MUSIC DIRECTORS

Gelja Will - Junior Music Director

Gelja grew up in a household of Suzuki violin, Orff, and music therapy. She was concertmaster of the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra at age 13. She has been playing violin since she was 9 years old and teaching violin since 2001.

Gelja is the founder of the Grand River Suzuki School. She teaches with joy, love, and compassion and embraces the Suzuki philosophy in her work and daily life. Gelja’s children, two violinists and a cellist played in the Little String Orchestra for many years. She now has a baby boy who is growing up in her studio.

In addition too her music school, Gelja has a diploma in culinary management and spent several years cooking for Langdon Hall. 

Tina Labanowicz - Senior Music Director

Christina (Tina) Labanowicz began playing both cello and piano at the age of six. She completed her piano studies in highschool under the tutelage of Marguerite Barry. Tina began her cello studies in Brantford at the Saturday Morning String School with Don Eddy and then with Margaret Culbert. Her studies eventually led her to teachers in Hamilton and Kitchener. Tina also studied in Europe with Berlin Philharmonic cellist Werner Haupt, her grandfather.

Tina’s first orchestral experience was with Virginia Little in the Little String Orchestra. Tina was also first cellist in the Brantford Symphony Youth Orchestra at the age of 11. When Tina was 15, the Brantford Symphony Youth Orchestra partnered with the Guelph Youth Orchestra and together attended the Canadian Festival of Youth Orchestras at the Fine Arts Centre in Banff. Here, Tina sat first desk under the baton of England’s Nicholas Braithwaite. Tina also played in the Brantford Symphony Orchestra for a number of years.

Tina has played extensively with her quartet and other ensembles since 1980 which has brought wonderful experiences and lasting relationships. Tina has continued her studies in the Suzuki method at the Southern Ontario Suzuki Institute as well as at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. Tina’s love of children and music has grown in 30 years of fostering children, conducting the Junior and Senior Little String Orchestra since 2013 and teaching with the Brant Suzuki String School and in her own studio since 1999.