Meet Our Teachers
Afshin Effati - Cello, Violin, Viola, Piano
Afshin has over a decade of experience teaching cello, violin, viola and piano in both group and private lessons; his students participate often in performances, recitals, and community events. He prides himself on creative, interesting methods, approaches and ideas to keep students engaged in their studies. As an officially certified Advanced Orff Instructor, Afshin’s mission is to introduce musicianship to young students in a fun and creative way, involving them in the process of making music in an enjoyable way.
Afshin’s special interest in the production of music for children resulted in an album entitled “Childhood Desires”, which simplified some of his favorite rock and metal songs by rearranging them into pieces played on Orff instruments. He has also compiled the repertoire book “Childish Minimals”, which contains arrangements of the songs from the album.
Anna Shabalina - Cello, Piano, Guitar
Anna began learning music at the age of 9. After a few years in public music school, Anna entered the Kazan Conservatoire Music College. She then continued her musical education at the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music (Moscow).
While studying, Anna took part in various festivals, competitions and master classes with world-known musicians such as Arto Noras, Gustav Rivinius, Natalia Shakhovskaya, and others. She played many concerts with all kinds of chamber groups, and as an invited artist for small Moscow orchestras. At the same time, she began her teaching career.
Later, Anna lived in India for a few years, where she took part in many music concerts, festivals and “jams” as a cellist and singer. She moved to Canada recently to explore new opportunities.
With vast experience in performing music of almost all styles, Anna is always excited to share her knowledge with students in a friendly and inspiring manner.
Camila Milla - Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, Piano
Camila is a music composer, guitarist and educator. She has been playing and performing for almost 13 years. Camila has played in several projects, including rock bands, contemporary music festivals, and has also written soundtracks for short films and animation films. In 2013, she started working on a music degree (Composition for Audiovisual Media); she began teaching by her second year. A few years later, Camila also began pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Education, so that she could also work as a secondary school teacher.
Camila has also worked extensively as a solo artist, and has a significant and dedicated fanbase on social media. Due partly to this visibility, in 2018 Ibanez Guitars made Camila part of their family, granting her the opportunity to be one of the first women from South America to be part of their Artists’ Catalogue. She enjoys teaching rock, jazz, pop, modern metal and much more. Camila always aims to improve her students’ self-confidence; this way, she can encourage them to be curious and creative.
Courtney Waldie - Piano, Voice, Ukulele, Guitar
Originally from Montreal, Courtney is fully bilingual and a graduate from the University of Toronto (B. Mus. Performance). She has had extensive vocal and piano training, focusing primarily on the classical (RCM) and musical theatre styles. Nevertheless, Courtney spends most of her time teaching contemporary commercial styles (i.e. pop, R&B, gospel, etc.), and enjoys it too!
Besides her active involvement in the Toronto music scene, Courtney has just recently opened herself up to the art of music directing and vocal coaching large-scale productions. If you'd like to check out one of her current projects, you can find her at @Hearfornowmusic on Instagram.
Daniel Turner - Guitar, Ukulele
Daniel Turner is a talented and devoted classical guitar player and teacher, based in Toronto. He has won or placed in several guitar competitions in Canada and the U.S. due to his precise, expressive performances. Daniel is currently completing his Master’s Degree in Guitar Performance at the University of Toronto while studying with the world-renowned guitarist Jeffrey McFadden.
Daniel has performed with a symphony orchestra, vocalists, flutists and pianists. Although the classical guitar has been his main focus for almost a decade, Daniel began playing electric and steel-string acoustic guitar as a child and explored rock, jazz and metal. He has always enjoyed composing, and his music has been used in several theatre productions.
For the past seven years, Daniel has taught guitar and has developed a refined, but flexible approach to teaching. Many of his students have won gold medals in Kiwanis festivals and earned A+ grades in RCM exams.
Don Scott - Guitar, Ukulele
Don Scott is a JUNO-nominated guitarist, composer, teacher and international touring artist. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto's prestigious Jazz Performance program. Don teaches guitar at Greenwood College, where he launched their private music lesson program in 2002, and has brought in many of Toronto's finest musicians and instructors in order to inspire a lifelong appreciation of music. Don also teaches private students around Toronto and at his home studio.
Besides his work as a teacher, Don is an acclaimed performer and bandleader. He has released six albums as a frontman, and appears on dozens more. Don’s projects have been covered in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, CBC Radio, and CityTV, and he was recently featured on CBC’s “The National”. Don won the Galaxie Rising Star Award from the Montreal Jazz Festival, and has toured extensively throughout Canada and Europe. His Radiohead cover band, "Idioteque", performed at the after-party for the 2018 MuchMusic Video Awards.
