Our Faculty

bowdring

Julia Bowdring, NS/NL (Violin, Fiddle)

Julia Bowdring, a St. John’s native, is a violinist, fiddler, and pianist, working with the STEP Program and the Montessori School, and as a freelance performer. She holds a Bachelor of Music (classical piano) from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and a Masters degree from the University of Limerick, where she specialized in Irish Traditional Music Performance. Julia has studied the Suzuki Method with Helen Brunner and Paule Barsalou, and has experience with the Dalcroze and Kodaly Methods. She has taught in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Limerick, Ireland. She is actively involved in the St. John’s music scene as a violinist, fiddler, and pianist, playing with many local musicians.

Visit Julia’s website for events and teaching ideas at juliabowdringmusic.com

Nancy Case-Oates, NL (violin)

Nancy Case-Oates began her musical studies on piano and violin at an early age, performing regularly at local Kiwanis Festivals and winning many awards for violin, piano and voice. She has acquired degrees in performance from both Universities of Toronto and Victoria.

Nancy holds the position of Principal Second Violinist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, a position she also held with the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra, and is also currently the violinist of the Atlantic String Trio. She has been featured as solo artist twice with the NSO Sinfonia.

Currently, Nancy maintains an active performing career with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, teaching Suzuki violin, and playing with The Pachelbel Trio. In her spare time, Nancy designs and creates hand-embroidered crafts and enjoys spending time with her sons Edmund and Noah.

Adrien Doucet, NL (Choir)

bio coming soon!

Zachary Ebin, TN (Violin)

Zachary Ebin is the Director of the Suzuki Program at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. Ebin holds a BA and MA from Brandeis University, an MM from the Boston Conservatory, and a PhD from York University.

Before relocating to Nashville, Ebin was on the faculty of Etobicoke Suzuki Music in Toronto, where he founded and directed Arco Violini, an advanced precollege string orchestra dedicated to giving back to the community through performances at hospitals, senior residences, and charity events. Ebin led Arco Violini in more than 40 performances, including two television appearances.

In high demand as a guest clinician, Ebin has taught and lectured all over North America at conferences, institutes, and workshops. His research has been published in the American Suzuki Journal and American String Teacher. In 2015, Ebin founded the Silent Voices Project. In the project, young composers write chamber music based on poems written by children during the Holocaust. The Silent Voices Project gave its fourth concert and released its debut recording this past year.

Ebin is an active performer. He recently recorded the forgotten works of Ukranian composers with pianist Maria Dolnycky. For the past four years, he has served as the artistic director of the Belfountain Music Festival in Caledon, Ontario.

To learn more about Zachary Ebin, please visit: www.zacharyebin.com

Rachel Gauntlett, ON (Cello)

Toronto native Rachel Gauntlett is a cellist with a celebrated background in music performance, teaching, and arts administration. Her performances have been broadcast on CBC radio and taken her to Lincoln Center in New York City.

As an orchestral musician, Rachel has held principal cello positions with Sneak Peak Orchestra (Toronto) and l’Orchestre de la Francophonie (Montréal) among others. Rachel performed as a full time member of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra from 2011 to 2014. Recent guest faculty positions include the Suzuki String School of Guelph, the Suzuki Association of Ontario’s Annual Conference, and the Royal Conservatory of Music.

As an arts administrator, Rachel has worked for some of Canada’s most prestigious arts organizations, including the Canadian Opera Company and Esprit Orchestra, where she was artistic administrator and manager for four consecutive seasons (2014 to 2018). Rachel is currently on faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University and Etobicoke Suzuki Music.

For more information, please visit http://www.rachelgauntlett.com.

Jenny Griffioen, NL (Accompanist) 

Jenny Griffioen is a pianist and teacher based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. As a performer, she thrives on collaborative work. She plays regularly with musicians at all levels, accompanying young Suzuki string students, playing for university music students, and performing with professional musicians. She is also involved in church music at St. David’s Presbyterian. As a teacher, Jenny maintains a wonderfully diverse private studio with students ranging widely in age and experience.

Originally from Guelph, Ontario, Jenny moved to Newfoundland to study music at Memorial University. She graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Music in piano performance, and just recently completed a Master’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy. Her primary teachers are Kristina Szutor and Tim Steeves. Jenny has enjoyed settling into the vibrant music community in St. John’s, and is thankful for all the opportunities she has found here.

