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Meet Our Teachers

We have a wonderful team of teachers who are dedicated to providing structured and professional lessons to all BMA students. Read below to learn more about each instructor's experience, education and teaching style.

Nadia Zaid (Owner), Piano & Voice

Nadia Zaid is a dedicated musician and teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Vocal & Piano Performance from Carleton University (2006), a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Ottawa (2008) and an ARCT Teacher's Diploma from The Royal Conservatory of Music (2010). The Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto (ARCT) diploma for performers and teachers is the highest academic standing awarded by RCM, making it an internationally known and respected teaching accredation. The ARCT is extremely challenging to acheive, requiring dedication and polished playing skills, as well as the completion of all advanced grades (8, 9 and 10) and advanced theoretical and historical examinations, including rudiments, counterpoint, analysis and harmony. Nadia has studied under acclaimed teachers Naomi Watson-Laird, world-renowned Canadian composer and RCM examiner Maya Badian, and the incredibly skilled jazz pianist, trombonist and educator Mark Ferguson who has played on stage with Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Aretha Franklin and many more big name artists.

Nadia specializes in teaching RCM grades 1 to 10 piano and contemporary voice. Over the years, she has taken dozens of her complete beginner piano students up to advanced piano levels, including BMA teachers Tashi, Amanda and Laryssa, whom she taught since they were beginners. Many of Nadia's current students have been studying piano and theory with her since she started teaching at another local music school over 10 years ago and have continued to follow her wherever she's offered her lessons. Since the year 2002, Nadia has put over 500 students through RCM piano and theory examinations ranging from grades 1 to 10, most of them achieving First Class Honours and several achieving First Class Honours With Distinction. For students who do not wish to pursue exams, Nadia is happy to teach them current radio hits, music from movies, Jazz/Blues improvisation and even tunes from their favourite video games! Nadia happily spends a lot of her time communicating with BMA parents regarding rescheduling and other needs. During her spare time, she is working on a compilation book of all of her original piano compositions that she has composed since childhood.

Ashley Martyn (Owner), Guitar

Ashley's number one passion is creating music. She has been instructing both privately and in schools for over a decade, teaching students acoustic, electric and bass guitar, as well as how to accompany themselves, write songs and compose melodies. Her lessons involve learning a solid foundation of rhythm, fretboard theory and improvisation, as well as how to develop a strong ear and how to be creative with chording and songwriting. Ashley holds an Honours degree from the University of Ottawa (2008) with a Specialization in Communication (Media and Organizational) and a minor in Music, as well as a certificate in Advanced Theory Rudiments from the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM). In 2012, she co-founded Barrhaven Music Academy.

Since being given her first acoustic at the age of ten, Ashley has studied a world of genres and styles, including rock, pop, blues, jazz & classical, most notably under the Canadian guitar guru Anders Drerup. Her talents in music also extend to songwriting, piano, vocal, trumpet and percussion. Ashley has performed in and around the Ottawa scene at popular venues such as The Rainbow, Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Ottawa SuperEX, The New Bayou and Greenfield's Music Hall. Ashley has also performed as a headliner at charity events for Toy Mountain, Roger's House and Stem Cells for Brynn.

In addition to her musical talents, Ashley's second passion is writing. Her work has been published in the Ottawa Citizen, the daily national The Globe & Mail and the blog Piano Review. She is also a featured writer for Best Buy'sTechBlog, offering expert advice on musical instruments, accessories and learning. With a background in communication, marketing and social media, Ashley also enjoys managing BMA's official blog, Treble Makers, as well as keeping BMA families up to date via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Tashi Bernard, Vocal, Piano, Primary Choir & Tuneful Tots Director

Tashi Bernard is a dedicated and extremely well rounded musician. Throughout her career she's gained an immense wealth of experience in singing and playing a wide variety of instruments, namely piano, guitar, ukulele and violin. Along with successfully completing the practical Grade 9 Piano examination and the written Advanced Theory Rudiments examination with The Royal Conservatory of Music, she is very proficient in improvising and creating her own chordal arrangements of songs. She can perform and teach many styles of music, from Disney classics to today's top radio hits. Tashi's dedication to the arts led her to persue a certificate in Fine Arts at the Ottawa School of Art (2009) and later graduate from Fanshawe College's General Arts program (2010) in London, Ontario. In 2013, Tashi was hand picked to represent BMA as a judge for the capital's largest vocal competition, Ottawa Idol.

