Instructor Bios 2024

Instructors 2024

To read more about the classes offered by our upcoming Instructors,
see our Seminars page.

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith is a vocalist, choir director, and educator who has been teaching and performing in Vancouver since the early 2000’s.

Matthew has been singing since early childhood, and discovered the joys of choral and group singing in high school. He went on to study vocal performance, piano, and arranging in the Jazz Studies program at Capilano University, and has been performing both as a solo vocalist and a chorister with a wide variety of ensembles ever since.

Matthew is also passionate about guiding newcomers through their discovery of the many benefits of singing, working as a one on one instructor and a choral director. He is the former co-founder and director of the Impromptu Rock Choir drop-in choral project, and is currently the director of two community choirs, the Vancouver City Singers and the Chorisma Vocal Jazz Choir. Matthew also teaches group singing at the BC Swing Camp.

Kristina Olsen

Kristina Olsen is the modern-day troubadour, touring up to ten months a year. She regularly tours Australia, Scotland, England, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. In more exotic locations, she has performed concerts in, Bangladesh, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, and once caught a snow-mobile drawn sled over a frozen lake to a concert in Aleknagik, Alaska. Olsen has been part of a songwriters’ group for over three decades and has taught songwriting, slide guitar and dance for musicians at adult music camps from Alaska to NYC to the UK to Australia for over twenty years. Olsen is a frequent contributor to Acoustic Guitar magazine, writing articles on guitar and performance technique.

Sue Malcolm

Sue Malcolm has been a mainstay of the Vancouver folk and bluegrass scene since 1980 as a performer, instructor and organizer, and a founder of The Pacific Bluegrass and Heritage Society. Recognized for her ability to help beginners gain confidence and enjoy making music in a group setting, Sue developed the Slow Pitch Jam method of teaching bluegrass jamming. Since 1996 Sue’s monthly Slow Pitch Jams at the ANZA Club in Vancouver have been drawing huge crowds. She has taught beginner guitar and bluegrass jamming at many music camps including the BC Bluegrass Workshop (now Nimblefingers) and the Georgia Strait Guitar Workshop. Sue sings and plays guitar with The Soda, an eclectic trio whose repertoire includes vintage country, bluegrass, and swing.   She has released five CDs and six volumes of Slow Pitch Jam songbooks with play-along cd’s. She performs solo in care facilities and for hospice patients – an experience she finds very rewarding. A strong belief in the power of music to enrich lives and build communities keeps Sue looking for new ways to involve and inspire others.

Michael Burnyeat

Michael Burnyeat is a skilled and versatile musician based in Vancouver, specializing in Celtic, Folk, and Country genres. With a strong reputation as both a fiddler and multi-instrumentalist, he is in high demand among bands and singer-songwriters for his tasteful accompaniment skills. He is a two-time BC fiddle Champion (2017, 2018), and 2023 Traditional Champion at the Grand North American Fiddle Championships.

Michael has released three solo albums which reflect his dedication to upholding traditional and fiddle music. Michael also operates his own home recording studio, where he recorded, mixed, and mastered his second and third album.

​In addition to his musical performances and collaborations, Michael shares his expertise through his YouTube channel, where he offers fiddle tutorials, including the “30 Different Fiddle Styles” series, which has garnered a significant following.

Tina Hebner

Tina has been around music most of her life.
She grew up listening to her grandfather play the violin and spent many hours with him in his wood-shop, watching him build violins. The songs he played when she was a child still linger in her heart.

She started guitar lessons as a teenager and soon fell in love with classical guitar. Tina furthered her musical education at Capilano University and studied with a variety of guitar teachers afterward. Although she had ukulele lessons in the classroom as a student in elementary school, she hadn’t played one for a long time. Then she became inspired to pick it up again as an adult, and the rest is history!

Tina is known for her relaxed warm and friendly approach to teaching music. She has a very kind and gentle manner that helps to empower students, from beginner to advanced.

Tina has been a workshop instructor at the Kamloops Ukulele Festival (held in beautiful Sorrento BC), UkeWest (Calgary), Rossland Acoustic Music Camp (BC), Jam Camp (BC), the Reno Ukefest (USA). She facilitated various musical activities as the Musician-in-Residence with the Thompson-Nicola regional Library, and assisted with the launch of their ukulele lending library.

Tina has been a teacher/facilitator with the Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music and the Kamloops Music Collective for several years. She helped to design and facilitate the very successful online lesson series “Family Ukulele.” It was incredibly rewarding for her to see whole families playing music together!

Tina has been teaching music for over twenty-five years; she has explored music with people of all ages from preschoolers to seniors! When she’s not having conversations with her music-loving pets or hanging out with her family, you’ll find her at one of the many group ukulele sessions she offers in the Kamloops area or teaching private lessons at one of her studio locations.

Neil Fraser

Neil started playing guitar in 1964 in Burnaby. He was largely self-taught, but took some private lessons as well. He moved to Vernon in 1982, and started playing in old-time dance bands, acoustic R&B bands, folk bands and, later, in jazz groups. He has been teaching guitar since 1985 in music stores, private studios and, for 20 years, at the Vernon Community Music School.

Neil has been an instructor at the BC Swing Camp since 2006 and continues to teach from his home studio in Vernon.

Ali Romanow

Ali Romanow is a musical educator located in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island in Canada. Music has been part of their life since childhood, and their passion for music has taken them all over the world to study and perform.

Ali’s main mission as a musical educator is to help build diverse, supportive and safe musical communities for people all ages and levels of experience. We all deserve to play music together, regardless of your level of experience or skill. Together we will build the skills and confidence necessary to feel comfortable and confident making music with others.

All the work I have done in my life has been built upon – and thrived on – strong values, community and music.

  • Safety — Everyone deserves to learn in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Trust — I will do everything within my power to provide the information and tools to allow you to grow as a musician.
  • Respect — The act of learning is inherently vulnerable, I acknowledge and value the intent of those who come to me to learn. I will honour your interests and work with you towards your own goals.
  • Connection — Regardless of level of experience or skill, we all deserve to play music together. A key focus of all my musical endeavours is to build the skills, confidence and relationships of those who play music so they are comfortable and confident making music with others.

Don Fraser

Don Fraser Instructor

Don started playing guitar at 13 during the folk boom of the early sixties. He has played guitar and dobro in many situations over the years as well as teaching both instruments privately and in groups as well as at several camps and workshops. He currently plays guitar and dobro with his trio The Soda Crackers and lap steel with Sue Malcolm and the Swingin’ Doors.

Emily Villavicencio

Emily Villavicencio has been singing pretty much non-stop since her parents rescinded their “No singing in the car” rule in the late 80s. 

A vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, songwriter and recording artist, Emily performs with Vancouver-based Tanglewood. Along with Karla Mundy and Noa Neuman Spivak, the trio delivers an unforgettable musical experience that incorporates Bluegrass, Folk, jazz, French Canadiana, and global music traditions. Emily’s other project is Vostok, a mostly-acapella threesome exploring vocal music from Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Emily received her Masters in Music Education from UBC and has led workshops for music educators in English and French. She has a knack for breaking down intimidating concepts into bite-size pieces, combining a sense of play and solid pedagogy.