Meet Our Instructors

Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd. is proud of its diverse, enthusiastic group of educators.

Fred Safaei

B.Mus (Tehran University of Art), ARCT Piano Specialist (Beginner, Intermediate Advanced),
Registered Piano Technician (RPT), Orff Certificate (University of British Columbia)

Mr. Fred Safaei began his journey as a pianist at the age of eight, following in the footsteps of his uncle, a famous tar player. His musical training was based in the Russian tradition, and he studied in Iran for twenty-two years. In 1981, he started teaching in his private studio. Mr. Safaei graduated from the Tehran University of Art with a Bachelor's in Music, and in 1988, he became a piano instructor at the Tehran Conservatory.

Mr. Safaei moved to Canada in 1996 and aimed to provide the best music education to the North Shore. The following year, Mr. Safaei was recognized by the Royal Conservatory of Music for his excellence as an instructor, and he became an Advanced Specialist in Piano and Theory. His students are very successful in festivals and examinations. Some have even earned their doctorates in music or published their music on platforms such as iTunes.

Mr. Safaei is always looking for ways to improve as an educator. In 2002, he published a collection of 21 Persian songs transcribed for the piano, which immediately gained popularity among piano lovers. His love and passion for teaching also led him to earn his Orff & Kodaly certificate from the University of British Columbia.

Mr. Safaei's interest in the piano led him to pursue piano technology. He began his career as a piano technician while working with the late Davood Jaam, a piano technician for great artists such as Emil Gilels and Sviatoslav Richter. In 2007, Mr. Safaei attended the Piano Technicians Guild and earned his Registered Piano Technician certificate after a series of rigorous examinations. He is the only Persian Registered Piano Technician in North America.

When Mr. Safaei is not teaching or tuning pianos, he is an active performer in the Lower Mainland. He has also performed in several countries, such as Iran, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. He has participated in master classes adjudicated by well-known pianists such as Murray Perahia, Sergei Saratovsky and Audrey Andrist. 

In addition, Mr. Safaei prepares students from all corners of British Columbia for their examinations by holding mock exams at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd., and hosts workshops for teachers at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd. to enjoy. As the head of the education department, he has also trained several advanced students to become established music teachers at both Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd. and across the Lower Mainland. He also frequently collaborates with his students in their festival, events and examinations.

Mr. Safaei is very proud of what Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd. has become. His work in music education, coupled with the dedication of his students and staff, has allowed what began as a home-based studio to flourish into a booming music school known internationally for its high standards of education. Mr. Safaei has been awarded by the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce as the Business Person of the Year (2017) and currently employs over thirty dedicated educators and staff members. He has over thirty-six years of experience in teaching and twenty-five years of piano technology experience.

Head of Education

Deparment Lead

Piano Tuning & Repair

Heather Deris

B.Mus. (Tehran University of Art), Member of Orff Canada

Ms. Heather Deris began her education in the arts under the instruction of Mr. Deghan, a well-known artist, at a very young age. The first instrument she explored was her voice, but she quickly developed an interest in the traditional Persian instrument known as the santur (dulcimer). 

Heather graduated with a Bachelor's in Music from the Tehran University of Art. During her studies, she discovered anr immense passion for teaching Orff & Kodaly. Her love and passion for music coupled with her abilities to connect with young children inspired her to write a series of Orff & Kodaly-based textbooks for her students to enjoy. Today, these textbooks are the foundation of the Orff & Kodaly program taught at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd.

After she moved to Canada, Heather decided to continue her education in business and accounting at Capilano University, followed by the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business. Her experience and skills in both business and music have enabled her to become one of the most successful businesswomen on the North Shore. 

Heather is known for her activism in fundraising for the BC Cancer Society, Children's Variety and several other organizations across British Columbia. She is the head of both the Orff & Kodaly department and the Persian Instruments department as well as the leader of the management team at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd., and she is proud to be a member of the North Shore community. In her twenty-five years of experience, Heather has come to realize that her proudest moments have been watching the students she taught when they were only three years old graduate from the Royal Conservatory of Music program and earn recognition for the work as musicians and as human beings.

