Our Teachers

Meet the Teachers of the Amici School of Music 

Our teachers come from all sorts of backgrounds, but they’re united by a common passion: Sharing music with children and families in the Toronto, Mississauga, & Hamilton!

All teachers have successfully completed the live Music Together® Teacher Training, which is built on research in early childhood and music development. We keep our skills fresh through workshops every semester and advanced trainings offered by Music Together Worldwide.  The owners have also been awarded their Certification level 1 for excellence in Music Together teaching!

photo Leigh-Ann Allen (Owner & Teacher)

M.Mus, B. Mus

Leigh-Ann always had music in her bones.  As a toddler she was often belting songs from the top of the stairs to her family and stuffed animals.  A Toronto native, she studied Royal Conservatory piano from a young age, and sang in school and competitive choirs such as the Amabile Singers.  This is when her love of singing really blossomed. Leigh-Ann continued with some formal voice training in highschool, but had her sights on a business degree. After an encouraging push from her voice teacher, she auditioned for the Vocal program at Western University.  She instantly fell in love with the intricacy of vocal studies where she was introduced to the world of opera and never looked back!  Leigh-Ann finished with her Masters, balancing a teaching and opera career in Europe, Asia, and the United States for a few years before turning her attention to found the Amici Music School with her best friend Michelle.  She is passionate about sharing her love and knowledge of music with families so that they too can bring the joy of music into their homes.
Leigh-Ann was recently awarded with her Music Together Certification I for outstanding achievement in teaching, musicianship, program philosophy, and parent education.  She maintains an active teaching schedule leading Music Together classes, and private piano and voice studio.


Fun Fact: She makes an impromptu appearance in Drake’s “Headlines” music video, shot in Toronto

photo Michelle Garlough (Owner & Teacher)

M.Mus, B.Mus

An Alberta native, Michelle grew up performing.  She spent most of her early school years in dance classes and music lessons.  By the time she was thirteen, she was singing in a professional children’s choir that toured Europe and dancing ballet along with private voice and piano studies.  It was during those formative years that she discovered her love for singing and the stage, and it hasn’t stopped since.
After 1 year of pursuing a science degree at University of Alberta, Michelle took a leap to follow her musical passions all the way to London, Ontario to attend Western University. And we are sure glad she did! Expanding on her choral talents, Michelle became immediately hooked on both operatic and operetta repertoire. Her comedic timing has subsequently landed her lead roles with Toronto Operetta Theatre in The Importance of Being Earnest, among other roles with Toronto Opera in Concert with whom she frequently performs.  When she’s not performing in Toronto, you can find Michelle onstage in Edmonton, where she was named Best of Festival Rose Bowl winner in the Rotary Music Festival and first place standing in the provincial festival for two consecutive years.  She was also finalist in the renowned International Esteddfod Music Festival in Llangollen, Wales.
As director of Amici Music Together, Michelle enjoys the challenge of balancing her private piano and voice students, leading Music Together classes, and mothering her young son. She was recently awarded the Music Together Certification I for outstanding achievement in teaching, musicianship, program philosophy, and parent education.

Fun Fact: With a love of the outdoors, Michelle worked part-time in a mountain bike shop in Edmonton. She is very knowledgeable about bikes and used to compete in downhill races herself. Thankfully she is still in one piece!
She has performed for her Majesty the Queen at St. James Anglican Cathedral

photo Leah O'Halloran (Teacher)

B.Fine Arts (Music Major)

Originally from Saskatchewan, Leah joins the Music Together team as an experienced childcare provider with a passion for music in early childhood development.  She met Leigh-Ann and Michelle while trying out the program with some little ones under her wing in 2012 and was immediately hooked on the Music Together program specifically.  Leah has tested A LOT of song circles in Toronto and can confidently say that this is hands-down the best there is.
Leah is also a Natural Holistic Nutrutionist, and creates visual art works inspired by and for children. While she is from the “Paris of the prairies”, one of the most rewarding experiences of her work has been travel, which included a 6-month work period in Paris, France.

