Suzuki Institute Faculty 2013

Cortney Combs Baker, Assistant director and violin, is a native of Athens, Georgia.  She began her violin studies at the age of three at the University of Georgia Pre-College Suzuki program.   She received the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Furman University in 1995 and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 and 2002, respectively.  She was the winner of The University of Texas Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition in 1999. Dr. Baker has performed with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Brevard Music Center Orchestra, The Corpus Christi Symphony, the Abilene Philharmonic and the Victoria Symphony, where she was principal second violin for several seasons. From 1995-2002, she was Assistant Director of the University of Texas String Project, a teacher training program in Austin, Texas.  In this capacity she also taught applied violin lessons and conducted the String Project’s four orchestras. As a guest clinician and Instructor, she has served on the faculty of Furman University Band and Orchestra Camp for 14 years and at the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute. From 2002-2007, Dr. Baker was Co-Director of the Sunshine Suzuki Strings in Davie, Florida where she taught violin and viola.  Her present studio is located in Cary, North Carolina. She has taught Suzuki violin for fifteen years and is trained in books 1-7.

Scott Baker, pianist and organist, is a native of Miami, Florida, where he studied at the University of Miami under the artist/teacher Arden Whitacre.  In 1992, Scott was awarded a scholarship by the Ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Belgium to study at the Flor Peeters International Organ School.  Upon his return to the U.S., Scott served on the music faculties of Florida International University and New World School of the Arts in Miami as lecturer of Music History and Coach/Accompanist to the Opera Theatres of those institutions.  Scott is married to SC Suzuki Institute Associate Director, Cortney Combs Baker.  The Bakers make their home in Cary, NC, where Scott now serves as Associate Director of Music/Organist of St. Francis United Methodist Church.

Wendy Bissinger is a cellist and Suzuki Cello teacher in Greenville, North Carolina.  She has maintained a private studio for over eighteen years and currently has twenty-eight students from ages four to eighteen, from pre-twinklers to concerto level.  She completed her teacher training under Tanya Carey, Gilda Barston, Rick Mooney, Nell Novak, and Nancy Hair.  Mrs. Bissinger also has a full-time teaching position as Arendell Parrott Academy in Kinston, North Carolina.  The school supports an in-school Suzuki string program that she began in 1990 and now has over one hundred and thirty participants.  Elementary, Middle and High School Orchestra, as well as theory and composition are also part of the music curriculum.  She has taught at the college level at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  She has been a guest clinician at institutes and workshops throughout the nation, recently conducting a concert at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.  She has conducted regional youth orchestras and published articles in The American Suzuki Journal.  Mrs. Bissinger arranges cello ensembles and works for various other strings, and published under her own label, Boshu Press.  She is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Music Education and Music Therapy.

Andy Carlson, violin, has performed as a soloist and as a chamber musician throughout the United States. Of his 1998 Merkin Hall performance the New York Times wrote "Mr. Carlson is a demon fiddler and his performance here was serious and concentrated." He has earned both a MM and BMUS from the University of Georgia and a DMA in Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. While earning his DMA, he was the recipient of the Iowa Performance Fellowship and the Pelzer Competition Fellowship. Dedicated to the performance of new music, Mr. Carlson was a regular performer with the Iowa Center for New Music and the University of Georgia Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. He is featured on the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble's ACA Digital CD "The Voice and the Virtuoso" (includes Pierrot Lunaire). As a soloist he has performed with orchestras including The Columbus Symphony Orchestra, The Huntington West Virginia Symphony, The Welsh Hills Symphony, The Land of Legend Philharmonic, and The University of Iowa Symphony. Andrew has studied with Leopold La Fosse and Thomas Joiner.  An active teacher, Andrew has served as a faculty member at Morehead State University and the Preucil School of Music. He has served as a faculty member at Suzuki institutes including Ithaca, NY, The University of Memphis, Capital University (Columbus, OH), and South Carolina (Furman University). Currently an Associate Professor at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, he teaches violin, conducts the chamber orchestra and directs the bluegrass ensemble.  In addition to his experience as a classical violinist, Andy began learning traditional fiddle music from his grandfather at age 5. He has won numerous fiddle contests and has twice been named the Georgia State Champion Fiddler and was named the 2000 Ohio Grand Champion fiddler. His book entitled A Guide to American Fiddling has recently been released by Mel Bay Publishers. As a studio musician and string arranger he has recorded for Warner Bros., Atlantic, Elektra, Geffen, Polydor, and Capricorn and with artists including R.E.M., Nanci Griffith, Billy Bragg, and the Cowboy Junkies.