Artistic Director

Department Lead
Orff & Kodaly
Persian Instruments


Irene Setiawan

Doctor of Musical Arts/PhD Candidate: Piano Performance (University of British Columbia)

Irene M Setiawan is currently a DMA Candidate in Piano Performance at UBC. Her previous studies, performances, and experiences have shaped her as a solo and collaborative performer and music educator.

Several years after learning piano, Irene also learnt composition and performed her own compositions in several concerts in Indonesia as a member of Yamaha’s Junior Original Concert. After studying with dedicated Indonesian pedagogues So Kim Wie and Sienny Debora, she performed more actively. Her achievements include winning top prizes at Sydney Performing Arts Challenge in 2001, Pelita Harapan University National Piano Competition in 2004 and First Runner up of UBC Concerto Competition in 2013. Besides performing as a solo pianist, Irene has also actively performed with other instrumentalists, UBC choirs, and UBC Wind Ensemble. Recently she was chosen to perform Mendelssohn’s Trio in D minor with UBC President Santa Ono for his Installation’s Celebration Concert at Chan Centre in November 2016.

Thankful of generous scholarships and awards she has received (Beatrice L. Zack Prize, DC & HL Scholarship, Ruth Parnum King Memorial Prize, Mildred Johnson Scholarship, and Faculty of Arts Graduate Award), Irene holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at National University of Singapore (2009), Master of Music from UBC School of Music (2012), and currently in her last year of pursuing Doctor of Musical Arts under the guidance of renowned pianist Dr. Corey Hamm and musicologist Dr. Hedy Law.

In 2009, she was trained and appointed a music educator by NUS’ Assistant Professor Lee Pei Ming at the Staccato Music in Singapore and has been enjoying teaching students of all ages and levels. She has also been invited to give lessons and masterclasses in Indonesia since 2005 and helped students to prepare for competitions, concerts, examinations, and auditions. Irene has been teaching at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd. since 2015 and UBC Teaching Assistant since 2011 and she has been excited to share her skills and love of music. In her leisure time, she enjoys nature and explores different food from different cultures.


Edmundo González

Doctor of Musical Arts/PhD Candidate: Piano Performance (University of British Columbia)

Hailing from Mexico City, pianist Edmundo González is invested both as a solo and chamber musician. In recent years, he has had success performing concerti with the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, the Querétaro Symphony, and the Coyoacán Symphony. Mr. Gonzalez also won acclaim for performing a wide range of repertoire in his solo and chamber recitals in Mexico, USA, Canada, Italy, Austria, and Cuba. 

Mr. González is an award winner of numerous competitions. Most notably, he was a prizewinner at the 2012 Angélica Morales-Yamaha National Piano Competition in Mexico, and consecutively received first prize at the Conservatory of Mexico Piano Competition in 2005 and 2006. His extensive list of scholarships and grants includes the Mexican National Fund for Science and Technology Scholarship, the Meadows Artistic Merit Scholarship, and the Mexican National Fund for Culture and Arts Grant.

Currently, Mr. González is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the University of British Columbia, where he studied with professors Sara Davis Buechner and Jane Coop. He received his Artist Diploma in Piano Performance and Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas. At this school, he had the privilege of working under renowned artists Joaquín Achúcarro and Alessio Bax. He earned his bachelor’s degree and graduated with top honours at the National Conservatory of
Music in Mexico. 

Mr. González gained his teaching experience while running various classes as a teaching assistant at the University of British Columbia and the Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts. Mr. González is an avid reader and a film enthusiast.


