our music directors

learn more about our amazing team of music directors

— Nick La Riviere

Directs Beginner Band, Skills Band & The Fundamentals

Pronouns: he/him/his

Singer-songwriter Nick La Riviere is an accomplished trombonist who has toured internationally with bands such as the Juno award winning Paperboys, Michael Kaeshammer, 54-40 and Adonis Puentes. He has been a special guest with such bands as Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies), the Temptations and Nikki Yanofsky. As a freelancer, Nick is one of Victoria’s busiest musicians. Nick has been a Music Director with FOM Music Society since 2018. He currently teaches the Beginner Band Lessons, Skills Band Lessons and Fundamentals.  Outside of FOM, Nick directs the Jive Big Band, Soul Source R&B Band, The Victoria Rock Choir, and The Nanaimo Rock Choir.

— avram mCCagherty

Directs Ukulele Lessons, Ukulelians (Performance Group) & The Eclectics

Pronouns: he/him/his

Avram learned guitar for years under the guidance of expert fingerstyle guitarist Ron Forbes-Roberts and world-renowned Gypsy Jazz guitarist Marc Atkinson. He also learned the rare art of Traditional Jazz banjo from the Banjo Hall of Fame inductee Borgy Borgeson. Avram has founded popular local bands such as The Stomp Club, The Dixie Sweethearts and The Capital City Syncopators. He also plays with The Yiddish Columbia State Orchestra, Canus, Dixieland Express, Blackstick and many other ensembles. As an instructor, Avram brings 25 years of experience from his tenure at Old Town Strings, Larsen Music and his private home studio. He has been leading programs at the Friends of Music Society since the Fall of 2013 and is honoured to be part of such a wonderful organization, with dedicated administration and faculty combining a passion for music with compassion for people and community.

— Nicole gagnon

Directs ‘Your Authentic Voice’

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Nicole is a conscious creator, lover and grower. Primarily a vocal artist, Nicole also writes and records ambient-experimental healing music under the pseudonym NELE. Nicole weaves the worlds of traditional song and culture, somatic therapy, astrology, and the art of crafting ritual into offerings that nurture the creator within to confidently express to the world. She grows a multitude of food plants as well as herbs for medicine crafting. She is continually learning how to live with respect and care for this beautiful Island. 

— lauri Lyster

Directs Drumming & Percussion Workshop

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Lauri Lyster is a versatile musician, equally at home playing classical, jazz or ethnic percussion and drum set. She is a percussionist with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, a long-time member of the lauded Celtic and Medieval ensemble Winter Harp, and has worked with jazz bands, chamber ensembles, dance groups and recorded for television and film. In 2012 Lauri wrote the one-woman play The Drummer Girl, a musical featuring her on drums and percussion, with a band and with comedic anecdotes about life as a female drummer.  She created Keyboard Klub to teach group piano and The Joyful Djembe to teach drumming and percussion in the school system.  Lauri moved to Victoria in October of 2020 and has been busy integrating herself in the musical community, doing a percussion workshop at SMUS for young adults, playing traditional jazz drum set in local bands CanUS and Hoppin’ Mad, and more recently playing with the Victoria Symphony. She loves teaching group drumming and percussion and believes that we all have rhythm, and EVERYBODY can drum. 

— steve

Directs Guitar Lessons, Recovery Rock Band & Open Mic

Pronouns: he/him/his

Steve started working with Friends of Music in September 2017 as a guitar teacher and volunteer at the Sunday Open Mic. In addition to teaching guitar, he now runs the Open Mic and leads the Recovery Rock Band. He has played and sung in local bands and written and self-recorded albums that received some local radio play. While primarily a guitar teacher, he is a multi-instrumentalist: he loves to play drums or keys whenever he gets the chance. Steve also loves to travel and learn about musical traditions in other countries. He can even play two Korean instruments, which he learned while living in South Korea for a few years. Steve brings a passion for mental health and hopes to spread musical joy through his work. He is very grateful for the opportunity to enjoy and share the gifts that music brings at FOM Music Society.

— Joe Hatherill

Directs the Moodswing Chorus

Pronouns: he/him/his

Joe grew up north of London England, studied jazz and commercial music in Newcastle, then worked as a saxophone player on various cruise ships for four years. He got more involved with education and passed the City and Guilds Adult Teaching Diploma and the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music Certificate of Teaching. He has worked in musical theatre, jazz, recording and functions, mainly on woodwinds and keyboards. Joe emigrated to BC in 2003 and was soon busy leading the Sunshine Coast Orchestra concert band and Pender Harbor choir. He was accepted into the BC Registered Music Teachers’ Association. He remains active in many fields of music education and performance. His studio is in Fernwood, and he has been with Friends of Music since 2018. Joe is always keen to get more people involved in making and sharing live music. As a universal language, music can heal us and promote love and community.

— ben beaudet, MM

Directs The Haywires Country Band, Minds at Work & The Moodswing Orchestra

Pronouns: he/him/his

Benoît Beaudet completed a Master’s degree in Music at Laval University after studying at Berklee School of Music. He has done arranging and guitar with William Levitt and graduated magna cum laude, making the dean’s list. Since 1993 Ben has been a Music Director at Friends of
Music, leading the Moodswing Orchestra, Minds at Work and The Haywires’ Country Band. He also started the Guitar Lessons, Fundamentals and the Summer Program. Some highlights of his musical career include: playing on CBC, teaching jazz at Québec Conservatory, serving as director of a music school and working as a Club Med musical director and tennis teacher. In his spare time, he plays golf and tennis.

— jon ziffle

Directs Jazz Improv 

Pronouns: he/him/his

Jon has been with Friends of Music since 2017. His musical background includes jazz and electronic music, composition and music production. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Vancouver Island University, and his main instrument is the piano. He has released music both independently and with the Woodwork Recordings label based in Vancouver. Jon is the Jazz Improv Music Director and Moodswing Chorus piano accompanist at FOM Music Society. He also is currently working in mental health support services. Jon is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community and apply his musical skills to support others through his work with Friends of Music.


Directs the Drumming Group & Drum-Making Workshop

Pronouns: he/him/his

Glen is an artist, drum-maker, singer, storyteller, educator and filmmaker. He believes that the drum as your ‘centre’, your connection to the earth, can become an empowering tool to self-awareness and realization. Glenn also facilitates cultural ceremonies and a men’s warrior program.