Elizabeth Beckman - Violin, Voice, Viola, Piano
Elizabeth is passionate about teaching music. An experienced music educator in violin and voice for over fifteen years, Elizabeth aims to develop in her students a solid technical and musical foundation. Lessons should be fun, educational and based on the student's interests and goals. Her students have won leading parts in school auditions, and have been accepted into prestigious schools.
A graduate of the Victoria Conservatory of Music (violin, voice, pedagogy), Elizabeth has performed at venues such as McPherson Playhouse, The Art Gallery of Ontario, and for executives including Hilary and Galen Weston (Sr.). Elizabeth has played with the RCM Orchestra and Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and has sung with St. Basil’s Choir. She is looking forward to another exciting year of teaching with Forte Music Services!
Elli Kozak - Piano
Elli Kozak is an experienced music teacher who has ascended through the ranks in the Royal Conservatory of Music, receiving his ARCT in Piano Performance with First Class Honours with Distinction in 2013. Since then, he has carved out his own career involving music, primarily as a producer/composer for film and video, live audio engineer, a music educator, as well as a regular performer with classical, jazz, rock, and blues ensembles.
His score for The Night The Kids Found Out (2019) won a school-wide award for audio post-production at Ryerson’s RTA: School of Media, while various other films he’s scored have played at festivals and streams such as Toronto Shorts International Film Festival, CBC Gems, Art Gallery of Ontario, Queen Palm International Film Festival, Regina International Film Festival, Charlottetown Film Festival, and Belleville Downtown Docfest. He also currently holds the position of Apprentice Conductor at the Kindred Spirits Orchestra, and regularly performs at venues such as the Guildwood Inn and the Fairmont Royal York.
Elli loves to take a personalized approach to music lessons, in order to narrow down what ideas are most interesting to the student, whether it's sight reading, improvisation, or performing for and with other musicians. Many of Elli's students have taken RCM exams with great success, while others have taken a more flexible route on their way to becoming enthusiastic players and lovers of music.
Eve McLeod - Voice, Piano
“Possessing a beautiful voice” (Opera Canada) and “a fine instrument and strong stage presence” (National Post), soprano Eve Rachel McLeod has established herself in both operatic and concert performance in Canada and abroad. In addition to her solo career, she has been a regular performer with the Canadian Opera Company chorus since 2005.
Miss McLeod studied at the University of Toronto, The Banff Centre, The Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme in Aldeburgh, England, The Chautauqua Institute in New York State, and Oberlin at Casselmaggiore, Italy. She represented Canada in the Seoul International Music Competition in 2010, and is featured with the Aradia Ensemble on NAXOS recordings of sacred music by Vivaldi, Handel’s Israel in Egypt, and the opera Polly by Samuel Arnold.
In addition to her performance career, Miss McLeod is active as a private music instructor, and is a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association. She has served as an adjudicator and masterclasses technician for the Ontario Vocal Festival, at the Mayfield Secondary School Regional Arts Program, with the Mississauga Children’s Chorus, and for ORMTA. She enjoys working with students of all ages.
Gregory Stone - Guitar, Bass, Drums, Banjo
Gregory Stone has been delivering outstanding musical education for over three decades. His patient, kind, sometimes firm, but encouraging nature has enriched thousands of students during his distinguished teaching career. His students have garnered scholarships to colleges and universities, won awards for their results in RCM exams, and many have gone on to become music teachers themselves at various schools.
During his tenure as Head Teacher for Yamaha Canada, Mr. Stone was commissioned to author two guitar method books. He was also responsible for developing the in-class strategies for all Yamaha teachers across Canada. In addition, Greg authored the book “The Bill Evans Collection For Solo Guitar” for Alfred Publications.
In addition to his teaching, Gregory maintains a busy performance schedule. He has played with some of the biggest names in the Canadian music scene, including Peter Appleyard, Don Thompson, Ed Bickert, and Terry Clarke. Gregory’s playing can be heard on numerous recordings.
Iris Lin - Piano
Iris Lin began playing piano when she was six years old. In her high school years, Iris competed in both Kiwanis and North Vancouver music festivals. She also obtained a Licentiate Piano Diploma from the British Columbia Conservatory of Music in 2007. Afterward, she continued her musical studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she studied with Anya Alexeyev and completed an Honours Bachelor of Music Education degree.
During her last two years of university, she volunteered to teach piano at the Kitchener Working Centre, a project created by Laurier’s music department, which promotes giving back to the community. The volunteer experience gave lris the necessary skills to teach students of all ages and plan concert events.
