At Beck Music, our dedicated and caring instructors love sharing their passion for music with students. Read through our instructors’ bios to learn more about them, and then give us a call to start your musical journey!
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Owner & Instructor
Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute and Piano
“I feel that music lessons are about so much more than learning notes, rhythms and the language of music. It’s an opportunity to build self-confidence, motivation, work-ethic, intellect and to inspire people to find something inside themselves they might not have known they had.”
Danielle Beckstarted her music career playing piano at a young age and has 25 years of experience as a saxophonist. She earned her Bachelor of Music Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2003, majoring on the saxophone. Danielle has spent a number of years building a career as a performer, clinician, accompanist, and private instructor for woodwinds, piano and music theory. Danielle’s years of experience have involved teaching at local music academies, high schools and music camps. She also initiated Beck Music’s All Girls Music Day Camp in 2011. Danielle is currently performing with a number of local groups of diverse styles including Stealing Dan, Wellington Winds Symphony, The Crazy Diamonds Band, Royal City Sax Quartet, and has played reeds for a number of musical productions in KW and Guelph. She opened Beck Music in September 2010 – an opportunity for Danielle to realize her dreams and goals as a professional musician, and to share her passion for music education with the Kitchener/Waterloo community.
Susan Follows, BMus, Bed
Trombone, Tuba, Euphonium, French Horn, Trumpet
Susan Follows began her music career playing trombone in the Stratford Shakespearean Festival Orchestra and Fanfares, London Symphony Orchestra and freelancing in Toronto. She spent 3 years in Germany performing and teaching brass. She returned to Canada and taught secondary school music with the Waterloo Regional District School Board for 28 years. She continues to play in many groups including Brassroots, Slide by Slide trombone quartet, Stratford Symphony Orchestra, Full House Brass Quintet, Wellington Winds, Waterloo Chamber Players, Windjammers and other regional ensembles. She has also directed Ebytown Brass since 1989.
Rob Gellner, BMus
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, French Horn, Trombone
Rob Gellner is among Guelph’s most accomplished trumpet players and composers. He received his music degree in Honours Composition (BMUS) from Wilfrid Laurier University. Rob leads a group called the Rob Gellner Sextet and recently released a CD, entitled What If, of his own original jazz compositions. His versatility finds him in KW Big Band Theory, Groove Corporation, playing in pit orchestras on trumpet and doubling on French horn and trombone for RCMPI, KWMP, Globe and Drayton musicals, as well as soloist with churches and many other ensembles. Rob shares his love of music through teaching brass and jazz workshops. Further details can be found at robgellner.com.
Jody Waardenburg, BMT
Jody recently finished her undergraduate degree in music therapy at WLU in 2016. She teaches saxophones, flute and clarinet at Beck Music, but also has skills in piano, guitar and voice. Jody has participated in several ensembles throughout university including the WLU Concert Choir, Jazz and Wind Ensembles. Recently, she has participated in the Youth Jazz Ensemble in 2015 and 2014 workshops which included performances at the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival. She is also an occasional performer in the community, playing with the Wellington Winds, as well as small jazz ensemble performances. Jody has also competed in the Kiwanis Music Festival for 3 years and advanced the provincial competition for small ensembles in 2011.
Going forward Jody will be completing a 1000-hour music therapy internship with Expressions Music Therapy and board exam to become accredited as a music therapist. She hopes to continue her music therapy work in long-term care and with children and adults with special needs.
STRINGS & GUITAR
Colin Labadie, DMus
Guitar, Bass & Composition Instructor
“Some of the greatest experiences in my life have been those aha! moments where you make profound discoveries about music and in turn about yourself. What drives me as a teacher is to guide and inspire that experience in someone else”
Colin Labadie began playing piano at the age of 8 and guitar at the age of 10. His love of music inspired him to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in music from Wilfrid Laurier University, followed by Master’s and Doctoral degrees in music from the University of Alberta. Colin has been teaching music since 2007 across a broad range of instruments and genres. He is also an active performer and composer, and has had his music featured across Canada and abroad.
Michael Morelli plays guitar as a professional musician, specializing in lead guitar. Playing multiple genres, he is most passionate about playing rock and blues guitar.
Michael has been playing guitar since he was 10 years old and has been teaching since he was 14. Throughout the years, he has played with multiple bands and multiple genres playing locally wherever he is; for concerts, events, bars, nightclubs, and special performances. He has performed on TV and radio shows and wrote and recorded some of his own material.
Michael has authored, produced, and recorded an instructional guitar course that was published by Mel Bay Publishing with worldwide distribution.
Over multiple years Michael has taught many students, ranging in age from beginner to advanced. He is able to teach students with his clear communication style, and he uses various methods of teaching including: note reading, chording, tablature, and ear training. He is capable of giving his students what works best for them in a learning format that is educational and fun.
Alex Showdra, BMus
Guitar, Ukulele & Bass Instructor
“The most profound musical experiences I’ve had have been with other people. My goals as a teacher are to help my students discover their own musical personality and be able to effectively express that musicality in a group setting. Additionally, I aim to give my students the tools to be able to further their own musical pursuits without having to rely on explicit guidance from a teacher. I achieve this by having an emphasis on improvisation, music theory, and musical skills training such as sight-singing, conducting, and rhythm practice. I encourage my students to play from the heart and to always rely on their instincts when learning a new piece of music. For me, the best moments about teaching are when a student has that ‘eureka!’ moment. A time when what once seemed impossible is now totally easy!”
