​ASI at Home Faculty and Staff

 Alyssa Beckman, Viola

Violist and violinist, Alyssa Hardie Beckmann is the Founder and Director of the Kansas City Suzuki Academy in Kansas City, where she teaches violin, viola, and chamber music. Ms. Beckmann holds degrees from Vanderbilt (BM), and Boston Universities (MM), in Viola and Violin Performance and did post-graduate studies in viola with Bruno Giuranna in Lugano, Switzerland at the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana. She was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center for three summers, has worked closely with members of the Juilliard, Takacs and Guarneri String Quartets and has performed at the International Viola Congress. She has served on the faculty of the American Suzuki Institute, the Colorado Suzuki Institute, Point Counterpoint and Heartland Chamber Music Festivals. She was raised a Suzuki student and has been an active teacher for the last two decades, studying with many teacher trainers including her mother Julia Hardie, William Preucil, Teri Einfeldt and Carol Smith. Ms. Beckmann was the Upper Strings Coordinator of the Greenwich Suzuki Academy, where she taught violin, viola and chamber music for many years. Ms. Beckmann is a frequent substitute with the Kansas City and St. Louis Symphonies. In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys practicing and teaching yoga and spending time with her cellist husband Matt Beckmann and their two children. 

 Steven Bjella, Violin and Chamber Music

Steven Bjella has performed throughout the United States, appearing both as soloist and in a variety of chamber ensembles.  Mr. Bjella holds music degrees from the University of Iowa where he studied with Leopold LaFosse  and the Stradivari Quartet.  He has also worked with the Vermeer, Fine Arts, Blair, and New Hungarian Quartets.  While working in Chicago, he was on the faculty of Valparaiso University, a member of a number of chamber groups including the  Governor's State University String Quartet, Chicago Camerata and  Loop Group, and  was concertmaster of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and Chicago Light Opera Orchestra.       

Professor Emeritus, Bjella joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1991 and held the titles of Artist/Teacher of Violin and Professor of Music. 

 Joanna Binford, Viola and Chamber Music

JoannaBinford is the Suzuki Strings Coordinator for the Academy of Music in Norfolk VA and a national workshop and institute teacher. She performs and records with the Endless Road Strings, a string quartet specializing in eclectic musical styles. Ms. Binford performs frequently with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Symphonicity. Her awards include the Kentucky Chapter of the American String Teachers Association 2013 “Outstanding Service” and District 7 KMEA “Outstanding College/University Music Teacher of the Year”. Ms. Binford is a member of the Suzuki Teachers Association of Hampton Roads (STAHR), and directed the violas during the group’s student tour of Peru in June 2014. 

 Beatrice Blanc, Violin

Beatrice Blanc joined the Suzuki faculty at MacPhail Center for Music in 1996. Raised a Suzuki kid, she studied with Sonja Zeithamel and Doris Preucil. BM-MusEd,UIA, and MM Perf&Pdggy UMN. Beatrice’s Suzuki pedagogy training is from the American Suzuki Institute, the Preucil School of Music, and the Univ. of Minnesota. Activities at MacPhail have included group class and supplemental program coordination, note-reading class, council and committee work, faculty performances, chamber music coaching, and adjudication. Additional activities in the broader community have included board membership with the Suzuki Association of Minnesota, conferences and leadership retreats, and weekend workshops. 

 Jenny Burton, Violin

Jennifer Burton just retired from the Aber Suzuki Center and as Coordinator of the American Suzuki Institute the at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.   Her 43-years of teaching also included 13 years in Dallas.

Jenny has been a violin clinician at over 250 workshops and institutes across the U.S.  She served 3-year term on the board of the Suzuki Association of the Americas was President of the North Texas Suzuki Association and Suzuki Association of Wisconsin.  She was awarded the Outstanding Violin Teacher Award at the Colorado Suzuki Institute, the Distinguished Service Awards by the NTSA and the SAW.  She is the author of Sharpen Your Tools.

Ms. Burton enjoys walking, bird watching, cats, collecting postage stamps and paper-making.