Felicia Edwards Dykes, accompanist, first became involved with Suzuki Music as the Suzuki Mom of two daughters.  Since then she has enjoyed accompanying many Suzuki studios and book recitals.  She is especially honored to collaborate with gifted students as they prepare for concerto competitions, college auditions, and solo recitals.  In addition to her on-going work with Suzuki students, Mrs. Dykes serves as accompanist for the Bonclarken Music Conference, the Fine Arts Center ARMES program, and numerous studios in the Greenville area.  She is also the organist at Greenville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and has a private piano studio.  She and her husband, Mark, enjoy traveling and have had the fun adventure of living in South Korea and Germany.

Betsy Fee is a native of Knoxville, Tenn. where she grew up as a student of William Starr. She received her undergraduate degree in Music Performance from the University of Tennessee where she was a member of The Gamma Beta Phi Society. She then continued her graduate and Suzuki pedagogy studies with William Starr and Hiroko Driver. Betsy resides in Greenville, S. C. where she has an active private studio and performs in several regional orchestras as well as teaching at various string and educator workshops and institutes.

Joy Hughes is a graduate of Furman University where she earned a degree in Music Education. She holds a Master of Music in piano accompanying and chamber music from the University of Maryland. A long-time teacher at Christ Church Episcopal School, she taught middle school choir and general music for 12 years. Presently, Joy is the K-4th grade elementary music specialist at CCES where she also leads the 3rd and 4th Grade Choir and the Lower School Percussion Ensemble. She has Kodaly Level 1 training, a Dalcroze certificate from Carnegie Mellon and Orff Level 1 training from George Mason University. She is currently the president of the SC Foothills Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. With a love of children and their abilities to sing, move and play instruments, Joy works within a guiding philosophy that children deserve excellent music and the avenues to create their own music.

Carolyn Huebl, violin, is sought after as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. She is currently Associate Professor of Violin at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and violinist with the Blakemore trio. Critics have called her playing “unfailingly sensitive”, “utterly fearless”, and “pristine”.  Prior to her appointment at Vanderbilt, Carolyn was Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Pittsburgh Symphony, with whom she toured Europe, Japan, and the United States. Carolyn often serves as Concertmaster of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra, and was recently appointed to the faculty of the Brevard Music Center as Principal Second Violin. She has also been on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University, the Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory, the National Music Camp at Interlochen, and the Killington Music Festival, and has presented master classes at leading schools of music across the country.  Her students have been prize-winners in national competitions, and hold orchestral and teaching positions throughout the United States.  She received her DMA from the University of Michigan as a student of Paul Kantor and her BM and MM from the Cleveland Institute of Music with Donald Weilerstein

Rebecca Hunter began her violin studies at the age of three in the Suzuki Method. She received her undergraduate degrees in Violin Performance and French from the University of Western Ontario, a Masters in Performance from the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester, England), a Masters in Suzuki Pedagogy from Ithaca College, and a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the University of Oregon in Performance with a supporting area in Musicology. Hunter has played with the Eugene Symphony, the Corvallis Symphony Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Finger Lakes Symphony, and the Hallé Orchestra in the UK. As a soloist, she has performed concertos with the Faculty Chamber Orchestra at Encore/Coda Festival, Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra London (Ontario), the University of Western Ontario Symphony, Clarion Symphony, London Community Chamber Orchestra, Niagara Youth Symphony, and the London Youth Symphony. Winner of the Empire State Competition (collegiate instrumental music category) and the Ladies' Musical Club of Seattle Competition, Hunter has also received numerous awards from the Kiwanis Music Festival and was named a national finalist in the Canadian Music Competition. Dedicated to pedagogy, Dr. Hunter has taught students of all ages in a variety of contexts for over ten years: four-year old Suzuki 'twinklers', Suzuki group classes, middle school and high school students, adult students, and undergraduate music majors and non-majors. She has also taught technique and musicianship classes, in addition to coaching chamber music and leading orchestra sectionals. As part of her Graduate Teaching Fellowship at the University of Oregon, Hunter performed regularly as first violinist of the graduate string quartet. She also organized and participated in an outreach program that sent the graduate quartet to area middle schools and high schools to perform and work with the students.

Anna Barbrey Joiner is a highly respected artist and educator who serves as director of the South Carolina Suzuki Institute. She has performed with orchestras in Tallahassee, Fla., Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C., and Greenville, S.C. and participated in the Aspen, Brevard, and Sarasota summer music festivals. In 1988, Joiner was a prizewinner in the Atlanta Pro-Mozart Society Competition. She has presented and co-authored research for international conferences in Chicago and Japan and written articles for The American String Teacher, American Suzuki Journal, Tempo, and Georgia Music News. Before returning to her alma mater in 1994, Joiner was associate professor of viola, director of the Pre-College Division, and violist with the Franklin String Quartet at the University of Georgia School of Music. Currently, she performs with her husband, Thomas, as part of the Joiner Duo. In 1992 and 1994, the Duo served as artists-in-residence at the Universidad de Rio Grande de Sul and performed with the Orquestra da Camera Theatre Sao Pedro in South America. The Joiner Duo presented a New York recital in 1997 and released a CD entitled “Intermezzo” in 2000. For more than two decades, she was an artist-faculty member at the Brevard Music Center. Anna received the Doctor of Music in Viola Performance from Florida State University, the Master of Music Education and the Master of Violin Performance from Florida State University, and the Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Furman University. Dr. Joiner received Suzuki teacher training at the American Suzuki Institute at Stevens Point, Wisconsin. She and her husband have a 22 year old daughter, Dianna, who is also a violinist.

