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



Susan Beth BarakSusan Beth Barak

A proud Canadian since 2002, Susan Beth Barak grew up in proximity to New York City and was priveleged to study violin and viola with many illustrious American teachers. She has performed internationally with a wide variety of orchestras and chamber groups, and is a frequent soloist in York Region and beyond. A founding member of the York Chamber Ensemble, she led the organization of YCE's inaugural Annual Youth Concert in 2004, and the Baroque for Belinda fundraiser for Belinda's Place (York Region's first dedicated women's shelter) in 2012. In addition to active membership in the SAA and SAO, Susan is also a member of the Toronto Musician Association (TMA) Local 149 of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), Ontario Registered Music Teacher's of Ontario (ORMTA) and affiliate music teacher of the RCM.

The values inherent in the Suzuki philosphy mesh with Susan's belief in the power of music as a vehicle to nurture with love and promote a peaceful civil society. Travelling to Los Angeles, Chicago, Waterloo, Ottawa and Montreal, Susan's Suzuki Teacher Trainers have included Edward Kreitman, Joanne Melvin, Paule Barselou, and Ann Montzka Smelser for Violin, William Preucil Sr., and Julia Hardie for Viola and Gail Lange for Suzuki Principles in Action (SPA).

As well as an enthusiastic music teacher and lifelong student, Susan is a mother of four, published writer, certified Like Skills Coach, registered yoga teacher (CYA-RYT 300) and advocte for human rights and social justice with a focus on disability.
Back to top >



Marianne CarefootMarianne Carefoot

Marianne Carefoot is a highly experienced and versatile Royal Conservatory of Music Certified Teacher, chamber, music and orchestral performer. Her teaching career includes positions with the instrumental music faculties of Upper Canada College, Havergal College, Grande Prairie (AB) Regional College, North York and Scarborough Boards of Education and Edmonton Cosmopolitan Music Society Adult Beginner program. Her students have successfully auditioned for music programs at the University of Toronto, York University, Claude Watson School for the Arts, and Etobicoke School for the Arts.

She has been teaching Suzuki Method Piano since 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Music from University of Alberta, and received her Suzuki training with Rita Hauck (Cincinatti OH and Ft. Worth TX), Gail Lange and Bruce Anderson. She studied piano pedagogy and classical performance with Dr. Janet Lopinski, Jarred Dunn, and jazz with Brian Rudolf and Danny McErlain. Marianne has enjoyed teaching students aged 3 - 80 and maintains high expecations for quality work with a patient, gentle, encouraging and fun approach. A firm believer in lifelong education, she also attended York University studying composition, film and television music, piano improvisation and jazz performance. She has written over 300 arrrangements for her chamber music groups, as well as music for live theatre and television broadcast. Marianne is a member of ORMTA (Ontarios Registered Music Teachers' Assn.), Toronto Musicians Assn. (since 1978), Suzuki Assn. of Ont. (Board member, Secretary), and the National Flute Association (NFA).
Back to top >



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.
Back to top >




Orsi LengyelOrsi Lengyel

Orsi was born in Budapest. After completing a Bachelor of Music Performance degree in Vienna, Austria, she immigrated to Canada in 1995 and studied with Shauna Rolston and Simon Fryer at the University of Toronto. In 1996-97 she took part in a string quartet and studied with Paul Pulford and the Penderecki String Quartet. She studied Suzuki cello with Sally Gross, and received a Kodaly teacher's certificate at the RCM in 1998. She is teaching Suzuki cello and Kodaly musicianship at the North York Suzuki School of Music since 1999. Orsi is the co-founder and owner of Wellington Music performance group and agency, playing with Tapestry New Opera Works and other professional chamber groups.
Back to top >




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.
Back to top >





Maureen McReynoldsMaureen McReynolds

Maureen received an Honours Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Ottawa in 1982. She was introduced to the Suzuki Method when she attended a piano institute let by Haruko Kataoka at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester N.Y. in 1988. She subsequently studied under Gail Lange, and has taken courses with many distinguished teachers such as Doris Koppelman, Bruce Anderson, and Caroline Fraser among others. Maureen taught at the Seneca Suzuki School of Music and is a co-founder and past director of the North York Suzuki School of Music. She has been a clinician at numerous institutes and workshops including the South Western Ontario Suzuki Institute, Montreal Piano Institute, Oakville Performing Arts Camp, Thunder Bay Piano Institute and the Royal Conservatory Suzuki Workshop. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the Suzuki Association of Ontario.
Back to top >





