Guitar

Kurtis Downs

  • With Studio Nine since 2006*.
  • Teaches guitar, mandolin, and ukulele.
  • Available Tuesday evenings.
  • Available online only or in person.

Kurtis holds a Diploma in music, with a specialty in jazz from Mount Royal University and has been with Studio Nine for over 9 years. He is a performance and recording artist who plays with his band “The Firm Handshake,” as well as a variety of other groups.

Kurtis enjoys teaching students of all skill levels and hopes that sharing his knowledge will aid not only in student’s progress, but also in developing a love of all styles of music. Kurtis is very popular with his students; he discovers the type of music they like, then finds songs appropriate to their level to maintain interest and encourage practice. Kurtis’s experience and love of music has made him an integral part of the Studio Nine team.

His musical repertoire spans blues, rock, jazz, easy listening and classical.

Vernon Wills

  • With Studio Nine since 2009.
  • Teaches guitar, bass, and banjo.
  • Available Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in person.
  • Available Wednesday online.

Vernon has been a musician for more years than he likes to admit! As both a recording and gigging artist, Vernon’s skills span several genres and mediums as featured in his work on the Juno Awards as both performer and writer, his work running international master-classes, as well as his work in TV and movie production. He recently performed on the main stage at the Calgary Blues Festival.

Vernon is passionate about all elements of music production including writing, playing, teaching and recording.  He has owned and run his own recording studio and is currently working out of a recording studio in his own home. Check out his work on his website, http://vernonwills.com/

As an enthusiastic motivator of his students, Vernon sees their potential and encourages them in their playing.  He gets excited when a student catches the music bug and helps them grow steadily into musicians with confidence.

Rock, blues, jazz, country and classical are some of the genres Vernon enjoys teaching, and he is our most advanced guitar teacher. He also teaches bass guitar, banjo, and slide guitar.

Connor Wilson

  • Has been teaching since 2014.
  • With Studio Nine since 2014.
  • Teaches guitar and ukulele.
  • Available Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
  • Available online or in person.

Connor has been playing guitar for over 15 years.  After several years of practice, he spent 3 years studying jazz under instructors such as Keith Smith. In 2014, Connor successfully completed his Grade 6 Classical Guitar exam with honours with the Royal Conservatory of Music. He is currently studying Classical Guitar under Ralph Maier at the University of Calgary.

Connor joined Studio Nine School of Music in 2014 as his first formal teaching position. He has quickly proven to be a great instructor to students of all ages and levels. In his lessons he aims to ensure students have a firm grasp not only on guitar, but on the fundamentals of musicianship such as sight reading and scales, in addition to tablature and chord structures. His classical training has taught him to pay special attention to technique such as fingering, hand posture and body posture – he assures that these values are passed on to his students throughout their lessons.

Connor can prepare students for Royal Conservatory of Music guitar exams up to a grade 6, and is currently accepting private students for contemporary and classical guitar studies.

Ken Murdoch

  • Has been teaching since 2001.
  • With Studio Nine since 2006.*
  • Teaches drums and guitar.
  • Available Monday and Tuesday for drums, and Wednesday for guitar.
  • Available online or in person.

Ken has over 23 years of performance experience in a variety of genres. He was a band member of ‘Trio Romanza’ and has performed as a drummer/guitarist/singer with rock bands such as ‘Left Sun’ and ‘Electric Kool-Aid’ as well as occasionally moonlighting with popular Calgary cover bands such as ‘Groove Demons’ and ‘The Raynmen’. As a player Ken is most known for being a founding member of Calgary based indie metal/progressive rock band ‘Outlaws of Ravenhurst,’ as well as being a former member of popular Calgary indie rock group ‘Crystal Eyes’. He has appeared on multiple records and has played hundreds of live shows showcasing his talents as an all round musician. Ken also works as an experienced freelance recording engineer, producer, and session musician, mainly working with solo artists and bands as well as doing commercial work.

As an experienced music teacher with almost 19 years teaching experience, Ken enjoys the interaction with students that allows both student and teacher to learn, grow, and develop as musicians. Ken tries to instill his love of music in his students to help them

 to reach their full potential. In lessons, he uses popular music as educational tools. Classic and modern Rock repertoire are a favorite of his as they teach students current and classic rock and pop songs, encouraging them to practice their skills at home. Not

 just limited to rock/pop music, he is also an experienced jazz drummer and classical percussionist, and often will incorporate these styles into his teaching. Ken also likes to accompany students at recitals and concerts. This helps them feel less nervous and allows them to learn to play with another instrument, which assists their rhythm and listening skills.

