Marge Andersen, Early Childhood Education

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Marge Andersen teaches ASC’s Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE) classes.  Marge is an early childhood educator. She retired in 2012 from a career teaching the 4K program at UWSP’s Helen R. Godfrey-University Child Learning and Care Center.  She did her Suzuki ECE training with Dorothy and Sharon Jones in 1995, 2011, and 2014. Born and raised in Stevens Point, Marge has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from UWSP. She also has an Administrator and Leadership credentials in ECE from UW-Milwaukee.  Marge currently serves as a commissioner for The Registry, Wisconsin’s Early Childhood Education Recognition System for professional development.  Marge’s two grown children are both violinists and graduates of the ASC.

 Ann Applegate, Collaborative Pianist

Ann Applegate serves on the piano faculty at the Wausau Conservatory of Music in Wausau, Wisconsin, where she is a soloist and collaborative pianist as well as a teacher.  She participates in outreach performances in the public school system and performs on the public radio series "Live from the Chazen."  She received Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees from Central Michigan University and the University of Oregon.  She is working on her Doctorate of Music Arts in Piano Performance/Pedagogy from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

 Alyssa Beckman, Violin

Alyssa Hardie Beckmann directs the Kansas City Suzuki Academy, where she teaches violin, viola and chamber music. Alyssa attended Boston University, Vanderbilt University and the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland. She was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, a performer for Music Master Course Japan, the Britten-Pears Music Festival in England and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas for tours of Latin America, including a joint performance with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. Alyssa is a substitute with the Kansas City and St. Louis Symphonies and a member of the Fiama String Quartet.

Alyssa was raised a Suzuki student and has taken many units of long and short term training with William Preucil Sr., Louise Behrend, Teri Einfeldt, Carol Smith and her mother, Julia Hardie. Alyssa has written articles for the SAA journal, recorded for Parents as Partners, presented at the SAA National Conference and served on committees for the SAA and chapter affiliates. She has taught at music festivals and institutes across the country, including the Colorado Suzuki Institute, Point Counterpoint and Heartland Chamber Music. Alyssa enjoys yoga and gardening with her husband, cellist Matt Beckmann and their two children.

 Carrie Beisler, Violin

Carrie Beisler is a faculty member at St. Joseph School of Music in St. Paul, MN. She also maintains a private violin studio in the northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities. In addition to teaching, she has served on the staff of the Colorado Suzuki Institute for eight years.

From 2017 to 2019 Carrie lived and taught in Beirut, Lebanon, founding and co-directing the American Lebanese Suzuki Talent Education Program and teaching and performing with the Lebanese National Conservatory and Orchestra. Founded in 2017 with co-director Tony Moussa, ALSTEP was the first Suzuki program developed in Lebanon. Carrie is passionate about expanding the Suzuki community with her work in both the USA and Lebanon and loves experience of teaching across different cultures and bringing students together though music. She is committed to creating the opportunity of quality musical education for students across the world.

Carrie began her violin studies at age four with Nancy Lokken in Minneapolis, MN. She received a Masters of Music with a focus in Suzuki Pedagogy from The University of Minnesota and completed her Bachelor of Music from The University of Iowa. Prior to moving to Lebanon she taught at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Suzuki Program.

 Joanna Binford, Viola

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. 

 Meret Bitticks, Flute, Teacher Trainer

Altus Artist Meret Bitticks maintains an active schedule as a soloist, chamber musician, and clinician in the U.S. and abroad. Based in Chicago, Ms. Bitticks is a registered teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas and nurtures a large flute studio at the Music Institute of Chicago. She is also on faculty at DePaul University.

Ms. Bitticks has joined U.S. State Department cultural ambassadors, Trio Chicago and Friends, for concert tours of the United Arab Emirates and Australia. Stateside, Ms. Bitticks regularly performs as a soloist and with faculty ensembles at the Music Institute and is a member of the Edgewater Ensemble woodwind quintet. She has also performed with the Rockford Symphony, Concertante di Chicago, the Keith Brion New Sousa Band, and at several National Flute Association Conventions. Ms. Bitticks’ recording credits include the Head of Femur album, Hysterical Stars, for the SpinArt label as well as the premier recording of Leslie Basset’s Sounds, Shapes, and Symbols under the direction of conductor Russell Mikkelson.