Tashi's versatility as a teacher includes her excellent arrangement and accompaniment skills. Under her guidance, students learn basic but fundamental vocal exercises, develop ear-training and harmony and, most importantly, find their own style and voice. Since joining BMA in 2012, Tashi has taken much joy in encouraging her students to be creative with performances through unique song arrangements with beautiful harmonies and ear-catching melodies. To date, dozens of Tashi's students have had successful, professional and passionate performances thanks to her fantastic and dedicated teaching style.

In addition to composing her own songs and music, Tashi is currently working towards her grade 10 RCM piano exam under Nadia's guidance, with the goal of achieving her ARCT.

Samuel Boisvert, Violin, Viola & Piano

Sam began his training in music at the age of of five, starting with the violin. In the beginning, his curriculum focused on fiddle music and he gained a tremendous amount of experience and recognition by performing this style at various competitions throughout the city. Eventually, at the age of 10, he started studying classical repertoire and techniques, allowing his studies to lead him into many new genres, forms and influences. Sam has been part of many orchestras and ensembles, including the Ottawa Junior Youth Orchestra and the Ottawa Youth Orchestra, and was appointed concertmaster for the Conservatory of Gatineau Orchestra and the De La Salle High School Orchestra from 2012-2014.

In 2014, Sam was the recipient for the Best Musician, Best Orchestra and Best Leader bursaries. He is currently studying at the University of Ottawa in the Bachelor of Music program.

Sam's knowledge and expertise regarding the intricate art of playing and understanding music, his patience to teach and mentor, and his dedication to music are all demonstrated to his students in each lesson. He combines classical conservatory and Suzuki techniques as well as theory and contemporary styles to provide the student with structure but also the freedom to learn different genres and pieces. His teaching style is very hands-on and he always aims to understand the student's perspective and develop their unique strengths, striving for the perfect balance of fun and discipline in every class.

Matt Devost, Piano, Guitar, Bass, Sax & Clarinet

Having performed and composed professionally in Europe, the United States, and Canada - in award-winning choirs, bands, and orchestras - for celebrities, festivals, and politicians, including the Governor General of Canada, jazz legend Oliver Jones, and Peter Buffett, Matt offers an experienced and enthusiastic approach to teaching and learning music.

Matt completed his Honours Bachelor of Arts in Music at Laurentian University as a classical and jazz clarinetist, but also worked as an active guitarist, saxophonist, chorister and pianist. In addition to his BA(hons), Matt studied composition and counterpoint at Carleton University under Mark Ferguson and Dr. James McGowan - and is registered as a member of SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers in Canada).

Inspired by Jazz artists, classical composers, classic rock/metal bands, and world musicians, Matt has a deep appreciation for all genres of music and pulls from these inspirations for his own compositions and playing aesthetics. Matt will be starting a Master of Arts in Music and Culture on full scholarship at Carleton University in the fall of 2015.

Joel Lefebvre, Guitar & Vocal

Born and raised in Ottawa, musician and teacher Joel Lefebvre has been learning, sharing and creating music since childhood. He has studied and mastered the guitar, vocals and drums, helping him become a well-rounded and immensely knowledgeable musician. In 2014, Joel graduated from Algonquin College's Music Industry Arts program. Along with producing multi-track recordings in a professional studio environment, this two-year Ontario College diploma focused on how to read, write and arrange music with an understanding of rhythm, intervals, chording and lead sheets.