 Nicole Boguslaw, Guest Cello

Nicole Boguslaw has been playing cello since she was eight years old. Her teachers have included Diana Fish, Paul York, and Evelyn Elsing. She performed on the premier of  "Ballad for cello and seven cellos" by Aaron Kernis, and performed on its' first recording, "Cello Vision" in 2008. She has performed at the Aspen Summer Music Festival for three summers, and AIMS Festival in Graz. She recently completed an artist's diploma in orchestral studies at the San Francisco Academy Orchestra, where she studied with Amos Yang of the San Francisco Symphony. Recently, she has been playing lots of chamber music, solos, and new music in the Washington D.C. area where she currently resides, and is in the cello section of the Annapolis Symphony. 

 Scott Conklin, Violin and Chamber Music

Commended by The Strad for “brilliance of tone and charismatic delivery,”Dr. Scott Conklin regularly appears as a recitalist, soloist, recording artist, chamber musician, orchestral player, adjudicator, and teaching clinician throughout the United States and abroad. He is Associate Professor of Violin and String Area Head at the University of Iowa School of Music and also a violin teacher at the Preucil School of Music. Conklin has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Louisville, Nashville, and Berlin Symphony Orchestras. Recent and upcoming tours include concerts in Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America.He has recorded on the Albany, Chandos, MSR Classics labels as well as for Alfred Music. Pieces and Passages, a critically acclaimed solo album on Albany, features pianists Alan Huckleberry and Jason Sifford, multiple world premieres, and Conklin’s own visual artwork. His previous release, Violinguistics: American Voices, was “urgently recommended” by Fanfare Magazine and named the recommended album in the The Strad.  

 Susan Crawford, Violin

 Susan Crawford studied violin with Makoto Kaneshiro, Almita and Roland Vamos, Burton Kaplan and Jorja Fleezanis. After receiving her performance degree she continued her equally strong passion
for pedagogy through in depth study with many leaders of the Suzuki community. Her major influences have included Kay Sloan, Alice Joy Lewis, Ronda Cole, Ed Sprunger, Carol Dallinger and Brian Lewis. It was the depth of creativity, positive life giving philosophy and love for music and children that she discovered within the Suzuki Community that has continued over many years to fuel her love for teaching. She is very grateful to be a part of this community.


Susan teaches at Carleton College and is on the Suzuki faculty for both MacPhail Center For Music and Northern Lights School for Strings in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. After many rewarding music festival experiences as a participant, Susan is delighted to be a frequent clinician at institutes and workshops fulfilling her dream of furthering talent education. Her students have won many awards and are continuing their studies at programs including Juilliard, Northwestern and Oberlin.

She is a member of Minnesota Sinfonia, has been the concertmaster for the Ordway Music Theater’s Broadway series for many years, and enjoys an active freelance career. 

 Pat D'Ercole, Violin Practicum and Supplementary Class

d'ercole

Patricia D'Ercole is Director Emerita of the Aber Suzuki Center at the UW-Stevens Point where she taught violin to children and Suzuki pedagogy courses.  She completed a master's degree with an emphasis in Suzuki with Margery Aber and, in 1988, studied in Japan with Dr. Suzuki. She has been a clinician in 22 states in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, Finland, Estonia, Peru, Chile and Taiwan.  Pat has written numerous articles for the American Suzuki Journal, was chair of the Suzuki Association (SAA) Board of Directors and served as a member of the SAA committees to develop the Every Child Can! course and the Suzuki Principles in Action course. She was the founder and first president of the Suzuki Association of Wisconsin and has been on the planning committee for the International Research Symposium on Talent Education since its inception in 1991 and has served as its coordinator since 1995.  Through her leadership, "The American Suzuki Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point: The Suzuki Method in Action," a collection of videos which chronicles the two weeks of Dr. Suzuki's teaching at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point in 1976, is now preserved and posted on the web for free viewing by all.  In 2002, she was the recipient of the American Suzuki Institute's Suzuki Chair Award and in 2008 became a Distinguished Instructional Specialist at UWSP.  In September 2010, Pat began the UWSP Suzuki Strings Mentoring Program, an online long-term practicum to assist and support Suzuki string teachers in their quest to become a better teacher within the environment of their usual employment. Pat currently teaches part-time at the Aber Suzuki Center.  She is active as a teacher trainer at workshops, institutes and the mentoring program.   