A passionate and enthusiastic educator, Ms. Bitticks is the first flutist to receive a Certificate of Achievement for excellence in Suzuki instruction from the Suzuki Association of the Americas. In 2009 she travelled to Matsumoto, Japan to study with Suzuki Flute Method founder, Toshio Takahashi. Ms. Bitticks has completed additional Suzuki training with David Gerry, Jerilee Kechley, Kim Lorimier, Kenichi Ueda, and Kelly Williamson.

Ms. Bitticks believes quality music instruction can only break down barriers when it is available to every person, regardless of age or economic background. With this in mind, Ms. Bitticks volunteered at music camps for the École de Musique Sainte Trinite and École de Musique Dessaix Baptiste in Haiti. She worked with foster children through DePaul’s Pathways program and has also been a Tuition-free Conservatory instructor for the Merit School.

Summer instructorships have included workshops and institutes such as the American Suzuki Institute, the Great Lakes Suzuki Institute, the OSU Flute Workshop, and the University of Wisconsin Whitewater Flute Camp. Ms. Bitticks was a clinician for the Denison University’s Flutes in the Frost and Rockford Music Academy’s Winter Suzuki Flute Workshop and has presented for the Chicago Flute Club, the Wisconsin Flute Festival, and the National Flute Association.

Ms. Bitticks graduated magna cum laude from the Ohio State University and went on to earn a Master’s of Music in Flute Performance from DePaul University. She is a first place winner of the Columbus Women in Music Competition and received a Presser Foundation Award. Her primary instructors include Katherine Borst Jones, Louise Dixon, Carol Meves, and Mary Stolper.

 Steven Bjella, Violin

Steve Bjella has performed throughout the United States, appearing both as  soloist and in a variety of chamber ensembles.  He holds degrees in performance and music education from the University of Iowa, where he studied with Leopold LaFosse and the Stradivari Quartet.  He has also studied with the Vermeer, Fine Arts and New Hungarian Quartets. 

 Before moving to Stevens Point  he lived in Chicago and was on the faculty of Valparaiso University and Saint Xavier College, a member of the Governor’s State University String Quartet, and a member of the contemporary music ensembles, Chicago Camerata and Loop Group.  Mr. Bjella had an active free-lance career as well,  performing on numerous commercial recordings and was concertmaster of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and Chicago Light Opera Orchestra.  

Steve joined the music faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1991 and holds the positions of Artist/Teacher of Violin and Professor of Music. An active performer and teacher, he has written two books on violin technique  and given master-classes at colleges and high-schools across the country.  He also enjoys making music with his colleagues in the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra and is concertmaster of the orchestra. 

 Beatrice Blanc, Violin

Beatrice Blanc joined the Suzuki faculty at MacPhail Center for Music in 1996. Raised a Suzuki kid in Iowa City, she studied with Sonja Zeithamel and Doris Preucil. She received a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Iowa and a Master of Music Degree in Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Minnesota. Beatrice’s Suzuki pedagogy training is from the American Suzuki Institute, the Preucil School of Music, and the University 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. Service in the broader community has included board membership with the Suzuki Association of Minnesota, conferences and leadership retreats, weekend workshops and institutes. 

 Carey Cheney, Cello

Carey Cheney, a native of Canada has been teaching and performing for 30 years. She is a Registered Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and has done teacher training in all levels of the Suzuki literature, as well as many enrichment courses throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.  

She holds the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in cello performance from the University of Utah and a Master of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. While there, she studied cello and pedagogy with Phyllis Young and taught cello, orchestra and chamber music in the UT String Project. She has taught at many institutes and workshops across the US and Canada   

Currently, Carey maintains a large cello studio with her cellist- husband Elliott in Salt Lake City, and she continues to perform solo and chamber music recitals frequently. She has recently recorded eight audio CDs and prepared six of the eight volumes of her series, Solos For Young Cellists published by Summy-Birchard, a subsidiary of Alfred Music Co. Inc.  

 Elliott Cheney, Cello

Cellist Elliott Cheney holds Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in cello performance from the University of Texas, where he studied with Phyllis Young. He also did studies with André Navarra at the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany. Cheney has been the Principal Cellist of the National Symphony of Costa Rica, and The Savannah Symphony, and has been on the faculties of the University of Costa Rica, Southwestern University, Armstrong College, and the University of Tennessee. He joined the music faculty at the University of Utah in 2001, and has taught String Methods, Introduction to Music, Cello, and coached chamber music. 

Elliott is active as a solo cellist, and has recently performed all six solo suites by J.S. Bach, concertos by Saint-Saëns, Dvorak, Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi, as well as the Brahms Double Concerto and the Beethoven Triple Concerto. He also gives frequent recitals, and has performed numerous recitals throughout the United States and Canada, as well Brazil, Austria and Spain. 

