Studio Owner/Private Piano Instructor
Heather was four years old when her fingers first touched the piano. She started playing because her family had inherited her grandmother’s piano. She discovered she could play by ear as she began to play tunes that she heard at church and on the radio without music. The first tune she played was one that she had learned at church – “Blessed Assurance”. Thus began her musical journey and from that point forward her parents saw to it that she received formal instruction in her piano studies. The piano became a huge part of her identity and she felt special when she sat at the piano. Heather began playing on a Wurlitzer console piano and a Hammond organ and at the age of 11 began playing for church, school, weddings and other special events. While in high school she competed in a regional competition and won the second-place trophy for original piano arrangement and piano performance. Her music instructors have included Bruce Greer, Stephen Neilsen, renowned pianist of the well known piano duo-Ovid and Young, Margaret Wells, and Alan Oldfield.
Heather most admires J.S. Bach and Frederic Chopin for their brilliant compositions, and Franz Liszt, Bruce Greer, and Dino Kartsonakis for their piano performances. Her favorite musical group is the Piano Guys.
Heather has performed in St. Petersburg, Russia and at numerous recitals and public events, solo piano concerts, accompanying choirs, and has performed Handel’s Messiah on a harpsichord with the Creekwood Christian Choir. She was the lead church pianist and choir accompanist at Temple Baptist Church of Flower Mound, TX for 8 years, and was the lead pianist, choir accompanist, worship leader, and praise band leader at Creekwood Christian Church. She has accompanied numerous UIL events for LISD and Denton ISD schools.
Heather has produced the album “Sacred Passion”, a collection of original piano solo material, which is available on iTunes. Her latest project is producing music videos that exhibit her solo piano works of art and they are currently being released on YouTube.
Heather started teaching piano lessons in high school by mentoring a few younger students, taught students while studying music in college, and then founded New Song School of the Arts (then known as New Song Piano Studio) in 1999. Heather’s award-winning students have consistently received one pluses (superior ratings) from festival and piano competition judges, received sonatina festival trophies and all star trophies, and have been awarded student scholarships,
Heather’s favorite pieces to play are her original arrangements and compositions, and she enjoys singing the songs that she has written. Her personal practice goal is 2 hours daily (10 hours weekly) and she plays the piano nearly every day of her life. Her practice routine is: sightreading – Bach, Chopin, Gershwin, Handel and many other composers; Jazz study (she regularly studies Jazz to keep her arrangements and compositions colorful); arranging/composition – spend time working on her own original material; songwriting – writing her own lyrics and tunes; and literature learning – regularly learning new works of literature.
Heather wants to be remembered as someone who worked daily to reach her fullest potential in every area of life; someone who took the musical talent that God blessed her with and multiplied it exponentially; someone who, through hard work, good character and discipline, inspired others to strive to reach their fullest potential; someone who passed on a passion and love for music to their students; someone who honored God and blessed others; and someone who built a legacy that touches lives for years to come. Her goal is to live a life full of purpose and make a difference in the world around her. She is most passionate about reaching her fullest potential, exposing her material so it can bless, ministering to and inspiring others, seeing her students succeed in their learning, and seeing them love music for a lifetime.
Music Education Instructor/MUSIKSCOOL Director
Ashley grew up in Pflugerville, TX and began playing the clarinet in 6th grade and learned all of the string, woodwind, and brass instruments as part of her music education degree. She also performs on bass guitar. Ashley’s grandfather and great uncles make up the group The Chambers Brothers, who were awarded a Gold record for selling over 1 million records in the 60s.
Ashley was a semi-finalist in the UNT Concerto Compeition at UNT in 2011. She performs with the Dallas Civic Wind Ensemble and the New Life Symphony at different venues in north Texas and Oklahoma and has also performed with the Grand Prairie Opera.
Ashley’s favorite musician is Jon Manasse and she enjoys playing anything by Percy Grainger. Her practice sessions include working on long tones, scales, interval work, and orchestral excerpts before moving on to whatever she is working on for upcoming performances.
Ashley has been teaching in public schools for 4 years, and has been teaching privately for 6 years. She enjoys working with children–seeing their faces light up and smile is the best part. Even though music is a heavy curriculum, she believes that when it is delivered joyfully, through play and exploration, children will gravitate toward it more and be inspired to practice.
Ashley wants her students to love music and make music a part of their lives. She wants her students to become adults who can sing in church, sing to their children, rock their babies to sleep, can understand the role humanities has in a society, and above all else, become adults who have an emotional connection to music.
