard music.

Continuing education plays an important part in Mary’s life. She continued to take regular private piano lessons for 4 more years after her undergraduate studies and had consultation sessions with many world-renowned musicians and professors. She participated in many masterclasses and audited in thousands of those in many countries. She is also a frequent attendee in workshops.

Mary has extensive performing experience in Hong Kong, North America and Europe, no matter as a soloist or collaborator. She has also recorded for radio and television. In the mid-90s, she was invited by the Royal Conservatory in Toronto to coach ensembles and to present a workshop. She was also an RCM examiner for ten years but she enjoys teaching people to play the piano the most. She gives her students great freedom in development but is always firm in aiming at the highest quality. As a result, her students won first place in open piano competitions close to 35 times. In 2017, she was awarded a certificate of excellence by Crescendo International Music Competition in recognition of her outstanding commitment to music education.

Other than volunteering in various music organizations, Mary served on the board of directors of the Federation of Chinese Canadian Professionals (Ontario) and currently serves on the board of directors of a condo corporation.

Virginia Little


Virginia Little began studying the violin at age 5 in Beamsville Ontario. She fell in love with making music and always had a spirit that yearned to help others. Virginia received her ARCT in 1974 at age 21 and joined the ORMTA that year. She started teaching privately and in the Kitchener Waterloo school system. In 1977 Virginia founded the Little String Orchestra and conducted the orchestra for over 35 years introducing hundreds of young musicians to the joy of making music together. A junior orchestra was later added for younger students and despite her retirement, the LSO is still going strong. As she continued to teach she became interested in the Suzuki method of teaching music. After taking the teacher training offered through the Suzuki association, she started the Brant Suzuki String School in 1988. Over the years the school expanded to include additional instruments (viola and cello) and additional teachers. Many music students in the Brantford area can credit the BSSS with their start in music and some have gone on to become music teachers themselves and to perform in major orchestras around the world.

Virginia has played in many local symphonies and chamber groups over the years and was the founder of the Chamber Players in the late 1990’s. She has also been an active member of the ORMTA acting as the president of the Brantford branch from 1996-1998 and administering the string section of the Kiwanis Music Festival for over 40 years. For her efforts in bringing music education to Brantford she was awarded the Arts Citizen of the Year for Brantford in 1993 and was mentioned in the House of Commons by then MP Jane Stewart. Virginia has organized many charitable activities through her music school including providing music for the local schools, hospital, and seniors homes. She has provided scholarships and awards for many young people in the community and has donated instruments and musical supplies to music schools overseas.

Virginia has recently closed the Suzuki school and moved into semi-retirement, still teaching a few days a week. In her retirement she continues to adjudicate local music festivals and would like to study how music affects brain development. She enjoys volunteering for many organizations in the community, appreciating her beautiful garden (carefully tended by her horticulturalist husband), and spending time with her two grandsons (who also take Suzuki music).

Gerald Martindale

Central Toronto

Growing up in Thornhill, I attended Thornhill Secondary School and learned how to play the tuba, clarinet, and alto sax. At this time I began to take piano lessons at the Thornhill Music School. After graduating from high school I obtained my Bachelor of Musical Arts from the University of Windsor. Upon my graduation I was fortunate to study flute for several years with Anthony Antonacci, who played the flute and piccolo in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I joined the North Toronto Branch of the ORMTA and volunteered as the Auditions Convener. In the 1980’s I studied organ with Michael Bloss at Timothy Eaton Memorial United Church in Toronto. I was awarded my ARCT in organ in 1993 and my ARCCO in 1994. It was a thrill to take lessons on the 5 manual 101 rank Casavant organ, While at Timothy Eaton Church I discovered that the tower included a 21 bell chime. The chimer put me in touch with James Slater, the carillonneur at the Metropolitan United Church, Toronto. When James allowed me to watch him play the carillon, I was fascinated! He arranged for me to take lessons with Dr. Sydney Shep, the carillonneur of the University of Toronto.

When James retired, I applied for the carillon position and got the job, playing the 54 bell instrument every Sunday from 10:30 to 11 am and also for funerals and weddings. After playing the carillon for 19 years I retired from that position and began to play the 50 bell Exhibition Place carillon.

Beginning in 1999 I started to act as a background performer for movie and television productions. To date I have acted in over 300 productions. Also I have been very active with the Toronto Region of CAMMAC. The organization organizes music readings for singers and instrumentalists. In September 2018 I became the President of the Toronto Region of CAMMAC.