With his wife, Carey, the Cheney's maintain a large cello studio, teaching all ages, from three-year-olds on up. Over the past several years they have been performing in a trio with their son, Livingston, who was born in 1995. Recent concerts include guest artist performances at music festivals in Mexico City, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Stevens Point, WI. 

Elliott is also in demand as a teacher and clinician at festivals and institutes. His performing and teaching activities have taken him to Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and across the U.S. 

 Winifred Crock, Teacher Trainer

Winifred Crock was the Director of Orchestras at Parkway Central High School for over twenty-five years, and has maintained a private violin studio in suburban St. Louis, Missouri for far longer. During her tenure, Parkway Central High was selected as a GRAMMY Gold Signature school, and the orchestra program garnered much acclaim. Mrs. Crock has been named the Missouri ASTA Private Studio Teacher of the Year, the Missouri ASTA Secondary String Teacher of the Year, the St. Louis Symphony Educator of the Year, and the NFHS Outstanding Music Educator of Missouri. Mrs. Crock is also the recipient of the University of Rochester’s Singer Prize for excellence in secondary teaching and the 2014 ASTA Elizabeth Green National School Educator Award. 

 In demand as a clinician, lecturer and conductor, Mrs. Crock has lectured at numerous music conferences including Midwest, NAFME, ASTA, and SAA conferences and has been the featured string clinician at festivals and conferences in over 20 states, and abroad. In addition to music degrees from SIU Edwardsville and Kent State University, Mrs. Crock graduated from the Suzuki Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan under the tutelage of Shinichi Suzuki and is a certified Kodály instructor through the Kodály Center of America in Boston. Mrs. Crock, with Mr. William Dick and Dr. Laurie Scott, are the co-authors of Learning Together: Sequential Repertoire for Solo Strings or String Ensembles, Alfred Music. They were the recipients of the Suzuki Association of the Americas 2011 Community Learning Award for their work in developing the Suzuki Method in schools. Mrs. Crock is currently completing a beginning reading series called Pattern Play for Strings: A Sequential Introduction to Reading Music, Forrester Press. 

Mrs. Crock is dedicated to the betterment of music education for all children. 

 Pat D'Ercole, Violin, Teacher Trainer

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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, Violin, Teacher Trainer

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.

 Lisa Deakins, Violin

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.

 Virginia Dixon, Bass, Teacher Trainer

Virginia Dixon is one of three Bass Teacher Trainers for the Suzuki Association of the Americas and the only Bass Trainer for the European Suzuki Association.  Her trainees include bass professors, orchestra bassists, active performers, and conservatory students from twenty-one countries. Her mission thus far has taken her to Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, Lima, Davos, Mexico City, and Saõ Paulo, as well as across the North American continent.  She is presently training teachers in Australia via Skype. 

Virginia Dixon has performed widely throughout the U.S., Europe, South America, and Japan. Some of her favorite performances have been as a member of the Louisville Orchestra, with Sam Baron and the Bach Aria Group, and performances of the St. John Passion in Munich, Brussels, and Paris.  During her tenure with the Louisville Orchestra she was asked to play with a flute, viola, bass trio, and was so pleased with the results that she has created this combination of chamber ensemble ever since wherever she has gone.  Her ensembles have commissioned and performed 10 world premiers. 

She is presently on the faculties of Elmhurst College and Benedictine University.  She also maintains a home studio. 

Her students include the Principal Bassist of the Houston Symphony as well as members of such orchestras as the National Symphony and the New Orleans Philharmonic. 

She earned two performance degrees from Indiana University and has done doctoral work in performance at Stony Brook University.  Her major teachers were Julius Levine, Murray Grodner, and Georg Hortnagel.

 Rachel Fabulich, Violin and Viola

Violist, 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.

 Ethel Fang, Piano

Ethel Fang holds degrees from Trinity College of Music-London, England (A.Mus), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (B.Mus.), and Baylor University-Waco, Texas (M.Mus). She also studied with Dr. Suzuki’s associate, Dr. Haruko Kataoka, graduating from the Talent Education Research Institute-Matsumoto, Japan. A featured guest clinician at many institutes in the United States and Canada, Ethel has taught at UWSP’s American Suzuki Talent Education Center, where she founded the Suzuki piano program, the Summerstar Suzuki Institute-Bellingham, WA, the Dallas Suzuki Institute-Texas and the E-School of Music-Texas. She has taught developmentally-disabled children with grants from Washington’s Department of Social Health and Service.