 Carol Dallinger, Units 7 and 8 Violin Teacher Training

Carol Dallinger is Professor of Music at the University of Evansville where she has been a member of the faculty since 1972. She is instructor of violin and viola, Suzuki pedagogy, chamber music, music theory and is founder of the University of Evansville Suzuki Violin Program. In 1995, Ms. Dallinger received the Outstanding Teacher Award at the University of Evansville. In August 2006, she received the Suzuki Chair Award from American Suzuki Institute at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and in August, 2008 she was awarded the Oramay Cluthe Eades Distinguished Professorship in Music by the University of Evansville. Ms. Dallinger has lectured at both state and national music conferences and, as a Registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, frequently serves as clinician for summer institutes throughout the United States. She has also taught in New Zealand and Australia. She is a former member of the National Board of Directors of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and is a past-President of the Indiana String Teachers’ Association. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance Degree from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Master of Music in Performance Degree from the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana.

 Derek Deakins, Guitar

Derek Deakins is a violinist, fiddler, guitarist, and National Board Certified teacher originally from Kingsport, Tennessee.

Derek's musical journey began with Suzuki violin lessons as a young child and has taken him around the world as a professional musician. He has performed with major recording artists including Blake Shelton, The Osborne Brothers, and Miranda Lambert. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from East Carolina University.  Derek performs regularly with Gravel Road Bluegrass Band and Pinecastle recording artists Merle Monroe.  Additionally, Derek is a musician and teaching artist on staff at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  

 Lisa Deakins, Violin and Fiddling

Lisa Deakins is a violinist, fiddler, and Suzuki violin teacher in Charleston, South Carolina. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Commercial Music Performance from Belmont University and a Master of Music degree in Music Education from East Carolina University. Lisa worked professionally for country singer Pam Tillis and Grand Ole Opry legend Whisperin' Bill Anderson. She has produced three fiddle recordings and received an International Bluegrass Music Association Award.

Lisa's students study classical playing as well as various fiddling styles, and Lisa has arranged a series of music books for Suzuki violinists called, "Fiddlin' Favorites," licensed by the International Suzuki Association. When Lisa is not teaching, you can find her performing throughout the southeast.

 Rachel Fabulich, Viola and Chamber Music

Rachel Fabulich, is a Suzuki student, parent, and teacher of viola, violin, and Suzuki Early Childhood Education. She is a clinician at institutes and workshops around the country and has served as a viola coordinator for the 2014 and 2016 SAA conferences. She currently directs Suzuki MetroWest in Framingham, MA, and serves on the Faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music Preparatory School.

 Christie Felsing, Violin

Christie Felsing received her Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying violin with Vartan Manoogian and pedagogy with Marvin Rabin.  After a year of graduate studies at Boston University, including long-term Suzuki teacher training, she pursued a nine-month Suzuki internship with Doris Preucil at the Preucil School of Music (Iowa).  This experience led her to complete a Master of Music degree in Suzuki pedagogy at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville with John Kendall. Christie is also a graduate of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts' administrative training program, AMICI.  From 1996-2014, she was on the violin faculty of the Preucil School of Music, where she served as Assistant Director.  During that time, she was presented the 2013 Leopold LaFosse Studio Teacher of the Year award by the Iowa String Teachers Association. Her service to the Suzuki Association of the Americas has included the Board of Directors (2004-2009), SAA Conference Coordinator (2010), and Teacher Development Advisory Committee. Christie is a registered SAA Violin Teacher Trainer, teaches in the Hartt Suzuki Program, and leads long-term Suzuki pedagogy courses at the University of Hartford.