Kakhanang "Fah" Denkowit

M.Mus.: Piano (University of British Columbia)

Kakhanang Denkowit holds a Master’s degree in piano from the University of British Columbia under tutelage of Dr. Sara Davis Buechner. She won several medals from Yamaha music festival and competitions in her home country, Thailand.  She was one of the finalists in the 2nd Mozart Thailand International Piano Competition in 2012.  She has participated in piano masterclasses and chamber music festivals and worked with many distinguished musicians with acclaimed musicians including Dina Yoffe, Daniel Vaiman, Peter Schuhmayer and Istban Bonyhádi. Her second instrument is the violin. She was a member of a youth orchestra during her high school.  As a music teacher, Fah has been teaching for over five years. She enjoys working with student in of all ages and levels. She also encourages her students to participate in music festivals and examinations.   


Peemanat “Benz” Kittimontreechai

M.Mus.: Piano (University of British Columbia)

Benz holds Master of Music degree in piano performance from University of British Columbia under a renowned pianist, Sara Davis Buechner. He originally received his music training in Thailand. He went to one of the best
music schools in South-East Asia for his Pre-College (high school) and Bachelor of Music program.

Benz has opportunities working with various acclaimed pianists and pedagogues where he inherited many methods of piano teaching concurrently. He participated in masterclasses with Dina Yoffe, Daniel Vaimann and Eri Nakagawa in France, Barry Snyder from Eastman School of Music, Jerzy Sterczynski from Fryderyk Chopin Music Academy (Warsaw), Jane Coop and Robert Silverman at UBC.  Benz is active as both soloist and collaborative pianist. He has performed in Canada, France, Malaysia, and Thailand. He received various awards and scholarships from universities and competitions.  Benz is a dedicated piano teacher with years of teaching experience​​.


David Chung

B.Mus. (University of British Columbia)

David Chung is a Korean born Canadian pianist. He studied piano performance at Manhattan School of Music and later earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of British Columbia. He is an active accompanist for RCM exams and numerous competitions including the Kiwanis Music Festival. David has been an instructor at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd. since August 2015. He is known at the studio for his upbeat attitude, rapport with his students, incredible performance skills, and high standards as an educator. His love and passion for teaching is undeniable, and he is currently teaching five days a week.


Ganbujin "Bujin" Adiyasuren

B.Mus. (School of Music in Dance, Mongolia)

Ganbujin Adiyasuren started playing piano at the age of seven. After 11 years of continuous study, Ms. Adiyasuren graduated from the School of Music and Dance in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and received her Piano Accompanist/Music School Teacher Diploma. After graduation, she worked as a piano teacher at the “Hobby” secondary school in Mongolia. During that time, she acquired extensive knowledge in working with students of different ages and abilities. In 2008, Ms. Adiyasuren obtained the Bachelor in Music degree from the Music and Dance College of Mongolia.

Before moving to Canada, Ms. Adiyasuren worked as a private piano teacher in Mongolia, and gave individual piano lessons to students of various ages following the Russian tradition in piano. She also arranged performance opportunities for students, such as recitals for friends and relatives.
Ms. Adiyasuren have been working as a piano teacher at Ava Music since December 2014. She enjoys working with students of all ages and uses her experience as a parent and teacher to provide her clients with a strong musical education. Ms. Adiyasuren is able to teach in Mongolian, English and Russian.


Leah Xue

B.A. in Music

Leah has been a teacher for about 20 years. She is an experienced piano, vocal and Orff teacher. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. She has many teaching experience for different ages’ students. The deep understanding of physical and psychological development of different ages’ students makes her success in teaching.

She guides many children move to their professional road of music. Some of her students has already been a successful music teacher in the field. Leah enjoys being a teacher and working with children. She loves music, art, dance and languages. Leah’s goal is guiding children to reach their full potential in a joy and happiness manner. As a mother, she wants to move forward hand in hand with parents for the future of their children.  


