Our Instructors



Grace Snippe

Grace Snippe is from St. Catharines, Ontario and has recently completed her Bachelor of Music degree at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. A Niagara Elementary Instrumental Music graduate herself, Grace fell in love with the cello at 13 years old and has been voraciously studying the instrument ever since.


She has a passion for the growing arts culture in St. Catharines and is excited to be part of this aspect of Niagara. Grace often has multiple burners going at once with simultaneous music projects and also teaching several music students every week. She's happiest when creating new sounds with various local groups in Niagara and adding that unique cello-flavouring to various ensembles including: Grace Notes String Ensemble, Moonfox, The Bends, and other groups such as Windfall Found, Wow Sound Studios, Strange Pumpkin Studio, Niagara Youth Orchestra, Mercredi Music, Gallery Players of Niagara, Avanti Chamber Singers and Brock University Women's Choir and local solo artists such as Emma Fleury, Melissa Shriner, Ola Kiermacz, Luke Gillet, and Chloe Rabideau.







Faith Lau 


Faith Lau began her violin studies at the age of 5 with the North York Suzuki School of Music and recently completed a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music in Chicago, where she studied privately with Paul Zafer.

Faith is an avid chamber musician and orchestral musician; she was principal second of the Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra and currently performs with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra and Cambridge Symphony Orchestra.

A certified Suzuki teacher, Faith is passionate about teaching students of all levels. She has experience coaching sectionals in youth orchestras and has worked with students in masterclasses under David Zafer.  As a private violin instructor, she has studied music and special education and enjoys working with each students’ individual learning style.

Additionally, Faith has experience in leadership serving as President of the Wheaton College Symphony and her abilities at long term planning aids her in creatively designing and structuring ideas for each student.  Faith is excited about combining her experience and knowledge in different areas of pedagogy and music to inspire and guide others to a fuller appreciation of music and ultimately, life.  In her spare time, Faith enjoys playing racquet sports, performing with Christian bands, camping on the shores of Lake Superior, and pondering life with dear friends over a cup of tea.





Danielle Marconi


From a young age, Danielle Marconi was drawn to music, and chose the violin at age 11. She continued her studies, has a Bachelor of Music from Brock University, and is a certified teacher in the Suzuki Method. She has been teaching violin since 2002, instructing individual and group lessons, student ensembles, masterclasses, summer camps, music classes for toddlers, and teenage/adult string groups. 
Danielle also has extensive experience performing on stage with many well-known bands and musicians, and has been featured as a studio musician on countless albums as well as in music videos. 
Danielle enjoys playing all genres of music including classical, folk, alternative, hip hop; and loves composing/arranging. Danielle writes music with her sister in the song-writing duo Zusters, the most recent album Resonate is available on all online listening platforms.





Mike van Dongen


Mike van Dongen is a conductor, violinist, arranger & teacher.  He earned a Bachelor of Music Degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, studying with violinist Marta Hidy. 

In 1994, Mike began teaching with Niagara Elementary Instrumental Music in the District School Board of Niagara as an Itinerant Music Instructor. 

Mike is a freelance violinist and has been a member of the Niagara Sympony since 1995, playing in the first violin section.

Mike is also a member of the group Two Sheets to the Wind playing jazz, celtic, folk and pop music around the Niagara Region.







Andrew Carruthers


Andrew has enjoyed teaching for the Niagara Elementary Instrumental Music program since the 1999 - 2000 school year! He graduated from Brock University in 1989, receiving his B.A. majoring in Music. His focus instrument is percussion, though he has continued to bring himself up to speed on most Brass and Woodwind instruments, now teaching far more brass and woodwind classes, than percussion classes!

Andrew is also known as "The Karaoke Kid", having run a karaoke business by that name in the Niagara Peninsula for the past 22 years, though for now, the title is just that, as he has put aside working evenings, to concentrate on conducting and directing a number of local groups. As of this fall, ‘A.C.’ is looking forward to some new challenges, as well as the return of ‘The Swing Kids Orchestra’, made up of former NEIM students. He has just recently taken the reins as the director and conductor of the ‘Thorold Reed Band’, Canada’s longest continuously active community band (since 1851), and the ‘Robert Wood Singers’! With the previous directors both stepping down the same year, it will be a fun, active and busy musical year, ahead!

Andrew considers himself lucky to be involved as much as he is in this three passions - music, trotters and basketball. Although the basketball involvement is only as a spectator now, Andrew actively pursues the 'sport of kings' dream by owning and racing horses. He currently owns four equines lovingly nick-named K.C., J.C., Ash and Star, with the last two being foals of ‘Kids Crown’! ‘J.C.’ has enjoyed some good racing success over the past three years, and hopefully will continue the same, while the young ones join her!