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 a 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.
Back to top >





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.
Back to top >





Jane QuinnJane Quinn

Jane Quinn holds a BA in Music from The University of Western Ontario, and a certificate from The Orchestra Training Program at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. She  is a co-founder of The North York Suzuki School of Music where she taught for many years.  In 2005, Jane moved to Rothesay New Brunswick where she taught in her home studio, and as well in local school string ensembles. She enjoyed freelancing in the New Brunswick region, was the the concertmaster of the local community orchestra Alto Mare, and also helped to co-found the local school's string ensembles. She enjoyed freelancing in the New Brunswick region, was the concertmaster of the local community orchestra Alto Mare, and also helped to co-found 1ST City Chamber Players.  This latter ensemble participated in a local cocnert series and was invited as "Ensemble in Residence" at the 2012 New Brunsick Early Music Festival in St. Andrew's NB.  In 2013 Jane adjudiated violin for Junior-Senior levels at the Annapolis Valley Music Festival in Nova Scotia, and in 2014, here in Tortonto at th YIP Festival and Toronto Mandarin Lion's Club Music Festival.  Jane has studied in Suzuki pedagogy with the following Suzuki trainers - Helen Brunner, Michelle Higa-George, Alice Joy Lewis, Allen Lieb, and Terri Einfeldt.  She teaches beginner through advanced levels of Suzuki violin, incorporating all levels of RCM curriculum, and RCM exam preparation.  Presently Jane teaches both private and group lessons at the North York Suzuki School of Music program and at the MNjcc Suzuki program.
Back to top >





Rebecca SanctonRebecca Sancton Ashworth

Rebecca began studying Suzuki violin at age 4, and received her BFA Honours in violin performance from York University in 2007. In 1998 and 1999 she was a member of the University of Western Ontario Symphony Orchestra and studied with Gwen Thompson. During her time at York University, she had the opportunity to study classical performance with Peggy McGuire, jazz with Al Henderson, Sundar Viswanathan and Lorne Lofsky, and contemporary improvisation with Casey Sokol and Matt Brubeck. She is a founding member of the fiddle group, Ninth Line, which grew from Saturday morning Suzuki group class around 1992. Ninth Line currently performs at various locations in the CTA. Rebecca completed her Book 1 Suzuki training with Paule Barselou in early 2010, and has continued her Suzuki training.
Back to top >





Elizabeth SherkElizabeth Sherk

BA 1969; Ontario Teacher's Certificate, 1970; RCM Grd. 9 Piano 1999; RCM Early Childhood Music 1997; Suzuki Piano Teacher Training units 1a - 7 including Japanese pedagogy with Haruko Kataoka from 1985. She is also a co-founder of the North York Suzuki School of Music. Elizabeth came to the world of Suzuki through being a Suzuki parent. After seven years of daily listening and playing music with her own three children, she realized that she could use her piano and teaching skills to become a Suzuki piano teacher herself. She values highly the peer mentoring aspect of Suzuki education and is grateful for all she has learned by simply observing in other people's studios. She encourages new parents coming into her studio to foster the same respect for the great value of learning by observation. "Self-reflection is a supreme ability: Give your child life's handle bar".
Back to top >





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 treacher 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.
Back to top >





Amber Walton-AmarAmber Walton-Amar

Amber holds a Masters in cello performance from DePaul University in Chicago and a Bachelors in cello performance from the University of Toronto. She is accredited with the SAA and believes that every student can achieve with practice and perseverance. Amber has been a faculty member of the Valparaiso University Summer School for Strings, the Sherwood Community Music Division at Columbia College in Chicago, and director of the Northwest Indiana Cello Studio. Amber has acted as an adjudicator for the Indiana State School of Music Association for three consecutive years. As a performer, she held the position of principal cellist with the South Shore Orchestra, with whom she toured China in 2014. Her experiences include rock, jazz, experimental and contemporary in addition to classical which is her dominant focus.
Back to top >

Maureen McReynolds >
Jeanine Noyes >
Marianne Carefoot >
Elizabeth Sherk >




Liz Johnston >
Gretchen Paxson-Abberger >
Jane Quinn >
Elena Spanu >
Rebecca Sancton Ashworth >
Susan Beth Barak >




Cello & Kodaly
Orsi Lengyel >
Amber Walton-Amar >









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,