 Colleen Fitzgerald, Violin

Colleen Fitzgerald is director of the Barcel Suzuki String Academy in Wauwatosa, WI. She is a violin 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.

 Ray Gustafson, Collaborative Pianist

Ray Gustafson has served as an organist and choral director in various churches and traditions, and he has additionally served as a collaborative pianist in music schools and Suzuki studios in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut. He and his wife, Mary, have four children who studied strings and piano in the Suzuki method, and they are looking forward to being part of their granddaughter’s musical training.

 Julia Hardie, Viola, Teacher Trainer

Dr. Julia Hardie is the founder and Director of the Central Texas String Academy and is a Suzuki Association of the Americas viola teacher-trainer. She earned a doctorate in viola performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa under William Preucil, Sr., and has served on the faculties of New Mexico State University and Baylor University. She teaches at Suzuki institutes throughout the United States, often writes for the SAA Journal, and presents at workshops, where she is an advocate for starting viola study at an early age. Julia is also assistant principal violist of the Waco Symphony Orchestra. 

 Randal Harrison Hoercherl, Violin

Randal Harrison Hoecherl is a critically acclaimed violinist, composer, and educator. Harrison’s accolades include an EMMY nomination for composition and four hometown MAMAs for Best Blues Artist, Classical Artist of the Year, Jazz Artist of the Year, and Jazz Album of the Year. His national performance credits include work with the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, bassist and Blue Note recording artist Ben Tucker, James Brown’s “the funky drummer” Clyde Stubblefield, and legendary drummer Sam Lay of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. You can find Randal performing with Piper Road Spring Band at bluegrass festivals stretching from the Midwest to the Florida Keys, and in your own living room while watching Randy Sabien’s Fiddlehead Big Band on Wisconsin Public Television. Harrison's performances, compositions, and arrangements have appeared on radio, television, film, stage, and over 100 artist recordings, including works for Naxos World, SRM, Boat Records, db Musique,Spiritwood, and his own label, StringFling Records. Randal Harrison is director and founder of the East Side Talent Education Association of Madison, better known by its acronym, ESTEAM. He’s also taught at the American Suzuki Institute (ASI), the Colorado Suzuki Institute, Savannah College of Art and Design, and is past-President of the Suzuki Association of Wisconsin. Randal grew up studying with Margery V. Aber, founder of ASI. While attending the early years of ASI, Harrison had master classes with Shinichi Suzuki, and studied with America’s pioneer Suzuki educators. As an adult he’s worked with iconic bassist and NEA Jazz Master Richard Davis, jazz violinist Matt Glaser, and SAA teacher trainers Michele Higa George and Patricia D’Ercole. Randal Harrison makes his home in Madison, WI, where he practices, teaches, writes, cooks, goes fishing, walks his dog, and continues to be raised by his daughter.

 Mary Hofer, Voice, Teacher Trainer

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.

 Sharon Jones, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Teacher Trainer

Sharon Jones is a violinist and singer. At the age of 11, she had the unique opportunity to work with Dr. Suzuki at an International Society of Music Educators Conference as part of a small group of North American children. Sharon is an SAA registered Teacher Trainer in Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE). With Dorothy Jones, she developed the curriculum used worldwide in SECE classes. She is also the singer on the SECE curriculum recording. Sharon has been a presenter, clinician, teacher, and trainer at conferences, institutes, and workshops in Canada, US, Ireland, Japan, and Australia. 

 Brad Kay, Violin

Brad Kay was raised as a Suzuki student, and now a Suzuki parent and teacher, Brad teaches violin and viola in St. Louis, MO at West County Strings, which he co-founded and directs alongside his wife and fellow teacher, Kirby Kay.  He also serves as a recurring clinician at string workshops and institutes throughout the Midwest.  In addition to teaching, Brad performs regularly with the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, and has affiliations with St. Louis’s Town & Country Symphony Orchestra and the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana. Brad earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he studied Violin Performance with Stefan Milenkovich and The Pacifica Quartet, and holds Suzuki teacher training from the Chicago Suzuki Institute and American Suzuki Institute.

 Kirby Kay, Violin

Kirby Kay is a Suzuki kid, mother and teacher who co-founded West County Strings in St. Louis, MO in 2013.  In 2017, she began and continues to develop a Suzuki in the Schools program at the Fulton School at St. Albans.  Upon graduation from the University of Illinois, she pursued long-term and short-term Suzuki training at the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, the American Suzuki Institute and the Chicago Suzuki Institute.  Kirby completed the Child Development Program at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute in 2014.  