 Colleen Fitzgerald, Violin

Colleen Fitzgerald is director of the Barcel Suzuki String Academy in Wauwatosa, WI. She is a violin Teacher Trainer for the SAA and Suzuki Early Childhood Education instructor. Ms. Fitzgerald earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance with Suzuki Pedagogy Emphasis at the University of Evansville and a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from Cardinal Stritch University. Colleen was awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Studio Teaching from the Civic Music Association (2006) and earned the Certificate of Achievement 1 from the SAA (2017). She has been featured on TV and radio programs and Beyond the Music Lesson podcast discussing the Suzuki Method. Colleen is a clinician at workshops and institutes.   

 Gail Gebhart, Piano

Gail Gebhart is a private Suzuki piano teacher in Farmington Hills, Michigan.  In addition to maintaining an active studio, she is on the faculty of Wayne State University where she teaches private and class piano.  She received a B.M. With Distinction from the University of Michigan and a M.M. in Piano Performance from Wayne State University. She received Suzuki training from Mary Craig Powell, Yasuko Joichi and Renee Robbins. A coordinator the piano area for the Suzuki Association of the Americas’ Biennial Conference in 2014 and she has taught at the Peaks to Plains Suzuki Institute, Colorado Suzuki Institute, Oregon Suzuki Institute, Calgary Suzuki Institute, and the Chicago Suzuki Institute.  In August 2016, Gail became a piano Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas. 

 Randal Harrison Hoercherl, Violin and Improvisation for Violin and Viola

Randal Harrison Hoecherl grew up studying with Margery Aber, founder of the American Suzuki Institute, where he had masterclasses with Shinichi Suzuki. Other notable teachers include NEA Jazz Master Richard Davis and SAA teacher trainers Pat D'Ercole and Michele Higa George. Honored with composing, performing and recording awards, Randal’s also past president of the Suzuki Association of Wisconsin, founder/director of ESTEAM and travels the world to work with students and colleagues - sharing ideas on improvisation and an eclectic mix of violin studies. You’ll find him at the American Suzuki Institute, the Singapore International String Conference and www.RandalHarrison.com. 

 Mary Hofer, Voice and Units 3 and 4 Voice Teacher Training

Mary Hofer has been developing a project incorporating voice instruction and the Suzuki philosophy at the University of Wisconsin –Stevens Point Aber Suzuki Center for seventeen years. The program is modeled after the Finnish Suzuki voice program directed by originator Dr. Paivi Kukkamaki. Mrs. Hofer is the first American voice teacher to fulfill the voice requirements for the European Suzuki Association Suzuki Singing Book 1 through Book 4. She is also a sanctioned SAA Teacher Trainer. Prior to teaching Suzuki voice, Mary taught pre-school through Grade 8 General Music, Junior High Chorus, and private voice lessons for ten years. A lyric soprano, Mary Hofer has attended seminars led by the eminent vocal pedagogue Oren Brown, and participated in opera workshops at Oglebay Park, West Virginia, and American University, Washington, DC. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

 Lawrence Leviton, Chamber Music

Lawrence Leviton is Emeritus Professor of Cello at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Dr. Leviton has been active as a clinician and performer throughout the country. He has appeared with the orchestras of the Aspen Music Festival, the Joffrey Ballet, and served as co-principal cello in the Chicago Chamber Orchestra. He occupies the same position with the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra. His students have won concerto competitions and performed with professional orchestras throughout Wisconsin and have gone on to study cello performance at major music programs across the country. Many have gone on to successful careers as teachers and performers. 

 Brian Lewis, Violin Enrichment Class

One of the most versatile violinists on the current scene, Brian Lewis is an exceptionally gifted and charismatic artist. "There are a lot of fine violinists on the concert stage today, but few can match Lewis for an honest virtuosity that supremely serves the music,” reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. Much sought after as a performer and teacher, Mr. Lewis concertizes and teaches around the globe. He has released six CDs, most recently for Delos as soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra of music by Leonard Bernstein and Hollywood composer Michael McLean.