Jamila began playing the piano at the age of 5. Her oldest sister was pursuing her dream of becoming a professional pianist and she inspired Jamila and guided her first steps in piano playing. The first tune she learned to play was “The Sick Doll” from the Children’s Album by P. I. Tchaikovsky. She also plays the pipe organ and the harpsichord. Both of her parents played musical instruments as well.
Jamila holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Texas, majoring in Organ Performance with a minor in Music Theory under the supervision of Dr. Lenora McCroskey. She received her Bachelors and Masters degree in Music Theory and Organ Performance from Azerbaijan State Conservatory under Dr. Tahira Yagubova. Jamila has a Performing Organist Licentiate Diploma from the Associated Royal Schools of Music, and a Diploma from the Conservatory of Amsterdam where she was a student of renowned Professor Jacques van Oortmerssen. She also studied with world-recognized musicians including Andrea Marcon of Italy; Jean Boyer, Naji Hakim and Michel Bouvard of France; and Hans Ola Ericsson of Sweden.
Jamila loves classical music and regularly attends Dallas Symphony Orchestra concerts. She enjoys playing music from the Baroque Era. Jamila majored in organ performance and most admires J.S. Bach because his music is considered the best for organists for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual strength.
Jamila has taught music lessons for over 30 years and is passionate about public performance and the learning process. Visit her website for more information and videos of a few of her organ performances –www.jjavadovaspitzberg.com.
Ben grew up in Waverley, Nova Scotia, Canada and began playing the guitar at about the age of 12 along with other kids in his neighborhood. Over the years of his development he also began playing the slide guitar, classical guitar, piano, and harmonica. His first guitar was one he found in his grandmother’s basement. It had been his uncles when he was a kid, had only 4 strings left, the bridge was lifting off the body of the guitar, and the tuners were broken so the guitar was stuck out of tune. Ben loved the guitars unique musty smell and would play songs on only the lowest strings.
The musician Ben admires most is jazz guitarist John Scofield due to the way he blends jazz with genres like funk, gospel, R&B, and country in his improvising and composing. The first album that he really “got into” was Paranoid by Black Sabbath. He also enjoys Paul Simon, Miles Davis, Henry Purcell, and Grant Green.
Ben’s great aunt studied harp at The Julliard School and was one of Canada’s lead harpists for many years. Now in her late 90s she still teaches harp, violin and piano, and gives recitals.
He earned First Class Honours on his undergraduate degree from Saint Fancis Xavier University and attended the University of North Texas on a competitive music scholarship
Ben performs regularly around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He is a member of the Enablers (top 40), the Freeloaders (jazz/blues), Fingerprints (smooth jazz), the Nick Mclean Jazztet (jazz) and his own jazz group. He also freelance performs with various country singers (most notably Jamie Richards), and other jazz groups.
He is very methodical about recording the exact amount of time he practices and on average practices two hours each day. When preparing for a new performance he frequently practices 8 hours or more. Ben’s ideal practice day would be broken into four one-hour sessions – Technique (scales etc), Reading music, Vocabulary (licks/solo transcriptions), and Repertoire.
Ben has been teaching formally since 2012 and participated in a peer mentorship program while an undergraduate student where students taught and took lessons from one another. His favorite thing about teaching is seeing his students get inspired and develop a love of music. He also appreciates how teaching helps him to organize his own pedagogical thinking pushing him to develop an explicit understanding of the things he is already doing musically.
Ben would like his students to understand that music is for everyone and that anyone reach an amazing level of skill if they put in the work. He is a professional performer who loves music and wants to bring that experience back to his students. He has a unique vantage point because music was never easy for him and he was never the “best” guitarist. He failed his first audition to get into community college, but was accepted after a callback audition when too few people registered for the program. After years of hard work and dedication he is now living his boyhood dream of being a professional guitarist in the United States. Ben wants to break through the myths surrounding music and show people that with some hard work, dedication, and a solid plan they can do whatever they want with music.
Carol grew up in Richland Center, Wisconsin and began playing the piano at the age of 3. Her mom taught piano in their home and she would hide behind the couch and listen to the student’s as they practiced. She begged her mother to teach her how to play and finally was allowed to begin lessons when she turned 3 years old. Her first recital included two pieces from the Francis Clark series. In addition to the piano, Carol also plays the clarinet, flute, oboe, bassoon, and saxophone. Both of her parents have master’s degrees in music and her uncle was the original band director at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL.
Carol’s favorite musician is Mozart. She fell in love with his music while in high school when she played one of his clarinet solos for a contest. She continued to play his pieces in small ensemble groups while in college. Carol most enjoys listening to a group called Pentatonix.