Kirby’s students have held leadership positions in the St. Louis Youth Orchestra, Missouri All-State Orchestra, soloed with the St. Charles Symphony, and regularly hold community outreach concerts.  Kirby has been a recurring featured soloist with the Town and Country Symphony, Kankakee Valley Symphony and the St. Charles Symphony.  In addition, she has also been an avid chamber and orchestral musician.  Some of her favorite moments as a child and an adult are at the American Suzuki Institute! 


 Annette Lee, Piano, Teacher Trainer

Annette Lee has taught Suzuki piano at the MacPhail Center for Music since 1995. Her teaching approach encapsulates the Suzuki Philosophy in its entirety: that every child can learn. She hopes to provide each child with success, not that they become prodigies, but to be accomplished learners.

She has performed on the MacPhail Spotlight Series, as a winner of the Wheaton Conservatory Concerto Competition, the Vilar Performing Arts Center, and with the Classic Arts Trio in Chicago. She is a frequent clinician, having taught at Suzuki Institutes in Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, D.C., Illinois, Saskatchewan, Alberta and in Minnesota. 

She holds a Bachelors of Music from Wheaton Conservatory of Music, a Masters of Music from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ms. Lee is a registered Teacher Trainer in Piano under the auspices of the SAA.

 Alice Joy Lewis, Violin, Teacher Trainer

Alice Joy Lewis, violinist, has received the Lifetime Achievement Award - the highest recognition awarded by the Kansas Chapter of ASTA, the Kansas Governor's Arts Award, and an SAA Excellence in Teaching Award. She founded and directs the Ottawa Suzuki Strings who have recorded four CDs, were featured on a national broadcast of the Jim Lehrer News Hour, and have toured nationally and internationally. A registered SAA Teacher Trainer, she was the keynote speaker at SAA's Seventh and Twelfth National Conferences. She founded and directs Absolutely Ottawa! summer programs - SOUND ENCOUNTERS, the Ottawa Suzuki Institute Mid-SW, and the Brian Lewis Young Artist Program.

 Brian Lewis, Violin

Brian Lewis teaches violin at the University of Texas at Austin and serves as Artistic Director of the Starling-DeLay Symposium at Julliard.  He grew up as a Suzuki student in Ottawa, Kansas, where he studied with his mother, Alice Joy Lewis and Eleanor Allen, and studied with Dr. Suzuki in Japan.  He received his Degree in Violin Performance with Dorothy DeLay at Julliard.  Mr. Lewis has been a featured violin soloist around the world. Acclaimed performances include concerto debuts in both New York's Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall.  Internationally, Mr. Lewis has been a featured recitalist in Australia, Canada, Asia, Latin America, South America and Europe.

 Allen Lieb, Violin, Teacher Trainer, ECC

Allen Lieb is CEO of the International Suzuki Association, and Chair of the ISA Violin Committee. Residing in New York City, Allen is Head of the Violin Department and Instructor for Teacher-Training at The School for Strings, violin instructor at The Diller-Quaile School of Music, and a string consultant for the VH1SaveTheMusic Foundation. He graduated from the Talent Education Institute in 1979 after two years’ study with Dr. Suzuki. Allen returned to Matsumoto four times between 1981 - 1991 to continue his lessons and observation at the Institute and served as violin faculty for all four Suzuki World Conventions held in Japan. Allen received his M.M. in Performance from SIU/Edwardsville, studying Suzuki pedagogy with John Kendall. He has been a recognized Teacher-Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas since 1981. Allen has taught at institutes, workshops and conferences across the United States, Canada, Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He is Chair of the SAA Violin Committee and a member of the SAA Heritage Committee. For twelve years, Allen was 

Curriculum Coordinator of the Newark Early Strings Program, a Suzuki-based violin program jointly sponsored by the Newark Public Schools and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, for which he was recognized with the 2008 Samuel Antek Award for Music Education. 

 Nancy Lokken, Violin, Teacher Trainer

Nancy Lokken directs Augsburg College Suzuki Talent Education (ACSTE) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she also teaches Suzuki pedagogy as a registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She studied with Dr. Suzuki in Japan and is an active Clinician and Teacher Trainer at institutes, festivals and workshops throughout the United States including Alaska and Hawaii. She serves on the SAA Teacher Development Committee, which has recently launching a new course for teachers called “Suzuki Principals in Action.” Ms. Lokken has taught in Bermuda, Canada, Spain, Mexico, and Peru. Her students have been recipients of numerous awards and recognitions. The ACSTE students were selected to perform in the International Ensembles Concert at the SAA Conference in 2004, and have toured throughout Mexico and Spain. Ms. Lokken was honored by the American String Teachers Association with the award of Master Teacher for the state of Minnesota in 1998.