Mr. Lewis began his violin studies at the age of four, participating in the Ottawa Suzuki Strings program, and traveling to Japan twice to study with Dr. Suzuki. He received his Bachelor and Master degrees from The Juilliard School, studying with the renowned pedagogue, Dorothy DeLay. Mr. Lewis holds the David and Mary Winton Green Chair in String Performance and Pedagogy at The University of Texas at Austin. In addition, he is Artistic Director of the Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at The Juilliard School in New York City, Artistic Director and Faculty and the Brian Lewis Young Artists Program in Fairbanks, AK, and Artistic Director of the Starling Distinguished Violinist Series at UT. He has also recently held positions as the Class of ’57 Visiting Professor of Music at Yale University and Visiting Professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Additional information may be found at www.brianlewisviolin.com. 

 Allen Lieb, Violin, Teacher Trainer

Allen Lieb currently serves as CEO of the International Suzuki Association.  As a registered Teacher-Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Allen has taught at institutes, workshops and conferences across the US, Canada, Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He is Chair of the SAA and the ISA Violin Committees. Residing in New York City, Allen is Head of the Violin Department and Instructor for Teacher-Training at The School for Strings, and violin instructor at The Diller-Quaile School of Music.

 Nancy Lokken, Unit 2 and 3 Violin Teacher Training

Nancy Lokken directs Augsburg University Suzuki Talent Education in Minneapolis. She is a registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, studied with Dr. Suzuki in Japan and is an active Clinician and Teacher Trainer throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America.    She is a founder of SAM (Suzuki Association of MN), and served on the SAA Teacher Development Committees which developed the courses ECC!, “Every Child Can!” and SPA, “Suzuki Principals in Action.” Ms. Lokken was a Suzuki parent to three children and is now a Suzuki grandparent.  She is deeply appreciative of Dr. Suzuki's contribution to education through music, and his philosophy that guides the teaching. 

 Ann Montzka Smelser, ECC and Unit 1 Violin Teacher Training

Ann Montzka-Smelser - In between receiving her Bachelors of Music Education and Masters in Performance and Pedagogue at Northern Illinois University, Ann studied with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan. In 2003, Ann was the recipient of the Byron Hester Memorial Excellence in Teaching Award. Ann is currently principal 2nd violinist with Camerata Chicago and concertmaster of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. As a Registered Suzuki Teacher Trainer, Ann teaches Suzuki Pedagogy at Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University. She is director of the NIU, CSA Suzuki Strings Program. Ann enjoys working with Suzuki families at Suzuki Institutes and workshops throughout the United States and in 2010 taught at the International String Conference in Singapore and the Latin American Suzuki Festival in Lima, Peru.

 Tim Mutschlecner, Cello and Chamber Music

mutschlecnerTim Mutschlecner became the first full time Suzuki Cello Specialist at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point when he joined the faculty in the Aber Suzuki Center in the fall of 2007. Most recently Tim was at the University of Florida in Gainesville where he taught cello for four years and graduated with a PhD. in Music Education in August 2007. While pursuing his studies at the University of Florida Tim was principal of the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra and an active performer in the community. Previously Dr. Mutschlecner established and directed a Suzuki cello program in Johnson City, Tennessee as well as performing as principal and associate principal cellist in two regional orchestras. Tim received a M.M. in Violoncello and Suzuki Pedagogy from the Cleveland Institute of Music and his B.M. in Violoncello from Indiana University in 1983. Tim moved to Stevens Point with his wife Sarah, a Nurse Practitioner and their children.​

 Elinor Niemisto, Harp


Elinor Niemisto has recently retired after 34 years as harp instructor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.  She will continue as the Senior Lecturer in Harp at Carleton College, principal harpist of the Rochester (MN) Orchestra, and LaCrosse (WI) Symphony. 

Elinor has Bachelor and Master of Harp Performance from the University of Michigan and Suzuki Harp teacher training through Book 5.  She is serving a second term on the Board of Directors of the American Harp Society. 

She is the mom of three Suzuki kids and grandmother of four Suzuki grandchildren.  