Another interest is singing in community choirs. I’m the tenor section head in the Singing Out Choir and the Annex Singers. Every summer I perform guest carillon recitals in the United States and once every three years in Europe as well. Last summer I completed my 20th annual carillon concert tour of the United States and in 2017, my 8th concert tour of Europe. I have performed recitals mainly in the northeastern United States and in England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Lithuania, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

Megan Newcombe


Megan started taking piano lessons at the age of 6 and enjoyed playing over the years, regularly accompanying her children on their violin and cello exams and at festivals. It wasn’t until after her children left home that she started teaching piano part time. After leaving her job as a Conference Coordinate, she began her journey in music to complete her Teacher’s Certificate. She studied Harmony and History with Joe Ringhofer and Piano Pedagogy with Daryl Irvine and Lisa Thiessen. She finished her ARCT in Piano Pedagogy with Jennifer Knelman, who was instrumental in helping her overcome the fear of performing with her many performance classes for advanced students.

Megan has volunteered extensively in her community. She served on the South Simcoe Arts Council Board of Directors for over 10 years in several different capacities (Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and President). Megan chaired the SSAC Music Festival in Alliston for 9 years and was director of the Gibson Centre for Community Arts and Culture for over 4 years. She has served on the Executive of the Barrie ORMTA board for 4 years as Publicity Chair and Co-Treasurer for one year and volunteers for many ORMTA events as well.

She is the founder of the Monday Morning Music Duet Club, a venue for retired and active music professionals to play duets and trios on a regular basis. The club also donates scholarships to the Newmarket Voice Festival and the SSAC Music Festival each year.

Megan makes performance classes, duets, improvisation and composition a regular part of her music studio. Her Piano Recitals have been fundraisers for Alliston Out of the Cold, ALS and the local Food bank.

As well as teaching Piano and Theory, Megan has also opened her studio to local piano teachers for workshops and masterclasses, with presenters such as Debra Wanless, Jennifer Knelman, and Susan Griesdale

Megan enjoys the encouragement and comradeship of the teachers in the Barrie ORMTA group and values the many performance and learning opportunities that are offered by ORMTA to her students.

Warren Nicholson

Hamilton Halton

Warren began guitar studies with John Donovan in Montreal as a private student age 12, then continued with Lynn Harting-Ware, in Toronto. His University studies were with Peter McAllister at Mac Master University (BM 91).In 1991, he was a finalist in The Canadian Music Competitions. He then continued studies with Norbert Kraft and Mark Delpriora at Manhattan school of Music (MM 94).He has perfomed in masterclasses for: Elliot Fisk, Carlos Barbosa Lima, Duo Sonore and David Starobin. After graduating, he began teaching at the Boys Choir of Harlem’s ‘Choir Academy of Harlem’s ear training /music survey instructor, while teaching guitar at Brooklyn College prep centre and working as a freelance player in NYC. In 1995, he was awarded a grant with the help of the Canadian Consulate, to present a collaborative ensemble concert at CAMI Hall, featuring works of Canadian composers. He has also premiered works for guitar by; Gene Pritsker, Arthur Kampela, John Cuciurean and Jeffrey Johnson. In 1997, he won The Artists International New York Debut competition, leading to a Weill/Carnegie Hall debut, in Feb 1998. In Oct 1998, he was invited to Queens University Music department, to give a lecture/concert on the music of Jacques Hetu. His post graduate studies were at Domaine Forget Quebec in 2011, with Remi Boucher, Peter McCutcheon and the late Roland Dyens.

Solo concert engagements have included; Riverside Church Sunday Chapel Series NYC, Mississauga Guitar Society, Mac Master University’s Lunchtime Concerts, Music Mondays (Toronto), St George’s “Summer Concerts” Kingston, St Luke’s “Recital Series”, Ottawa, St Andrew’s “Fridays at noon” Toronto, among others. His musical collaborations, have included Oakville Symphony, Oakville Chorale Society, Etobicoke Philharmonic, Mississauga Children’s Choir, TSO Patron’s Association and Toronto Children’s Chorus.

Warren Nicholson has 2 solo recordings to his credit “Latin American Guitar Favourites” (2013), featuring the music of: Barrios, Brouwer, Cardoso,Villa Lobos, and “Spanish Miniatures” (2018): Albeniz, Calatayud, Pipo, Sor and Tarrega, available on I-tunes and Amazon Music.