 Susan McDonald, Violin

Susan McDonald directs the Suzuki Program at the Community Music School of Webster University, where she has taught for over thirty years. She has taught at numerous Suzuki workshops and institutes, received the Byron Hester award for excellence in teaching in 2000, and recently completed a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Susan graduated from Lawrence University (BME) and Western Illinois University (MA), where she studied with Almita Vamos. She continued her long-term Suzuki pedagogy study with John Kendall at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Susan performs with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St. Louis and the Simply 4 String Quartet.

 Ginger Marten, Orchestra

Ginger Marten earned her degrees in music education from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, and UW-Stevens Point. In 2009, she received the Kohl Fellowship Award for teaching. She plays viola with the Central Wisconsin Symphony and plays violin with her band Tilly's Village. She currently teaches Middle and High School Orchestra in the Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin Public Schools.

 Judy Meyer, Early Childhood Education

Judy Meyer is thrilled to be co-teaching, with Marge Andersen, the first Early Childhood Education (ECE) class at the Aber Suzuki Center. In 2011, she trained for ECE with Dorothy and Sharon Jones in Ottawa, Kansas. Judy began her Suzuki education in 1984 when her first son, Andy began lessons with Kyoko Fuller. Her second son, Roy also studied with Kyoko until his graduation in 2007. She maintains a private music studio since 1981, and  also taught general music and choral music in the Marshfield Parochial schools. She has Bachelor of Music degree from UWSP.

 Tim Mutschlecner, Cello

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.​

 Ann Montzka Smelser, Violin, Teacher Trainer

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.

 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.  

 Ann Marie Novak, Piano, Director of Suzuki Programs

novakAnn Marie Novak has taught piano and served as collaborative pianist at the Aber Suzuki Center for over 25 years, where she maintains a studio of 35 students. She was the founding Director of the Northampton Community Music Center (MA) and has served as President of the Suzuki Association of Wisconsin (SAW). She is a regular clinician at the SAW Retreat and the American Suzuki Institute and has taught masterclasses at workshops in the Midwest and on the East Coast. She has performed as a soloist and as a chamber musician, and she presents lectures at both the American Suzuki Institute and SAA Conferences. Miss Novak manages and writes extensively for the ASC parent education blog, develops other parent education materials, and has been published in the SAA Journal. She serves as WMTA District Chair and was honored as the 2015 Stevens Point Area Music Teachers' Association Member of the Year. Her students have been featured in Master Classes both locally and nationally, and they regularly receive honors at WMTA District and State Auditions.

 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

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.

 Linc Smelser, Cello

Linc Smelser received his bachelor’s degree in cello performance from University of Arizona, and his master’s degree and performer’s certificate in cello performance and pedagogy from Northern Illinois University. He is a long-term member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and an active substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He is on the faculty of Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and Northern Illinois University.  Appointed conductor and music director of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra in 2003, Linc is a frequent guest conductor for various Illinois orchestras and was named the 2009 Conductor of the Year (Small Orchestra) by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

 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. 

 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.

 James Van Reeth, Violin

James Van Reeth, violinist, is director of the Denison University Suzuki Program in Granville, Ohio. He 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 from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point having completed long-term Suzuki training with Patricia D’Ercole. Jim is a faculty member at Suzuki Music Columbus and performs with the Sterling String Quartet and the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra. He is co-coordinator of the Suzuki Youth Orchestras of the Americas for the SAA 2012 conference.

 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).

 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.

 Melissa Zindel, Collaborative Pianist

Melissa Zindel is a collaborative pianist, music coach and teacher. She holds a bachelor of music degree in keyboard performance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where she studied with Linda Perry. She completed her master of music degree in accompanying and chamber music at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston with Timothy Hester, where she held full assistantships. Ms. Zindel has also worked as a vocal coach and accompanist at Elmhurst College, Georgia College and State University, University of Central Arkansas, Wildwood Opera, and Opera in the Ozarks. She has performed internationally with the Chicago Consort and Allegro!!! music ensembles, and as a recitalist with many artists.  

She is the staff collaborative pianist at the Western Springs School of Talent Education, Naperville Suzuki School and the Oak Park String Academy, and maintains her own Suzuki piano studio in Western Springs, IL.  

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