About us

Arbutus Music Academy offers private lessons in violin and viola, cello, guitar and piano;  Suzuki method lessons are offered for violin,viola and cello. Our students participate in various orchestras, music festivals locally and provincially, and receive good to excellent rankings in RCM examinations. We welcome adult students for private lessons (beginners or those with previous experience) and offer an enjoyable adult chamber music group, and twice yearly casual Wine and Cheese recitals.
Our Kodaly classes are a good introduction to music for preschoolers and those who are interested in starting lessons at a later date, and they are an engaging way to learn about musical concepts.
Our faculty use their diverse training to create the best and most interesting way for each individual to achieve their instrumental goals, whether it is to go on to study music at the university level, or simply to use their musical training to enhance their lives.
We are located at the Arbutus Shopping Centre, between King Edward Ave. and West 33rd Ave on Arbutus Street. Feel free to stop by the office personally or contact us by phone or e-mail.

Office hours are by appointment only


Patricia Armstrong

Patricia Armstrong, violin / viola

Patricia Armstrong has taught violin for thirty years both in Edmonton, Alberta, at The Alberta College of Music, and here in the lower mainland, at the Vancouver Academy of Music, the Langley Community Music School, and at Kwantlen University College. An active performer, she studied violin at UBC, The Victoria Conservatory,and at the University of Toronto, receiving Artist Diplomas in Performance and Pedagogy, as well as in Orchestral Studies. She has been a full-time member of the Victoria Symphony, the Edmonton Symphony, and the CBC Radio Orchestra, and is currently the Principal Second Violinist with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. Patricia enjoys working with young people and is looking forward to being part of the Arbutus Music Academy’s teaching collective.

Contact Patricia at: 
(604) 311-1311

Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray, violin / viola

A Suzuki teacher for over 25 years, Jennifer Gray been active as a performer and teacher in the U.S, Britain and Canada. She has performed professionally on both viola and violin in orchestras, ballet and opera companies in Canada and South Florida, and also as a baroque violinist with the Essex Baroque Orchestra in the UK. Her principal Suzuki teacher training was with Helen Brunner and Ronda Cole; Jennifer has herself taught in workshops for the London Suzuki Group, Cambridge Suzuki Group, Hertfordshire and West Midlands Suzuki Groups, and at the Valhalla Suzuki Institute; she has conducted young string orchestras in Miami, the UK and Canada. Her students have won numerous competitions and scholarships, and been selected for membership in the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain. She returned to Canada to teach in 2002 and helped found the Arbutus Music Academy.

Contact Jennifer at:
(604) 448-2482

Domagoj Ivanovic

Domagoj Ivanovic, violin

DMA, MM., BMus. Originally from Zagreb, Croatia, Domagoj completed his studies at the University of Miami in 2006, graduating with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Violin Performance with a minor in Musicology. In addition to teaching private lessons to students of all ages and levels, he held the post of a Teaching Assistant at the University of Miami for five years, gathering an extensive amount of experience teaching advanced students and coaching chamber music. During his stay in Miami, he also served as the Assistant Concertmaster of the Miami Symphony Orchestra and toured the Southeastern United States as a member of the Ibis Camerata. Currently, he is a member of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and an extra musician with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He takes great pleasure in teaching and seeing students excel as a result of proper guidance.

Contact Domagoj at:
(778) 317-7602

Alla Shmaenok

Alla Shmaenok, violin

BMus, MM. Alla was born, raised and educated in St. Petersburg, Russia where she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the State Conservatory. She has performed in several symphony orchestras including the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, Capella Symphony and small chamber ensembles. Having toured Germany, France, Switzerland and Finland, as well as many cities in Russia, Alla began her teaching career in Russia and continued in the United States until moving to Vancouver two years ago. Since 2006, she has been teaching students of all ages and levels in the lower mainland. In B.C., many of her students have prepared for and successfully taken their RCM exams at all levels.

Contact Alla at:
(778) 996-2613

Katerina Lu

Katerina Lu, violin

Katerina Lu started playing violin and piano at the age of 7 in her native Ukraine and spent 16 years studying violin, piano, music theory and history with different teachers. After graduating from a Conservatory in Russia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy, she worked in a symphony for a while, but decided to focus on teaching as it seemed to be more personally fulfilling for her. Katerina’s teaching methods combine the best of the Russian classical school, the Suzuki method and Western practices. She strives to keep her lessons fun and engaging while making sure students move forward in the mastery of violin skills and music reading. Her special interest areas include motivating young violin learners to practice and stage fright management for older students. Katerina is equally comfortable teaching children and adults and tailors the experience to particular needs of each student.
Katerina is a passionate advocate of music education and believes that, while not everyone wants to be a professional musician, everyone can benefit from the joy of music making. Her broad professional goal is to help her students not just play violin well, but also discover their inner strengths in the process in order to be confident, happy, successful and kind human beings.
She can teach in English and Russian.

Adjunct Faculty

Emily Chen

Emily Chen, piano

MM (MSM), BMus (UBC). Emily Chen has recently returned to Vancouver after receiving her Masters Degree in Piano Performance from The Manhattan School of Music in New York City. As a devoted teacher and pedagogue, Emily has had more than 15 years of experience with the Royal Conservatory Examinations, and has been on faculty at the Song of Songs Music School in New York, working with numerous students of vast backgrounds in preparation for examinations, festivals and competitions. She values and edifies keyboard technique, theory, history, and ear training in her approach to educating her students. As an active performer, Emily recently presented a solo recital in the Out-For-Lunch Concert Series held at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and as a collaborator at the national Canadian Music Competition (CMC) in Montreal.

