Hamilton Music Collective CEO/Founder, AIFEC Program Director

Originally a professional saxophonist and educator from Cologne, Germany, Astrid Hepner founded the Hamilton Music Collective in 2008 shortly after moving to Hamilton from New York City. A trained musician, Astrid has performed with Latin music legends Tito Puente and Celia Cruz and regularly performed at the NYC downtown club Knitting Factory with her band Astrid Hepner & Funkmeister. As a record executive she worked with world-class artists including Norah Jones, Sir Simon Rattle, Anita Baker, Keith Jarrett, Wynton Marsalis and Al Green at major record companies in NYC (Blue Note Records, BMG Classics, ECM Records). She developed and taught the Music Business program at Mohawk College and strongly believes in the importance of making music education available to all children at a young age.

Astrid Hepner studied Musicology at the University of Cologne and earned her Master’s degree in Performing Arts from The Folkwang School in Essen, Germany. She also holds a diploma in Cultural Management. Astrid is the recipient of the 2013 YWCA Hamilton Women of Distinction Award.



AIFEC Program Coordinator/Instructor

Eric Ryder Costello is a recovering rock star and dad-in-training who has seen it all, done it all, and lived to tell the tale. He brings a wealth of experience (and experiences) to AIFEC, culled from a rich and diverse musical background, including his tenure as Artist Services Coordinator at Cleveland Opera, and touring all over the world as a drummer for such renowned bands as The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs and Crash Kelly. But despite his brushes with near-fame (and infamy), nothing compares to the joy he feels when sharing his love of music with his students.



Educational Consultant/Instructor

Rachael Finnerty  (MTA MMT MA) joined the AIFEC team in 2010 as an instructor, at the first AIFEC school. As the program expanded to more schools, Rachael took on the role of Education Consultant. Rachael was the President of the Music Therapy Association of Ontario (2010-14), and received the 2016 Woman of Distinction Award (Health Category). As an accredited music therapist, she has experience working with children with a diversity of developmental, social, physical and emotional needs. Rachael has a passion for assisting children to access their abilities despite any barriers, and knows that music is the key to accessing a child’s full potential.



Musical Instruments Coordinator/Instructor

Joel Banks is a versatile professional bassist who has performed and recorded with a wide variety of artists in southern Ontario and across the country. As a music educator, Joel has taught ukulele, bass and guitar to all ages of students in group and private settings for more than a decade, and has worked with several programs providing music and arts education to at risk youth. Joel is excited to continue helping Hamilton youth learn and experience music with the talented team of AIFEC instructors.



Volunteer Coordinator/Instructor

Annie Shaw has been playing the piano and singing from an early age.  After completing her musical studies at Mohawk College and McGill University where she earned her B. Mus Annie moved back to Hamilton to joyfully engage in many musical endeavors.  As a solo musician, band leader and sidewoman she has enjoyed playing in numerous bands of many different genres (from jazz to punk to cabaret to noise).  As a music educator she loves working with kids of all ages in diverse settings.  Annie started her involvement with AIFEC in 2013 as a volunteer coordinator and more recently has had the opportunity to work with the awesome kids in the Jambassadors program.

AIFEC provides employment opportunities for local Hamilton Musicians.

AIFEC Instructors are expected to be proficient musicians, who have experience teaching music and specialize in playing specific instruments. Our instructors have diverse backgrounds, including; performers, teachers, music therapists and composers, which ensures added depth and richness to AIFEC’s programs.

