Teacher Bios

We are proud to bring a roster of experienced, passionate teachers to the Old Ottawa South community. Our teachers are knowledgeable in a wide range of instruments and come from various musical backgrounds; bringing a unique experience to all those who come through our doors. We welcome students of all ages and levels of experience and can’t wait for you to share your love of music with us!

Read teacher bios

Ella Bangs

Ella began playing the violin at the age of four and spent the next several years performing at shows and competing on the Ottawa Valley fiddle and step dance contest circuit, with many first place titles to her credit. During this time, she also worked on developing her classical violin technique, preparing for Royal Conservatory of Music levels and as a member of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. At nine years old she was recruited by Cirque du Soleil to perform and sing as the central character ‘Zoe’ in Quidam. For the next four years she toured all over the world with the show, and enriched this amazing musical experience by sitting in on Irish sessions throughout Europe, the UK and South America. Since then she has continued to perform with her family at a variety of shows, in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and in the northern United States. She has also had the privilege of performing for His Royal Highness Prince Edward as a member of the Gloriana String Quartet. Most recently, Ella has been performing as The Fiddler in the popular dinner theatre show Oh Canada, Eh?!

Teaching Tuesdays and Sundays

Portrait of Ella Bangs Photo by Laura Collins
"Ella welcomes the opportunity to delve into her repertoire of Old Time, French Canadian, Bluegrass and Celtic fiddle tunes and share these unique little compositions with fiddle students, as well as teach the fundamentals of classical violin technique."

Clarissa Fortin

Every aspect of music seems to be something Red Bird Live’s Clarissa Fortin is passionate about. From studying, to teaching, to performing, Clarissa is involved in many areas of Ottawa’s music community.

She completed her Grade 9 RCM exam in 2012, was selected as a Youth Performer at the 2017 Summerfolk Music Festival and has performed at venues and festivals across Ottawa including the Grassroots Festival and the Spirit of Rasputin’s Concert Series.

She has been teaching locally since 2017 and has experience both in private and group lessons. Clarissa is very familiar with the RCM testing system as well as the Kiwanis music festival and can walk her students through either if they are ready to take on the task!

Her passion for singing and songwriting expands across genres into classical, musical theater, jazz, and contemporary styles. She is looking forward to helping aspiring songwriters develop their songwriting skills and bringing her knowledge of guitar, piano, ukulele and voice to our community.

Teaching on Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Portrait of Clarissa Fortin Photo by Laura Collins
“My goal as a teacher is to balance technique and accuracy with creativity and self expression. I try to give students a strong foundation of technical skills that they can use to find their own voice.” - Clarissa Fortin

Shaun Francisco

For almost three years, Shaun has been bringing music into the lives of others through private and group lessons. He will be bringing lessons in voice, guitar, bass, drums, and songwriting. Being a self-taught musician, Shaun loves teaching because it allows him to offer mentorship to other musicians that he himself did not have.

Having toured with his own band, Shaun will be bringing his knowledge of performance, the music industry, engineering, and production to students interested in those areas. His impressive list of accomplishments includes becoming a Top 24 finalist on Canadian Idol’s final season, winning the Live 88.5 Big Money Shot with his band Autumns Cannon, and opening for acts including Tom Cochrane, Bryan Adams, Jim Cuddy, Big Wreck, Kim Mitchell, Tragically Hip and Bon Jovi.

At the heart of his teaching you will find his desire to foster passion and confidence in his students while helping them establish a good workflow tailored to their needs. We can’t wait for you to be able to experience this for yourself!

Teaching on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays

Portrait of Shaun Francisco Photo by Laura Collins
“I am motivated to help students discover their potential, while never getting away from their true self.” - Shaun Francisco

Doug Gouthro

Doug Gouthro has been playing guitar for 38 years, and teaching guitar for 30. He earned a Bachelor Of
Music from Carleton University and has decades of experience performing. Previously, he played in the Alt-Country band ‘The John Henrys’ who regularly toured the United States and Canada. Presently, he is lead guitarist for ‘Drifting Bird’ and frontman and leader of ‘The Psychedelic Sundaes’. Doug offers guitar lessons in all styles and at all levels. His particular specialty is instruction in lead guitar, which includes improvisations, writing, and playing solos over chord changes.

Teaching on Wednesdays and Sundays

Portrait of Doug Gouthro Photo by Laura Collins
A Music Haiku: Music is so fun Want to play it all the time Time is well spent now Doug Gouthro

Brianna Herdman

To say music is an important part of Brianna’s life would be an understatement. Growing up in a musical family in Old Ottawa South, you can see Brianna performing in Barry and the Blasters alongside her dad.

Her passion for music grew during her four years studying in the winds program at Canterbury; Ottawa’s fine arts high school. Having started taking private lessons at the young age of five, Brianna now feels ready to take on the role of teacher and bring her wealth of knowledge to students of all ages and levels with the guitar, banjo, piano, bass, ukulele, and trumpet.

Alongside her love for teaching and performing, she also has an interest in production, having enrolled in the Langara College Digital Music Production program. She has experience with the computer-related skills needed for sound engineering and is ready to put all that musical knowledge to work both for herself and others.