 Kathy Rollings, Violin

Kathy Rollings lives in Columbia, MO where she maintains a full studio of violinists and violists, specializing in the Suzuki Approach since 1978.  She holds Bachelor and Master of Music Performance degrees, and has done extensive graduate work in theology. 

Kathy is a Lifetime Member of the SAA, and has registered violin and viola training under such pedagogues as Margery Aber, Alice Joy Lewis, Bill and Doris Preucil, William Starr, Craig Timmerman, and Almita Vamos. 

She has taught at music camps and Institutes throughout the lower 48, and was honored to receive the Suzuki Chair Award at Stevens Point in 2014.

 Janelle Severson, Violin and ASI String Coordinator

Janelle Severson, violinist, grew up in Stevens Point, WI as a Suzuki kid who began studying violin in 1980 at the Aber Suzuki Center. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from UW- Stevens Point with an emphasis on Suzuki Pedagogy and long-term training from Patricia D’Ercole. She has been the director of Severson Suzuki Strings in Eau Claire, WI since 2002. She performs and has been guest clinician throughout Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida. She has been on the faculty at the American Suzuki Institute since 2002.

 Laura Shaw, Cello

Laura Shaw is on the cello faculty of the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, IA, and is a registered Cello Suzuki Teacher Trainer. She completed her long term Suzuki training with Pamela Davenport at the Hartt School of Music. Ms. Shaw earned her DMA from the University of Iowa, studying with Anthony Arnone and Hannah Holman. She has a Masters of Music from the University of Hartford, and a BA from Luther College.

Laura Shaw is Associate Principal of the Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed with Orchestra Iowa, Cedar Falls Symphony and as a member of the Corridor Piano Trio. She has won numerous awards, including the Pelzer Award at the University of Iowa, and the Fort Dodge Concerto Competition.

Ms. Shaw has been teaching for over 20 years and is an alum of the Preucil School of Music. She will be teaching at the American Suzuki Institute in the summer of 2020, and will be doing teacher training and teaching at the Virginia Suzuki Institute. 

 Linc Smelser, Cello, Advanced Orchestra and Chamber Music Coordinator

A native of Arizona, Linc Smelser received his Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance from the University of Arizona where he studied with Dr. Gordon Epperson and received his Master’s Degree and Performer’s Certificate in Cello Performance and Pedagogy at Northern Illinois University having studied with renowned cellist and pedagogue Raya Garbousova.  Advanced study included work with cellists Marc Johnson, Ron Leonard, Gabor and Peter Rejto, Heinrich Schiff, the Vermeer Quartet, and pianists Richard Faith and Jerome Lowenthal.

In 2003, Mr. Smelser was appointed conductor/music director of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra in DeKalb, IL. In 2009 he was awarded Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Arts Council and in 2014 was appointed conductor/music director of the Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra.  He has guest conducted the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Northern Illinois University Philharmonic, the Harper Symphony Orchestra, the Fox Valley Orchestra (Aurora) and the Skokie Valley Community Orchestra. He is also conductor of the NIU Sinfonia and Symphonette, two youth symphonies that attract students from the Northern Illinois area.

Mr. Smelser has appeared as a soloist with Camerata Chicago, Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra, the NIU Philharmonic and the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and has twice appeared in recital on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts Series in Chicago, which is broadcast live on over 44 stations across the United States.  He has won several awards including first prize of the National Society of Arts and Letters Chapter Competition, top prize of the National Federation of Music Clubs Regional Competition and first prize of the International Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Competition.

Mr. Smelser has been a member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra Cello section since 1992 and has been an active substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1997, having most recently embarked on his 12th international tour with the symphony.  He continues to perform in The Three Celli, a chamber ensemble with cellists Stephen Balderston and Brant Taylor, throughout the Northern Illinois Area. 

Mr. Smelser has most recently been appointed a faculty member of the Music Institute of Chicago in Winnetka.  He is also a faculty member the Northern Illinois University Music Department and has been teaching private cello lessons through the NIU Community School of the Arts since 1988.  He served as guest lecturer of cello at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music from 2006-2016 and is currently on the faculty of both the Chicago Suzuki Institute and the American Suzuki Institute and is pianist/accompanist of the Northern Illinois University Suzuki program. 