Instructor, Trumpet
David Baldry is a well respected trumpet player/improviser and composer in the Hamilton and Toronto music scene. As a recent graduate of the University of Toronto Jazz Performance Program, David has studied under Phil Nimmons, Jim Lewis and John Macleod among others. Most recently David has been cultivating his own compositions as well as working with several Hamilton and Toronto artists. As a member of the AIFEC Team he hopes to inspire his students to find joy in their achievements as well as providing accessible teaching.
Instructor, Guitar, Ukulele, Jambassadors
Garrett Lajoie is a composer, guitarist and Mohawk College graduate. Introduced to the guitar at age 9, Garrett quickly discovered his love of music in all styles, from contemporary to classical, to electronic and jazz. Recipient of the Academic Achievement award at Mohawk College’s Celebration of Learning Event, Garrett has worked as a singer-songwriter, big band guitarist, classical composer, and bedroom producer. Since age 16 he has been empowered by teaching young students, and is thrilled to share his passion for music with Hamilton youth through AIFEC, Jambassadors, and the upcoming Beats By U program.
Instructor, Flute
Rianna is a Flutist, Pianist, Composer, and Music Instructor. She loves working with children and seeing the joy and excitement music brings to them. Rianna has an Advanced Music diploma from Mohawk College in Hamilton. She is currently teaching flute and piano lessons full-time in Hamilton and the Niagara area.
Grade 1 Instructor, Piano
Bailey Duff is a Certified Teacher through the Royal Conservatory or Music, and has completed the Music in Early Childhood Certificate Program (RCM/Ryerson University). She is a multi-instrumentalist with 8 years of experience working with students of all ages, teaching privately and managing the Dundas branch of Avalon Music Academy.
Grade 1 Instructor, JAM101
Treasa Levasseur is proud to be a part of the AIFEC team as the leader of JAM 101. Treasa graduated from Ryerson University’s Theatre program, and is always in demand as a session player on her trusty accordion. A JUNO nominated singer/songwriter, she has run a successful music education business for 17 years, teaches music and drama in classrooms across Hamilton through the AGH InClass program, coordinates the Folk Music Ontario Developing Artist Program, is the Canadian Representative of Folk Alliance International, and sits on the board of the Hamilton Arts Council. Treasa is passionate about the power of music to elevate and inspire the human spirit.
Instructor, Piano, Violin
Classically trained , Polish native Malgorzata McCarroll combines her love for performance and teaching. Her life long passion for playing gave her many opportunities to travel the world performing in small and large ensembles, taking part in various projects from the opera festivals in the States, to chamber and symphonic work in Japan, the Caribbean and Europe. Holding a Master’s degree in Music Education as well as a Suzuki trained educator, Gosia’s philosophy is that every child can learn to play an instrument, given the opportunity. “Being part of the AIFEC program gives me such joy and pride, and I love to observe how children flourish through the musical journey.”
Instructor, Violin, Piano
Marianna completed her Masters of Music in Violin Performance in Poland. She has gathered extensive experience performing as a violinist for over a decade in symphony orchestras as well as a member of the entertainment department of cruise lines. Having moved to Canada and settled in Hamilton, she is excited to share her love and passion of the violin and music with others. Marianna has been actively teaching music to children since 2010 and has joined AIFEC as an instructor in 2011.
Instructor, Trombone, Piano, Flute
Severine Salvador is a new trombonist/pianist based in Hamilton. Having recently graduated with her Hon. B.Mus from McMaster, as well as a theatre specialization, Severine is passionate about arts in the community. She performs in many genres; from military bands, to big bands, to musical theatre; which in particular she has served as an actor, a costume designer, a music director/composer, and as a multi-instrumentalist. Severine is passionate about sharing her diverse artistic knowledge with students, and is proud to have the opportunity to do so with An Instrument for Every Child.
Instructor, Piano
Steve McRae has been playing piano since he was eight years old.  After graduating with Honours from Mohawk College, McMaster University and the Royal Conservatory of Music, Steve is in demand as a teacher, performer, church musician, and adjudicator in the Hamilton area.  Mr. McRae is also very active in Hamilton’s theatre scene as a musical director, pianist, and vocal director, while also performing throughout southern Ontario in genres ranging from classical ensembles to rock tribute groups.  Steve is very excited to be working with the team at An Instrument for Every Child.”