Please join us in welcoming our new instructors for the 2016-17 year: Clement Acevedo, Tana Ray, Jessica Embach Jankauskas, intern Isaac Dahl, and intern Katya Kirilyuk! Bios coming soon!
Preparatory Music Instructors
Yanet Bermudez Ortiz, Suzuki Piano – M.M. University of Tennessee
Yu-Wen Chen, piano – DMA candidate, James Madison University
Hannah Shultz, piano – EMU Sophomore (Spring only)
Ryan Hoffman, Suzuki cello, cello- DMA James Madison university, Suzuki teacher training
A native of Reading, Pennsylvania, cellist Ryan Hoffman’s degrees include a Doctor of Musical Arts in performance and pedagogy from James Madison University, a Master of Music in Performance from Penn State University and a B.A. in Music from Susquehanna University. Ryan began teaching cello during his undergraduate degree, as part of Susquehanna University’s preparatory program. He continued to teach cello as part of his graduate assistantships at both Penn State and JMU, and also began teaching private lessons while at Penn State. In addition to EMU’s prep program, Ryan currently teaches cello at Bridgewater College and Shenandoah Valley Academy, and is a cello section coach at JMU’s Spring String Thing each year. Besides teaching, Ryan is a freelance musician, performing in both orchestral and chamber settings. He has played professionally since joining the Williamsport Symphony while at Susquehanna University. Currently he is a regular or substitute cellist in several orchestras, including Fairfax Symphony, McLean Orchestra, Huntington Symphony, Altoona Symphony, and Northern Tier Symphony. He plays chamber music with a variety of groups including the Harrisonburg String Duo.
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.
Jessica Embach Jankauskas, Suzuki violin & viola – B.M. University of Iowa, M.M. University of Texas at Austin
Jessica Embach Jankauskas, originally from Illinois, recently moved to Virginia with her husband and two children. Prior to her position with the preparatory program at EMU she directed and taught for the Suzuki Strings department at Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts in Newton, Kansas. As a clinician, Jessica has taught for Suzuki institutes, workshops, and the University of Texas All State camp. In 2010 Jessica was a presenter at the American String Teachers Association National Conference in Santa Clara, California. Before moving to Kansas, Jessica co-founded and co-directed Suzuki Strings of Austin with Daniel Gee in Austin, Texas. During her graduate studies Jessica taught and served as the outreach coordinator for The University of Texas String Project. Jessica received her Masters degree in Music and Human Learning from The University of Texas at Austin with Dr. Robert Duke and Dr. Laurie Scott. She completed her Bachelor degree in Music and Russian from the University of Iowa. Aside from teaching, Jessica is an active performer on viola.
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.
Christa Hoover, Suzuki violin – B.A. Wheaton College, Suzuki teacher training
Sharon Miller, administrative director, Suzuki violin, viola, Jr. Strings conductor, Suzuki Pedagogy – M.M. East Carolina University
Sharon Miller is the administrative director of the Shenandoah Valley Preparatory Music Program at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, VA that currently serves over 370 students from 5 Virginia counties and West Virginia. She also teaches violin, viola, and Suzuki Pedagogy to preparatory and university students and conducts the Junior Strings ensemble. She enjoys playing with the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra and other groups in the valley.
Ms. 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 SAA and has taught at Institutes and workshops throughout the United States. She is pleased to have the opportunity to both teach pre-college students and to mentor young teachers.
Steffany Shock, Suzuki violin, violin- DMA James Madison University, Suzuki teacher training
Steffany Shock, a native of Toledo, Ohio, began her musical studies on the violin through a public school string program. At the age of 14 she joined the violin section of the Bowling Green (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra and went on to play in many other orchestras in the area, including the University of Toledo Orchestra, the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, and the Lima Symphony Orchestra. She received her Bachelor of Music from Bowling Green State University, where she studied with Penny Thompson Kruse. She then received her Master of Music from the Pennsylvania State University, where she studied with James Lyon. She recently received her Doctorate of Music from James Madison University, where she studied with Wanchi Huang. Steffany currently performs in the violin sections of the National String Symphonia, the McLean Orchestra, the Huntington Symphony Orchestra, and the Northern Tier Symphony Orchestra.
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 11th year of teaching Suzuki violin classes in EMU’s Preparatory Music Program and in her 10th 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, often teaching and attending fiddle workshops throughout the year. In 2015 she helped launch the first Steel Wheels Fiddle Workshop with Red Wing Roots Music Festival. When she is not teaching, she is actively involved in the local music scene and enjoys working in a variety of musical environments across the country. Megan also owns Tiller Strings out of Harrisonburg, VA.
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 and under the instruction of Frederick Halgedahl, 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 with her husband 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 a mother to a four-year old boy and works at Morgan Stanley as a Client Service Associate.
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.
Lindsay Lam, double bass – B.M. University of Maryland
Lindsay Lam, from Denver, Colorado, started playing Double Bass at the age of 7 while still living in Mississippi. After moving to Denver, she attended Denver School of the Arts, where she earned her Arts Endorsed Diploma. While beginning her college studies in Denver, she served as Section Bass with the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra, also performing with the Cheyenne (WY) Symphony. After transferring to the University of Maryland, she was a finalist in the UMD Symphony Orchestra’s 2009 Concerto Competition before graduating with her Bachelors of Music in Double Bass Performance in 2011. She has also served as the Double Bass instructor at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. Currently, she enjoys playing with local folk bands, teaching privately, and performing with the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra. Her primary teachers include the late Kenneth Harper (Assistant Principle, Colorado Symphony), Susan Cahill (Colorado Symphony), Ali Yazdanfar (Principle, Montreal Symphony), and Robert Oppelt (Principle, National Symphony). She also serves as the administrative assistant for the Prep Music program and works in the Costume Shop at James Madison University.
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.
Elizabeth Brightbill, flute, Suzuki flute – D.M.A. Indiana University, Suzuki teacher training
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
Maria Lorcas, Youth Symphony Conductor – M.M. Carnegie Mellon University
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 currently has a private home studio, teaches in the Violin Outreach Project and in the City schools, and conducts the Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony.