Preparatory Music Instructors
Christa holds a bachelor of music degree, majoring in piano. She is licensed and certified to teach Musikgarten (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Kodaly Level 1 (James Madison University). She is a music teacher with an early childhood specialty, and has taught in private piano studio, preschool and church settings since 1995. She is currently a private piano teacher, accompanist, children’s musical/drama director and guest presenter at EMU in the education department. For more information, see Christy’s website. You may contact her directly at 540-433-2745.
Patty Bird, piano – M.M. Northwestern University
Mrs. Patty Bird received her M.M. degree from Northwestern University. She has taught piano privately in Lynchburg, Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg over the last 25 years, and accompanied voice students at Lynchburg College. She has been the organist at several churches in the Richmond and Lynchburg areas, and has served as organist at Lynchburg College’s Christmas Vespers programs. She is the accompanist at Dayton United Methodist Church, and has been teaching piano in the Preparatory Music program since January, 2008.
Monica Hochstedler Carlson, piano – M.M. Westminster Choir College
Ms. Carlson has taught in SVPM since Fall 2003. Before coming to Harrisonburg, she taught at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX), The New School for Music Study (Princeton, NJ), and Goshen College (Goshen, IN). In addition to holding a M.M. in Piano Pedagogy and Performance from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, Ms. Carlson holds a B.A. in Music Education from Goshen College. She enjoys teaching children of all ages, collaborating and performing with other musicians, and continuing to expand her knowledge of piano music and folk music.
John Fast, piano, recital accompanist – M.M. and Performer’s Certificate in Organ Performance from Indiana University
Mr. Fast is an active church musician and accompanist and teaches organ, piano, and music theory at EMU.
Lynne Mackey, piano – D.M.A. Eastman School of Music
Dr. Mackey is associate professor of piano at EMU, and performs widely in solo and chamber music settings both in the United States and abroad. She gives master classes and workshops for students of all ages.
Phillip Martin, piano – college intern (EMU Senior)
Katie Miller, piano – college intern (EMU Junior)
Gustavo Peterlevitz, piano – D.M.A. Candidate at JMU
Gustavo Peterlevitz is a pianist and instructor who has won several competitions including the International South America Competition in Sāo Paulo, Brazil and Concerto Competitions at Pensacola Christian College and James Madison University. Gustavo is currently pursuing a Doctor in Musical Arts degree at James Madison University. Among his former piano teachers are recording artist Beatriz Balzi and concert pianist Daisy de Luca Jaffé.
Miranda Kirby, cello, Suzuki cello – M.M. Northwestern University, Suzuki teacher training
Miranda received a Bachelor’s of Music in both cello and vocal studies from James Madison University and Master’s of Music from Northwestern University. She was orchestra director at West Potomac High School and South Lakes High School in Fairfax County Public Schools for several years. She taught International Baccalaureate music courses for FCPS as well, receiving her I.B. certification at New World College in New Mexico. As an orchestra director, her groups attended several competitions each year and received superior ratings consistently. She went on to receive the Crystal Apple-Shining Star teaching award for outstanding contributions to education at South Lakes High School. She has been a regular conductor of orchestras at JMU Spring String Thing and instructor and conductor for Vienna Summer Strings Camp. After returning to the area, she taught and developed curriculum for both instrumental and vocal music courses, music theory and history at Stuart Hall School in Staunton. Miranda is a certified Suzuki teacher, completing her training through an apprenticeship with Tanya Lesinsky Carey in Chicago. Miranda has studied cello performance privately with Tanya Lesinsky Carey, James Kjelland, Jim Lee (National Symphony), and performed in workshops and masterclasses with Irene Sharp at Mannes College in New York. She has been a performing member with University Shenandoah Symphony, Loudoun Symphony, Mt. Vernon Symphony, and Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic. She was a founding member of Potomac String Quartet, performing regularly at George Mason University and throughout the Washington area. She now freelances around the Shenandoah Valley. She is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, American String Teachers Association, National Association for Music Education and Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association.
Lisa Wright, cello, Suzuki cello – B.M. Eastman School of Music, Suzuki teacher training
Originally from Harrisonburg, VA, Lisa Wright is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and spent many years performing and teaching in New York City. Ms. Wright served as Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at the Mannes College of Music in New York City while actively freelancing. Ms. Wright has served on the faculties of The Mannes College of Music Preparatory Division, School for Strings, the Calhoun School and the Bloomingdale School of Music. She has performed with many groups in and around the New York City area including the Stamford Symphony and the Grammy-nominated EOS Ensemble. Ms. Wright presently serves on the faculty at Eastern Mennonite University, has a large private studio in Charlottesville and is the Director of Strings at the Woodberry Forest School in Orange, VA. She regularly performs with the Roanoke Symphony, Opera Roanoke, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and the Chamber Orchestra of Charlottesville.
Violin & Viola
Tara Davis, Suzuki violin, Suzuki piano – B.M.A. University of Western Ontario, Suzuki teacher training
Since graduating with a Bachelor of Musical Arts in Music Performance from the University of Western Ontario, Tara Davis has worked as a freelance musician on both violin and piano for almost 20 years, performing around the world in various orchestras, small ensembles, theater productions and as a soloist and guest artist for many different types of concerts, recitals, church services and special events. Tara is a registered Suzuki teacher, having studied Suzuki Music Pedagogy with Mrs. Daphne Hughes in Ontario Canada and more recently with Sharon Miller at EMU.
Joan Griffing, violin, viola – D.M.A. Ohio State University
Joan Griffing is currently Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Eastern Mennonite University where she teaches violin and viola, coaches chamber music and conducts the EMU orchestra. She is also concertmaster of the Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Virginia Symphony, and violinist with the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. In the spring of 1999, she premiered a Violin Concerto written for her by Terry Vosbein, composer-in-residence at Washington and Lee University. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Indiana University where she studied with Tadeusz Wronski, and her Doctor of Musical Arts in violin performance from The Ohio State University Dr. Griffing has performed as concertmaster with the AIMS Festival Orchestra in Austria and Italy as well as with the Coronado, Grand Teton, Norfolk and Spoleto Festivals in this country. Recent international appearances include a tour of Taiwan in 2004 with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, a series of recitals and master classes in May of 2006 in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, a lecture recital in Adelaide, Australia at the International Viola Congress in June of 2007, and a set of recitals and master classes in the northeastern part of Brazil in August of 2007 and November of 2008. She is a founding member and tours regularly with the chamber music group Musica Harmonia, formed to promote peace and cultural understanding through musical collaboration.
Maria Lorcas, Suzuki violin, violin, Youth Orchestra Conductor – M.M. Carnegie Mellon University, Suzuki teacher training
Mrs. Maria Lorcas began her undergraduate studies in her native country of Venezuela. She later received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music (Violin Performance) from Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon Universities respectively. Mrs. Lorcas has performed extensively in both Venezuela and the United States. Orchestra positions that she has held include concertmaster of the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Symphony (Venezuela), and first violinist in the Simon Bolivar Symphony (Venezuela), the Wheeling, Westmoreland and Altoona Symphonies, More recently she has performed with the Shenandoah Bach Festival Orchestra, the Charlottesville Chamber Orchestra as well as various ensembles in the Charlottesville and Lexington areas. Mrs. Lorcas has been teaching privately and coaching orchestra strings since 1993. She is also a trained Suzuki violin teacher. She currently has a studio in the Preparatory Music Program at EMU, teaches in the Violin Outreach Project and in the City schools, and conducts the Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony.
Sharon Miller, administrative director, Suzuki violin, viola, Jr. Strings conductor, Suzuki Pedagogy – M.M. East Carolina University
Mrs. Sharon Miller has been the conductor of the Junior Strings ensemble since its inception in 2001. She teaches music education at Eastern Mennonite University in addition to serving as the administrative director of the Shenandoah Valley Preparatory Music Program and teaching violin, viola and Suzuki pedagogy courses in that program. Mrs. Miller received her M.Ed. (music) from Towson State University and M.M. (Suzuki Pedagogy) from East Carolina University. She is a registered Suzuki Violin Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has taught at institutes and workshops in the eastern United States. As a performer, she plays violin with the University Shenandoah Symphony, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival and serves as Assistant Concertmaster with the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra.
Katie Overfield-Zook, viola, violin – M.M. University of Michigan
Kathleen Overfield-Zook, originally from Essex, Vermont, began playing viola at the age of 9. She holds both a Bachelor and Master of Music degree in Viola Performance from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. While living in Michigan Kathleen performed with many of Michgan’s regional orchestras, including positions the Greater Lansing, Midland, Jackson and Dearborn Symphonies. She spent several summers at the Meadowmount School of Music, working with such great chamber musicians and pedagogues as David Salness and Charles Avsharian. She has played principal viola at the National Orchestral Institute in College Park, Maryland and traveled to Graz, Austria as part of the AIMS Festival Orchestra. After moving back to the east coast, Kathleen has led an active freelance career, holding positions with Allentown and Vermont Symphonies as well as performing regularly with the New Jersey Symphony orchestra under the baton of Neeme Jarvi. Now living in Virginia, she can be seen playing with Richmond and Roanoke Symphonies as well as continuing her tenure as Assistant Principal viola in the Harrisburg (PA) Symphony Orchestra. Having been an active teacher since the age of 19, Kathleen was on faculty at the Westminster Conservatory of Music in Princeton, NJ for several years before joining the faculty of Eastern Mennonite University’s Preparatory Program in the fall of 2009.