Her mom’s piano was an Everett spinet piano and that piano to Carol as a college graduation present. The first clarinet Carol played was actually her dad’s amazing Buffett. He let her play it for a couple of months and then bought her a shiny new student line Evette. She did not enjoy playing the Evette clarinet, so he allowed her to play his amazing Buffett from the 1940’s until he bought a Buffett for her.
While Carol was in high school it became a sort of game to see how many different solos and ensembles she could join. She participated in many contests including vocal—solos and ensembles, and instrumental—flute, clarinet, and saxophone solos and ensembles. She started in Wisconsin School Music Association’s solo ensemble contests in 6th grade and began accompaniment contests in 8th grade. When she was a senior in high school she had 20 solos, ensembles, and accompaniments at the state level. Her abilities and level of involvement earned her a full scholarship to play clarinet at the University of Wisconsin. Carol has a Bachelor’s Degree in pre-k-12 Vocal Music Education, a Bachelor’s Degree in pre-k-12 Instrumental Music Education, and a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
Carol has taught music lessons since 1980 with an emphasis on piano and vocal studies. She fits time in her schedule to practice daily so that she can continue to improve her own skill set. She is most passionate about expression through music. She wants her students to learn how to allow music to speak through them as they play and perform.
Drums/Guitar/Beginning Piano Instructor
Justin started playing drums at the age of 10 when he received a drum set for Christmas. Shortly after that he began learning guitar. In further years he also learned to play the piano and the bass. The first tune that he learned was When I Come Around by Green Day and his favorite musicians are Our Lady Peace, Stone Temple Pilots, and 30 Seconds to Mars.
Justin fronts a rock band called Quiet on the Set. He has also toured in various rock bands as the drummer (Admiral Grey being the most recent). Justin is a professional actor and has performed at Dallas Theater Center, Uptown Players and many other theatres around the DFW area.
Justin grew up in Sarasota, Florida and was trained by Reverend Horton Heat and the Burden Brothers drummer, Taz Bentley.
Justin is passionate about creating music. His experience with various instruments has helped him to improve and advance in all of them.
Pianist Anatolia Loannides, enjoys a versatile career as a teacher, performer, collaborative pianist and coach.
Ms. Ioannides has performed in a number of national and international venues and festivals such as Voces Intimae and Opera in Concert, the Mozarteum Sommer Akademie. She has served as staff pianist for the Piatigorsky International Seminar for Cellists, UNT-Clarinet essentials, and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and has performed for the Jugend Musiziert Wetbewerb, and the Women in Music Composers’ Conference, USC-Visions and Voices and KUSC-Sundays Live with the Rick Todd’s USC Wind and Percussion ensemble.
As artistic director and founder of the chamber ensemble Cmc3+, she produced outreach programs in arts education. She has also developed multidisciplinary performances such as “Art and Hellenism” in collaboration with the Consul General of Greece and Loyola Marymount University (2004) and “A Roving Eye on Cyprus” (2008) at USC’s Fischer Museum of Art in conjunction with former US Ambassador Donald Bandler’s exhibition of photography. She was one of the lead-pianists in the world premiere of the commissioned performance and multichannel video exhibition “Piano Destructions” by the Frankfurt and London based artist Andrea Büttner, produced at the Walter Phillips Gallery and the Banff Centre in Canada (2014).
In addition to coaching and accompanying college students and performing with faculty and guest artists at UNT and SMU, Dr. Ioannides and teaches piano and the art of accompanying and chamber music to pre-collegiate music students in the Denton- Dallas metropolitan area.
She has recently developed a summer workshop dedicated to providing coaching and performance opportunities in instrumental and vocal chamber music to pre-collegiate performers; and making collaborative piano repertoire an integral part of the young piano student’s musical training and development. An active member of Music Teachers National Association, she is in strong demand as adjudicator for young artist festivals and competitions in Texas and California.
Dr. Ioannides is the pianist and co-founder of TrioPolis, an ensemble dedicated to the promotion of new works and forging innovating, interdisciplinary collaborations across the performing arts, with UNT faculty clarinetist Kimberly Cole and violinist Felix Olschofka.
She serves as accompanist and coach for UNT’s ClarEssentials Summer Workshop and is actively involved with UNT-CollabFest, a two-day festival celebration and exploration of all things collaborative piano.
Dr. Ioannides received her B.M in piano performance and pedagogy from the Universitat für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. She completed her M.M and D.M.A in Keyboard Collaborative Arts at the University of Southern California.