Verne Luchinski

  • With Studio Nine since 2022.
  • Teaches guitar.
  • Available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  • Available online or in person.

Bio coming soon!

Mario Sota

  • With Studio Nine since 2022.
  • Teaches guitar, ukulele, and bass.
  • Available Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
  • Available online or in person.

Mario is a multi-talented instrumentalist who can play and teach guitar, ukulele, and bass. While flamenco is his specialty, he’s well versed in all styles including pop and rock. 

Mario grew up in a very musical household. He started playing piano when he was 4, and moved to guitar shortly after. At 17 he began performing, and continues to this day. In 2010 Mario traveled to Spain where he studied under some of the best guitarists flamenco has to offer. After honing his skills for a few years, he decided to start his own band, called Toque Flamenco, in 2013.

As a teacher, Mario is positive and engaging with students of all ages and skill levels. He believes that everyone is a superhero in their own right, with their own unique skill set. His cheerful personality and over 20 years teaching experience make Mario an excellent choice for students looking to learn classical guitar, flamenco, or more modern finger style. 

Mario is currently accepting private guitar and ukulele students.

Matthew Kurzmaul

  • With Studio Nine since 2022.
  • Teaches guitar.
  • Available Monday afternoons.
  • Available online or in person.

Bio coming soon!

Piano

Connie Claeys

  • Has been teaching for over 40 years.
  • With Studio Nine since 2015.
  • Teaches piano.
  • Available Monday-Saturday.
  • Available online or in person.

Connie started playing piano by ear, and now has forty years of experience teaching students of all ages. She has completed both an ARCT, and a Bachelor of Music degree in School Music at the University of Calgary. She has taught Music for Young Children, as well as the Safari Kindergarten Piano summer camps at Studio Nine. 

Connie enjoys teaching students of all ages and can arrange a program to suit each student. She likes watching students grow musically and enjoy the music they are playing, and is happy to help students prepare for performances, recitals, and RCM exams. Connie believes that everyone can benefit from the study of music and the opportunity for expression that it gives.

Demetrio Navarro

  • With Studio Nine since 2019.
  • Teaches piano.
  • Available Monday and Tuesday online only.
  • Available Wednesday and Thursday in person.

Demetrio Navarro is a Calgary-based producer, singer, keyboardist and songwriter. He has directed and arranged music for numerous music groups, including The Caribbees Singers, The Calgary Scandinavian Centre Choir, and the Canadian Martyrs Church senior choir. He currently plays keyboards for the well-known cover and swing group the Dino Martinis, plays in the jazz fusion group dzpc*, and leads contemporary worship teams and arranges at two churches including St. Michael Catholic Community. He regularly performs at weddings, funerals, and specialty events as a soloist or with other instrumentalists. He has written over 150 songs in a broad variety of genres, co-written songs with other artists, and produced dozens of albums and singles for local talent at his recording studio, NavarroLand Music.

He began his musical life on flute, then found his true instrument in the piano. While still in high school playing in a wedding band and as vocal class accompanist, he discovered an affinity for supporting and arranging for vocalists.

Karen Burkell

  • Has been teaching since 2010.
  • With Studio Nine since 2010.
  • Teaches piano and music theory.
  • Available Monday nights.
  • Available online or in person.

Karen is currently working towards her grade 10 practical exam with the Royal Conservatory of Music and has completed her grade 10 History and Harmony. Karen’s skills and knowledge of theory makes her a perfect choice for intermediate students preparing for RCM exams. 

Additionally, Karen holds a degree in Elementary Education and also works as a school teacher. This is her 10th year as a teacher with Studio Nine and has been a joy to the team.

Margo MacDonnel

  • Has been teaching for over 27 years.
  • With Studio Nine Since 2006.*
  • Teaches piano and music theory.
  • Available Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings.
  • Available online or in person.

Margo started teaching piano when she completed her Bachelor of Music in 1985.  She has been teaching with Studio 9 School of Music for 27 years and in that time has also taught the Music for Young Children, Yamaha, and Safari preschool group music programs. She teaches all ages, all grades of piano and theory in the Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum, and popular, jazz, and classical music outside the RCM program. She has maintained her passion for teaching and loves to challenge her students to achieve their musical goals.

