Debra Wanless has had a successful career as a piano adjudicator, studio teacher, editor, examiner, music retailer and publisher, arranger, and composer. She has travelled across Canada and the United States as a pedagogy clinician. Debra’s studies have resulted in a Junior Fellowship (2009) and Licentiate (2003) Diplomas in piano pedagogy with Northern Lights Canadian National Conservatory of Music; an Associate of Music Diploma (1979) in piano pedagogy with Western Ontario Conservatory of Music (Conservatory Canada); and post-graduate studies in piano performance, theory, and piano ensemble.
Debra is a piano pedagogy specialist whose students have earned the Cora B. Arhens Award for pedagogy excellence. She is active in (principal 2002-2023) and a founding member of Northern Lights Canadian National Conservatory of Music and the three-day Piano Pedagogy workshop and Keyboard Kamp for children, Summer Sizzle. Debra has served at the local and provincial levels of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association, is the founder of the North Wellington Camerata Canada Music Week Festival (1984 -1998) and worked for many years on music festival committees in Southwestern Ontario.
As a publisher and editor, Debra was instrumental in creating the Canadian Contemporary Repertoire series (for Conservatory Canada), Northern Lights, Making Tracks, Canadian Folksongs and O Canada Series (for Northern Lights Canadian National Conservatory Canada). She was also an active editor in the New Millennium series (Conservatory Canada elementary levels).
Her piano solos and ensembles have been selected for performance at festivals across Canada; for inclusion in the New Millennium, Canadian Contemporary Repertoire, Northern Lights and Making Tracks Series; the RCM Popular Piano Repertoire Syllabus; and reviewed in Clavier Magazine. Debra has edited, revised and written new material for the Leila Fletcher Piano Course and the (James) Lawless Theory Course (now known as Total Theory). During her career as a publisher (1994 – current), Debra promoted and published for many Canadian composers and writers and has arranged numerous popular works for the PMI (Hal Leonard Music) (2006-2007) publishing company.
Debra’s passion for research and teaching has led her to develop piano pedagogy workshops on a broad range of topics such as Audio Development, Rhythm, Learning Styles in the Piano Studio, Modes, Theory and Harmony, Canadian Music and more. This same passion has also resulted in hundreds of piano compositions/ arrangements (solos and ensembles) for a wide range of levels, from beginner to advanced, in a broad range of styles. As well as educational materials for keyboard harmony, written theory and harmony, and pedagogy texts.
She is the recipient of the ORMTA Special Teacher Award (1999), the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada (1992) and a finalist for the 2011 Louis Applebaum Award for Music for Young People.