 Dave Story, Bass

David Story

David Story is an assistant professor of string bass and jazz studies at UW-Stevens Point. In addition to applied bass, Story teaches jazz combos, improvisation, directs the lab jazz ensemble, and coaches chamber string groups. He received his M.M. in performance from Western Michigan University where he studied with Tom Knific as a graduate fellow. He earned his B.M. in performance from UWSP under virtuoso Catalin Rotaru. He has also received training in the Suzuki Bass Method from Virginia Dixon.

Mr. Story has performed throughout the U.S. and is active as a classical soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, and freelance jazz artist. He is a two-time semifinalist in the International Society of Bassists classical soloist competition. While a graduate student at WMU, he received three Downbeat awards as a member of the Kruiziki Transatlantica Quintet.

 Peter Thomas, Cello and Chamber Music

Peter Thomas has been a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since 2008 and has performed around the world as a multi-genre soloist, clinician, educator, and chamber musician. Peter was also the electric cellist of the award winning classical cross-over indie-rock band, I'm Not A Pilot, that toured the US extensively from 2009-2016. Mr. Thomas holds the position of Adjunct Cello Professor at Carthage College and has served on the faculty of the American Suzuki Institute since 2013. He is the recipient of Civic Music Milwaukee's 2018 Educator Award for Certificate of Excellence in Studio Music. Peter started cello at age five at the American Suzuki Talent Education Center in Stevens Point, WI and received degrees at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

 Beth Titterington, Unit 4 Violin Teacher Training and Chamber Music

Beth Titterington is a Violin Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She has been actively involved in the Suzuki Method since 1972, when she first heard the Japanese Talent Education Tour Group.  Margery Aber chose her as one of the 'honorarium students' for the American Suzuki Institute the next year, in 1973. Since that time, she has studied with many people in the field including, most importantly, Dr. Suzuki.  Ms.Titterington has served on the faculty at the Conservatory of Music / University of Missouri (KC) teaching Suzuki Method pedagogy classes and also directs her own studio, Kansas City Talent Education. She  founded the Heart of America Suzuki Association in 1979, which is a regional affiliate of the SAA.  An active clinician from 1975 to the present, she has taught and lectured at hundreds of institutes and workshops across the United States, Canada and in England. Ms. Titterington has served on numerous SAA committees over the years, and was elected to the SAA Board of Directors, serving from 2006-2009. 

 Phala Tracy, Harp

Phala Tracy teaches Suzuki harp at Studio Fidicina in Minneapolis, MN and she is adjunct faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN.  She teaches harp and music theory at Suzuki institutes across the country and she is a Suzuki Harp Teacher Trainer.  Phala holds degrees in Harp Performance and Music History from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (BM) and degrees in Harp Performance and Composition from the California Institute for the Arts (MFA).  She has recorded a children’s CD of Critter Songs and is working toward publishing her curriculum of Music Theory in Song and Rhyme and her collection of Songs for Sight Reading.  She is an active arranger, composer, improviser and freelance musician. 

 Lorre Trytten, Guest Artist, Violin and Viola

Lorre Lynn Trytten was born and raised in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. When Margery Aber founded the Suzuki program there, Lorre was one of its first students. She graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance. She then studied violin, baroque violin and composition at the Amsterdam and Utrecht Conservatories in the Netherlands. Lorre gave up her job as first violinist in the Netherlands Ballet Orchestra in order to tour the world with various bands, including the Dutch folkpop band Flairck and an eclectic jazz band, the Willem Breuker Kollektief. She has written compositions for symphony and string orchestra, jazz, pop and bluegrass band, accordion ensemble, choir, bell choir, string quartet and many other chamber ensembles. She has produced various CD’s and played on many more, among them several #1 hits in the Dutch hit parade. She has given countless recitals in Holland and other countries with various partners.

Lorre served several years on the board of the Dutch Composer’s Association before moving to Florida in 2009. Her ties with Wisconsin remain strong: in 2007 she wrote and  performed “Sugarbush,” a multi-media violin concerto, in collaboration with the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, and has recently purchased a condo in Lake Delton.


