“Music is in the human DNA”: Zeda Ali

February 13, 2024

Meet Zeda Ali, 2024 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, Presented by Anthem Entertainment, Nominee


A journey is often not one straight path ― and that definitely applies to music educator Zeda Ali.

Despite studying music theory, history, and education in post-secondary, her teaching career began on a different path. Through early assignments instructing in art, history and language, Zeda always found a way to be involved in the music departments of her schools. Zeda would take the lead in organizing extra curricular bands, ensembles, and concerts.

It was at Sunny View Middle School where she finally set on her true path. Though she started off as a math and history teacher, in 2021 she was given the chance to be the full-time music teacher.

Zeda made it her priority to use her newfound position to pursue what she wished she had as a student ― programming with culturally-relevant music styles and genres. Giving lessons on music that reflects the diversity of her class is very important to her, and allows kids’ cultures to have representation and pride in the school. Her vision began to take off with her now-famous steelpan ensembles (which she shares on the school’s social media!) and has been expanding ever since. By being exposed to a wide range of musical instruments and genres, students are unlocking a passion they didn’t expect.

If all roads will lead you to your destiny, that road is music for Zeda. “Ms. Ali IS music, it is a part of her, not just what she does for a living. It is who she is,” says Teri Petrillo, a colleague of Zeda’s. She has truly been a movement in innovative music education, and has made a long-lasting impact on students who have moved beyond middle school. Some have even came back to just to visit and volunteer for Zeda, and even pursue music instructor careers themselves!

As Zeda says, “We hear the rhythm of our mother’s heartbeat in the womb. We learn the alphabet and counting through songs. Music is in the human DNA.”

Music will always make its way to you.


Zeda Ali of Sunny View Middle School in Brampton, Ontario is one of five inspirational educators nominated for the 2024 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, presented by Anthem Entertainment. The award recognizes an exceptional music teacher with a $10,000 cash prize, a generous donation to their school through the MusiCounts Band Aid Program, 2-3 MusiCounts Legacy Grants made in their name, and a JUNO statuette.

The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award was established in 2005 to recognize and honour an exceptional Canadian music teacher each year. This award is generously presented by Anthem Entertainment. To date, this award has celebrated the accomplishments of 18 music educators across Canada who strive to preserve the livelihood of music education in their school and community.

The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award is presented by