American Suzuki Institute





 Joanna Binford, Viola

Joanna Binford is currently on the faculty of the Centenary School of Music, where she specializes in Suzuki instruction, and Transylvania University. A past recipient of the KY ASTA “Studio Teacher” award, she acts as the String Coordinator for the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts. She currently serves as the violist of the Endless Road Strings, which specializes in popular arrangements, and is a fiddle player in the bluegrass band, Howard’s Creek. Ms Binford is co-director of Lexington’s Original Viola Ensemble and serves as president of the Lexington Federated Music Club. She has served as a back-up musician for celebrities such as Arlo Guthrie, Mark O'Connor, Dave Brubeck, Anne Murray, Bob Hope, Ray Charles, Rod Stewart, Ray Price, David Gates, Dinah Shore, Ann Hampton Callaway, and the Moody Blues.

 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.

An active performer and teacher, he has written two books on violin technique, Beginning Repertoire for the Advanced Violinist and Scales and Arpeggios, Block Fingering Exercises for the Advanced Violinist, 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.

 Nancy Boston, Piano

Nancy Boston, recently retired Professor of Music at Mansfield University of PA, earned the Bachelor of Music degree, cum laude, from Lawrence University. She received the MM and MA in Piano Performance from the Peabody Conservatory. Additional studies were done at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the French Piano Institute. Dr. Boston has specialized in the performance of music by female composers for the past 18 years, presenting many solo and chamber music. She recorded a CD “American Women: Modern Voices in Piano Music”. Since its release, the CD has received glowing reviews, including: “All the selections are attractive, but it is Boston’s clear and colorful playing that make this disc a must” and “Nancy Boston brings strength and power along with her fluid singing tone and her wonderful sense of poise to the performance of these unusually interesting pieces”. She has appeared as soloist throughout the United States. Foreign appearances include concerts in Paris, France, St. Petersburg, Russia, Ernen, Switzerland, New Zealand and Guelph, Canada. She has been an active adjudicator for piano competitions and festivals on the local, state and regional levels. Since retirement, Dr. Boston has been an accompanist for the UWSP and the Aber Suzuki Center.

 Scott Conklin, Violin

Dr. Scott Conklin regularly appears as a recitalist, soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player, and clinician throughout the United States and abroad, and he is Associate Professor of Violin at The University of Iowa School of Music and a violin teacher at the Preucil School of Music. Conklin has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Louisville, Nashville, and Berlin Symphony Orchestras. He is the 2008 Iowa String Teachers Association Leopold LaFosse Studio Teacher of the Year, and his new album with pianist Alan Huckleberry, Violinguistics: American Voices, is available on Albany Records.

 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.

 Virginia Dixon, Bass, Teacher Trainer

Virginia Dixon teaches at the Suzuki School of Elgin, in her home studio and at Wheaton and Elmhurst Colleges. She is a Bass Teacher Trainer for the SAA, the European Suzuki Association, and most recently trained teachers from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Columbia and the USAfor the Asociación Suzuki de Buenos Aires. She is a member ofthe Suzuki Bass Committee creating new literature. A past Board Member of the International Society of Bassist, she edits their journal's Child's Play Column. She holds two performance degrees from Indiana University. Her performances have taken her throughout the world.

 Pat D'Ercole, Violin, Teacher Trainer, ECC


Pat D'Ercole earned a BME, magna cum laude, from Rosary College, and holds an M.M.Ed with emphasis in Suzuki Talent Education from UWSP, where Pat studied with Margery Aber. In 1988, she was awarded a three week grant to study in Japan with Dr. Suzuki. She has also received a grant to work with Dr. Robert Duke at UT-Austin to learn innovative ways to use technology in giving feedback to teachers. She is the only SAA-sanctioned Teacher Trainer active in the state of Wisconsin.
Prior to Stevens Point, Ms. D’Ercole was the founder and director of the Flambeauland Suzuki Talent Education Program, Ladysmith, Wisconsin and also taught instrumental music for two years in the Maywood, Illinois public schools. She has authored many articles for the American Suzuki Journal, served on the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) Board of Directors and as its chair, and as secretary of the International Suzuki Association. She is also the founder and first president of the Suzuki Association of Wisconsin.