Alex Showdra is a musician, composer and guitarist who performs a variety of guitar styles and genres. For the past four years, Alex has been studying classical guitar with Terry McKenna in Wilfrid Laurier University’s music program. During his time at Laurier, Alex had the opportunity to explore numerous guitar styles and receive coaching and masterclasses from renowned musicians such as Glenn Buhr, Pavel Steidl, members of the Penderecki String Quartet, the Canadian guitar Quartet, and Rémi Bouchez. Alex has been featured as a soloist in many ensembles associated with the university.
In 2014, Alex was featured as the guitarist for the student composition, “Concerto for Metal Band and Wind Orchestra.” He has also been featured by the Wilfrid Laurier Jazz Ensemble and a classical chamber music group,“The Laurier Guitar Trio,” as well as other solo performances around the university. In addition, Alex has been featured on a number of recordings by Acoustic Dirt, the Aneeq Kalson Band and Controversial Sharks, and other Laurier-based art-rock groups that incorporate contemporary western art music idioms into popular song forms.
Dave O'Neill, B. Ed., B.Mus., Dipl. Mus.
Drums, Vibraphone, Percussion
Dave is a performer and educator of all things musical. He has toured Eastern Canada and parts of the U.S., performed at numerous venues, music festivals, theatre productions, conducted clinics, workshops, does motivational speaking, and has extensive experience in the recording studio. Dave has taught privately for the last thirty years, spent four years on the part time music faculty at Mohawk College, and is a supply teacher for the Waterloo Region District School Board. He is endorsed by Headhunters Drumsticks. Dave holds B. Ed. from OSIE/U. of Toronto, a B. Mus. in Jazz Performance from U. of Toronto, as well as a Dipl.Mus. from Mohawk College. He has studied with drummers Bob McLaren, Barry Elmes, Ernie Porthouse, John Cheeseman, and Memo Acevedo.
PIANO & VOICE
Merissa Michell, BMusTh, ACCM, BEd, OCT
“As a music teacher I endeavour to provide highly personalized lessons, tailored to the unique goals, interests, needs, and learning styles of my students. I aim to equip students with the musical skills that will enable them to express themselves creatively through music. Through highly engaging and motivating lessons, I hope to instil in my students a lifelong passion and appreciation for music."
Merissa Michell is a passionate and enthusiastic musician and educator from Niagara Falls, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Music Therapy from Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as an Associate Diploma in Piano Performance from the Canadian Conservatory of Music.
Merissa’s musical career began with piano lessons at the age of 7. As a young pianist, Merissa participated in numerous music festivals and received various awards for her achievements as both a solo and duo pianist. Merissa has also performed as a saxophonist with various ensembles, including concert bands, jazz ensembles, and as a featured soloist with the Niagara Men’s Chorus.
Merissa enjoys connecting with her community through music. Throughout her musical career, she has performed at various venues, including retirement centres and long term care facilities, where she first experienced the transformative effects of music, sparking her interest in music therapy.
Upon graduating with distinction from Laurier’s Honours Bachelor of Music Therapy program, Merissa completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto (OISE). She is an Ontario Certified Music Teacher, currently working with the Waterloo school board.
Travis Smally, B.Mus, B.Ed
Voice & Piano Instructor
“Music’s power is vast; it can cure a bad mood, bring a community together, provide insight into a culture and teach us things no other discipline can. I believe in the power of music and will be your liaison to help you tap into the power of music.”
Travis Smalley is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier’s music performance and music education program. He has experience performing recitals, concerts, opera excerpts, musicals and operas. He continues to better his musical talents by both taking and teaching music lessons, seeking professional opportunities, and learning better ways of teaching. His first priority is to provide a fun and professional environment for all students to find success in music. In his studio he will provide students with individualized lesson plans based on their own goals. It is his hope to provide opportunities for students to collaborate on musical repertoire (duets, trios, etc.) and to develop their musicianship skills (theory, sight singing and ear training).
Travis is thrilled to be part of Danielle’s talented team and looks forward to engage the music community surrounding its doors.
Chadd Yaniw, ARCT
Piano & Cello Instructor
“My goal as a musical artist and teacher is to help people discover their own love for music and build on it, so that during their learning everything can develop in the most natural way possible. Discovery is essential for an artist – for the excitement it brings and the rewards that it delivers."
Chadd Yaniw grew up in a musical family setting in Edmonton, Alberta. His early interest and fascination with music prompted private lessons in piano, cello and theory, as well as orchestral training as a cellist. Since he became a resident of Ontario in 2001, Chadd has been performing with many orchestras, including Waterloo Chamber Players, the Young Artists Performance Academy Chamber Orchestra of the Royal Conservatory (Toronto), the Stratford Civic Orchestra, and the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. Chadd was also a member of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra for two years, and in 2009 was accepted into the cello section of the prestigious National Youth Orchestra of Canada for its Juno award-winning tour across Ontario and Quebec. He has been awarded performance diplomas as an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto (ARCT) in both cello and piano disciplines, and has won numerous local music festival awards in both instruments since early childhood. Chadd began his teaching with fellow music students in high school and now offers cello and piano lessons in the Waterloo Region. He has always had a passion for inspiring people of all ages to discover the unique power that music has to offer them.