Erika Janzen

  • Instrument: Second Violin
  • Member Since: 1973

Erika is a violinist and an enthusiastic member of the Niagara Symphony since 1973. Currently, she is a string coach with the Niagara Youth Orchestra, of which she is an alumna and former concertmaster. She is the leader of The Rainbow Trio (flute, violin & cello), playing professionally at weddings and special events year-round since 1985, and for which she gets opportunities to try her hand at musical arranging. Erika also teaches a variety of classes at the Niagara Symphony Summer Music Camp, including launching a new program in 2014 that uses Harpsicles to teach music basics to young children. Since 1994, she is a strings Instructor with "Niagara Elementary Instrumental Music" (NEIM), which is the District School Board of Niagara's (DSBN) instrumental music program. This is the same music program where she began violin studies in Grade 5 in St. Catharines. She then continued music at Laura Secord Secondary School, at which time she became involved in both the Niagara Youth Orchestra and Niagara Symphony Orchestra. Erika then majored in music, getting a B.A. degree from Brock University. Erika would like to thank three local music teachers, who had a huge influence in her musical life and career: Paul van Dongen, Henry Goerzen and Tom Inglis.


When did you begin learning the violin?
I was 10 yrs old, in grade 5, and I’d signed up for the in-school instrumental program at the end of Grade 4.  The demonstrator of the violin was Paul van Dongen, and whatever he played that day was so impressive that I wanted to learn to play that too.  Many years later, I asked him if he remembered what piece he would have played at that demonstration, but he didn’t recall.  It had been “a long time ago”.

Why did you choose violin?
My older brother had been learning the accordion for a number of years, at a local music studio.  Accordion and accordion bands were quite popular at that time, and very impressive.  However, for some reason, my dad wanted me to learn the Hawaiian Guitar, which they also taught at the studio.  I DID NOT want to play that.  I really wanted to play the piano.  My parents could not afford a piano, so that was out.  A friend of mine, in my grade 4 class was taking violin lessons, and she got to miss school for her in-school violin lesson, so that seemed like a very good idea.  Continuing in music was the result of having enthusiastic high school music teachers and supportive family!

Favourite Piece of Music to play?
During the summer, after my second year of studying music at Brock University, I had the privilege of attending the 8-week “Congress of Strings” program at the University of Cincinnati, sponsored by the AFofM.  Many of the students there were learning the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and I fell in love with it.  When I returned to Brock, my teacher agreed to making that a part of my repertoire.  The following spring, I was the alumna soloist with the Niagara Youth Orchestra on that piece… a real honour for me.  Beyond that, everyone who knows me, knows that Beethoven is my FAVOURITE composer, so I’d say playing anything Beethoven will make me a very happy girl.

Highlight of your musical career?
See above.  That, and the fact that music can BE a career around here.  Everything that I do pertaining to music fills my life with so much joy… performing, teaching, coaching, arranging, listening!