Our Music Instructors
Get to know our music instructors. We are all passionate about making a difference in the lives of the youth who step through our doors by providing a well-rounded arts education.
Private Piano Teacher, Head of School
For 45 years, Linda Shirley, our CEO and Head of School, has worked tirelessly to establish herself as an outstanding teacher who specializes in laying down the fundamentals necessary to make her students successful in their future studies. Linda believes that teaching music is like building a house! If you don’t lay down a firm foundation before building the walls, eventually the walls will crack and the house will lack integrity. She believes that if a strong foundation is built right from the very first lesson, students will become confident and informed young musicians who can then take that strong sight-reading and ear training skills with them into the higher and more challenging repertoire. As the current publisher of the renowned “Kelly Kirby Piano Method”, which was originally developed and published by the Royal Conservatory of Music, Linda’s students consistently receive outstanding marks in examinations and festivals but more importantly, she values the opportunity to help her students through their struggles and achievements, both personally and musically, so that they feel supported on their journey and discover the warmth and satisfaction that music can bring to their lives.
- Publisher of Kelly Kirby program
- Kelly Kirby Certified Teacher
- RCM Level 10
Private Violin Teacher, Private Piano Teacher
From a young age Angela was the recipient of many major music awards, most notably winning First Prize in the CBC Young Artists Competition at the age of nineteen. Renowned violinists Steven Staryk and Ruggiero Ricci were major mentors in her musical training and over the course of her diverse and distinguished career, she has performed in numerous concerts and has worked with many world-famous instrumentalists and conductors. During the 2017-18 music season Angela held the position of Acting Concertmaster with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. In addition to her work with that organization she performs regularly with the Vancouver Symphony, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and Chilliwack Symphony, and she will celebrate her 27th year with West Coast Chamber Music this year. Angela’s main piano instructor was May German and she was also coached by Lloyd Powell and Derek Bampton. While violin is her primary performance instrument, she teaches both violin and piano and has frequently acted as piano accompanist for her students in recitals and exams.
Angela has taught at Douglas College, The Vancouver Academy of Music, The Arts Conservatory and through her private studio.
- 1st Prize in the CBC Young Artists Competition
- Acting Concertmaster with the VOO
Private Piano Teacher, Private Theory Teacher, Private Voice Teacher
Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Ms. Erika Galinskaya studied piano for 17 years. She graduated from a musical college in Murmansk, Russia and from University in Vinnitsa, Ukraine with Master’s degrees in four different musical specialties – solo piano performance, group performance, piano accompaniment and piano pedagogy. Before coming to Canada in 1977, she was employed by the comedy theatre “Goldoni” in Rome, Italy as a music director, pianist and stage producer. She has worked with American actors on popular classical musicals and children’s plays which attracted large audiences, both old and young. Since coming to Canada, Erika has enjoyed a very successful music career, with her talent as a performer and teacher becoming quickly acknowledged and praised. Erika has also collaborated with many singers, instrumental musicians, ensembles, community choirs, and public school music productions. She remains deeply involved in Vancouver’s artistic scene, bringing her artistry to her students and her community. As a pianist who is classically trained in the old Russian tradition, Erika enjoys playing and teaching jazz and folk music. She is proud to have taught generations of Vancouver musicians for more than three decades. As a member of the Piano Teachers Federation and the British Columbia Registered Music Teachers Association, her reputation as a professional and experienced teacher has earned her outstanding recognition in British Columbia, across Canada, and even in the United States.
Miss Brenda has been immersed in music since she was born. Her formal music education started at the ripe age of three with the Kelly Kirby program. She has been teaching and mentoring students of all ages for 18 years, specializing in teaching children ages 3 to 6. She has performed extensively as the co-lead of Sincere Lam’s Guzheng Ensemble at venues including Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Centennial Theatre, Sun Yat-Sen Garden, and Vancouver Television. Miss Brenda holds a BA in Japanese and Chinese Language and Literature double major as well as a Japanese and Chinese translation certificate from University of Alberta and has now been accepted into the Student-Teacher Auxiliary of the Registered Music Teacher’s Association. She is currently studying under Dr. Raul Velasco and Dr. Nikolai Maloff to receive her ARCT in Piano Pedagogy and RMT designation. An advocate in continual growth, Miss Brenda has taken the Music Together Teacher’s Course in 2016 and attends almost all workshops available including RCM, Faber, and Hal Leonard.
Private Piano Teacher
Hailing from Mexico City, pianist Edmundo González is invested both as a solo and chamber musician. In recent years, he has had success performing concerti with the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, the Querétaro Symphony, and the Coyoacán Symphony. Mr. Gonzalez also won acclaim for performing a wide range of repertoire in his solo and chamber recitals in Mexico, USA, Canada, Italy, Austria, and Cuba. Mr. González is an award winner of numerous competitions. Most notably, he was a prizewinner at the 2012 Angélica Morales-Yamaha National Piano Competition in Mexico, and consecutively received first prize at the Conservatory of Mexico Piano Competition in 2005 and 2006. His extensive list of scholarships and grants includes the Mexican National Fund for Science and Technology Scholarship, the Meadows Artistic Merit Scholarship, and the Mexican National Fund for Culture and Arts Grant. Currently, Mr. González is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the University of British Columbia, where he studied with professors Sara Davis Buechner and Jane Coop. He received his Artist Diploma in Piano Performance and Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas. At this school, he had the privilege of working under renowned artists Joaquín Achúcarro and Alessio Bax. He earned his Bachelor’s degree and graduated with top honours at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico. Mr. González gained his teaching experience while running various classes as a teaching assistant at the University of British Columbia and the Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts. Mr. González is an avid reader and a film enthusiast.