She is a Royal Conservatory of Music registered teacher and a member of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), Texas Music Teachers Association (TMTA).
Monika Leenhouts is from Estonia and she started playing recorder and piano at the age of 7. Her mother inspired her to play music, because she loved to listen to classical music and play piano herself.
Monika is a professional and experienced pianist, harpist, and woodwind instrumentalist. She was awarded first price twice in The National Competition for young wind players in Estonia and the special award for the most creative young artist in Estonia.
She has performed at the Boston, Utrecht, Valencia and Barcelona Early Music festivals with the consort The Royal Wind Music and toured with various chamber music groups all over the Europe and Asia. She has performed on TV in Europe and Asia. She has also played in the Dutch National Opera and the Estonian National Theatre.
She holds a Bachelor and Master degree with teaching certificate from The Royal Conservatory of The Hague in Early Music and is currently working on her postgraduate degree in harp with Dr. Jaymee Haefner at UNT with the related field in music education.
Monika has a passion for Italian 16-17’th century repertoire and French 18th century music. She also admires the composers like, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Chopin.
She practices approximately 5 hours per day. She begins with exercises to warm up, progresses to sight-reading new repertoire and then working on memorizing pieces, technique and musical lines.
Monika would like to be remembered as a caring, kind and inspiring person who is passionate about music.
Emerald has been playing the piano since she was four years old when her parents introduced it to her. In addition to playing the piano she has been singing since she was six years old and has participated in choir competitions in Australia, Germany, France, and Korea. The first tune that Emerald learned was Mozart’s Minuet in G Major. Her first piano was a small upright piano.
She most admires Hélène Grimaud for her natural playing style and the intimate and passionate nature of her music. Her favorite musicians are Vladimir Horowitz and Martha Argerich. She most enjoys playing classical and jazz style music.
Emerald has performed publicly at the Dallas Center Library and in the Shenzen Concert Hall in China. She received her Bachelor of Music undergraduate degree from South China Normal University, her Master of Music from UNP, and is currently working on her Doctorate of Music Arts. Emerald has been teaching music since 2008.
Emerald practices every day for 3-4 hours. She plays by ear, but uses exercises to improve her skills and enjoys learning new tunes regularly. Her playing and practice keeps her calm and patient and the discipline of following tempo in music helps her to stay balanced in life. She is most passionate about her personal performing and inspiring students to reach their own potential.
Yuri has been playing the violin since she was 10 years old. She also plays the piano and the viola. The first tune that she learned to play was Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Yuri’s mother was a pianist and her father played the flute. Her family loves to listen to music and have always supported her as she developed her abilities. Yuri started her musical journey with the piano at the age of seven. She played for three years before transitioning to the violin. She enjoys listening to Gil Shaham’s violin music.
Yuri grew up in South Korea and has won awards in competitions through the Music Education Newspaper and Nationwide Music Competition hosted by Art Journal. She currently plays in the UNT symphony orchestra and has previously played in the Monroe Symphony Orchestra in Monroe, LA and the Richardson Symphony Orchestra in Richardson, TX.
She has a Master of Music, College of Music, University of North Texas, TX and is currently working on her doctorate of Musical Arts from the College of Music, University of North Texas, TX.
Yuri loves to play orchestral music and practices for hours each day. She enjoys practicing orchestral music, solo pieces, and scales. She has been studying music for 19 years.
Yuri wants to be remembered as a musician who constantly puts more effort into her playing. She is passionate about making beautiful sounds and wants to instill those desires into her students.
Guitar/Beginning Piano Instructor
Aaron has been playing guitar for about 30 years. Music was something that he was able to connect with and it became a lifelong pursuit. Aaron started out playing the acoustic guitar. His first guitar was a cheap one that he never put down. He began playing the piano to make his mom happy and he also plays the bass guitar. His family is also musical and their musical abilities have been used and developed in their church. His early childhood years were spent in Texas and Oklahoma, and his jr. high and high school years in Pennsylvania.
Musicians that Aaron admires include Bach, for his simple, yet brilliant composition; Charlie Christian and Freddie Green, for bringing guitar to a new level and introducing new techniques in the Big Band era. He also admires the playing of Joe Pass, Scottie Moore, and Jimmie Hendrix. Some of his favorite musicians include Wes Montgomery, Elvis, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash.
In high school Aaron was in a state jazz competition and was runner up for solo performance. He also received the national Woody Herman music performance award while in high school. In college he won the on-campus competition – Battle of the Bands.
