Town Hall - The 2022 Back to School Conversation

September 21, 2022

Now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we know we must all work together to reaffirm music’s important place in the Canadian education system. Parallel to this, we must rethink music education itself, and reflect critically on the confines and inequities that have been pervasive in music education for so long.

In this MusiCounts Learn Town Hall, four music educators from across Canada discussed their experience being trained in the Western classical music tradition. Through sharing their journey of learning and unlearning, this Back to School Conversation explored how each of these teachers has broadened music education at their school to meet evolving student needs through rock band, steel pan drums, hip-hop, and Indigenous perspectives.

Moderated by: Nick Godsoe, Manager, Programs & Education at MusiCounts


Zeda Ali

Music Educator, Sunnyview Middle School | Brampton, ON

Zeda has been an educator with the Peel District School Board for 20 years. Zeda is classically trained in piano through the Royal Conservatory of Music, and also plays guitar, violin, trumpet, flute and more. While working on her ARCT, Zeda realized she did not want to become a performer; rather, she wanted to share her passion of music with others, especially children. As a music teacher, Zeda is committed to offering culturally responsive programming. With support from the MusiCounts Band Aid Program, Zeda has implemented a steel pans program at her school to meet the needs of her students.

Zeda has performed in Guyana South America, as well for charitable causes, and was in the closing band for the Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto on its last open day. She spends her free time jamming in a rock band.

Steve Giddings

Music Educator, Montague Consolidated School | Montague, PE

Aside from his regular gig as a public school music teacher, Steve is a regular columnist in the Canadian Music Educator Journal where he writes on topics including popular music education and creativity, is author of the award-winning book, Rock Coach: A Practical Guide for Teaching Rock Bands in Schools, and Creative Musicking: Practical, Real-Life Ideas to Get Your Learners Creating Their Own Music. He also just released his third book called, Technology for Unleashing Creativity, through Oxford University Press. He has been a long-time advocate for creative musical practices and a conduit for pushing the envelope in music education throughout Canada and across the world. He is owner and operator of, a music education blog and resource hub.

Darren Hamilton

Music Educator & 2022 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year, David Suzuki Secondary School | Brampton, ON

Darren Hamilton is a secondary music educator with the Peel District School Board. He has a broad and diverse background in music and education, spanning over two decades. He holds a Honours BFA in Music from York University, a BEd from the University of Toronto and a MMus in Music Education from the University of Western Ontario. Darren is currently a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, having research interests in formal gospel music education and equity, diversity and social justice in music curriculum. In 2021, his articles, “#BlackMusicMatters: Dismantling Anti-Black Racism in Music Education” and “Hip-hop Music Education: Engaging Students in Black Culture Creation and Social Justice Advocacy” were published in the Canadian Music Educator journal.

Recently, Darren launched a new integrated arts course at his school called “The Sounds and Sights of HIp-Hop and R&B” that exposes students to the musical analysis, production and performance of these Black musical forms along with their visual arts elements. Darren is the founding director of the University of Toronto credit Gospel Choir course and has been presenting gospel music pedagogy workshops at the annual Ontario Music Educators’ Association conferences for the past five years. When not teaching, he is an active clinician, workshop presenter and conductor of the Waterloo Region Mass Choir.'

Nicole Schutz

Music Educator & MusiCounts Learn: KANATA Advisor, Parkallen Elementary School | Edmonton, AB

Nicole Schutz is Métis from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan living, teaching, and learning in Edmonton, Alberta. She received a B.Arts and a B.Ed from Concordia University of Alberta and just completed a Masters of Elementary Education with a focus on Indigenizing and decolonizing music education at the University of Alberta. Nicole holds a Level III Orff certification from Carl Orff Canada and a certificate in World Music Pedagogy from the Smithsonian Institute. Nicole co-created the Indigenous Music Educator’s guide titled Nithota for the NAC Music Alive Program. She sits on the Carl Orff Canada DEI Committee and is the Vice President of the Alberta Orff Chapter.


Looking for More?

MusiCounts Learn holds national conversations on topics that matter to music educators. Tune in to past Town Hall events and engage with the community of music educators across the country!

This MusiCounts Learn Town Hall was presented by