In 2000, he joined the Hamilton Halton ORMTA and has been an active guitar teacher ever since, and serving on the branch executive from 2000 to 2011.He also managed the workshop portfolio on Provincial Council. Warren was treasurer to the Guitar Society of Toronto 2012/16.Many of his guitar students have participated in ORMTA student concerts, GST member concerts and have won silver /gold medals in RCM’s guitar examinations system.

Warren maintains a private teaching studio in Oakville, along with a “junior guitars” programme for Arthouse Oakville, and he teaches guitar courses for the City of Burlington. He is married to his wife Kathleen of 17 years, they live in Oakville and have 2 teenage boys involved in sports.

Elsa Tafel

North Bay

This is Elsa Tafel’s second deserved nomination for this award so our biography will have a different twist.

This exceptional teacher has guided a significant number of us in the North Bay branch in our journey to qualify for membership in ORMTA. Following are testimonials from two members.

“Elsa was the first to encourage me to join ORMTA as a pre-diploma member and then helped me to get my ARCT and become a full-fledged member. Another long-term benefit from my lessons with Elsa was her introduction to a beginner teaching method that uses intervals instead of note names. I have used this method successfully ever since. Elsa is always ready to help me find answers to my teaching questions. Elsa also taught my son from beginner to grade ten. The love and enthusiasm for music that Elsa created in him inspired him to go on to achieve a doctorate in music! I learned a lot about teaching just by watching her teach my son and I use many of her methods to this day. I can truthfully say she has been a great mentor and friend.” Beth Chartrand

“Several years ago, I called Elsa about taking theory lessons with an ambitious goal of completing all my advanced theory exams in less than two years. I was working towards an ARCT in piano, but had not done any of the theory since level 9! Elsa challenged me, guided me and made the difficult concepts make sense. I met my goal of completing the theory exams in less than two years. I also won the North Bay ORMTA theory award for the highest mark two years in a row. Elsa also guided me through the ARCT Teacher’s pedagogy examination and my ARCT in Piano Performance. Elsa has a knowledge of theory that is astounding. She also has patience, wisdom, understanding and a love of music that is inspirational. Finally, she is a warm and caring friend. I am grateful for her continued friendship.” Jessica Brooks Wadley

As recently as this past year, Elsa helped to prepare an ambitious young student to enter full-time music studies at the University of Toronto. She continues to participate in ORMTA meetings, offering valuable input. Her students continue to win significant awards in competitions. Her cheerful contribution to our musical community is inspiring. We treasure our time with this “teacher of teachers”! Sue Nicholson

Dawn Toombs

Hanover Walkerton

Growing up in Belleville, Dawn considers herself lucky to have had History and Harmony lessons with William Andrews, who came every Tuesday on the train from Toronto to give lessons at Albert College. He did this as a favour to his past teacher and Dawn's teacher Kathleen Rennie. Dawn left piano studies for a while to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Queen's, but music was always there for her. Living in Hamilton, and then in Goderich, she resumed her studies while raising a young family of 3 boys. This culminated in the honour of receiving the Cora B. Ahrens Pedagogy Award at the ORMTA Convention in Timmins in 2002. She wishes to thank her teachers Gail Lear and Debra Wanless.

During these years of study, Dawn also served on the Goderich Recreation Board. As a member of the board she was able to attend OAC (Ontario Arts Council) conferences in Toronto and helped to organize chamber music concerts at the Huron County Museum. In 1994, after six years volunteering on the board, she was honoured to receive an OMRA Award (Ontario Municipal Recreation Association). This was for volunteer contributions to recreation which have significantly enhanced the quality of life in the community.

With the help of Sharon Johnston, Gail Lear, Doug Squire, and other interested music teachers in the Goderich area, Dawn organized the Huron County Music Festival from 1997 through to 2006. It was billed as a "Musical Arts Celebration", a day-long event featuring adjudicated performances, and a unique opportunity for the students to socialize and interact while participating in a number of workshops ranging from art to drama and dance to song writing.

As a member of the Hanover-Walkerton Branch ORMTA, Dawn has managed the awards program since 1995. She assumed the role of Secretary in June 2016, and has been President of the Branch since May 2017.

Today Dawn has an active studio. Her greatest pleasure comes from developing a life-long love of music in her students. She currently enjoys playing hand-bells with the Huron Hand-bell group led by Nancy Ross. She feels honoured to be nominated by her branch to receive this special award.

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