After graduating, she was hired by Arcadia Academy of Music, where she spent 7 years as a piano instructor and accompanist. Since music has always been part of her life, Iris enjoys and continues her passion for performing and teaching.
Joe Sgrignoli - Drums
Joe started playing drums 40 years ago, and began taking lessons at an early age. Graduating from the Ontario College of Percussion, he then went on to acquire a diploma in Music from Humber College in Toronto.
Joe tours Ontario in various cover bands, as well as circling the world for an eight-year period on numerous cruise ships. Playing for the guests and captains of these vessels was a truly amazing experience.
Joe believes that students should acquire the fundamentals, have “serious fun” in his lessons, and learn songs in whatever genre that is enjoyable for them.
Justin Wisner - Clarinet, Saxophone, Flute, Piano
Justin has been enthusiastically teaching music for more than five years. He has worked extensively with kids of all ages in group and one-on-one settings. Having completed a Bachelor of Music Education from Michigan State University and is currently pursuing his graduate studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Recently, Justin taught middle school instrumental music at Grand Ledge Public School. While at Michigan State University, Justin interned at Lansing Community Music School, working in the early childhood music department. His teaching is strongly rooted in inquiry-based and cooperative learning. The main focus is to provide each student with an enriching educational experience that is specifically tailored to their unique needs so that they will get the most out of each lesson. His other interests include cooking, botany, and loving his 4-year-old cat, Sheba.
Lynn Wang - Piano, Bassoon
Lynn Wang began learning the piano at 4 years of age. At the age of 10, she was accepted into a local music training program with a full scholarship and received professional musical training. Continuing her studies in music, Lynn attended Taipei Municipal University of Education, where she learned about music education and technical methods including the Orff Schulwerk method. After graduating with her Bachelor's degree in Music Performance, Lynn furthered her music education at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, completing her Masters of Music. She has achieved awards in various music competitions in Taiwan, and successfully completed the Yamaha piano proficiency course.
As a teacher, Lynn began her career in high school by teaching piano to students and has expanded her repertoire to aural skills, sight-singing and music theory. During her Master's training in Indiana, Lynn focused on encouraging students to excel in piano proficiency. Along with instruction, she has helped guide students with auditions for music training programs and their own personal music goals. She enjoys helping people of all ages and sharing her love for music with them!
Michael Gfroerer - Piano
Thoroughly educated in classical piano performance, music theory and music history, Michael has been teaching piano for almost 30 years. He recently self-published his popular Piano Lessons Method Book, A B C D E F G: Learn to Play Piano Quickly with Colours.
Having graduated from the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music (now part of Conservatory Canada) with theoretical requirements from the Royal Conservatory of Music, Michael also studied music and psychology at York University. He has also studied, written and performed in jazz styles and played in a rock band for ten years.
Michael is a respected composer, having received the Orfeo Musica, Sweden in 2007, for international co-operation by promoting human rights through musical composition. As a founding member and Co-Artistic Director of CONTACT Contemporary Music Toronto, he had the opportunity to work with many of Canada’s leading composers. Michael was also Composer-In-Residence at Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto Islands in September 2018. You may visit his website at http://www.sonicphonic.ca.
Navid Niknejad - Guitar
Having studied classical guitar in four countries, Navid has extensive international experience as a guitarist and instructor. He began his musical training in his native country of Iran, and after finishing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Tehran in 2011, he moved to the Netherlands to study at the Conservatory of Amsterdam with Lex Eisenhardt.
Between 2015 and 2017, Navid completed his Masters of Music in Guitar Performance at California State University (Fullerton) with Dr. Marth Masters. Navid is currently working towards a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto with Dr. Jeffrey McFadden.
In addition to pursuing his career as a soloist, Navid has been active as an instructor in all of the countries that he has lived. Since 2017, Navid has worked as a Teacher Assistant at U of T, coaching the guitar chamber music ensembles. He has also appeared in different chamber music settings, including duos with flute, voice, and guitar in the Netherlands and the U.S.
Philip Elliott - Drums
Philip Elliott is a professional freelance drummer and teacher originally from the Ottawa Valley with 22 years of drumming experience. His versatility has led to hundreds of live dates with original acts, big bands, cover bands and tributes. Phil has shared the stage with many amazing musicians and artists, including Zakk Wylde, The Headstones, Korn, The Headstones, and Marianas Trench, to name a few.
Phil has played in many of North America’s top clubs, theaters, casinos and studios, including O2 Academy (London), The Roxy (LA), Metalworks Studio (Toronto), Fallsview Casino (Niagara Falls), and The Horseshoe (Toronto).