 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.

 Rachel Fabulich, Violin

Violist, Rachel Fabulich, is a Suzuki student, parent, and teacher.  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 runs her own studio in Framingham, MA, and serves on the Faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music.

 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

Ms. Colleen Fitzgerald, executive director of the Barcel Suzuki String Academy, currently teaches private and group violin lessons and Suzuki Early Childhood Education classes at BSSA. Ms. Fitzgerald earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance with Suzuki Pedagogy Emphasis under mentor, Professor Carol Dallinger at the University of Evansville and a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from Cardinal Stritch University. She has also received supplemental Suzuki teacher training with Kay Collier-McLaughlin, Ed Kreitman, Tom Wermuth, and Alice Joy Lewis and acquired her Early Childhood Education training under Suzuki ECE founders, Dorothy and Sharon Jones. Ms. Fitzgerald started Suzuki violin lessons at age 6 and two years later began studies with Suzuki teacher trainer, Joan Rooney. 

Colleen earned the Certificate of Achievement from the Suzuki Association of the Americas and was awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Studio Teaching from the Civic Music Association of Milwaukee. She is a clinician at Suzuki weekend workshops in the Midwest as well as summer Suzuki institutes throughout the United States. Students of Ms. Fitzgerald's have won MSO's Bach Double Violin Competition, numerous MYSO Concerto Competitions, the UWM Concerto Competition, as well as many college scholarships and received Honorable Mentions is the Young Artist Auditions with the MSO. Besides teaching, Ms. Fitzgerald frequently performs as a violin soloist, a member of the Kettle Moraine Symphony and is a member of her church's handbell choir. 

 Avi Friedlander, Cello

Avi Friedlander, Cello, is the director of the Barston Suzuki Center at the Music Institute of Chicago, a teacher trainer candidate and founder and former director of Suzuki Talent Education Program of Birmingham. He received his Master's and Bachelors of Music performance degrees from The University of Michigan, and pursued his professional studies degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music. Mr. Friedlander is the former Assistant Principal cellist of the Atlanta Opera, former member of The New World Symphony and former Adjunct Professor of Cello at Emory University in Atlanta. He has been trained in Suzuki Methods with Dr. Tanya Carey, Pam Devenport, Rick Mooney and Gilda Barston. Mr. Friedlander has also been trained in cello pedagogy with Irene Sharp and teaching group classes with Carey Beth Hockett and Terry Durbin. His primary teachers have included Anthony Elliott, Stephen Geber, Tanya Carey and David Premo and has also studied with Richard Aaron and Hans Jensen. Mr. Friedlander has studied improvisation methods with Eugene Friesen from the Berkley College and performs and records music from classical to rock. Mr. Friedlander currently performs with the String Theory Birmingham and Sunday Jazz Night and writes his own arrangements for solo cello of rock tunes from Jimi Hendrix to Pearl Jam.

 Ray Gustafson, Piano

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.

 Nancy Hair, Cello, Teacher Trainer

Nancy Hair lives in the Boston area where she keeps herself busy as a Suzuki cello teacher, performer and raises a family.  She is on the faculty of the New England Conservatory Preparatory Division (Suzuki School of Newton) and has a home studio.  Nancy has been a Suzuki teacher trainer since 1988 and attended Indiana University, Hartt School of Music and Ithaca Talent Education Center.  Her teachers include Janos Starker, Raya Garbousova, George Neikrug and Timothy Eddy.

 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.

 Nancy Jackson, Violin, Teacher Trainer

Nancy Jackson is the Assistant Director of the Western Springs School of Talent Education, in Western Springs, Illinois, where she teaches both violin and viola. She is a registered Violin Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and is active in training young teachers locally and at summer institutes. Nancy holds a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Music in Violin Performance from Northwestern University. Her principal teachers were Talmadge Smith, Mary Ann Mumm, and Henryk Kowalski. Her Suzuki teacher training was done with Margery Aber, James Mauer, and Carol Dallinger. She founded the Suzuki School of Music in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1986. She has also taught at the University of Evansville (IN) Suzuki program, and Western Illinois University. Nancy is an avid golfer and cyclist, and also enjoys spending time with her two cats, Mimi and Musetta.