Working with students, young and old is what Margo enjoys, and she takes great joy in opening the musical door for her students. She believes that having music in one’s life adds fun and optimism.

Roland Griffith

  • Has been teaching for over 20 years.
  • With Studio Nine since 2006.*
  • Teaches piano and drums.
  • Available Tuesday nights.
  • Available online or in person.

Roland is an incredibly talented musician who has been teaching music for over 20 years, and playing for many more. He holds a Diploma in Music Performance, and teaches piano and drums. He was part of a trio who played on cruise ships, and has toured across Canada with a variety of bands.

Yelena Yermolayeva

  • With Studio Nine since 2019.
  • Teaches piano.
  • Available Monday and Friday nights.
  • Available online or in person.

Yelena started doing Royal Conservatory when she was 6 years old. After high school she was accepted to the University of Calgary for a Bachelor of music, focusing on piano. She has performed at multiple concerts and examinations.

Yelena loves working with children of all ages, and is a bright and engaging teacher. She is bilingual in Russian and English. 

Kaitlyn Southgate

  • With Studio Nine since 2009.
  • Teaches piano and guitar.
  • Available Monday evenings.
  • Available online or in person.

Kaitlyn Southgate is a pianist, guitarist, vocalist, and Music Therapist originally from Okotoks. She fell in love with music at a young age listening to her grandmother play the organ and teaching her bits of music here and there. Her formal music training began with classical piano and soon expanded to include guitar and other instruments, exploring music of all genres! This love of music brought her to study Music Therapy at Acadia University, where she continued to develop her musical skills and learn of the incredible impact music can have on our lives.

Kaitlyn loves teaching students with a variety of musical experience and is happy teaching music of all genres – classical, pop, punk, the list goes on!

Katrina Jordan

  • Has been with Studio Nine since 2012.
  • Teaches piano and guitar.
  • Available Monday nights.
  • Available online or in person.

Born and raised in Calgary, AB, Katrina has been teaching piano and music theory for 10 years. Katrina has prepared many students for Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) exams and recitals. Growing up in a musical family Katrina has always had a deep love and appreciation of music, particularly the piano. She began her musical journey at the age of 4 and has been playing piano for over 20 years. Katrina has completed her grade 9 RCM piano examination, History, and Harmony. Katrina holds certificates in music theory including basic, intermediate, and advanced music. Katrina furthered her musical education by working on her Bachelor of Arts in Music at Ambrose University, studying under Edwin Gnandt and Charles Foreman. 
 
Katrina has accompanied several school bands on the piano. She has also played flute in those school bands. She has competed in the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival, playing in the Yaminda Classical Guitar Quartet, where she received a first place award. Katrina also sang soprano in the Centennial High School Choir and the Ambrose University Singers, performing in a variety of events and concerts.
 
Katrina enjoys teaching students of all ages and levels, tailoring a curriculum to each student. She is an enthusiastic, caring, and nurturing teacher who uses inquiry-based instruction to engage and guide her students in their musical journey. For younger students Katrina uses games as educational tools for learning music and music theory, creating a fun learning environment. She loves teaching classical and popular musical styles, and also enjoys composing music while encouraging students to explore their own musical creativity.

Bella DeSouza-Cook

  • Has been with Studio Nine since 2021.
  • Teaches piano and saxophone.
  • Available Saturday mornings.
  • Available online only at this time.

Bella is a second-year student in the Bachelor of Music program at Ambrose University, specializing in saxophone performance. She has been playing alto sax for 7 years and piano for 11, and has experience in both classical and jazz settings. She has performed with several local and national ensembles such as the Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra and JazzYYC Youth Lab Band.

Her priority is ensuring that students feel comfortable, relaxed and empowered while being given the chance to learn in a safe, fun and positive environment.

Olesia Voloshchuk

  • With Studio Nine since 2022.
  • Teaches piano.
  • Available Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.
  • Available online or in person.

Bio coming soon!

Voice

Drums

Ken Murdoch

  • Has been teaching since 2001.
  • With Studio Nine since 2006.*
  • Teaches drums and guitar.
  • Available Monday and Tuesday.
  • Available online or in person.