Valerie Hewson, NL (Artistic Director, Fiddle, Violin, Music With Your Baby)

Born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Valerie Hewson has been playing musical instruments and singing since she was a small child. She studied violin and fiddle with Christina Smith and Jennifer Johnson, as well as guitar and piano with her sister, Jean Hewson. She began teaching as a fiddle instructor for the Atlantic Canada Suzuki Institute in 2011. Since then, she has completed four teacher training courses, working with students of all ages, privately and in group settings.

Valerie often plays at a variety of events, playing with bands, singing, playing or accompanying weddings. In her spare time…she loves to study! Valerie recently completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours), majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Music and Culture at Memorial University. She plans to continue her studies into a Masters and Doctoral level, all the while encouraging her students to believe that playing the violin is an experience for the mind, body and soul.

Jennifer Johnson, NL (Violin, Body Mapping)

Jennifer played as principal second violin of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and second violin of the Atlantic String Quartet for twelve years. Presently, she plays first violin in the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.  In 2004, a generous grant from the Canada Council for the Arts funded a 7-month Alexander Technique sabbatical for Jennifer which permitted her to study  with many of the world’s leading Alexander Technique teachers. Jennifer went on to train in Body Mapping with Barbara Conable and in 2005 became Canada’s first Licensed Andover Educator. She now presents Body Mapping workshops internationally teaching musicians to enhance their musical ability and to prevent injury through a clear understanding of how their bodies are designed to move.

She has presented at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, at numerous music schools across Canada, including McGill University and University of Ottawa.  She was the keynote speaker at the Australian String Teachers’ Association in Brisbane, Australia in 2015 and is a regular presenter for the New York Philharmonic Zarin Mehta Program.

Jennifer is also a Professional Associate at Memorial University of Newfoundland Music School where she teaches Body Mapping and violin. She also teaches for the Suzuki Talent Education Program of St. John’s.

Jennifer’s book What Every Violinist Needs to Know about the Body was published in 2009 and is available from GIA Music Publications, www.giamusic.com. The Japanese translation of What Every Violinist Needs to Know about the Body was published in 2011 by Shunjusha Publications and it is presently being translated into French.  Her new book, Teaching Body Mapping to Children, was published in  October 2016.

Heather Kao (Violin, Accompanist)


STEP Teachers - Heather KaoFrom St. John’s, Heather Kao is the concertmaster of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and first violinist of the Atlantic String Quartet since 2015. She studied at Memorial University with Dr. Nancy Dahn. She has played in masterclasses for Martin Beaver, Lorand Fenyves, Mark Fewer and Pinchas Zukerman to name a few. She is a past member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Quintessential Vocal Ensemble, and Lady Cove Women’s Choir. Heather has been a guest performer on countless recordings, as well as on TV and radio. She has enjoyed performing in many genres, from pop music with Rod Stewart and Hey Rosetta! to traditional music with Ennis and the Once. She has played in pit orchestras for many local productions, including White Christmas, Our Divas Do Broadway, West Side Story, Evita, and Annie. In addition to the NSO, Heather teaches with the MUN Chamber Program for Youth, Suzuki Talent Education Program, and in her private studio.

Christina Smith, NL (Violin, Fiddle, Cello)

Christina Smith is a performer, recording artist and teacher, living in St. John’s. A native Newfoundlander, Christina performs in North America and Europe as half of the award-winning Newfoundland Folk Music duo, Christina Smith and Jean Hewson, and as a member of the Mahers Bahers. She teaches both Suzuki Method strings and Newfoundland Fiddling in St. John’s and at workshops in Ontario and Quebec. In April 2012 she was presented with the 2011 “Arts in Education” Award by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.

Christina’s compositions and arrangements can be heard on several CBC radio documentaries, as well as short films and videos. In demand as a session player in her hometown of St. John’s, she has backed up Newfoundland’s best known musicians, including Emile Benoit, Buddy Wasisname, the Irish Descendants, Jean Hewson, Jim Payne, Fergus O’Byrne, Ron Hynes and others. She is featured on a solo CD entitled Fiddle Me This, and the duo albums Like Ducks! and August Gale.

Christina holds a B.Mus. with Honours in History and an Artist’s Diploma in Cello Performance from the University of Western Ontario, and the Suzuki Cello Teacher’s Degree from the Talent Education Institute, Matsumoto, Japan. She learned Newfoundland fiddling from Emile Benoit and Rufus Guinchard.

Christina’s website: http://jeanandchristina.ca