Carol Hur

M.Mus.: Violin Performance (University of British Columbia)

Violinist Carol Eunkyung Hur, 28, started playing the violin from the age of four in Korea. She started to appear at various competitions at a very young age. She started winning awards from prestigious Hong Nan-Pa Competition at the age of seven. Also, she won second prize in Kyung-gi Provincial Music Competition - String division when she was 11 years old. After she moved to Canada, she received the Silver Medal from Royal Conservatory of Music and performed in RCM Alumni concert in 2008. Carol is also a recipient of Mildred Johnson Scholarship when entering into University of British Columbia. She was the member of 2009 National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC), BC Honour Orchestra in 2002 and 2003, and Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2005~2006 season.

While she attended UBC, she had the privilege of participating in master classes with James Ehnes and Jonathan Crow. Carol served as the concertmaster for the UBC Symphony Orchestra and UBC Opera Ensemble production of Verdi’s Falstaff in March 2008, orchestra’s 2011-2012 concert season and Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific in 2010. In June 2012, Carol participated in a string quartet seminar with full scholarship held at Stanford University under the instruction of St. Lawrence String Quartet and Gryphon Trio. Carol is currently a member of Tall Tree Strings and Point Grey String Quartet and is also playing in Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, and Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. She holds a Master’s degree in Violin Performance under the instruction of Nancy DiNovo and Ken Friedman from University of British Columbia.

Department Lead

Puya Firouzbakash

M.Mus.: Violin Performance (University of British Columbia)

Puya began studying violin at the age of 6. He was taught and trained under the finest teachers and professors. Some of Puya's principal instructors include Professor Giuseppe Armaleo in Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Italy and Proessor Eduard Schmieder (a pupil of David Oistrakh) in Mozarteum Salzburg, as well as Nancy Dinovo and Jammy Mayday.  

Throughout the years, Mr. Firouzbaksh has performed numerous times with some of the most prestigious orchestras and worked with the finest composers and soloists in over 65 different countries. Since 2010, he has been an active member of some of the biggest organizations, such as United in Music for Peace under the U.N, World Youth Orchestra (UNISCO musica Europa). In 2011, he performed with MusicaEuropa Orchestra under Marco Boemi and Maestro Karabechsky in Musica Riva Festival Milano and a successful Peace Project with “The World Orchestra” in Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Holland.

In 2013, Mr. Firouzbaksh was the principle second violin of The World Orchestra in Africa and the representative of the Orchestra to Plan cultural activities. This meeting took place at Nelson Mandela’s Office. He has also performed for many high-level national and international officials such as the Governor-General of Canada in 2005 at the Orpheum Theatre, and the Italian president in 2008 at his Quirinale Palace in Rome which broadcasted Live on RAI3 Italian TV. He was also a member of a quartet who performed for Queen of Spain in Mallorca in 2012, and part of a collaboration for a beneficial concert viewed by Slovenian President in the Symphony State Hall in Slovenia. Finally, he performed for the Albanian Ambassador for Mother Teresa’s memorial service in Vancouver, Canada.

Mr. Firouzbaksh has been part of many musical theatre works, recording sessions, and TV recordings including Miss Beauty Pageant and the multi-cultural music channel. He has also worked for well-known artists such as: Micheal Buble, il Divo, Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, Sting, Elton John Band and The Eagles Original Band. He also worked with Oscar winning composers such as: Ennio Morricone, Ludvic Bource, Nigel Hess, Philip Glass and Michael Nyman.

Mr. Firouzbakash has been a member of The World Orchestra, Unicef Musica Europa, Bach Academy Orchestra Stuttgart, World Youth Orchestra, Rome Festival Opera Orchestra, Kamloops Symphony, West Coast Symphony, National Academy Orchestra of Canada, Prince George Symphony, Salzburg Chamber, The Age of Enlightenment and Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also been accepted into prestigious festivals, ensembles and academies such as the Aspen Music Festival, Youngartists ipalpiti California, Pilsen Academy in Czech, Wagner Festspiele in Germany, Aims festival Graz in Austria and Mozarteum Salzburg.