 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.


 Sarah Lange, Flute

Sarah Lange has freelanced as a clinician teaching flute master classes and private lessons in middle and high schools. Whether working with young students or mature adults, she endeavors to understand each student's interests and goals to provide the most effective instruction. She has performed with the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, and can be heard performing with the Waupaca Area Orchestra and other area chamber groups.

Sarah graduated from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a Bachelor Degree in Music and is completing her Masters in Music Education-Studio Pedagogy at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Sarah has studied with James Grine, Kortney James, and Tara Schwab. Recently, Sarah worked with Marina Piccinini as a performer in her 2014 International Summer Masterclass. Sarah has also attended flute master classes given by Sir James Galway, Carol Wincenc and many others. Her Suzuki Flute studies have been with Flute Teacher Trainer David Gerry.

 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 observes each child for who they are, as individuals eager to begin the journey of learning music through the piano. 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 for the Wheaton Conservatory Concerto Competition, the Vilar Performing Arts Center, and with the Classic Arts Trio in Chicago. Annette is the recipient of the Nell Stockwell Award in 1984.  She is a frequent clinician, having taught at Suzuki Institutes in Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Saskatchewan, Calgary and in Minneapolis. 

She holds a Bachelors of Music from Wheaton Conservatory of Music, a Masters of Music from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with additional training from the Aspen Music Festival,
 Blossom Music Festival, and the Chicago Suzuki Institute. Ms. Lee is a registered Teacher Trainer in Piano under the auspices of the SAA.

 Delaine Fedson Leonard, Harp, Teacher Trainer

Delaine Fedson Leonard is a vibrant musician and innovative educator in Austin, TX. She is the harp instructor on the faculties of the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin and Serofim College of Fine Arts at Southwestern University. As a pioneer Suzuki Harp teacher and Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) registered Harp Teacher Trainer, Delaine promotes Dr. Shinichi Suzuki's approach as it relates to the world of harp education. Delaine has taught nationally and internationally at Suzuki workshops, festivals and conferences. Delaine is the newly elected President of the American Harp Society, the largest national organization of harpists in the world with over 3,000 members from all 50 states and 20 countries. She is one of the authors of the American String Teachers Association publication "A Harp in the Schools.” She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Northern Iowa, a Master of Music degree from University of Texas at Austin.

 Lawrence Leviton, Cello

Lawrence Leviton is Artist/Teacher of Cello at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He also served as Suzuki Specialist at the Aber Suzuki Center for 18 years. He received his Doctorate in cello performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota and his Master's degree in performance from Northwestern University. He also holds a degree in psychology from the University of Illinois. Originally from Chicago, Dr. Leviton has been active as a clinician and performer throughout the country. He has been a frequent performer on Wisconsin Public Radio. 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 was nominated for membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honorary society, at both the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University.

 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.

 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.

 Ginger Martin, Viola

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.

 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.

 Sarah Bylander-Montzka, Viola, Teacher Trainer

Sarah Montzka teaches viola and musicianship at the Music Institute of Chicago. She is a graduate of Northwestern University (MM) and The Cleveland Institute of Music (BM), earning degrees in viola performance. Sarah serves on the Boards of Directors for the Society of American Musicians and the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She is the founder and director of MIC's annual "Violapalooza!" workshop and has taught at workshops and institutes from Duluth to Tanzania. Previously, Sarah taught in the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Music Program—designed to reach economically-challenged children. Sarah has performed as a section violist in orchestras including the Jacksonville, Charleston and Savannah Symphonies.

 Ann Marie Novak, Piano, Interim 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.