Teaching on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays

Portrait of Brianna Herdman Photo by Laura Collins
“I’ve been supported by so many great music teachers throughout my life, and I want to provide the same sense of community and support for others.” - Brianna Herdman

Bronwyn Kelly

Born and raised in Ottawa, Bronwyn Kelly is thrilled to be back in her wonderful hometown to continue to build her teaching career with Red Bird Live.

Having studied piano, violin, and voice throughout her childhood, Bronwyn pursued her passion for music in post-secondary studies in Montreal. She holds an undergraduate degree in Music as well as an MA in Music Theory from McGill University. Upon returning to Ottawa, Bronwyn stepped away from music research and onto the stage to continue her vocal studies, earning a Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance from the University of Ottawa, specializing in classical voice and opera.

While she is classically trained, Bronwyn teaches both piano and voice in a variety of genres and has extensive experience in musical theatre, folk, and contemporary styles.

She is looking forward to connecting with Ottawa’s vibrant music community through various performances and through teaching students of all ages and levels at Red Bird Live.

Teaching on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays

Portrait of Bronwyn Kelly Photo by Laura Collins
“I teach because I love to connect with people through passion and expression, helping others to open themselves up to the magic and wonder of music-making.” Bronwyn Kelly

Christy Laarakker

Christy believes that music has the power to transform lives. She studied voice and piano through the Royal Conservatory of music, eventually majoring in music and neuroscience at Dalhousie University with a focus on piano performance. Through both her undergraduate degree and master’s degree in Cognitive Science, she studied music’s impact on the brain and music perception. She has experience working with all ages and abilities and focuses on creating a learning environment that is formulated specifically for the individual. Christy is passionate about and well versed in both music and learning techniques and loves to see her students thrive through their musical experience.
Christy will be teaching piano and voice.

Teaching on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Portrait of Christy Laarakker Photo by Laura Collins
"Music has the ability to transport humans anywhere and allows them to have experiences and emotions that are unique, empowering, and transformative."

Kevin Lippert

With almost 20 years of music teaching experience, Kevin will be bringing his expertise in guitar, bass, and ukulele to Old Ottawa South.

Kevin is dedicated to building strong relationships with his students and has always been active in his community. When teaching in the Durham region, he would organize performances at hospitals to bring some Christmas cheer with his students.

His greatest passion is helping students find their love and connection to instruments, allowing them to develop music as a passion of their own. His love for music extends beyond the classroom and into performing, having performed in various bands throughout the years as well as at weddings and banquets.

We are so lucky to have Kevin as a part of our team, and we can’ wait for classes to begin in 2022.

Teaching on Tuesdays

Portrait of Kevin Lippert Photo by Laura Collins
“Music has always been a big part of my life and I enjoy sharing that with others.” - Kevin Lippert

Joey O’Connor

Joey O’Connor is a multi-instrumentalist who has been playing and performing for 25 years. Joey studied music performance at Cambrian College and later continued his music studies at Sir Wilfrid Laurier and McMaster University. He has studied classical guitar, piano and music theory intensely and has also picked up the mandolin, banjo and ukulele throughout his musical career.

Joey has performed with Jully Black, The Arkells and The Sheepdogs and continues to perform in local music venues.

Teaching on Thursdays and Sundays

Portrait of Joey O’Connor Photo by Laura Collins

Matthew Troncale

My name is Matthew, and I’m from Alabama, USA. I recently became a Canadian and have been in Ottawa for 12 years now. I have taken formal music lessons since the age of ten. I earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of South Alabama, with a focus in percussion performance. My Master of Music degree came from Appalachian State University, also with a concentration in percussion performance. My spectrum of performance encompasses Baroque timpani all the way to Progressive Metal on the drum set, and all areas in between. I’m a veteran of Drum Corps International Division I Corp “Spirit of Atlanta,” and have performed with Highland Pipe and Drum ensembles in Ontario and Quebec.

Teaching Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays

Portrait of Matthew Troncale Photo by Laura Collins
"I believe music is one of the most universally beloved of all phenomena, and I have a natural aptitude to communicate its wonders to students of all ages."

Bryanna Vanderlek

Bryanna is a performing vocalist, music teacher and multidisciplinary artist. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Ottawa and has been singing for over seventeen years!

Bryanna teaches beginner piano and all levels of vocal students. She is trained in Classical, Musical Theatre, and Pop genres along with the RCM curriculum.

Bryanna’s pedagogical philosophy places a heavy emphasis on student exploration and enjoyment, while also incorporating aspects of mindful breathing which is extremely effective in solidifying technique and deepening one’s understanding of musical information.

Bryanna’s goal as a teacher is to create a super fun, safe environment to learn and make music together, and she hopes to inspire a love of music and a passion for performing in her students.

Music is not just something I study, it is rooted in the very being of all of us, and it is so wonderful to help foster these creative discoveries in others.
When she is not making music, she loves to make artwork out of botanicals and can be found dancing around the house with her cat’s Lily and Phoebe!

Teaching Mondays and Thursdays

Portrait of Bryanna Vanderlek Photo by Laura Collins
"Music is my most natural medium of expression and my happiest place. I hope to inspire this passion in the students I work with"

1165 Bank Street, Ottawa ON K1S 3X7