Mr. Firouzbaksh has participated in master classes with Igor Oistrakh and Michael Frischenschlager. His experience, creativity and energy in teaching makes him a wonderful instructor and expert in a variety of different techniques. He has many advanced students who are currently preparing for competitions, auditions and exams.


Javad Ahmadi

B.AppMath (KNT University in Tehran, Iran)

 Javad is an active performer and teacher born in Iran. He is passionate about music and the art of making a beautiful sound and feeling the music -- that’s one of the reasons why he became extremely interested in violin at the age of 14.

He was lucky enough to pursue his dreams with great teachers like Farzad Khavand, Vahik, Amir Minoosepeher, Navid Kandelousi, Ali Bereliani and more. In studying with so many instructors, Javad became familiar with different teaching methods from all over the world.

Javad has performed with select youth orchestras in Iran. Most of his recent concerts were for The Mahak Society in Iran to Support Children with Cancer.

Javad performs as a means of expressing the joy music brings to him, but he also brings this passion to the classroom. As a teacher, Javad has many years of experience teaching students of all levels from beginner to advanced. His lessons place an emphasis on music theory, ear training, musicality, and creativity. Javad encourages his students to participate in local music festivals, RCM examinations, and concerts.


Mario Silva

Jazz Guitar (Capilano University)

Mario Silva began to study music when he was 8 years old at the Music Conservatory in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His first instruments were piano and acoustic guitar, but he quickly became interested in the electric guitar as well. Eventually, he decided to study jazz guitar at Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada. 

​Mr. Silva has been teaching instruments such as the ukulele, bass, banjo, electric guitar and classical guitar since 1999. He has performed across Canada and Eua playing variety of styles such as jazz, Latin and pop. He is also very experienced in collaborating in different situations as guitar duos, soloist, trios and bands. When he is not teaching, Mr. Silva performs frequently in the Vancouver area.

Department Lead

Miri Kim

B.Mus. (University of British Columbia), Diploma in Music (Capilano University)
B.Ed. (University of British Columbia) - In Progress

Born in South Korea, Miri Kim began to play the guitar at age 12. She played the electric bass guitar for several copy bands throughout high school and nursing school.  She came to Canada six years ago to study Classical Guitar and graduated from Capilano University with a Diploma in Music. She is a member of the Guitar trio Tres Guitarras (aka The Capilano Guitar Trio) since 2013. She is interested in teaching children. Miri graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in May 2016 from the University of British Columbia. She continues with a degree for a Bachelor of Education at the University of British Columbia.  


Cesar Madrigal

Jazz Guitar (Capilano University)

Cesar started playing the guitar at age of fifteen. He was initially influenced by Metallica and Led Zeppelin. He later became more interested in groups such as Symphony X and Dream Theater, and the progressive rock genre. After a year of self-instruction, Cesar took guitar lessons at the Stacatto Music School from the age of sixteen to seventeen. He then took music lessons at Bellas Artes Medellin, where he studied music theory, composition, and guitar. There, he placed an emphasis on Jazz, Funk, Fusion and Rock.

Cesar has participated in festivals such as the Altavoz Medellin (Colombia). He also worked at the Yamaha Music School for over four years.

In August 2014, Cesar immigrated to Canada to continue his music studies at Capilano University with a greater focus on jazz. Cesar currently performs all over the Lower Mainland with the latin band Breaking Boundaries and with singer-songwriter Mike Bertini.

To hear more about Cesars upcoming shows, releases, lessons and more, follow him on:



Juan David Encinales

Bachelor's in Jazz Studies (Capilano University)

Juan is originally from Colombia and residing in Vancouver since 2011. Started to play percussion instrument at the age of 13 and drums at the age of 16. He has been part of different ensembles as Latin jazz, Colombian music, world music and jazz. Juan is finishing his Jazz Degree at Capilano University and he has participated in different jazz formats such as: trios, quartets, big bands, and etc.

