Meet Your RHMA Staff


Michael McKenzie

Owner and Founder of Red House Music Academy

Guitar & Bass

Michael grew up in Medicine Hat, Alberta. His pursuit of all things guitars and rock 'n roll, involved studying guitar at famed arts/music school Grant MaEwan College in Edmonton, three years in Calgary teaching, and playing, at Guitar Works and eventually ending up moving to Toronto in 1994. Michael landed a gig with Universal Honey, and spent years touring all over North America as a support act for The Goo Goo Dolls.

Though he still loved teaching, and had always thought of having his own music school some day. This would involve a fresh new approach to teaching and inspiring students with the latest technology available, as well as incorporating recording, and a rehearsal space where students could play together as a band. Thus Red House was born in late 2009.

In addition to teaching, and running Red House, Michael plays and records with The New Mendicants featuring Joe Pernice (Scud Mountain Boys, Pernice Brothers), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), and Mike Belitsky (The Sadies, Neko Case, The Good Brothers) as well as Canadian music stalwarts, Lowest of The Low, and The Mick McKenzie Band.


Al Cross


Born in Montreal, 1953, Al has always loved the drums.  He played in high school bands, inspired by local heroes The Rabble, and various bands of the day.

A life changing moment occurred as a result of a generous invitation from Art Blakey, one of the greatest drummers of all time. He and The Jazz Messengers were just about to start playing an outdoor concert when suddenly it began raining ‘cats and dogs’. The crowd went running for cover. Al and a small group of die hard music fans were left standing in the rain, staring up at the stage. Mr. Blakey motioned for this small pack to join him on stage, which was covered and dry.

Perched beside the drums, Al was treated to a life changing concert.  After high school, equipped with a little Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell and a lot of Art Blakey in his heart, Al went on to study percussion with Pierre Beluse at McGill University while working with many of Quebec's top performers such as Dianne Tell.


Zebulun Barnow

Guitar, Banjo, Drums, Piano, Voice

Originally from Chicago, Zebulun has performed with a multitude of rock, funk and theatrical groups at legendary venues ranging from Club Stodola, Hideout and Schuba's to the Riviera Theatre, Park West, Metro and Lincoln Hall.

He performed thousands of shows with Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theatre as well as live broadcasts for all the major local television affiliates (ABC, CBS, NBC, WGN, Fox).

In 2012 Zebulun was the voice for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's production of "Timon of Athens" which won the Jefferson (Equity) award for best original incidental music. He toured the People's Republic of China as a percussionist with South Shore Symphony Orchestra in 2013-14.

In Canada, Zebulun works with the Regent Park School of Music implementing and facilitating experimental learning models in partnership with the First Nations School of Toronto.

Additionally, he continues to freelance and contract performances with several groups including his own creation, The Morality Players and a cello/guitar duo with his wife Amber Walton-Amar.


Vanessa Natalie Colucci

Piano, Voice, Guitar and Ukulele

Vanessa has been playing and studying music for over a decade. She is an energetic and passionate teacher who has been instructing lessons at private studios in the greater Toronto area for over six years.

Always encouraging, patient and friendly, she caters her methods to each student's individual learning style to help them master their instrument and perfect their craft. She has training in guitar and piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

She has an extensive performance background and has played concerts all over Toronto as a solo artist, as well as performing with other bands and local indie musicians. Her primary focus is on contemporary music: from rock to pop, to jazz and blues.


Hilary June Hart

Piano, Voice, & Ukulele

Hilary holds a performing arts degree from the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. She’s completed her RCM examinations in both piano and vocal.

Her cheerful, fun, and patient nature is a hit with young students. Along with teaching, Hilary works as an actor, singer, dancer, and musician in Toronto.

In addition to piano, she plays the ukulele, guitar, trumpet, and accordion. She motivates her students to have an appreciation for music by teaching a variety of music styles, encouraging performance, and incorporating theory, technique, ear training, and music games into her lessons.



Tara Smylie

Piano & Voice

Tara is an avid musician, a lover of plants and a student of the world. Her experience as a vocalist and instructor includes singing with the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto and co-directing a small ensemble of students for two years.

Among her interests are music composition and community building through artistic means.

She is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach at Red House Music Academy and hopes to see you soon!


Sarah Gibbons

Piano & Voice

Sarah holds her M.A in Music Theatre from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as well as a performing arts diploma in acting, voice and dance from The Randolph Academy of Performing Arts in Toronto.

Originally from St. John’s Newfoundland, Sarah began competing competitively in piano and voice competitions at the age of 5. She holds her Grade 10 Piano with the Royal Conservatory of Music and has trained in Estill Vocal Training.

As an actor and singer, she has performed at the National Arts Centre, Young People’s Theatre, The 2015 Pan Am Games, The Edinburgh Fringe and with The Acting Up Stage Company.

She thoroughly enjoys teaching music to children and people of all ages. She believes everyone learns differently and tailors each lesson to her students' specific needs, while focusing on technique, musicality and lots of fun!

She teaches many styles including pop, rock, folk, classical and musical theatre.