 James Van Reeth, Violin

Jim Van Reethis director of the Denison Suzuki Program in Granville, OH and teaches violin. He is a member of the faculty at Suzuki Music Columbus in Bexley, OH and enjoys teaching music appreciation at Denison University. Jim holds a Bachelors of Music in violin performance from the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College-CUNY and a Masters in Music Education with Suzuki Talent Education emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he completed long-term Suzuki training with Patricia D’Ercole. He is a member of the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra and is a Suzuki parent/practice partner. His favorite food is ice cream. 

 Carol Waldvogel, Violin

Carol Waldvogel teaches in the Milwaukee area. She went to Japan in 1983 and did her Master’s degree work with William Starr, who was instrumental in introducing the Suzuki method in the United States. A founding member of the Board of Directors of the Suzuki Association of Wisconsin, Carol has also served on the Board of Directors of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. A guest clinician/faculty member at many Suzuki workshops and Suzuki summer institutes throughout the United States and Mexico, Carol has received the Byron Hester Outstanding Faculty Award (2004) and the Suzuki Chair award (2009).

 Rebecca White, Violin

Born into a Suzuki family, Rebecca White began playing her violin at the age of four. She continued on to earn her undergraduate degree in violin performance from the University of Illinois and her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point where she studied long-term Suzuki training with Pat D’Ercole.  Upon completion of her master’s degree she started her own studio in Lexington, KY, played in the Lexington Philharmonic and was President of the Central Kentucky Suzuki String Teachers Association.  Rebecca has also taught in the Suzuki Programs at American Talent Education Center (Stevens Point, WI) and Capital University (Columbus, OH). She now lives in Pickerington, OH with her family where she is the director of the Pickerington Suzuki Strings.  In addition to directing PSS, she teaches at Denison University in their Suzuki program where she helps run the group classes and winter workshops.   She brings the unique perspective of being on all three sides of the Suzuki triangle to all her home students and the many she teaches at workshops and institutes around the country. 

 Shelby Yamin, Guest Violinist

A native New Yorker, violinist Shelby Yamin has earned distinction for her sparkling, vivacious performances. Equally adept as a modern and period violinist, Shelby was the winner of the Juilliard415 concerto competition, and has been featured as a soloist with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Academy Orchestra, the Tafelmusik Winter Institute, and the Oregon Bach Festival Berwick Academy, where she returned as guest concertmaster in 2019. While Shelby holds positions with the Monterey Symphony and the Santa Barbara Symphony, her versatility has brought her from the historic rooms of George Washington's Mount Vernon, where she explored rarely heard 18th-century repertoire from the library of Nelly Custis as part of the 2019 Harpsichord Symposium, to avant-garde art spaces in San Francisco. Shelby was the first prize winner of the Berkeley Piano Club's Barbara Fritz Chamber Music Competition and the first prize winner of the Virtuoso e Belcanto competition in Lucca, Italy, where she was a recipient of the Luigi Boccherini Award. 2020 will see the releases of  both her recording of contemporary works for harpsichord, violin, and flute, by Paladino Records, as well as her album of Maddalena Lombardini Sirmen's Six Duets for Two Violins, Op. 5, which is the first to be recorded on historical instruments. Shelby is the founder and artistic director of the Palisades Community Concert Series in her hometown of Palisades, New York, and maintains a full teaching studio for students of all ages. She holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and The Juilliard School. 

 Tom Yang, Piano

Tom Yang joined the Aber Suzuki Center faculty in 1999. Born in New Jersey, he did his undergraduate work at Bucknell University where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music History. Following his studies at Bucknell, he went on to earn a Master of Music in piano performance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later to do work towards a piano performance doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Tom’s varied experience has included teaching in a private studio in Marshfield, at the Wausau Conservatory of Music and at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

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Thank you Alice Joy for the
many gifts you have given
over the years to
American Suzuki Institute.

​Alice Joy Lewis
1942-2020