- Prizewinner at the 2012 Angélica Morales-Yamaha National Piano Competition in Mexico
- First prize at the Conservatory of Mexico Piano Competition in 2005 and 2006
- Awarded the Mexican National Fund for Science and Technology Scholarship
- Awarded the Meadows Artistic Merit Scholarship
- Awarded the Mexican National Fund for Culture and Arts Grant
Private Piano Teacher
Holly Duff is another member of our fantastic music faculty. Outside of her teaching at the Arts Connection and other music schools, Ms. Holly is also a founding director and pianist with West Coast Chamber Music, a Vancouver concert series. They are currently kicking off their 27th season with their opener, “The Romantic Spirit”, featuring works by Brahms, Grieg, and Canadian composer Christine Donkin. The Arts Connection violin teacher, Angela Cavadas, is also performing alongside Ms. Holly in these small ensemble shows, starting January 19th 2020 at 3:30pm. More info can be found at www.westcoastchambermusic.com. Well done, Ms. Holly, on your contributions to sharing classical music in your community!
(Dr.) Nikolai Maloff
Private Theory Teacher
Nikolai is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory and the University of British Columbia, where he earned a D.M.A. in piano. His mentors include Jane Coop, Gleb Axelrod, Dale Reubart, Robert Rogers and Kum Sing Lee. As a performer, Nikolai was the winner of major piano competitions such as the Virginia Waring, Franz Liszt (Italy), Eckhardt-Gramatte and Canadian Music Competitions, and has appeared as a recitalist, guest soloist and chamber musician throughout the Americas and Europe. Aside from his home studio piano teaching and adjudicating commitments, Dr. Maloff teaches music theory at the Arts Conservatory.
- Winner of the Virginia Waring piano competition
- Winner of the Franz Liszt (Italy) piano competition
- Winner of the Eckhardt-Gramatte and Canadian Music Competitions
Private Piano Teacher
Shayda’s introduction to music began when she started taking piano lessons with Linda Shirley at the age of four. She studied with Ms. Shirley until she reached RCM level 4 piano; she continued her intermediate and senior music studies with other instructors and is currently studying under Dr. Nikolai Maloff while working towards her ARCT RCM exams. Over the years, she has won numerous awards at notable piano competitions such as Vancouver Kiwanis and Festival on the Lake, and has also received multiple awards and music scholarships from the Kelly Kirby Music Organization. Shayda has also achieved her Kelly Kirby Teacher certification and enjoys teaching students of all ages and skill levels, using Kelly Kirby, Faber, RCM, and other various methods to fit the student’s needs and goals. She aims to teach her students to both play well and enjoy music, as she has through all her years as both a music student and instructor.
- Winner of awards at Kiwanis Festival and Festival on the Lake
- Winner of past Kelly Kirby Scholarships given to students who receive the highest RCM Exam marks in the province
Soo Min Kim
Private Piano Teacher
Soo Min started her musical journey at the age of 5. After receiving her ARCT performance diploma, she went on to complete her Bachelor of Music at the University of Victoria. During this time, as she was teaching private lessons, her passion for teaching piano drove her to receive training in piano pedagogy, resulting in an AVCM teaching diploma. Soo Min continued her studies and completed her Masters in Piano Performance at the University of Ottawa. Soo Min has had inspiring piano teachers including Edward Parker, Kenneth Broadway, Ralph Markham, Eva Solar- Kinderman and Andrew Tunis. Her goal as a teacher is to assist in developing an appreciation for the art of music-making at any age. She strongly believes that music-making should be enjoyable, and when the enjoyment of music is combined with consistent practice, students not only learn to play the piano but develop important qualities like patience, perseverance, creativity, confidence and discipline. Soo Min helps her students to become their own music teachers as she strives to motivate and encourage analytical thinking and a musical ear. Having had experience with teaching students of all ages, she finds enjoyment in tailoring each lesson according to the student’s learning style.
Private Drum Teacher
Stephen has been playing the drums for over a decade, through which he developed a general love of music and passion for various world-wide percussion styles. In addition to his drum instruction, Stephen plays as the drummer in a band who regularly plays local shows around Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, and has also taught children as a skating instructor and camp counsellor for several years. Music and education are two great passions of his, and he is always excited to share his musical appreciation and drum abilities with all of his students, working to best fit their specific needs and goals through their lessons.