To inquire about lessons with Emily, please contact the Arbutus Music Academy office.

phone: (604) 736-8767
e-mail: info@arbutusmusicacademy.com

Melina Ivanovic

Melina Ivanovic, violin and viola

Melina has performed as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician in Canada, the United States, and Europe. She was a regular violinist and violist with ensembles including the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Classical Orchestra, and Divertimento String Quartet. While in Miami she helped establish a violin program at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and taught group violin classes. Melina was a teaching assistant at the University of Miami and taught private lessons and undergraduate classes. She was also a teacher for the University’s “Strings for Kids” program through which she taught private and group classes. She taught music at Collingwood Junior School in West Vancouver and violin at Amati String Studio in Vancouver. Melina currently teaches violin and viola at her private studios in Vancouver and West Vancouver, and music at St. Edmund’s Elementary School.

phone: 778-317-7603
e-mail: melinaivanovic@gmail.com

Melina Ivanovic

Nico Stephenson, cello

Nico Stephenson is a cellist and teacher based in Vancouver, BC. A native of Vancouver, Nico completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Montreal in 2014, studying under prof. Johanne Perron. He has performed in masterclasses at the Banff Centre, the Domaine Forget, the National Youth Orchestra, and the MusicAlp festival in France, playing for such teachers as Ronald Leonard, Emmanuelle Bertrand, and Hans Jorgen Jensen. Since his return to the west coast, Nico has devoted himself to developing his practice as a teacher. He has taught at Saint James Music Academy, led sectionals for the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra, and has taught through the Yukon Cello Project, a program that he started and still directs. Nico currently serves as a chamber music and orchestra teacher at Langley Fine Arts School. He teaches a philosophy of cello playing that uses students’ natural musicality to more deeply understand and practice technical precision. Nico can teach all Suzuki and RCM levels.

phone: 604-782-2548
e-mail: nicostephenson@gmail.com

Thomas Evdokimoff

Thomas Evdokimoff, theory & guitar

Thomas Evdokimoff is a classical guitarist based in Vancouver, who studied guitar with Robert Hamilton at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto Canada, and with Michael Strutt and Alan Rinehart in Vancouver.He has performed in numerous master classes for prominent musicians including guitarists David Tannenbaum and David Starobin, lutenists Nigel North and Paul O’Dette, baroque violinist Jaap Schroeder, and harpsichordist Albert Fuller.Thomas holds a Master of Arts in music theory from the University of British Columbia (1997).

Thomas has taught the RCM music theory and history program, as well as classical guitar for over twenty years throughout the lower mainland, including at the Vancouver Academy of Music, Delta Community Music School and the Vancouver School Board. He been a part of several arts organizations in Vancouver including: the period instrument group The Burney Ensemble, new music group Standing Wave, Kuroshio flute and guitar duo , and Vancouver flute & guitar duo. He has taught at Arbutus since January 2013.

To inquire about lessons with Thomas, please contact him directly.

phone: 778-232-1719
e-mail: thomasevd@gmail.com

Jo Yawney

Jo Yawney, Kodaly Instructor

The 3rd generation in a family of musicians, Jo has dedicated the past 30 years to helping students become musically literate while still onsidering it “fun”. She owes her teaching philosophy, in large part, to three renowned educators who believed that successful education stems from inner comprehension, self-confidence and co-operation: Maria Montessori, Zoltan Kodaly and Shinichi Suzuki.

While raising her family in Victoria, Jo completed courses in the Montessori and Kodaly method and had extensive violin teacher training with Professor Jaroslav Karlovsky at the University of Victoria and Suzuki training with Frona Colquhoun. She taught Kodaly classes, private violin and viola lessons, elementary chamber music and theory classes and workshops. She played in the Victoria Chamber Orchestra, the University Orchestra and was a founding member of the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra (under Norman Nelson). She also sang in Capriccio Vocal Ensemble, Christ Church Cathedral Choir and Musica Eclectica and in Vancouver Voices (under Peter Butterfield). Since moving to Vancouver she has taught violin and Kodaly classes privately, at community centres and at a number of preschools. Jo is an avid chamber music enthusiast. She has an M.A. from UBC, is fluent in Italian and has taught lyric diction classes. She has presented at a number of Kodaly workshops and conferences and at the BCMEA conferences in Vancouver. She recently retired as Vice-President of the BC Kodaly Society and from the National Board of the Kodaly Society of Canada. In the pursuit of more stimulating and effective ways of conveying musical concepts, she has developed and published a series of resources for music teachers Tune Travels (www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jo-Yawney and www.tunetravels.net) which are presently used in classrooms, music schools and by private teachers in Canada and recently internationally.

Currently she is happy to be teaching Kodaly Music Literacy Classes at the Arbutus Music Academy.

Seung Yeun Lee

Seung Yeun Lee

Seung Youn Lee has over 30 years of international teaching and performing experience in Europe, Korea and Canada. She earned a Diploma in Performance Arts in cello at the National Music Hochschule, Detmold, and continued her studies with Andre Navarra at the Vienna Music Hochschule. She performed at the Klagenfurt Music Festival, Austria as well as the Music festival in Luzern, Switzerland with Arto Noras; and at the Chamber Music festival in Hitzacker with Antonio Janigro. In her career, she has performed on the stages of Korea and Vancouver as well, as a member in the Korean Symphony Orchestra and other small ensembles. She has also taught in Korea, at the Pusan and Kunsan universities. Since then she has moved to Vancouver and has been an educator for students of all ages and levels, using the Suzuki Method as well as preparing her students for RCM examinations. She has taught at the BC Conservatory of Music and the Amati String Studio and currently teaches at the Richmond Music School and Arbutus Music Academy.

Contact Seung Y. at:
(604) 319-7967