Aaron has played publicly on many occasions. He frequently plays for weddings and has been privately hired for studio sessions. He has played the opening act for Sanctum Real and the Afters, played along with Nathan Cochran of MercyMe, and has co-written songs with Nashville songwriters.
Aaron enjoys playing jazz and his practice times include chromatic runs as well as playing instrumental pieces to continue working on his melodic technique. He has been teaching guitar for nearly 20 years and wants to be remembered as someone who gave it his all and inspired others to do the same. He is most passionate about playing and performing right, which makes him an excellent teacher.
Jason grew up in Grapevine, TX and began playing guitar at the age of 13. Both of his parents play guitar and his mom is an exceptional singer. The first song he remembers playing is “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. His first instrument was a Conn classical guitar.
He most admires Jason Becker, one of the greatest neo-classical guitarists of all time, for his incredible story of perseverance after his guitar-playing career was cut short by ALS by the age of 21. Jason Becker continues writing symphonies through a program that is controlled by his eye movements since every other muscle is dead due to ALS.
Some of his favorite performers include A7X, Paul Gilbert, Zakk Wylde, Jason Becker, Joe Satriani, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Metallica, Andres Segovia, and Kiko Louriero.
Jason personally practices 3-4 hours per week in addition to his teaching schedule. His practices include speed picking, sweep picking, legato runs, and whatever musical piece he is working on at the time.
He has taught guitar lesson for the past four years and wants to be known as a great mentor and teacher. He is most passionate about soloing and that is his primary type of music performance.
Jason has a strong love for teaching. In addition to being a music instructor, he is also a HS math teacher at Northwest HS. He is a gifted communicator that knows how to make learning fun. One of the ways he shows his students that learning can be fun is by teaching them pieces that they choose to learn or helping them compose their own tunes.
Jackson desires for his guitar students to be inspired and motivated through his teaching. He hopes that they will have a lifelong love for learning music and that they will realize that dedication to practice does indeed come with great reward.
Karina began playing the violin when her family moved to Moscow, Russia in 1999. Her mother is a piano teacher and began teaching her music lessons when Karina was 5 years old. The first formal music school she attended was Gnesin Moscow State Music School. From the beginning of elementary school she was required to take an additional instrument on a performance level, and she chose the piano.
She participated in different competitions and festivals in Russia as a piano performer. After finishing the middle school she went to Moscow State Academic Music College of Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory and as a violinist she participated in college competitions and international festivals in Austria, Greece, and Turkey.
In 2011 Karina participated in the International Competition in Ukraine for the young performers where she received a diploma of recognition. The following year she won second prize in the International Competition in Italy “Music XXI Century”.
She has performed several concertos with the Baroque Orchestra as a soloist. In the fall of 2015 she won a Concerto Competition at UNT. In March of 2016 she performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the UNT Symphony Orchestra.
Karina practices daily for at least three hours beginning with exercises, scales before moving to her performance pieces. She is currently a TA at UNT with a Early Music Instruments field of study.
During her undergraduate program she began teaching at an elementary music school. Since that time she has enjoyed teaching as a way she can impart her knowledge to the students and allows her to see them improve and develop. She wants the students feel happy, encouraged, and inspired by her instruction. She tries to inspire the students by making them feel encouraged and interested in the process. She hopes the music will make the students be more creative and improve their lives.
Karina holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin performance and pedagogy and also a master of music degree in violin performance from University or North Texas. She is currently studying to obtain her Graduate Artist Certificate from UNT.
In addition to teaching violin, Karina has taught piano for many years. Being that she began studying piano in her childhood and has continued her piano studies she has chosen to pass on her love for the piano to other students. She often will do a blended lessons for students teaching both piano and violin.
Johanna began playing the piano at the age of 5. Her mother and grandmother were both pianists, and inspired her from an early age. She plays piano and sings as well. Two of her earliest classical pieces were The Happy Farmer (Schumann), and Prelude in C (Bach). She remembers feeling very accomplished when she was able to play these pieces well.
Nearly everyone in Johanna’s family is a musician or a teacher. Her mom plays the piano and her dad is a singer. She has an uncle who is jazz performer and educator, and another who is a symphony violinist. Her grandmother, who has been performing for over 70 years has had the greatest musical impact on Johanna’s life. In high school, her grandmother was her coach and mentor, has always encouraged her to achieve more at the piano, and is her biggest cheer-leader.
Johanna’s favorite classical composer, in life and music, is Felix Mendelssohn. He wrote with an amazing lyric quality that is so tender and thoughtful. He was very young when he died, but he left such a beautiful legacy of music. Her favorite of Mendelssohn’s pieces to perform is his Piano Concert in G minor.