Thomas Joiner, violin, has appeared as a conductor, chamber player, and teacher throughout the United States and eleven foreign countries. As Professor of Violin and Orchestral Activities at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, he conducts the Furman Symphony Orchestra in orchestral, operatic, and oratorio performances each year. Since 1998 he has been Music Director and Conductor of the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra. For 31 seasons he was a member of the Artist–Faculty of the Brevard Music Center, holding the Dr. & Mrs. William J. Pendergrast, Sr. Artist Chair serving as a concertmaster of the Brevard Music Festival Orchestra and conductor of the Transylvania Symphony Orchestra. Numerous former students now hold major positions in professional orchestras and universities, and several are medical doctors. Joiner earned the Doctor of Music in Violin Performance from Florida State University, the Masters of Church Music in Musicology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Furman University. Previous positions include Associate Principal Second Violin of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, first violinist with the Louisville Orchestra, Professor of Violin and Orchestral Activities at the University of Georgia School of Music, member of the national board of directors of the Conductors Guild, and president of the South Carolina American String Teachers Association. In 2001 he spent a sabbatical in France studying with eminent maestro John Nelson, former Music Director of the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris. Joiner is a native of Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Dana Meyer, violin/viola, founder of the Harpeth Suzuki Strings, is a graduate of the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music and has been teaching publicly and privately for more than 25 years. She has performed extensively with chamber music groups and major orchestras in the United States and has toured Europe with the American Sinfonietta. Former performing faculty positions include the the Bellingham Festival of Music, Wintergreen Performance Academy, the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, Middle Tennessee State University Governor’s School of Music and St-Anne’s Belfield Summer Music Academy in Virginia. Currently, Mrs. Meyer is a faculty member of the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute, the Suzuki Institute at PheonixPhest in Michigan, the Fine Arts Summer Academy in Nashville and part of the performing faculty with the Chamber Music in the Mountains in Tucson, Arizona. Qualifications: Mrs. Meyer has registered training with the Suzuki Association of the Americas for violin books one through seven, viola books three through six, and has completed her violin practicum. Her major Suzuki teachers have been Ronda Cole, Betsy Stuen-Walker, Edmund Sprunger, Linda Case, Bill Preucil, and Martha Shackford. Associations: President, Middle Tennessee Suzuki Association; former president of the Suzuki Association of South Florida; Member, Suzuki Association of the Americas; Member, MTNA, TMTA, and NAMTA

Amanda Schubert began her violin studies at age three with her father, Lacy McLarry.  She continued studying with him through college, receiving her bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Oklahoma City University.  She received her master’s degree in violin performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was first violinist of the Strelow String Quartet and was coached by the Pro Arte String Quartet.  While in Madison she studied violin with Norman Paulu. In addition to her performance degrees, Amanda holds a teaching degree from the Talent Education Institute, Matsumoto, Japan, where she studied with Shinichi Suzuki. Amanda was a member of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra from 1989 to 2009.  While in Hawaii, she performed extensively and maintained a large class of violin students.  From 1996 to 2011 Amanda served on the violin faculty of the Brevard Music Center summer music festival.  Residing in Central Texas since 2009, Amanda performs with the Waco Symphony and Temple Symphony, free lances and teaches in the area, and is on the violin faculty of the Central Texas String Academy. Amanda has participated in numerous music festivals and her musical studies have taken her to Munich, Germany and Japan, and she has performed in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, China and Mexico. Amanda’s husband, Mark, is on the music faculty at Baylor University.  They have two daughters, Augusta (11) and Alanna (5), who study violin with their mother.  In her spare time, Amanda enjoys studying ballet.

Lisa Sharer
received her master’s degree in music from Florida State University and her bachelor’s degree in music from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Prior to moving to Greenville, SC Ms. Sharer was the founder and director of Reading Suzuki Music Academy in Reading, PA. In addition to maintaining a private studio, Ms. Sharer is a faculty member of the Converse College Pre-College division (The Lawson Academy of the Arts). Ms. Sharer has served as a clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. She has performed with many local and regional orchestras including the Pottstown Symphony Orchestra (PA), Reading Symphony Orchestra (PA), Lancaster Symphony Orchestra (PA), Maryland Chamber Orchestra (MD), Arlington Symphony Orchestra (VA), Pensacola Symphony Orchestra (FL) and Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra (FL).