Andrew's hope is that through his position with Niagara Elementary Instrumental Music he is able to share in the joy he gets from music with the students he sees each year. From listening, playing and sharing what we each have learned from music, he believes we each can help make this world a slightly more positive place. Here’s hoping it’s a wonderful 2014-15 school year, for all!!!

Craig Inglis


Craig has taught instrumental music with the Niagara Elementary Instrumental Music program since 1994. As a former student of this same wonderful program, he now thoroughly enjoys instructing the many amazing students he encounters, helping them to love the world of music. Craig spent time getting to know many of the students and their parents on band trips to Halifax, Disney, Calgary, New York City, Edmonton and Montreal.

Craig can sometimes be heard playing sax with his combo "Saxy Blue Tones" but now spends more time  developing a new generation of jazz lovers.  His first student combo,"Uptown Five", has played  throughout the Niagara region for a number of years and now another acclaimed combo, "A Touch of Class", can be heard at various events.  Besides arranging for these combos, Craig has a number of published brass ensemble originals and arrangements and has arranged numerous student duets and trios.

In  2006,  Craig founded the Pelham Jazz Program which features a number of big bands with students of various ages and a couple of new combos.  With award-winning trips to Chicago and Cedar Point in the spring of 2007, Craig is excited about continuing with these groups and appreciates all the community support he's received with this new venture.

Even though Craig is kept busy with numerous musical projects, he also enjoys spending time with his family.  He coaches his youngest daughter's hockey and softball teams, supports his eldest daughter's highland dance training and is an active board member of his local Down syndrome support and advocacy group.  He is exited about coaching his son in the Special Olympics and watching him grow into an incredible person.  Parenting a child with special needs has been one of the most rewarding jobs Craig has ever held!

Craig looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for music with students for years to come.




Julia Morley



Originally from Toronto, Julia obtained an Honours Bachelor of Music Degree from Queen's University and her Ontario Teaching Certificate with Honour Specialist Qualifications from the University of Toronto. Julia has taught and played professionally in Toronto before relocating to the Niagara area several years ago.  At that time she began playing with the Niagara Symphony Orchestraand teaching Instrumental Music for the District School Board of Niagara throughNiagara Elementary Instrumental Music and is currently still working with both organizations.


Mike Phelan


Mike Phelan has been the District School Board of Niagara's Principal Percussion Instructor since 1989, working with both Elementary & Secondary School students and ensembles.  He is a percussionist with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra and performs with several Concert "Wind" Ensembles throughout the Niagara Peninsula.

Mike has played over 40 "musical" shows with Garden City Productions, a theater Company in St. Catharines and instructs many private students in his home studio.  Over the years, Mike has been the drummer for many popular dance bands such as Jeffrey and the Juniors, Private Stock and Undun.  Mike was also the Music Director, Conductor & Arranger of The Malletheads, a very popular student Percussion Ensemble that performed from July 2000 to July 2006.  The group recorded 4 CD's and had the pleasure of performing with the John Sherwood Trio in 2003, at the Ontario Music Educators Association Conference in Huntsville, Ontario in 2005 & with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra for the annual Christmas "Pops" Concert, also in 2005.

Since 1993, Mike has been the Principal Percussion Instructor at the Niagara Symphony Summer Music Camp held at Mandeville Theatre, Ridley College in St. Catharines.  In 1996, Mike wrote two pieces of music for the CD "Local Scores" by Niagara poet/lyricist Terrance Cox and in 1999, enjoyed the experience of teaching the Percussion Techniques Course at Brock University.  In August 2008, July 2009, July 2010 & July 2011,  Mike was the percussionist with the World Rock Symphony Orchestra, performing British classics by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Queen, The Moody Blues, Supertramp, Led Zeppelin & Elton John, featuring 6 lead Vocalists, a 6-piece Rock Band, a 12-voice Gospel Choir & a 27 member Symphony Orchestra for shows at the Fallsview Casino Avalon Ballroom, Niagara Falls, Ontario. 

For the past twenty-one years, Mike has been busy arranging music for Percussion Ensemble, keeping in mind that the arrangements be "musically" oriented & geared towards the "student".  Mike considers it an honour & a privilege to be able to work with such a tremendous group of music students & hopes to continue his quest for the elusive Holy "Percussion" Grail for many years to come!