Johanna grew up playing on an August Förster grand piano. It was a gift from her uncle (jazz musician) to her mom. She feels incredibly blessed to have access to such a wonderful instrument from her earliest years.
Johanna finds inspiration in Anna Netrebko (opera singer). She has an amazing emotional connection with the music and performs with a stellar technique. The Pianist Yuja Wang is a fascinating performer and very inspiring as well. Her three favorite composers to play are Debussy, Mendelssohn, and Mozart. Beyond the classical realm, two of her favorite groups are Snarky Puppy and The Lone Bellow.
Johanna grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and performed often with singers, choral groups and musical theater productions. One of her favorite moments was getting to perform at St. Louis’ Symphonic Powell Hall with the St. Louis Children’s Choir.
Johanna has completed her Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance at Missouri Baptist University and is currently enrolled in the Master of Music, Collaborative Piano program at UNT. She was awarded the Connie Powell Music Award twice during the course of her undergraduate music program.
Johanna practices daily for up to 6 hours. She begins her practice sessions with relaxation; preparing her mind and body to play the piano. She warms up with exercises and difficult passages from her repertoire. She likes to practice slowly, in small segments and gradually put together the pieces to create a complete performance. She also always includes sight-reading in her practice sessions. This is one of the most important and useful skills that she has found in her career.
Johanna has taught in various capacities for 5 years and wants to be remembered as a kind person. Because music is such a competitive field, she truly believes that attitude and character is what sets great musicians apart. Johanna feels strongly that music is about connection, not just a mental exercise. She also feels that in order to create beautiful music there must be a synthesis of body, soul, and mind. This is the ideology that she wants to communicate while teaching.
Ashley has been playing the piano since she was 5 years old when her dad, a pianist, gave her the first lesson. In addition to the piano, she plays the violin, oboe, saxophone, and guitar.
The first tunes she learned to play were Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, London Bridge, and other nursery rhymes that her mother used to sing to her as a young girl. Ashley comes from a musically talented family where her dad plays the piano, and her mom played trumpet and sang in school choir. She has two younger sisters, one of whom is a trained classical pianist and oboist, and the other of whom plays the violin in the University of Texas in Dallas’ orchestra. She and her siblings were guided by the Associated Board Royal Schools of Music syllabus throughout their music training.
Of the composers Ashley admires Bach, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Wagner. They were able to present a whole new perspective to music in their respective time periods by pushing existing composition style to its height and included advanced elements in their music. Her favorite musicians and groups are Martha Argerich, Gidon Kremer, Tamas Vasary, Joshua Bell, the Beatles, Jeff Buckley, Queen, and John Scofield.
Ashley began playing the violin when she was 13 years old at the urging of her piano teacher to play a second instrument. At the age of 14 she joined the school band playing the oboe and later the saxophone as recommended by the coach. She met a classical guitarist when she was in college and learned to play the guitar.
Ashley has taken part in and won many competitions as a child. The most recent prize she was awarded was the 2011 Edward Brooks English Song Prize organized by Birmingham Conservatoire. She often performs publicly for lunchtime and evening recitals, solo and chamber music concerts, art festivals, and church and wedding gigs.
Ashley is currently pursuing her Doctoral of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano at the University of North Texas. She attended the Birmingham Conservatoire from 2010 – 2012 where she earned her Master of Music in Piano Accompaniment. Her undergraduate degree was obtained at the National Taiwan University of Art where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Piano Performance and a minor of Violin Performance.
Ashley most enjoys playing chamber works. She loves having a fellow musician to work with so they can constantly challenge and inspire one another. She practices 3-4 hours daily by doing warm-ups using scales and practice techniques. She practices old pieces to work on details and improve touch, tone, sound, and phrasing. She practices new pieces by starting at a tempo slow enough for her to get the notes and rhythm right without having to pause. She often focuses on challenging passages to get them right before proceeding. In order to improve her sight reading she works on standard sonatas and chamber works. This allows her to improve her reading pace but also to simultaneously learn new repertoire.
Ashley has taught music for 12 years and wants to be remembered as a performer who has touched souls, a teacher who has changed lives, and a humble and inspiring person who always gives her best to help others. She is most passionate about playing and performing. She wants her music to bring only joy to her audience.
Meg was introduced to the piano at four years old. Her family has a musical background and her grandfather was a primary school music teacher.
Meg most admires Diana Damau for her ability to sing a variety of music styles and make instrument adjustments as needed. She also admires Anna Netrebko for her confidence and her genuine and natural acting and Sierra Boggess whose honest voice and choice of music grabs Meg’s heart.