 Juan started teaching at Ava Music in September 2014 and still is a part of it. According to Juan, it has been an incredible experience to get to know his students and being part of their learning process. He is not just there to make them a better drummers, but better people through discipline and passion for the instrument. "Ava Music gave me the opportunity to teach wonderful students and has made me be a better drummer. I am looking forward to see what comes next."

Department Lead

Jeff McLean

B.A.: Commercial Music (University of the West of Scotland)

Jeff McLean has been playing drums and percussion for 20 years. He played in every band possible in school from Concert Bands to Jazz Bands. He is currently in a 5-piece musical group in Vancouver BC specializing in indie rock and pop.

Jeff loves teaching music to people of all ages but especially to children. He says, "Some people think you have to be born with rhythm and if you don't have it, you can't get it. But similar to learning a language or a sport, rhythm can be taught. And I love teaching people how to find their inner-rhythm and how to bring it out through drumming!" 



Libby Donald

Diploma in Music Performance (Australian National University), Associate Degree of Music (Australian National University), Concert Certificate in Performance (Trinity Guildhall School of Music in London), LTCL in Performance (London Guildhall School of Music)

Libby began her love of music at age 12, starting with piano and quickly moving on to playing the flute. After joining her high school band and being named band leader she decided to join the school choir where she realized she had fallen in love with voice.

At age 15, Libby began voice lessons, beginning with Jazz and Pop styles. A year later, she realized that she had a love for theatre too. At that time, she switched teachers and started studying classical voice and music theatre with David Reedy. David is an expert in the Bel Canto method of singing.

At age 17, she began acting classes at the National Acting School. After finishing university in Australia, Libby made the move to Canada.

Since moving to Canada, Libby has continued her studies with multiple coaches such as Lambroula Maria Pappas, Heidi Lynn Peters and most recently with Diane King at the Vancouver Symphony. She has performed in Master classes, receiving critique from world class soprano’s Tracy Dahl and Adrianne Pieczonka. Last summer, 2016, she performed in opera and concerts throughout Italy.

She is an active performer studying roles in both Opera and Musical Theatre.  Some of the roles studied and performed are: Zaneeta Shin (The Music Man); American girl, soloist (West Side Story); Princess Nekaya (Utopia Limited); Peep Bo (The Mikado); Zerlina (Don Giovanni); Susanna and The Countess (The Marriage of Figaro); Mademoiselle Silberklang (Der Schauspieldirektor); Violetta (La Traviata); and Madama Butterfly (Madama Butterfly).

Department Lead


Shante Van Horlick

B.Mus: Opera Performance (University of British Columbia)

Shanté Van Horlick started her vocal training at age seven and has never looked back. In the early years Shante performed at Hockey Games, Northern Olympics, and regional music festivals. Shante has also been a part of numerous Vocal Academies in Victoria and Vancouver, where she has studied the roles of Carmen, The Third Lady in Magic Flute and The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods. In 2006, Shante had the opportunity to make her first album Miracle, which opened the door to her love of recording and exploration of cross-over music. Shante trained with RCM for many years and  has recently graduated with her Bachelor of Music specializing in Opera at UBC. At her time in UBC Shante had the pleasure of working under Heather Thomson-Price and Marisa Gaetanne and Nancy Hermiston. Shante also worked with the incredible vocal coaches Richard Epp, David Boothroyd and Micheal Onwood.

Shante’s passion is helping others through the gift of music and frequently devotes her time to singing for institutions who want to make a difference in the community, such as retirement homes, Fundraisers for ALS, Cancer Society and Parkinson's Society and The Elizabeth Fry Society. One of her favourite memories here in Vancouver is singing for the Vancouver Police Department's fundraising event, Drug Awareness for Teens. Shante has toured in Mozart’s’The Magic Flute in the Czech Republic, and with the U Singers in Madrid, Toledo, Valencia and Barcelona.

