~ Our Staff ~

Mr. Matthew Drysdale 

The Eastwood Music Department is one of the largest in the Waterloo Region District School Board! We have only the most highly qualified, and compassionate educators working within our walls. Our directors are equally passionate about the value of music education, and continually challenge our students to strive for excellence in every endeavour.

Ms. Lauren Helmer 

Instrumental Music - Band Director

Grades 9-10 Instrumental Music, Music Council, Arts Council, Junior Concert Winds, "Soul Rebels" Jazz Band, Jazz Improvisation



Lauren Helmer has been a Director of Bands at Eastwood Collegiate Institute in Kitchener, ON since 2018. Primarily, she is the director of the Junior Concert Winds, and the “Soul Rebels” Jazz Band. Previously, Lauren conducted the nationally acclaimed Sr. Jazz Ensemble - the PHS Jazz Cats - and the award-winning Intermediate Concert Band at Preston High School in Cambridge, ON, where she taught for 6 years. Under her direction, Lauren's bands have consistently won several Silver and Gold awards at local Kiwanis Festivals, MusicFest Regionals, and MusicFest Nationals competitions.


She was the associate principal trombonist and 2nd trombonist of the Guelph Symphony Orchestra for 8 years before joining the Stratford Symphony Orchestra in 2012. Lauren is also an active Canadian Army Reserve Force soldier and has been the trombone section commander of the internationally honoured Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Band since 2007. Lauren spent four summers performing with the Band of the Ceremonial Guard in Ottawa, from 2007-2010.


While Lauren enjoys performing, she finds conducting, and directing the most musically fulfilling aspect of her career. Lauren has studied Wind Ensemble conducting with Dr. Denise Grant, the late Michael Purves-Smith, and regularly attends conducting clinics throughout North America. Lauren holds the position as the Assistant Conductor of the Kitchener-Waterloo Youth Concert Band, she teaches at, and is the Assistant to the Artistic Director for “Summer Music” Camp in Southampton Ontario, is the Brass coach for the Grand River Blues Camp, and has co-directed the “Intro to Jazz” Camp through the Beckett School at Laurier.


When she is not teaching, Lauren enjoys both performing with, and directing local wind ensembles, big bands, and brass groups. Lauren holds an Honours Bachelor of Music Education from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario. ​She has an Honours Specialist certificate in Instrumental Music from Queen's University.



Music Department Head, Instrumental Music

Grades 9-12 Instrumental Music, Music Council, Arts Council, Senior Concert Band, "Contraband" Jazz Ensemble, Eastwood Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Improvisation



Matt Drysdale received his Honours Bachelor of Music Education from Wilfrid Laurier University where he majored on tuba. Prior to attending university he obtained his Grade 9 Royal Conservatory of Music qualifications in piano. He completed his Bachelor of Education from University of Windsor. While playing music has always been a large part of Matt’s life he finds that conducting and teaching have become the most fulfilling and creatively engaging parts of his musical experience.


Active participation in workshops, conferences, and festivals throughout his over 20 years of teaching have inspired Matt’s music classroom. These are known to be welcoming environments focused on mastery, creativity, collaboration, and of course, fun.  He has co-authored two widely used music teaching resources, Grade 9-12 Listening Resource Guide (2009), and Creative Tools for the Music Classroom (2012).  He has also presented to WRDSB superintendents, principals, and music educators on topics from creativity in the classroom, engaging the music listener, high-yield instructional tools, and cloud-based composition, and technology. 


Matt has taught a wide array of courses including instrumental, jazz, vocal, percussion, piano, songwriting and recording, music and society, visual arts, production technology, computer graphics, digital photography, interdisciplinary studies in peer tutoring.  He also has experience as a Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT), and currently can be found in the main office as a part time guidance counsellor.


Under his direction at Forest Heights Collegiate and Eastwood Collegiate,  Matt’s concert bands and jazz bands have won several first place awards at Kitchener Waterloo Kiwanis Music Festival & several Silver and Gold Awards at Musicfest Regionals and Nationals. In 2010, he also earned Most Promising Conductor Award at Ontario Vocal Festival.




Ms. Kirsty Hunsberger-Shortt 


Grades 9-12 Strings, Arts Council, Sunnyside Strings, Junior Strings, Chamber Strings, Fiddle Group, Eastwood Symphony Orchestra 


Kirsty Hunsberger-Shortt was born and raised in the KW area, and began studying violin at the age of 5 with the KW Suzuki String School. She then attended Waterloo Collegiate, where her strings teacher, the late Mr Yasu Shibata, encouraged and inspired her to consider teaching as a career.


Hunsie continued her violin studies at Wilfrid Laurier University with former Penderecki Quartet member Piotr Buczek and former KW Symphony concertmaster Eduard Minevich. Upon graduation, a trip to the UK and Ireland inspired Hunsie to pursue an interest in Celtic fiddle music. Another trip to a Mark O'Connor fiddle conference in San Diego fuelled the fiddle flames even more, especially when Hunsie got to play with Natalie MacMaster in the student concert.


Ms Hunsberger-Shortt has spent her entire teaching career at Eastwood (since 1998!) teaching all the Strings classes (as well as English and the occasional vocal class), and has fallen in love with the spirit and passion that lives throughout the school. She started the region's first school fiddle group in 2000, and Eastwood's beginner strings program in 2004.  After the cancellation of the strings program at Sunnyside Senior Public School, Hunsie also started an after-school beginner strings program for grade 7 and 8 students, which helps them to build connections with their future high school.


Hunsie encourages students to become patrons of the arts through yearly trips to the KW and Toronto Symphonies, as well as occasional trips to the Celtic Colours Festival in Cape Breton.




Ms. Tammy Rogerson 

Vocal Music

Grades 9-12 Voice, Chamber Choir, Treble Chorus - "Treble Rebels"


Tammy Rogerson (Ms. R) holds an Honours Bachelor of Music Education and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario. She also holds an ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music and a Specialist in Music from the University of Toronto. She was the director of a Kindermusik studio for 14 years, directed the Waterloo County Teachers’ choir for six years.


Tammy is originally from North Bay, Ontario. She has taught at Bluevale Collegiate, and Cameron Heights Collegiate in Kitchener. Ms. R has been teaching vocal music at Eastwood since 2009 where her choirs have received municipal, provincial and national recognition.


Tammy’s children, Heather McMath (Genetics, Western 2015) and Graeme McMath (ChemEng, Waterloo, 2016) are active musicians in their respective communities.







Mr. John Watson

Vocal Music

Grades 9-12 Voice, Sound Machine and "Special Project" - Men's Choruses


John Watson studied classical voice in the Wilfrid Laurier music program while also taking modern dance and drama at the University of Waterloo. After graduation, John was fortunate enough to spend four years at the Stratford Festival performing roles in Carousel, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, School for Husbands and Cyrano de Bergerac. After Stratford, John spent two years with the Toronto production of Beauty and the Beast, performing several times as Gaston and The Beast during the run.


More recently, John has been concentrating his energies performing in numerous commercials, T.V. movies and films. Favourite projects include: A History of Violence, Fugitive Pieces, Wonderland, The Recruit, Foreign Objects, Haven, The Crossing and The Newsroom.


John currently teaches Drama and Vocal Music to the talented students of the Integrated Arts Program at Eastwood CI in Kitchener (since 2008). He is the conductor of the all-male singing group Eastwood Sound Machine and has been one of the directors for the renowned musicals which occur at Eastwood every other year.