Meet Our Instructors
Looking forward to meeting you!
Piano/Theory/Parents & Tots
Saki (she/her) was born in Yokohama, Japan and moved to the United States at a very young age. She began piano at the age of 5. As a teenager, Saki realized her passion for teaching and thus began her journey to become an educator. She has taught at many music schools including Yamaha Music School, Long and McQuade, Queen’s Conservatory of Music and McGill Conservatory of Music. She has experience in a multitude of musical teaching environments such as group classes for children as young as newborns to private lessons for retirees. Saki has a bachelors of music and education from Queen’s University and a masters degree in collaborative piano from McGill University. Saki believes that every student possesses the ability to create and understands that every student has different needs and goals. Her teaching style is very much centred around her students and she carefully designs the programs to help each student meet their individual goals. She is trained for level examination preparation for Royal Conservatory of Music and L’école de musique Vincent D’Indy. As a performer, she enjoys playing chamber music with friends or performing in various city events with her piano duo group Genji Pianists.
Alessandro (he/him) has been immersed in his native Montreal’s beautiful and diverse culture since birth. He is a versatile percussionist, active in genres ranging from chamber music, rock, musical theatre, world music, to hip-hop. Valiante was a featured soloist in the Random Walks Xenakis Festival (Toronto) and has frequently collaborated with Sixtrum (Montreal). He holds a bachelor and master of music performance from McGill University, where he established himself as a specialist in the chamber repertoire of Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, David Lang, and John Cage and worked with a diverse set of composers including Vinko Globokar and Thierry De May. Alessandro has a masters of percussion from McGill University. He is a founder and current member of the Montreal based professional percussion quartet, Architek. When he is not on tour or preparing for concerts, he enjoys teaching his students anything from mallet percussion instruments, snare drum technique to any style of drums. You know someone who wants to rock out or have children who like to bang on things? Alessandro’s your guy!
Violinist Taylor Mitz (he/him) presents an impactful musical experience to audiences and students in the greater Montreal area. A versatile musician, Taylor finds himself comfortable as a performer, collaborator, and pedagogue presenting a dynamic repertoire and adaptable approach to pedagogy. Taylor has performed numerous concerts in Canada and across the United States. Taylor’s repertoire ranges from the Baroque era to the present contemporary era. He has been a part of numerous festivals in the U.S. and Canada, and was most recently invited to the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme in Snape Maltings, UK. His prior appearances have been at the National Repertory Orchestra located in Breckenridge, Colorado, le Domaine Forget Academy in Quebec, Canada, the RoundTop Festival Institute in Texas, the National Academy Orchestra of Canada and more. His vision for pedagogy centers around the belief of a positive and encouraging environment to foster intellectual growth and development. Every child has the ability to learn and develop their own unique voice. In lessons, we work diligently with patience and positivity to have productive and fun lessons.
Taylor was recently headteacher at Encore! Sistema Quebec Parc-Extension location, a programme designed to inspire children and youth to achieve their full potential through learning and performing orchestral music. Taylor earned a Master of Music in violin performance from the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal, Canada under the esteemed pedagogue Axel Strauss. Previously, Taylor graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Music under the tutelage of a previous concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, Eliot Chapo.
Double bassist Gabriel Rioux (he/him) leads an active career as a performer and pedagogue, offering audiences and students a memorable musical experience based on sharing, creativity, and innovation. A regular performer on the Canadian music scene since returning to Montreal in 2018, Gabriel has performed with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, the Orchestre de l’Agora, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and many other orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout Quebec and Canada. Gabriel’s musical journey began as a member of Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal, where he was acclaimed as a chorister and a soloist. Vocal performance highlights include a tour in Italy, his premiere with Opera de Montréal in the choir of Carmen, and a solo recording of the theme song of the popular television show Le négociateur. Gabriel teaches double bass privately at his home studio and as an instructor at the Collège Notre-Dame in Montreal. His dynamic pedagogical approach is based on the principle that music learning should foster self development in a fun, positive, and productive context.
Gabriel studied at the University of Montreal with Marc Denis and at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University with Ira Gold. He has also performed in masterclasses for Ali Yadzanfar, Matthew McDonald, Jeremy McCoy, and Jean Michon, among others. He is also the social media coordinator and artist relations assistant at the booking agency Latitude 45 Arts.
Violin/Parents and Tots
Intrigued by the violin, TJ Skinner (they/them) began studying music at the age of nine in their hometown of Victoria, Canada. Since then, they have become an engaging and versatile performer and a dedicated educator, sharing music across America, Europe and Asia. An active chamber musician, they are a founding member of Trio Émerillon and a member of Montreal’s cutting-edge classical string band, collectif9, as well as the contemporary nonet, CASSIOPÉE. A recognized leader, TJ has enjoyed the role of concertmaster with the McDuffie Center String Ensemble, the McGill Symphony Orchestra, and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble. They currently perform regularly with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and are a substitute violinist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, TJ was the winner of the Canadian Music Competition (19-30 years strings category) and the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada’s Peter Mendell Award. They won first prize in the Prix d’Europe competition strings category in 2016, as well as third prize in the overall competition, and the Guy Soucie prize for their interpretation of a Québécois work. The same year, TJ won the McGill Chamber Music Competition with Trio Armonioso and they performed at the Salzburg Mozarteum.
In 2017 they were a recipient of the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation award, and in 2018 they were a finalist in the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. Most recently they were named one of CBC’s “30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30”. TJ graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Georgia, USA. They also hold a Master of Music in Violin Performance and recently completed their Doctor of Music in Performance Studies degree at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music where they studied with Axel Strauss. A dedicated educator, TJ has been a string coach for the McGill Symphony Orchestra, Macon Youth Symphony and Kawartha Youth Orchestra, as well as a chamber coach and private instructor at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. They taught in the Suzuki program and were a tutor at F.A.C.E. (Formation Artistique au Cœur de l’Éducation) School. They currently teach privately from their studio in Verdun, Montreal. TJ is passionate about inspiring their students to be creative, confident and curious and is able to use their experience from studying Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais to foster an approach which prioritizes injury prevention, setting the foundation for healthy, sustainable relationships with the violin.
Renaud (he/him) is passionate about music and science and is a highly dynamic and interactive teacher.
A central element of Renaud’s pedagogy is the enjoyment of music as a means to overall development as much as a goal in itself. He believes intrinsic motivation is developed through self-actualization and that learning music is an opportunity to use one’s skills and develop one’s potential in many areas. For example: music uses visual-spatial and kinesthetic skills, sharpens emotional sensitivity, promotes social bonding by strengthening self-confidence or when done in a group.
Renaud obtained a Bachelor’s degree in classical piano at the University of Montreal with Jean Saulnier and Jeanne Amièle. He also perfected his skills in workshops and courses with teachers David Jalbert, Maneli Pirzadeh, Paul Stewart and Michel-Alexandre Broekaert. Renaud has taught in several music schools and is currently teaching piano at the Vincent-d’Indy School of Music.
Following his musical career, his curious nature led him to study neuropsychology at the University of Montreal where he developed an expertise in music (neuro)cognition through his involvement in Brams (International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research). He has studied the exceptional musical abilities of prodigies and their hereditary component.