Private Voice Teacher, Group Music Teacher
Miss Tessa has been involved in music for as long as she can remember! Starting piano lessons at a young age, and beginning professional singing lessons at the age of 11, some of her fondest musical memories are from her early years. With a strong foundation in musical theatre, choir, drama, theory, and dance, her early passion for music set the stage for a lifelong adventure of exploration and education. Recently completing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of British Columbia, Miss Tessa specialized in opera performance and was heavily involved both on and off the stage. She was honored to sing roles in operas such as Carmen, Il Tabarro, and Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), but most notably, she was honored to sing the role of ‘Krystina’ in the Canadian premiere of Pasażerka (The Passenger). Miss Tessa was the recipient of the Madame Rosa Bok-Falkson Centennial Scholars Major Entrance Award in Opera, and the Dr. Peter M. Brown Choral Award, and has performed across North America and Europe. Her highlights include being the soloist for John Corigliano’s Artist in Residence performance of ‘Fern Hill’, and touring with the National Youth Choir of Canada. Miss Tessa has been instructing for 6 years, and loves being a part of The Arts Conservatory!
- Madame Rosa Bok-Falkson Centennial Scholars Major Entrance Award in Opera
- Dr. Peter M. Brown Choral Award
Private Piano Teacher
Timothea’s love for music began in elementary school when she first heard her French teacher play the organ in church. Thus, her music lessons began and her teacher, recognizing that Timothea was serious about piano, introduced her to another teacher that would take her through the journey of the Royal Conservatory of Music Program. During high school, Timothea voluntarily joined the Jazz and Concert band and loved the way that music magically blended together from so many instruments. Timothea was a yearly participant in the Prince George Music Festival, at which she annually won various awards. During her last two years of Royal Conservatory of Music education, Timothea studied under Edward Parker and successfully continued her music lessons through to the completion of RCM Level 10. As a certified Kelly Kirby instructor, Timothea continues to spread her love of music and hopes that her students will also learn to enjoy the magic that music holds.
- Various Awards at the Prince George Music Festival
Private Piano Teacher
Mr. Hoy, a native of Vancouver, includes as his mentors in the study of piano, Dale Reubart and Robert Silverman of Canada, and Reginald Stewart and John Perry of the United States. A former professor of piano at the University of Calgary, Mr. Hoy has performed extensively throughout Western Canada in radio broadcasts and solo recitals, and has appeared as guest soloist with several orchestras across Canada, including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Currently a barrister and solicitor by vocation, Mr. Hoy divides his time between his law practice and teaching piano students at various institutions throughout Vancouver.
Music Therapy, Adapted Music
Sheila has been passionate about music and the arts all her life. She has training in piano, guitar, violin, voice, and dance. Her passion for helping others led her to complete her BA in Psychology from UBC, Bachelor of Music Therapy from Capilano University, and MA in Counselling Psychology from UVic. Her love of learning inspired her to obtain her Early Childhood Education license, and study various music education approaches including Orff, Kodály, and Music Together®. Her specializations are working with people with special needs and unique learning styles, and with children and families. Sheila truly believes in the power of music to connect and bring together people of all ages and abilities.
- Music Therapy Students’ Association Conference Scholarship
- Carolyn Kenny Music Therapy Scholarship
Music Therapy, Adapted Music
Born and raised in Victoria, BC, Rachel comes from a musical family and has been singing since before she could talk. She has been a member of many choirs, performed in musicals and operas, and experimented with jazz, bluegrass, and even ska. After completing a Humanities degree at the University of Victoria, she attended the Victoria Conservatory of Music to study classical voice. She moved to Vancouver in 2014 to attend Capilano University and graduated with a Bachelor of Music Therapy. She also completed the Music Together teacher training developed by the Center for Music and Young Children, Princeton, New Jersey.
In her spare time, she likes to make up songs about her family dog, Java. Rachel loves seeing children explore their world, and is excited to share the joy of music with families in Music Together.
Music Therapy, Adapted Music
Mary grew up in a musical family and participated in singing lessons and choir throughout her life. While studying International Development Studies at Dalhousie University she taught herself to play drums and guitar and began to write songs. For 10 years she wrote music, recorded albums, performed live, and toured with many pop/rock ensembles from Halifax and Toronto, before moving to Vancouver. In Vancouver, she studied classical guitar and music theory at Capilano University, then earned her degree in music therapy, after deciding she wanted to work with children and teenagers. She now works as a music therapist and teacher at the Arts Conservatory and runs her own business (Mary Music Therapy) out of Vancouver and Salt Spring Island.
- Billy Rhodda Memorial Music Therapy Scholarship (x2)
“The Arts Connection leadership embodies the Canadian spirit of inclusivity, empathy and community. Our staff is from all over the world and everyone loves working here because there are mutual respect and camaraderie. Linda has always led by example and I always see her take the time to greet every staff member in the kitchen no matter how busy she is.”
Mehernaz Parakh, HR Administrator and Clerical Supervisor
“Feeling welcome and getting positivity and support from leadership is something that I admire, so that has been a good impact on my first couple of months here.”
Cindy Duong, Office Coordinator
“When you walk through our doors you can tell immediately that we are passionate advocates of the arts. There are few companies more worthy of a Business Excellence and Leadership award than this one. I love it here. And you and your children and grandchildren would too.”
Jennifer den Hartogh, Applied Arts and Science Instructor