Meg Smeltzer, Suzuki violin – college intern (EMU Senior), Suzuki teacher training
Megan Tiller, Suzuki violin – B.A. EMU, Suzuki teacher training
Megan Tiller is originally from southwestern Virginia where she grew up as a Suzuki violin student from the age of 4. She received her B.A. from EMU and is now in her 8th year of teaching Suzuki violin classes in EMU’s Preparatory Music Program and in her 7th year of teaching violin classes in the Harrisonburg City Schools. Megan also served as EMU’s Preparatory Music Administrative Assistant from 2007-2011. In addition to teaching private and group classes to students of all ages, Megan has particular interest in old-time fiddle music, and she enjoys teaching and attending fiddle workshops and performing in a variety of musical environments. Megan also owns Tiller Strings out of Harrisonburg, VA.
Celia Turner, Suzuki violin – college intern (JMU Freshman)
Jeremiah Vallotton, Suzuki violin – B.A. EMU
Melinda Walton, Suzuki violin – B.A. University of Northern Iowa, Suzuki Teacher Training
Melinda Walton, originally from Iowa, started playing violin at the age of 10. She played in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra from age 16 until she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. While at university, Melinda was principal second violinist and had the opportunity to travel abroad with the university orchestra to Russia, where she played with the Moscow Symphony. She moved to Harrisonburg in December of 2009 and received Suzuki teacher training in January of 2012 with Sharon Miller at EMU. In addition to teaching in the preparatory program at EMU, Melinda is an assistant violin teacher at Spotswood Elementary with Megan Tiller and also works at JMU as the administrative assistant at the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence.
Kelly Wiedemann, Suzuki violin – B.M. Washington Adventist University, Suzuki teacher training
Kelly Wiedemann is originally from the Shenandoah Valley and was in the EMU Suzuki violin program from age 4 through high school. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Washington Adventist University in Maryland. While at WAU, Kelly studied violin with Zino Bogachek, a violinist with the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. She also had the opportunity to tour with the New England Symphonic Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse. The ensemble frequently toured internationally and throughout the United States, including performances at Carnegie Hall. Kelly has been teaching Suzuki violin since 2003. Most recently, from 2008 to 2011 Kelly served as Director of K-12 Music at Hinsdale Adventist Academy located just outside of Chicago, teaching strings, small ensembles, choir, and band, as well as directing school musicals and concerts. Kelly enjoys making all types of music with family and friends and introducing her students to the fascinating realm of world music.
John Dull, guitar, Suzuki guitar – M.M. East Carolina University, Suzuki teacher training
Mr. Dull serves as Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, Staunton, is an award-winning composer, and freelance performer. Mr. Dull has taught guitar at all levels and in various styles since 2002.
Mark Whetzel, guitar – Studied graduate-level improvisation at JMU
Mr. Whetzel has studied privately and/or participated in master classes with Andrew York, John Abercrombie, and Vic Juris. Mr. Whetzel has taught privately and in groups since 1983 and is adjunct music faculty of EMU.
Elizabeth Brightbill, flute – D.M.A. Indiana University
Elizabeth Brightbill (D. M., Indiana University) performs in the prize-winning flute and cello duo, Terra Voce. Previously, she held the position of Principal Flute with the Tulsa Philharmonic and Opera orchestras for ten years. She has also performed with a number of other orchestras across the country, including the Alabama Symphony, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and the Britt, Wintergreen, and OK Mozart Festival orchestras. She has appeared as soloist with the Tulsa Philharmonic, has performed in concerts at numerous National Flute Association conventions, and with Terra Voce has appeared at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. A recipient of multiple awards, Elizabeth has been a prize-winner and finalist in several national and regional competitions. She has taught at all levels of instruction for over fifteen years and her devotion to teaching is demonstrated in the success of her students at the local, regional, and national levels. www.terravoce.com
Les Nicholas, clarinet, saxophone – M.M. Northwestern University
Leslie Nicholas has appeared from New York’s Alice Tully Hall to Washington’s Kennedy Center; across Europe in opera, orchestra, chamber music and solo roles. His credits include the National Chamber Players, the Aspen Festival, Garth Newel Music Center, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. Nicholas’ chamber music collaborators include William Preucil, Jon Kimura Parker, and the Veronika Quartet of Moscow. In 2007-08 he traveled to Brazil, giving concerts and master-classes, and he recently recorded with international clarinet soloist Richard Stoltzman. Nicholas holds performance degrees from the University of Texas, Northwestern University, and post-graduate study at Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. www.lesnicholas.com