Performing is also a passion for Joel, who has worked with countless bands and groups over the years. This experience has helped him develop strong stage presence and showmanship skills that are essential to being a successful live act. Currently, Joel is the frontman of the Ottawa-based hard rock band Crossing Jane. The group has already celebrated a number of career-defining highlights, including a final round appearance at Live 88.5's Big Money Shot and having their single 'Destitution' aired on Ottawa radio station 106.9 The Bear. Crossing Jane just released their debut Album, "The Void", which can be purchases on iTunes. When he's not busy performing with Crossing Jane, Joel also lends his guitar skills to another local band, Eyes Over Sea.

As part of the BMA team, Joel enjoys working with musicians of all ages, styles and levels. Under his guidance, he strives to help his students achieve, and even surpass, their musical goals.

Mindy Maier, Piano & Theory

Mindy Maier brings her musical talents and friendly teaching style all the way from Vancouver, British Columbia. A graduate from Carleton University's Bachelor of Arts, Major in Music program (2006), Mindy has completed practical examinations 1 through 9 with the Royal Conservatory of Music, along with various advanced theories, harmony and counterpoint examinations.

During her years of study, Mindy has had a strong presence in several music competitions in her native BC, sharpening her performance skills in front of audiences large and small. Her most notable achievements include winning two silver awards and one bronze award at the BC Lower Mainland Festival and Competition at the St Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby.

In addition to Mindy's background in piano, she has six years of experience playing the flute and four years of experience playing violin, making her an exceptionally well-rounded and knowledgeable musician and performer. Mindy has a friendly, outgoing personality, making her popular with students of all ages and abilities. She teaches beginner to advanced piano, and loves helping her students reach their RCM goals!

Andrew Parmelee, Guitar, Bass, Drums & Band Coach

Andrew discovered his passion for music at the young age of 9 after being given a drumming practice pad for Christmas. After endless hours mastering rudiments and different percussion techniques, he decided it was time to dive head-first into playing music. Two years later he picked up the guitar has has not stopped playing since. Andrew has developed solid skills in a number of instruments - bass, drums, guitar, and voice - to become the versatile musician he is today.

Andrew's performance resume is nothing short of impressive. He's played in a variety of bands - Waking Suburbia, Flight To Midian, The Ecstatic and Crossing Jane - as a guitarist, bassist, vocalist and drummer. Andrew's performed at much sought-out Ottawa venues such as The Rainbow Bistro, Zaphod's, The John St. Pub and House of Targ, to name a few, and has had the honour to share the stage with members of Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth and Three Days Grace.

He was only 16 years old when he released his band's first EP album, and his love for recording, mixing and producing led him to build his own studio, which he owns and operates out of his home. His producing and engineering mixes have received regular rotation airtime on radio stations 106.9 The Bear, Live 88.5, Rebel 101.7 and local college stations.

Andrew is an honours graduate of the highly acclaimed Music Industry Arts (MIA) program at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario. During his studies, his creativity and hard work were recognized with the prestigious "Best Production" award, the only prize given out of the program's 75-member faculty. Andrew's education in sound engineering and the arts have only further advanced his music career as a multi-instrumentalist, teacher, performer and producer.

Students learning from Andrew will discover his passion for music is contagious. They will learn to develop their own appreciation and love for reading, writing and performing songs of all genres and styles. Andrew's lessons bring a heavy emphasis on developing a strong sense of rhythm - arguably the most important building block to becoming a confident and proficient musician - regardless of discipline!

Alex Polley, Piano, Guitar, Brass & Theory

At age eleven, Alex first discovered the trumpet, and later began studying the guitar at age fourteen. Since then, he has completed a Bachelor of Music with a concentration in Musicology at Dalhousie University (2012) and a Master of Arts in Music and Culture at Carleton University (2016). He has also performed across Eastern Canada, namely Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and here in Eastern Ontario. At age eighteen, Alex took part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform at schools in Cuba.

Since moving to Ottawa in 2014, Alex has performed at a number Carleton University sporting events, as well as at local venues, including the popular Rainbow Bistro and House of Targ. He was a Teaching Assistant for the Carleton University Music Department during the 2014/15 and 2015/16 academic years, where he assisted musicologist and theorist Dr. Alyssa Woods, and guitarist and composer Roddy Ellias. Alex also published a paper in 2014 on the changing relationships between Canada and its aboriginal peoples and presented another paper on technology and disability theory to the Canadian chapter of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), which held its annual conference in Ottawa in 2015.