Phil has been interviewed on Etalk and performed live on CTV News Ottawa. He has also had the honor of one of his articles being published in Modern Drummer Issue (September 2014). As well as keeping a busy gigging and recording schedule, Phil also teaches 40 private students weekly in the school year.
Richard Kahl - Guitar
Richard has been playing and singing music since 1964, and his experience with teaching the guitar covers more than four decades. Part of his approach involves understanding the individual mindset of each student; this stems from his degree in Psychology from The State University of New York. He also has experience working with children and teens with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Robert is one of the longest-tenured instructors on staff, having been with Forte since 2010. He also teaches at MINT Music and The Toronto Guitar School. His teaching philosophy is based on three simple beliefs: every student is unique, only positive reinforcement should be given, and success can be reached through achievable goals.
Robert LaBell - Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Mandolin
Robert has been involved with private music education for over thirty years, notably with Snider School of Music. In the process of teaching the electric, 6 and 12-string guitars, he has created countless transcriptions of popular songs that are accessible for study by beginner and intermediate students.
Robert’s teaching philosophy revolves around the effectiveness of acquiring musical skills through the enjoyment of the material and posts instructional videos on his YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/robertlabell) to aid in this learning process. He also has decades of experience as a bandleader and live performer in the Toronto area. You can visit his site at http://www.robertlabellmusic.com.
Sam Kogen - Piano, Guitar, Bass
Juno-nominated pianist Sam Kogen is an Honours graduate from Humber College’s Bachelor of Contemporary Music, where he studied with established and well-respected Canadian musicians such as Pat Labarbara, Robi Botos, Kirk MacDonald, and Mark Kelso. With 10 years of teaching experience, Sam has taught students of all ages, both as a clinician and a private instructor. His focus is to encourage students to play the music they love, but also to explore what might be unfamiliar styles as a way to stretch their knowledge base and their performance/composition skill level.
Sam is also active as a freelance performer, producer and composer. He performs regularly in Toronto, both as a soloist and as a member of several bands and jazz ensembles, including indie rock/modern/jazz group Midcoast; the multi-award-winning Brad Cheeseman Group; neo-soul/hip-hop artist Ashe; and a wide variety of wedding/corporate bands. Sam has released an EP, and continues to compose and produce new material for his original project, SO-GO-DO.
Steve Evans - Piano, Trumpet
With 25 years of experience as a music teacher, and 35 years of professional experience as a pianist, keyboardist, trumpeter, and vocalist, Steve is a veteran of the Toronto music scene. His main goal as a teacher is to prepare students for any kind of musical idea or situation that they may encounter. Understanding proper technique, rhythmic awareness, knowledge of scales and chords, sight-reading, and the ability to actively listen are all concepts that Steve imparts in his classes. These provide students with a foundation that will work for any style or type of music.
Steve's patient and personable manner, and a life-long love of music provide caring and supportive lessons for students of all ages. He is also experienced with running music programs for infants and toddlers and is always grateful for opportunities to create and share music with others.
Tina Shapero - French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Piano
Tina Shapero has been a musician since she was a young child. She was born into a musical family and has been blessed with the opportunity to be able to share this gift through teaching and performing. Tina graduated from the University of Toronto with her Masters in Performance in French horn, completed her Grade 10 Piano Certificate with the Royal Conservatory of Music, and has been teaching private music lessons since 2010.
When she isn’t teaching, Tina works as a lifeguard and performs with the Oakville Symphony. Each year, she looks forward to meeting new students and helping them discover their love for music.
Tor Stangeland - Drums
Tor is currently studying drums in his second year of the Bachelor of Music program at Humber College. From the moment he began playing drums at the age of nine, it was his passion to pursue music, and he looks forward to sharing that enthusiasm with young students and spreading the love of music!
Tor attended Berklee College of Music prior to his time at Humber, studying Performance in a two-year program, which is where he began teaching fellow students; he has continued this practice since returning to Toronto. A huge fan of jazz, Tor enjoys playing many musical genres and takes a modern approach to teaching. He cherishes the opportunity to pass down the joy of music that was given to him at a young age.
Wesley White - Guitar, Ukulele, Piano, Composition
Wes is a guitar player and composer, originally hailing from a rural town in Alberta. He is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s music program and a former graduate of Grant MacEwan’s program, earning a degree in Performance and a diploma in Composition. With many years of experience in both performance and teaching, he has worked as an instructor at music schools to musicians of all ages and skill levels. He enjoys introducing his students to the joys of performing, music composition, musical history, and broadening their horizons to genres of all kinds.
As a performer, he has worked with numerous bandleaders in many different situations and styles, from big band and rock to country and beyond. In addition to more commercial experience, Wes has a deep history in studying jazz and classical music.