In Vancouver Shanté has performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Hypolytta, The Magic Flute on Bard on the Beach as the Third lady, A Night in Venice as Agricola, in Burnaby Lyric Opera’s production of Carmen as Mercedes and most recently Shante performed the role of Siegrune in Heroic Opera’s Production of  Die Walküre by Richard Wagner.

Along side her passion for singing, Shante also loves to teach. Shante loves working with aspiring singers using her classical skill to customize technique for singers of all ages, skill level and genres.


 Paula Loskutova

Coming Soon!

Coming soon!


Joanna Tseng

M.Mus: Flute Performance (University of British Columbia)
B.Ed.: Music (University of British Columbia) - In Progress

Born in Taiwan, Joanna Tseng started playing flute at age of 12 and completed RCM Grade 10 for flute and piano at age of 15.  She won numerous scholarships from schools and music festivals. As a passionate educator, she has been volunteering to teach music lessons and fund raise for underprivileged children through Vancouver the Heart of the City program, and providing workshops at secondary schools. She completed her Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance with Lanny Pollet at University of Victoria, Master of Music in Flute Performance with Christy Reside at University of British Columbia,  and she is currently completing her Bachelor of Education in Music at University of British Columbia.  

Department Lead

Joel Reid

Bachelor's in Jazz Studies (Capilano University)

Joel Reid begun his musical career by playing saxophone at the age of 13.  Joel studied Jazz studies at Capilano University, majoring in saxophone from 2005 to 2009.  During his time in college, Joel began playing other instruments including the guitar, flute, piano, bass, and drums. Over the years, he has played in numerous bands around town, from Jazz to Funk, to Reggae, and continues to expand to other projects.  Joel also composes and writes original songs on guitar and piano. 

Joel has been teaching music for 7 years and has worked in many different musical schools around the Vancouver area. He currently works as a Music Specialist at a Montessori school. By having learnt how the Montessori Pedagogy works, Joel recognizes the importance of connecting with the children at their skill level. Joel understands everyone learns differently and is able to adapt his teaching style to match the student's own path of development making music a fun experience! Music has always been a huge part of Joel's life and something he loves to share with others. Joel aims to pass down his great love of music to each of his students. 

Department Lead


Junior Instructors

Ava Maria Safai

B.F.A in Acting, B.A. in English Literature (University of British Columbia) - In Progress
Royal Conservatory of Music: Piano 10, Voice 10, Violin 8 - In Progress

The first time Ava took a step, it was to reach the keys of her father's piano. By the time Ava had begun her piano lessons under Mr. Fred Safaei, she also found herself falling in love with the violin and the voice, which soon became her other primary instruments. After grasping the basics of these three instruments, Ava began taking exams with the Royal Conservatory of Music and consistently received high marks in all three disciplines. She also became a member of the Vancouver Symphony's Youth Honours Orchestra. Ava took it upon herself to experiment with other instruments, such as the guitar and the drums, and to perform at events such as the Kiwanis Festival, City Fest, the North Shore Folk Fest, local PAC banquets and more. At the age of 12, she became Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd.’s first ever teacher-in-training.

In 2011, Ava caught the eye of a casting agent for Nickelodeon's The Troop, and can still be heard playing in the series' second Valentine's Day special as a violist. Ava recently made a return to television, as her original song "Finding Hope" was featured during the seventh season of Lifetime's Dance Moms. She is also a background actor for films shot in the Vancouver area. Her love of the silver screen inspired her to act, dance and write on top of her studies in music. Ava uses her strength as interdisciplinary artist to lead the Pre-Professional Program at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd.