Meg’s first instrument was an upright piano. At the age of 16, when she chose to follow a music major in school she received a grand piano. At that time she also began flute lessons.
She was the winner of the Cecil Drew Oratorio Prize 2004, and the Birmingham Conservatoire Singing Prize 2005. Both competitions were held in England. She has performed in numerous recitals, and has played major opera roles and concert solos with the UNT Opera, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana in Monroe, the Louisiana Opera, the Taiwan Opera Studio, the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, and the Taipei Philharmonic Theater.
Meg is a DMA Candidate at UNT, has completed her MMus & PGDip at Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University, England, and her BM at Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan. She has also received a Post Graduate Diploma and Certificate in Vocal Performance and a Certificate of Television Director of Performing Arts.
Meg practices three to five 20-minute sessions per day, five to six days per week. The practice sessions consist of humming and lip-trill (both are the safest for vocal cords), and doing simple scales and Arpeggios in legato/staccato. She chooses a line or more from the songs she is learning or performing at the time to create a new pattern for practice.
Meg has taught music for 17 years and enjoys expressing herself in different dimensions, feeling the energy fill her body, and creating imaginations through different compositions.
Wei-Shu grew up in Taipei, Taiwan and during his senior year in college he joined a choir where he found his passion in singing and acting. Wei-Shu’s favorite opera singers include Pavarotti, Leo Nucci, Roberto Alagna, and Diana Damrau. He also enjoys the singing of Michael Ball, Sierra Boggess, Lea Salonga. He also has played the Chinese flute for more than 15 years.
Wei-Shu has had many major opera roles and performed concert solos with the University of North Texas, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana in Monroe, the Louisiana Opera, the Flower Mound Community Orchestra, the Taiwan Philharmonic, the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, and the Taipei Philharmonic Opera Studio. He won the First Prize in Chinese flute at the Taoyuan County Music Competition in 2004, First Prize in Voice at the NTUE Concerto Competition in 2007, and First Prize in Voice at the National Music Competition in 2008. Wei-Shu has earneda Master of Music degree from National Taipei University of Education and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of North Texas.
Wei-Shu’s singing practice consists of three to five 20-minute sessions per day, six days per week. He starts his vocal warm ups with scales, and messa di voce (crescendo-diminuendo). He reviews his assignments from the previous week focusing on difficult sections. He concludes his practices by previewing future assignments. For flute practice, Wei-Shu begins from long notes with messa di voce. He also practice scales in major and minor keys, and arpeggio patterns. These are the essential exercises that need to be reviewed every day.
His focus on continuing his music education helps him as he instructs his students. Wei-Shu has taught the Chinese flute for over 10 years and has taught voice lessons for over 7 years. His passion is introducing music to his audience using musical connection, and trying to communicate the words and the meanings behind the music to the audience.
Ruusamari grew up in Finland and began playing the piano at the age of four with her mother and continued at a formal school of music a year later. Her entire family has a love for and a very close connection to music. Her great, great grandfather on her mother´s side was the great composer Jean Sibelius and she has a lineage of folk musicians from her fathers side. In Ruusamari’s mother´s family basically everybody plays an instrument. On her father´s side there are fiddle and guitar players. Ruusamari plays the piano, fortepiano, harpshichord, and organ. The piano is her first instrument, the big love of her life. She later chose other keyboard instruments of which the fortepiano she has the closest relationship.
Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schuberts, Schumann, Sibelius, and Tschaikovsky are the composers that Ruusamari most admires. Of the great performers she loves Emil Gilels, Pinhas Zukerman, Gil Shaham and Yefim Bronfman to mention a few. Her mentors Vladimir Viardo, Christoph Hammer, and Elvia Puccinelli have been the greatest influence. Beyond classical musicians she loves Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Freddie Mercury, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and Bill Evans. The first tunes that really awoke her love to music were Mozart’s Andante and pieces by J.S. Bach.
Ruusamari has received two second-place prizes in the Bradshaw and Buono piano competition in NY, NY and the Petroff piano competition in San Antonio, TX. She regularly tours with fellow musicians. She played 40 concerts with Finnish cellist, Jussi Makkonen all aroung the US in 2015. The engagements for the summer 2016 include concerts in Germany, Italy and Finland. Ruusamari has performed and interviewed on radio and television in the US and Finland. She received a NOVA scholarship from the UNT College of Music and Finlandia Foundation Scholarship as a highest ranking applicant.
