Meet some alumni!

We asked –

  • Who was your Suzuki teacher and for how many years?
  • Do you still play?
  • What did you do after high school graduation?
  • How did your studies at Ottawa Suzuki Strings help you grow as an individual and prepare you for future challenges and endeavours?
  • Do you have a favourite memory from your time with Ottawa Suzuki Strings?
  • Have you explored a new skill or hobby, either recreationally or professionally, since leaving the Ottawa Suzuki Strings program?

Charlotte Deacon

  • Rosemarie Klimasko 12 years
  • Rarely, I should pull it out more!
  • Honour’s Bachelor of Science from Queen’s University (completed), currently at McMaster University studying medicine
  • Playing with OSS taught me about teamwork and the value of discipline, while of course being a lot of fun
  • Any of the tours we went on with Stellae Boreales!
  • Rowing – I represented Canada at the Under23 World Championships in 2019

Ethan Balakrishnan

  • Rosemarie Klimasko 14 years
  • Every day
  • Indiana University Jacobs School of Music: Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance
  • Section Violinist, Orchestre symphonique de Québec
  • I learned ensemble playing skills in Stellae Boreales, which gave me an advantage in school. Earlier on, the possibility of joining SB was also a big practice motivator.
  • SB tours in Iceland and Cuba.
  • A regular yoga practice – this has improved my violin playing as well as my quality of life.


Laurent Côté

  • Rosemarie Klimasko 13 years
  • A few times per year
  • A.B.; PhD in Mathematics!
  • Music, and OSS in particular, was a big part of my life growing up, so it’s hard to pinpoint one particular thing.  I think that the experience of performing in public ‘a lot’ was extremely useful to me.  I was usually very nervous before each performance, and I think that this was very useful training.  Nowadays, I often have to give public talks and lectures.  Unlike some of my colleagues, I don’t find this particularly hard or scary.  I’m sure this is because I had the experience of performing violin in public so many times.
  • Probably the trip to NYC (I had never been there before, and it was also my last year in the program).

Elisa Klebanov

  • Rosemarie and Elaine Klimasko 15 years
  • Every day!
  • Bachelor in Music from the University of Ottawa
  • Section violist with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Ottawa Suzuki Strings was an excellent first step in my development as a professional musician.
  • My lessons with my private teachers!



Eric Tichbourne

  • Rosemarie Klimasko 15 years
  • I wish I did!
  • Bachelor in Arts Honours Economics, Master in Financial Economics – an Investment manager!
  • It helped me to learn about grit and dedication. Practicing is not easy but learning to spend time and energy with one thing is important.  It’s tough but worth the pain for the long term gain.
  • Our Stellae Borealis trip to Iceland and the Monday evening group practices
  • I have learned Piano and Drums


Holly Laurenzio

  • Rosemarie Klimasko
  • I am no longer focused on my musical training, but I love that I can always have music as a hobby and as something that brings me joy. I play my violin every few months when I hear a beautiful song that inspires me to make music.
  • I completed a Bachelor of Global and International Studies at Carleton University in 2019, and I am current completing a Master’s of Global Development at Queen’s University.
  • My years of studying violin have shaped me into an organized, efficient, and diligent worker. The discipline instilled in me from being a musician has impacted every aspect of my education and career. I am abundantly grateful for the musical training I received and for Ottawa Suzuki Strings for being an outlet for my creativity. In the past few years, I started teaching violin to beginners and it has brought me so much joy to watch young learners be inspired by the music that once inspired me! I believe firmly in the Suzuki ideology that “everyone can play music” and that those who do have a special gift that makes the world a more beautiful place.
  • As a member of Stellae Boreales, I was able to participate in three international music tours, Washington D.C. (2012); Cuba (2013); Minneapolis (2014). I have such fond memories of performing in Cuba and playing along side Cuban musicians. Sharing music across the world and communicating through music despite language barriers was a very special experience. Every single rehearsal, lesson, and performance will remain as a cherished memory for years to come.
  • I have taught myself guitar in the last year as a ‘pandemic hobby’ and have always dreamed of learning cello and saxophone, so hopefully that is still to come!