Fun Facts: 

-Leah has 9 siblings!!
-Hair stylist, YouTube channel host, holistic nutritionist, early childhood specialist, and she’s won Saskatoon Idol. What doesn’t she do?!


photo Norita Portilho (Teacher)

B.Mus Education

Norita Portilho
In her hometown of Brasilia, Brazil Norita grew up surrounded by a musical culture.  This is where she began both performing and teaching in music, working mostly with young children in rhythmic song and drum classes.  Since then Norita made the move to Canada, where she joined the Amici team.  With a background in eurhythmics, Dalcroz method, and Royal Conservatory Smart Start training, Norita finds Music Together her favourite methodology for early childhood music education.  Teaching is her passion and she believes that this is the most beautiful way to share the happiness that music brought to her life.  She also teaches Private Music lessons in Portuguese for the Brazilian community, keeping them in contact with the Portuguese language and exploring the rich Brazilian repertoire and culture through the music. Norita brings a warm and loving energy to her classes and the children love when she plays her guitar!

Fun Facts:
- As a child, her first solo role in a musical was the role of a cow.Moooooo!
- Was recruited to the Amici team as a teacher when she met Leigh-Ann performing together at COC in Strauss’ Salome. Ask them about their costumes…

photo Meher Pavri (Teacher)


Indo-Canadian soprano, Meher Pavri hails from London, Ontario, where she completed her BMus at the University of Western Ontario. Along with Meher’s many musical pursuits, she also works as an actor and is establishing herself in the film/television industry in Canada. Her most recent opera credits in were with Against the Grain Theatre, and premiering new works with Tapestry Opera and Vancouver Opera. You can also catch Meher singing at Raptors games and as Priya in the feature film, Pixels. She loves getting to share her passion for music with toddlers and their parents. Recently, she was the recipient of a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to study French art song with her mentor in Paris, France. Meher can’t wait to be reunited with the Amici team and families in January.

FUN FACT: Meher has a passion for motorcycles and cars. She has a little motorcycle named Aya and loves test driving fast cars at the track. Anyone want to race?


  All Teachers
photo Amber Mills

Amber Mills is an educator, actor, singer, producer, and proud parent of two who lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She trained in voice and theatre at the Etobicoke School of the Arts and Queen's University and has been teaching Music Together classes since 2011 through Fun With Music Together in Toronto and her own centre, Lakeshore West Music Together. She is the co-founder and general manager of Hamilton Choir Project, an acclaimed chamber choir that has quickly become a favourite in the Hamilton music community. Amber frequently performs and produces theatrical work with her company, Hamilton Theatre Project, most recently playing Jen in John & Jen and Claire in Ordinary Days. She can be seen as Kindergarten teacher Ms. Doney on TVO's, Hi, Opie and teaches as a music specialist at Hillfield Strathallan College. Her favourite role is as a mom to her two children, Elliot and Greta, who have grown up on a mandatory diet of Music Together songs. 

photo Beste Kalender (Teacher)

Artist Diploma in Voice & M. Developmental Psychology, 
B. Mus & Psychology

A frequent performer on concert and opera stages internationally, Turkish-Canadian mezzo soprano Beste Kalender has recently performed at Carnegie Hall (USA), Helikon Opera (Russia), Bolshoi Theatre (Belarus), Teatro Comunale di Bologna (Italy), Sori Festival (Jeonju, Korea) and Les Chorégies D’Orange (France), as well as in various productions in Canada with companies such as Calgary Opera, Edmonton Opera, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Voicebox: Opera in Concert, Against The Grain Theatre, Banff Centre, Opera On The Avalon etc. 
Among her accolades, Beste is a recipient of the 2015 & 2017 Canada Council for The Arts Grant for Professional Musicians, she has been named Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques in Canada (2013-2019) and won the 2016 Sylva-Gelber Foundation Award, the 2018 Inaugural Stuart Hamilton Memorial Award and most recently, the 2019  Prix Jeune Espoir Lyrique du Canada from Théâtre Lyrichorégra 20 Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques . Beste holds an Artist Diploma in Voice from The RCM’s Glenn Gould School as well as a Bachelors in Psychology from Bogazici University in Istanbul/Turkey and a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology from University of Toronto where she mainly studied music cognition and development.
Beste loves that Music Together is a research based program and is very serious about children’s right to be musical and to have fun ☺ Having observed many children and adults in music related developmental research during her Psychology training, Beste strongly believes that Music Together is one of the best, if not “only”, methodology for early childhood music education. Beste has completed her teacher training very recently in Toronto and she looks forward to meeting the Amici families and making beautiful “music together”!

FUN FACT: Beste has a passion for castanet playing and dancing flamenco. She always carries her castanets in her purse. If you don’t believe us, ask her during a “play along”. Ole!!!