Ruusamari has artist certificates from the Prague Concervatory, Czech Republic and the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary. Her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in piano performance is from UNT, class of Vladimir Viardo. She is currently working on her DMA in Collaborative piano performance at UNT with Elvia Puccinelli and Steven Harlos. She also has related field fortepiano studies with Christoph Hammer and Paul Leenhouts. Ruusamari has participated in master classes with Dmitry Bashkirov, Yefim Bronfman, Matti Raekallio, Natalya Antonova, and others.
Ruusamari practices from 2-4 hours every day. She uses warm ups, scales and finger exercises as a part of a daily practice routine. She regularly adds new repertoire and technically challenging spots that require extra time, repetition and new creative way of practice. She has been teaching music since she was 20 years old.
Ruusamari wants to be remembered as an honest, sensitive and passionate musician and a happy and friendly human being. The quote from Goethe – “Music starts where the words end” sums up her passion in regard to her work as a musician and teacher. Her great, great grandfather, Jean Sibelius’ words inspire her to be the best she can be – “Music is for me like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.”
Ms. Deborah Titus, music educator, flutist, and collaborative pianist, works as a freelance musician in the DFW area, playing for soloists, choirs, musicals, and operas. She recently earned her masters degree in Flute Performance from the University of Texas at Arlington where she was principal flute in the Symphonic Orchestra. While there, she had a flute and piano studio of 35 students at the Music Institute of North Texas and in the Arlington ISD. She also studied in the masters Collaborative Piano Performance program at the University of North Texas under the direction of Dr. Stephen Harlos and Dr. Elvia Puccinelli. Ms. Titus was a choir director, music history teacher, and vocal coach at DeSoto High School. Ms. Titus received her bachelor degree in Music Education, where she studied flute, piano, and voice. Previous flute and piano professors include: Dr. Terri Sanchez, Dr. Jill Heyboer, Dr. Greg Morris, Dr. Linda Ligate, Kathy Cowens, Michelle Draper, and Larry Bridges.
While in school, she played principle flute in the symphonic and traveling orchestras, flute/piccolo in pit orchestras for operas and musicals, and flute/piccolo/alto flute/bass flute in flute choirs. Ms. Deborah also won two state competitions on the flute. She has written a full music camp curriculum and directed the music camp in New Mexico. Throughout the Midwest states, Ms. Deborah has taught early childhood music classes to students from birth to 6 years and private flute and piano to students from age 5 to adult. She also often performs recitals as Collaborative Pianist for high school, college, and graduate students in the area.
She performs with several traveling orchestras and ensembles which have taken her to 42 states and 5 countries, including Russia, Poland, Spain, and Canada.
Ms. Deborah Titus, music educator, collaborative pianist, and flutist. She has extensive experience teaching piano, flute, and voice lessons. She also works as a freelance musician in the DFW area, playing for soloists, choirs, musicals, and operas. She was the district voice teacher at Cedar Hill ISD in the high schools and middle schools where she had 40 private voice students and coached many others in the choir program. She earned her masters degree in Flute Performance from the University of Texas at Arlington where she was principal flutist in the Symphonic Orchestra. While there, she had a piano and flute studio of 35 students at the Music Institute of North Texas and in the Arlington ISD. She also studied in the masters Collaborative Piano Performance program at the University of North Texas under the direction of Dr. Stephen Harlos and Dr. Elvia Puccinelli. Ms. Titus was a choir director, music history teacher, and vocal coach at DeSoto High School. Ms. Titus received her bachelor degree in Music Education, where she studied piano, flute and voice. Previous piano and flute professors include: Dr. Stephen Harlos, Dr. Elvis Puccinelli, Dr. Terri Sanchez, Dr. Jill Heyboer, Dr. Greg Morris, Dr. Linda Ligate, Kathy Cowens, Michelle Draper, and Larry Bridges.
Ms. Titus plays piano for high school, undergrad and graduate student recitals in DFW area universities. She toured southeastern Spain where she was invited to play piano. While in school, she played principle flute in the symphonic and traveling orchestras, flute/piccolo in pit orchestras for operas and musicals, and flute/piccolo/alto flute/bass flute in flute choirs. Ms. Deborah also won two state competitions on the flute. She has written a full music camp curriculum and directed the music camp in New Mexico. Throughout the Midwest states, Ms. Deborah has taught early childhood music classes to students from birth to 6 years and private flute and piano to students from age 5 to adult. She also performs recitals as Collaborative Pianist for high school, college, and graduate students in the area.
She performs with several traveling orchestras and ensembles which have taken her to 42 states and 5 countries, including Russia, Poland, Spain, and Canada.