 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.​

 Merietta Oviatt, Viola

ASC faculty member, Dr. Merietta Oviatt, began studying Suzuki Violin at the age of two under the tutelage of her mother. At the age of four she began studying with Jack Ashton and studied with him until the age of 14 when she officially switched to the viola.  Dr. Oviatt’s viola teachers have included Clyn Barrus, David Dalton, Allen deVeritch, Matthew Johnson, and Karen Ritscher – amongst others.  She attended Idyllwild Arts Academy in California where she made her debut with the Desert Symphony Orchestra at the age of 17. Merietta has played for the Baton Rouge symphony, Symphony of Southeast Texas, Acadianna Symphony, and has served as Principal Violist for the Rapides Symphony, Oregon Coast Chamber Orchestra, Cascadia Concert Opera, Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and currently plays with the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed on numerous occasions on the Latin Grammy Awards, was violinist and violist on the Las Vegas run of “The Producers,” Performed at Weill Recital hall at Carnegie hall in 2007, and has performed as a guest soloist with the Henderson Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Chamber Orchestra, and USOMATA Chamber Orchestra. Oviatt received her Bachelor of Science degree from Utah State University, a Master’s degree in viola performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and completed her doctorate degree in Viola performance and violin/viola pedagogy from the University of Oregon. Merietta is devoted to the Suzuki philosophy of teaching as well as viola pedagogy and performance. She is excited to continue the legacy of viola prominence at UWSP, the Aber Suzuki Center, and ASI.​

 Kathy Rollings, Violin

Kathy Rollings lives in Columbia, MO where she maintains a full Suzuki studio of violinists and violists. She holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in violin performance, and has registered extensive teacher training with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Kathy serves on the faculties of the American Suzuki Institute, Sound Encounters, and the Ottawa Suzuki Institute in the summers, and she teaches weekend workshops when she can. A United Methodist Deacon, Kathy is the Associate Pastor at Fairview United Methodist Church, where she serves as Minister of Music, Youth Pastor, and Minister of Christian Formation.

 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.

 Peter Thomas, Cello

Peter Thomas has been a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since his appointment by music director, Edo de Waart in 2008. Mr. Thomas started cello at age five and graduated with performance degrees from the University of Minnesota and the Cleveland Institute of Music. Prior to joining the MSO, Mr. Thomas performed in the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Canton Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. He appeared as a soloist with the New World Symphony on two separate occasions performing Richard Strauss’s ‘Don Quixote’ and Elgar's Cello Concerto as the 2008 Concerto Competition winner. An active chamber musician and collaborative artist, Mr. Thomas is the cellist of the Arcas Quartet and indie-rock band I’m Not A Pilot. Peter resides on the East Side of Milwaukee and enjoys the life of being a multi-genre performer and music educator.

 Phala Tracy, Harp

Phala Tracy teaches Suzuki harp at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, MN and she is adjunct harp faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. She has taught at the Colorado Suzuki Institute, Utah Suzuki Harp Institute, Peaks to Plains Suzuki Institute, the Duluth Suzuki Fall Festival, the SEMSA “Gasshuku” and the Lyon & Healy International Jazz and Pop Harpfest. A Suzuki trained musician herself, she grew up studying with Mary Kay Waddington in Denver, CO. She holds degrees in Harp Performance and Music History from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (BM 1999) where she studied with Alice Chalifoux and Yolanda Kondonassis. She also holds degrees in Harp Performance and Composition from the California Institute of the Arts (MFA 2003) where she studied with Susan Allen and James Tenney.

 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).

 Elaine Wedeking, Piano

Elaine Wedeking completed degrees in piano from William Penn University and Truman University and has completed additional graduate study at Northwestern University, the Tanglewood Institute, and Drake University.  She previously served on the faculties of Truman University and Westmar College, where she taught and performed as a soloist and accompanist.  She currently serves as the collaborative pianist for several choral groups in the Des Moines, Iowa, area, and frequently accompanies string students in contests and competitions around the state.  Elaine began attending ASI as a Suzuki parent in 1994, and she has been an ASI faculty member since 2001.

 Rebecca White, Violin

Rebecca White  was 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 where she maintained a full studio, played in the Lexington Philharmonic and was President of the Central Kentucky Suzuki String Teachers Association. She now lives in Pickerington, OH with her family where she is the director of the Pickerington Suzuki Strings. She also teaches at Denison University in their Suzuki program where she helps run the group classes and winter workshops.

 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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