Ken has over 23 years of performance experience in a variety of genres. He was a band member of ‘Trio Romanza’ and has performed as a drummer/guitarist/singer with rock bands such as ‘Left Sun’ and ‘Electric Kool-Aid’ as well as occasionally moonlighting with popular Calgary cover bands such as ‘Groove Demons’ and ‘The Raynmen’. As a player Ken is most known for being a founding member of Calgary based indie metal/progressive rock band ‘Outlaws of Ravenhurst,’ as well as being a former member of popular Calgary indie rock group ‘Crystal Eyes’. He has appeared on multiple records and has played hundreds of live shows showcasing his talents as an all round musician. Ken also works as an experienced freelance recording engineer, producer, and session musician, mainly working with solo artists and bands as well as doing commercial work.

As an experienced music teacher with almost 19 years teaching experience, Ken enjoys the interaction with students that allows both student and teacher to learn, grow, and develop as musicians. Ken tries to instill his love of music in his students to help them

 to reach their full potential. In lessons, he uses popular music as educational tools. Classic and modern Rock repertoire are a favorite of his as they teach students current and classic rock and pop songs, encouraging them to practice their skills at home. Not

 just limited to rock/pop music, he is also an experienced jazz drummer and classical percussionist, and often will incorporate these styles into his teaching. Ken also likes to accompany students at recitals and concerts. This helps them feel less nervous and allows them to learn to play with another instrument, which assists their rhythm and listening skills.

Alex Olesen

  • Has been teaching since 2019.
  • With Studio Nine since 2019.
  • Teaches drums.
  • Available Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Available online or in person.

Alex is a versatile and talented teacher, who has been with Studio Nine since 2019. He graduated from the Alberta Academy of Recording Arts with a degree in Sound Engineering. Alex is incredibly adaptable and loves to teach using all genres of music. He likes to incorporate theory work into popular repertoire, showing how the concepts create the songs we all know and love.

Roland Griffith

  • Has been teaching for over 20 years.
  • With Studio Nine since 2006.*
  • Teaches piano and drums.
  • Available Tuesday nights.
  • Available online or in person.

Roland is an incredibly talented musician who has been teaching music for over 20 years, and playing for many more. He holds a Diploma in Music Performance, and teaches piano and drums. He was part of a trio who played on cruise ships, and has toured across Canada with a variety of bands.

Violin

Fran Hampel

  • Has been teaching since 2015.
  • With Studio Nine Since 2015.
  • Teaches violin.
  • Available Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Available online or in person.

Fran studied violin at Alberta College Conservatory of Music in Edmonton. Over the years, Fran has played in orchestras in both Edmonton and Calgary and is currently playing with the Calgary Civic Symphony. She has been teaching violin to her 3 children, and started teaching at Studio Nine in 2015.

Brass & Woodwinds

Bella DeSouza-Cook

  • Has been with Studio Nine since 2021.
  • Teaches saxophone and piano.
  • Available Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.
  • Available online only at this time.

Bella is a second-year student in the Bachelor of Music program at Ambrose University, specializing in saxophone performance. She has been playing alto sax for 7 years and piano for 11, and has experience in both classical and jazz settings. She has performed with several local and national ensembles such as the Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra and JazzYYC Youth Lab Band.

Her priority is ensuring that students feel comfortable, relaxed and empowered while being given the chance to learn in a safe, fun and positive environment.

Georgia Voncina

  • Has been with Studio Nine since 2020.
  • Teaches flute.
  • Available Tuesday nights.
  • Available online or in person.

Georgia is a highly experienced teacher with over 12 years of experience on flute. She was part of the Western Canada High School band program and flute ensemble, and was a member of the Mount Royal Chamber Flutes directed by Lucie Jones. She is also an alumni of the Calgary Stetson Showband, and the Calgary Stampede Showband. Georgia played piccolo in junior high and high school, and also has experience with alto and bass flute during her time with various ensembles.

High school presented Georgia with the opportunity to grow her leadership and teaching skills when she served on the executive leadership team in grades 11 and 12. This naturally transitioned into serving as a representative for the Stampede Showband Band Council for her first two years in the band, as well as being flute section leader for two years in a row.

Outside of music Georgia has finished her 3rd year of mechanical engineering at the University of Calgary, and has taken on an internship with Atco. She is also an enthusiastic soccer player, she’s been playing for 15 years and is an active member of a division 2 women’s league.

Georgia is a bright and confident musician and teacher, with a passion for connecting with students and sharing her love of music. She’s detail oriented, and likes to focus on tone and posture. She would be a wonderful teacher for students of all ages and skill levels, and we’re excited to have her on the team!