Olivier Brandts-Longtin

  • Kit Barham 15 years
  • Weekly in a Community Orchestra
  • MD(c), HBSc
  • I learnt a lot about perseverance, dedication, and teamwork. I think practicing and developing these skills through violin has helped prepare me for my academic pursuits, but it has also given me a creative outlet. I enjoy being able to play for myself or friends and family, and am very grateful I was able to have all the experiences I did through music.
  • Travelling through China with Stellae Boreales – exploring such a diverse country while being able to share our music with a great group of people
  • I’ve gotten quite fond of rock climbing, but school still takes up most of my time

Neve Sugars-Keen

  • Kit Barham 15
  • Community orchestras, teaching
  • Bachelor in Humanities and Biology, Carleton University; Master’s degree in Political Economy at Carleton
  • Learning the violin with Suzuki helped to teach me discipline and teamwork, skills that are applicable to just about any future endeavour. They gave me a sense of commitment and of contributing to a greater whole that has served me well. Suzuki violin training has also provided me with ways to have fun and to meet others in the future, through community orchestras and other musical groups.
  • Since leaving OSS, alongside the violin, over the past few years I have also tried a couple other musical instruments, including the bagpipes and the harp.

Jerry Wang

  • Rosemarie Klimasko 12 years
  • Sadly, never (not since 2018 – I was going to join a community orchestra in 2020 just prior to the pandemic, but unfortunately that fell through)
  • BSc, MSc, PhD Candidate (In progress)
  • Although I am not pursuing a career in music, my time with OSS fostered my enjoyment of playing in an ensemble and collaborating with others. OSS group lessons and Stellae Boreales were my first exposure to ensembles. Thanks to how much I enjoyed that experience, I’ve pursued many opportunities to play in different ensembles, and have made many great memories and lifelong friends during and after my studies with OSS.
  • A few: Making a comically large pot of cucumber soup at a retreat (that was unfortunately not great but somehow a few people ate) A ‘chicken’-filled night with two friends at the same retreat
  • All the trips I went on (New York, Washington, especially Iceland)
  • I have gotten into recreational bouldering/rock climbing since I no longer need to be super careful with my hands.


Felix Hu

  • Lance Elbeck 15
  • Usually weekly with the McMaster Symphony Orchestra!
  • Bachelor’s (Health Sciences) at McMaster
  • OSS has helped me greatly in helping me gain confidence in performance abilities that span from musical performances to presentations and public speaking. I’ve made lifelong friends  and made many new connections, thanks to group rehearsals and performances here! It’s given me lifelong memories and opportunities to do things that I never imagined I’d do. My time with everyone at OSS taught me to love music, and thanks to that, I have a hobby that I can enjoy for life.
  • Meeting so many talented people in group rehearsals and becoming great friends with them! Also, getting the opportunity to travel to China and Argentina and being able to visit all the cultural sites and theatres!
  • Singing; I perform in my faculty musical!

Shanti Sivarulrasa

  • Karoly Sziladi Sr 15, Sara Mastrangelo, Kit Barham
  • Every day
  • I am in the Bachelor of Music program at Dalhousie University on a four-year Fountain Performing Arts Scholarship. I am planning to do my concentration in music composition. I study violin with Leonardo Perez and serve as the Assistant Concertmaster of the Dalhousie Symphony Orchestra.
  • Since beginning in September 2022, I have been a violin teacher with the Scotia Suzuki School of Music in Halifax.
  • Taking part in violin groups such as Fine Tuners and Stellae Boreales helped me to develop my ensemble skills and learn how to lead a group.



Alexandra Telford

  • Rosemarie Klimasko 13 years
  • Rarely (unfortunately!)
  • BArch & MArch
  • Being taught the importance of repetition, practice and hard work has helped me prepare for many other challenges in my life.
  • There were some very special memories made during all of the Stellae Boreales trips I was fortunate enough to be a part of, memories both of places and the amazing people I was able to get to know.
  • Ever since leaving regular music participation in 2013, that time and effort has been put into the sport of track and field. I am still competing regularly and am currently specializing in the 400m and 400m hurdles.

Jaewon Seo

  • Rosemari Klimasko 15 years
  • orchestra and chamber ensembles
  • BM-Cleveland Institute of Music, MM- Rice University
  • Performance opportunities and experiences.
  • Spending quality time with friends and colleagues.
  • Playing tennis

Jack Donahue

  • Adam Cicchilliti 13 years
  • 3 times a week
  • On my own, for my own betterment/enjoyment
  • Bachelors in Philosophy (Currently Studying)
  • Teamwork, Determination, Creativity
  • Met my best friend through the Guitar Program G#
  • Literature, writing and reading


Are you interested in starting or continuing your child in Suzuki music instruction?

To start please read our faculty biographies.  Then contact our School Director Judy Ginsburg who will help you choose and contact a teacher in your area. Judy may be reached at or by phone at (613) 369-4376.

To complete the registration process please submit the Registration and Volunteer Forms.

Ottawa Suzuki Strings depends on volunteer power! We thank you in advance for volunteering (4 hours or more per year).


We count on the generous donation of community members.

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We would like to recognize the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation, on whose traditional unceded territory we operate. We gratefully acknowledge them as the past, present and future stewards of this land.

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