Ava has received numerous awards for her performance in the fine arts (Districty/Authority Scholarship in Fine Arts, Handsworth Secondary School Directing & Scriptwriting 12 Award, Handsworth Secondary School Writing 12 Award and more) and has extensive experience in teaching, performing on stage, auditioning and recording music. She is currently studying at the University of British Columbia (BFA in Acting Program, BA in English Literature), all while pursuing her ARCTs in each of the three disciplines of music that began her artistic career. She recently won first place in the Music Theatre Ballad Division (18 years & under) at the Vancouver Kiwanis Music Festival and was invited to attend the Provincial Competition in Kamloops. She currently has three songs on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more, and is working towards creating a full album. Additionally, she is fluent in English, French and Farsi, which enables her to connect with students of all backgrounds. Finally, she has over six years of teaching experience. She is passionate about music education and aims to help all of her students reach their full potential as performers.

Learn more about Ava and her current projects on her website:

Department Lead
Pre-Professional Program
Junior Instructors Division


Nazgol Rahmani

B.Sc.: Biology (University of British Columbia) - In Progress
Royal Conservatory of Music: Piano 8 - In Progress

Nazgol Rahmani was born in Tehran, Iran on March 27th 1997 and began learning piano at the age of 6. She has been playing piano for over 12 years and is currently on Level 8 of the Royal Conservatory of Music exams. In January 2014, Nazgol became the second teacher-in-training at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd.

Today, Nazgol continues to work as junior piano instructor at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd. and enjoys the positive environment that Ava Music provides for both students and teachers. She is known at the studio for her attention to detail and her positive attitude. Nazgol is also an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia and is working towards receiving her bachelor’s degree in biology.  


Nikolai Seva

Royal Conservatory of Music: Violin 10 - In Progress

Nikolai Seva began learning how to play the violin at Ava Music & Art Centre Ltd. when he was 8 years old. He is currently pursuing his Grade 10 Violin certificate with the Royal Conservatory of Music. He also joined the instructor-in-training program of Ava Music when he was 16 years old, and has been teaching violin as a junior instructor for over two years.

Nikolai is a multi-instrumentalist with experience in the alto saxophone, oboe, guitar and piano. His talent in music made him the recipient of the 2016 Instrumentalist Award at Carson Graham Secondary School.

He is active in school and often volunteers in the community. His passion for making a positive impact on the North Shore earned him the Spirit of the Eagle Award. He has also began recognized for his 200+ hours of community service for two consecutive years at Carson Graham Secondary School. Some Nikolai's most notable accomplishments including being a Youth Ambassador for the 2017 CityFest, a recipient of the 2017 " Community Enhancement Award" from the District of North Vancouver and a receipient 2017 "Give Back Award" from the City of North Vancouver. 

Nikolai is graduating from secondary school this June and aims to pursue a double-major in engineering and music.


Anika Seva

Royal Conservatory of Music: Piano 10, Violin 8, Voice 8 - In Progress

Anika has been with Ava Music for ten years. She began her musical training as a student in the Orff & Kodaly Program at age 4 and went on to take piano lessons at age 5. Shortly after, Anika decided to pursue violin and voice as well. In the past, she also took alto saxophone and ukulele lessons.

At age 12, Anika joined the instructor-in-training program of Ava Music and is currently a junior piano and violin instructor. At the moment, she pursuing her Royal Conservatory of Music certificates in Grade 10 piano, Grade 7 violin and Grade 7 voice. She is also a member of the Carson Graham Secondary School Junior band and Junior Choir, and a Youth Ambassador for the 2017 CityFest.

Anika is passionate about working with children. She frequently volunteers at the North Vancouver Recreation Centre's day camps, birthday parties and more. She also spends time at the Northshore Alliance Church's Sunday School program to teach children. When she is not volunteering, Anika partakes in some extra-curricular programs at her school such as Improv. She is a recipient of the 2017 "Community Enhancement  Award" from the the District of North Vancouver and the 2017 "Give Back Award" from the City of North Vancouver.

Pre-Professional Program