Alex encourages his students to perform whenever possible, and to pursue their Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) goals. He also believes that musicality may be found in a variety of forms, and therefore encourages students who have an interest in composition to bring their material into their lessons so that they may improve their craft and discover their own hidden talents.

In the summer of 2016, Alex directed the BMA Jazz Band program, an intensive 8 week course for brass, guitar, bass and drum students.

Laryssa Pretty, Piano & Theory

Laryssa began her musical journey when she was seven years old, falling in love with the art almost instantly. By middle school she was eager to study the classics and began to perform at various concerts and talent shows in the community. Laryssa studied under the Royal Conservatory of Music and has completed her grade 8 practical exam as well as her Advanced Theory Rudiments. Laryssa completed her BA in Psychology with a Minor in Music (2012) from Carleton University. During her undergraduate degree, she attended the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England, focusing on Broadway and musical theatre. In 2014 she completed her Master of Education degree at the University of Ottawa, specializing in societies, cultures and literacies, as well as exploring the education system and the foundations of learning the arts.

One of Laryssa's passions is to inspire students to excel. She teaches based on individual goals and creates lesson plans tailored to each unique learning style, using various method books and genres. She specializes in preparing students for practical and theoretical examinations as part of the Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum.

Amanda Seed, Piano & Theory

Amanda's passion for music started at a very early age. With nearly a decade dedicated to mastering the piano, voice and music theory, she has developed into a mature, experienced and well-rounded musician and performer, with formal training in practical piano, technique, music literacy, composition, and history.

Aside from majoring in music and vocal performance at Cantebury, Amanda is currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in language studies at Carleton University. Amanda has over a decade of experience studying the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) curriculum, and has achieved a number of grades in piano, including her Grade 9 piano and Advanced Theory Rudiments under Nadia's guidance. She is currently working towards her grade 10 RCM examination in piano.

Always looking to encourage her students to succeed, lessons with Amanda will incorporate different approaches and methods, such as RCM, Alfred's and Hal Leonard, as well as some popular and jazz pieces, to keep students motivated with new material while laying strong foundations for the basics of rhythm, ear training and sight reading. Using warm-up exercises, scales, finger exercises, studies and repertoire, students will progress to improve on these important skills each week. Amanda's warm and friendly personality will encourage students of all ages to enjoy learning the piano as much as she loves to teach it!

Morgan Strickland, Vocal, Piano & Choir Director

Hailed by critics for her "jewel-like tone" and her "generous glowing instrument consistently warm and radiant", Canadian soprano Morgan Strickland is quickly making a name for herself. Morgan was most recently seen singing the leading female roles in LooseTEA Music Theater's Double-bill of Love in the Age of Autocorrect in Toronto, ON and will be on stage next singing Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflote with Opera Tunities Ottawa in November 2014.

Morgan obtained a double Master's Degree in Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy at New England Conservatory in Boston, MA where she was a Presidential and Merit Scholar (2008-2011). Currently a student of Lorraine Nubar's studio (NYC), Morgan also trained at the Academie de Nice in southern France under the tutelage of Dalton Baldwin. Ms. Strickland has performed the roles of Fiordiligi in Cosi an Tutte, Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Gertrude in Hansel und Gretel by Humperdink, Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and La Prieur from Les Dialogues des Carmalites.

In addition to performing, Morgan devotes much of her time to sharing her passion of singing with others in the classroom. Now in her thirteenth year of teaching voice and other aspects of vocal performance and music, Morgan comes home to the National Capital Region after having been a Professor of singing at New England Conservatory (Boston) and teaching in both Canada and the USA. Ms. Strickland believes in the organic and easy-flowing production of sound and integrating healthy singing into many different styles of music. She loves exploring, not just the technical side of singing, but the emotional journey as well!

Along with teaching private lessons, Morgan is also the Director of the BMA Choir. For more information on our choir program, please contact us!