Nellie Schrantz, violin and fiddle, began violin lessons at the age of six in the Community Music School Suzuki Program at Michigan State University and studied with Dr. Sue Garber until graduation from high school. At the age of ten, Nellie began studying Irish fiddle and dance. By the age of 15, Nellie was a championship level fiddler and Irish dancer, having competed in numerous events throughout Canada and the Midwest. Nellie has a BA in Violin Performance with a concentration in Bluegrass from Denison University where she studied with Dr. Andrew Carlson. In 2010, she graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Masters in Music and Human Learning. Currently, Nellie is the orchestra director at Smithton Middle School in Columbia, Missouri. In addition to her work at Smithton, Nellie is a registered Suzuki teacher and maintains a private studio and performs with the Columbia Civic Orchestra.

Ann Montzka Smelser began playing violin at the age of 3 with the help of her father, Arthur Montzka.  She studied with  Kazuko Numanami and Sarah Hersh at the Oberlin College Suzuki Program and later with Rebecca Sandrok and Pierre Menard.  Ann studied with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan between receiving her Bachelors of Music Education and Masters in Performance and Pedagogue at Northern Illinois University. Ann has performed in numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles and is currently principal 2nd violinist with Camerata Chicago and concertmaster of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. In 2005 Ann became a Registered Suzuki Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She currently teaches Suzuki Pedagogy at Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University. Ann has a private studio of 35 students and is director of the NIU, CSA Suzuki Strings Program. Ann enjoys working with Suzuki families and teachers at Suzuki Institutes and workshops throughout the United States. Ann was a guest teacher at the 2010 International String Conference in Singapore and has given Teacher Training courses in Lima, Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico City. She lives in DeKalb, IL with her Suzuki teenagers, Benjamin and Genevieve, her husband, Linc, her Golden Retriever, Chloe and her cat, Blackie.

Ed Sprunger,
violin, author of Helping Parents Practice: Ideas for Making it Easier (Vol. 1), has presented at numerous state, national, and international conferences and has taught hundreds of workshops throughout North and South America. BA in music from Goshen College—violin with Lon Sherer, and piano and piano pedagogy with Marvin Blickenstaff. Also trained as a psychotherapist, holds Masters in Social Work (University of Michigan); and extensive post-degree training with the Michigan and St. Louis psychoanalytic institutes. Additional violin studies with Chihiro Kudo and Reinaldo Couto (Alexander Technique/Violin). Served on the SAA Board; was Chair of ASTA’s Committee on Studio Instruction. 2004 ASTA Citation for Leadership and Merit. Author of Helping Parents Practice. Also serves as Director of the Child Development Program at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute. 

Dewitt Tipton, accompanist, is an instructor at Furman, assisting with music theory classes and serving as one of the collaborative pianists. An integral and essential part of the recital process, Tipton not only accompanies students but coaches, guides and mentors them as they practice for their pending jury or recital. His skill expands the Furman students' performance options and permits them to study and present challenging solo selections and chamber works. From concerto accompaniments and opera scene recitals to junior/senior recitals and faculty chamber music, Tipton supports the department's extensive offerings from the piano. In addition to his position at Furman, he is currently the official accompanist for the North Carolina Metropolitan Opera Auditions, organist at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors, S.C., and Conductor Emeritus of the Asheville Symphony Chorus.

Alice Vierra teaches Suzuki cello in her own studio program of 25 students ages 4 - 18.  She is also a part-time strings instructor in the Fairfax Public Schools.  Alice holds a BME from the University of Iowa, and an MM in cello performance from the University of Wisconsin.  Her teachers were Charles Wendt and Lowell Creitz. She also studied at the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin with Kenneth Slowik.  She is a Suzuki Associaton of the Americas registered Teacher Trainer in cello and has taught at many Suzuki Institutes across the country. Alice has been a presenter several times at the SAA Teacher Conference and also at the International Teacher Trainer Conference held in Boston. She is a past President of the local Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area, and a member of the board of the Kindler Cello Society. As a performer she played with the Washington Bach Consort on their tour to Germany, was a member of Fairfax Symphony, and free-lanced playing at Wolf Trap, the National Cathedral, Corcoran Gallery, and Terrace Theatre. She was a Suzuki Mom to three children who are now grown.

Kristen Walter, Musicianship, has been an elementary and middle school general music and choral specialist for all age groups in Western North Carolina for the last 12 years.  She is currently the conductor and artistic director of the Hendersonville Children’s Choir and the Hendersonville Chorale and serves as the music instructor at Dana and Sugarloaf Elementary schools in Hendersonville, NC.   She works as a general music/solfege clinician and is an active vocal soloist in the region.  Ms. Walter holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in music education from Florida State University. 

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