Donna Rhodenizer began composing music as a teenager. Her writing has been shaped by many years of studying classical piano and violin, her experience singing in a variety of choral groups and her training as a music education specialist. Her initial recognition as a composer was for her compositions for children. As an elementary music education specialist for over 35 years, Donna uses her “hands on experience” with children in her elementary music classroom to create music that sparkles with creativity and humor and reveals an imagination that rivals those of her young students.
Donna partnered with Andy Duinker to form the professional singing duo, Donna & Andy. This duo perform and record Donna’s original songs. Her music is printed and promoted by Red Castle Publishing, the company she co-founded and co-owns with Andy Duinker. Donna’s songs for elementary-aged singers are published in five printed song collections with companion CDs/digital tracks:
Dinosaurs, Dragons and Me (CD received a JUNO nomination and Music NS award)
Computer Cat (CD received an ECMA award)
Blue Skies and Pirates (co-written with fellow writer/performer/musician Andy Duinker; CD received an ECMA nomination)
It’s Christmas Time / C’est Noël (English CD received an ECMA nomination)
La vie pour moi (CD won a Music NS award and an ECMA )
She has many songs published as single-song downloads and she has created and published a recorder teaching method, Royal Recorders.
Donna also writes music for adult choirs. Her attention to lyrical melodic lines and lush harmonies make her music a favorite among choristers. Donna has been commissioned to write songs and/or arrangements for choirs in Canada and the United States. Donna’s choral compositions are written in a variety of voicings for professional, community and school choirs. Many performances of Donna Rhodenizer’s compositions can be found on YouTube.
As a singer and multi-instrumentalist, Donna has developed a large body of compositions that she performs at festivals, and other venues as half of the performing duo, Donna & Andy. These performances combine children’s music, folk music and instrumental compositions.
Donna recorded the CD “Musically Yours” featuring fifteen of her own original songs plus one arrangement. All songs are her own arrangements and she solos on violin/fiddle, accordion and piano throughout.
Donna’s musical style reflects the influence of her classical training and crosses over into the folk genre, blurring the line often drawn between these two musical styles. She plays with the finesse of a violinist and the heart of a fiddler. The accordion gives her melodies a unique and soulful voice – or keeps the listener’s toes tapping. Her beautiful melodies can stand on their own merits and she is a master of creating supportive and soaring counter melodies. Her harmonies are deep and three-dimensional, and she draws on interesting combinations of instruments to capitalize on that harmonic depth.
Donna used her composing talents on a second CD created with the adult listener in mind. “Fine Company” features the vocals of her fellow musician and singing partner, Andy Duinker, with many of the songs penned by Donna. She lends her musical support with backing vocals or her instrumental talents. The songs on this CD show the influence of Donna’s Maritime roots with traditional and original compositions standing side by side in a pleasant and complimentary mix. These two musicians are known for their ability to create arrangements that are fresh and innovative, breathing life into traditional tunes and carrying them forward for another generation of listeners.
Donna received her Bachelor of Music Education from Acadia University, where she majored in violin and minored in piano. She was a Masters of Music Education candidate at Brandon University in Manitoba.
She has been a conference clinician at the International Society of Music Educators (ISME), Ontario Music Educators Association (OMEA), New Brunswick Music Educators Association (NBMEA) and the Nova Scotia Music Educators Association (NSMEA), as well as presenting music teaching workshops for teachers in Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Hong Kong. Donna also shares her music expertise as a choral adjudicator for music festivals.
Donna received the NSMEA Musica Viva Award in 2009 for her contribution to music education. At the October 2011 NSMEA conference, Donna’s fellow music educators premiered her composition “Celebrate!” commissioned by the NSMEA. It was also at this conference that Donna was awarded the Canadian Music Educators’ Association (CMEA) “Jubilate Award of Merit” for her significant contribution to music education in Canada. Donna was awarded the NSMEA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 as she retired from her 35-year career in the elementary music classroom.
Donna continues to share her classroom experience with her colleagues via over 400 videos posted on her Facebook page “Elementary Music with Donna.” Her teaching strategies, repertoire and pedagogical insights are well received by her peers and teachers online. www.elementarymusicwithdonna.com
In addition to her own publishing company, Red Castle Publishing, Donna is currently writing new music in partnership with Full Voice Music Inc. (Ontario) creating both online and printed versions of song repertoire, solfa studies and vocal studies for young singers. Her music has also been published by Frederick Harris Royal Conservatory of Music graded vocal series, Cypress Choral Music (Vancouver), Leslie Music Publishing Inc, (Ontario) and IJam (Australia).