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Great Lakes School of Music LLC

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FACULTY

BARBARA WATKINS

PIANO, INTERMEDIATE – ADVANCED

Founder & Director, Barbara Watkins is a graduate of James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music. She has studied with Lowell Watkins (JMU, VA), Benjamin Whitten (West Chester State College, PA), and Benjamin Selman (Arkansas State University) while serving in the United States Air Force in North Little Rock, Arkansas.


Ms. Watkins served on the faculty at The Cleveland Music School Settlement from 1989-1999 in the Performing Arts and Early Childhood Departments, as well as the Cleveland Municipal Schools extension program.


Aside from teaching, Ms. Watkins is an accomplished musician as a composer, arranger, and performer. In 1995, she was awarded the Lentine’s Music award for outstanding leadership in digital keyboard composition, arrangement, and performance.


Ms. Watkins led the 1995 Ohio Music Teachers Association (OMTA) Fall Seminar in Keyboard Technology and chaired the 1997 Music Festival at Judson Manor and 1998 and 1999 Music Festivals at Cleveland State University.


Barbara L. Watkins is an active member of the National Piano Foundation, OMTA, Steinway Educators Partnership, and the National Guild of Piano Teachers, in which Barbara was placed on the National Honor Roll of Guild Teachers for having successfully prepared her piano pupils for entry in the National Piano Playing Auditions.


Barbara was selected for the National Registers Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals.

YUWEN (AMY) WENG

PIANO, BEGINNER - ADVANCED

Education: BA in piano performance, Taiwan National University of Arts. MM in Piano performance, Tainan National University of Arts. MM in Collaborative piano, Cleveland Institute of Music. Currently pursuing Artist Diploma in Collaborative piano in Cleveland Institute of Music.


Pianist Yu Wen (Amy) is a native of Taiwan. She has started public appearances, both as a soloist and in chamber music ensembles since a young age.


A winner of Taiwan University Piano Concerto Championship twice- Mendelssohn Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto, and has been recognized as a piano Teacher from University.


Amy has appeared in over 100 concerts with different aspiring musicians. Amy’s studies continue in the United States at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she is completing Artist Diploma with Anita Pontremoli. She has been piano accompanist at Cleveland Institute of Music. She also has been teaching at Lakewood Music Academy.

CAITLIN LUCK

VOICE & BEGINNING PIANO

Caitlin Luck is a soprano from Wellsburg, WV. She has her bachelors degree in Vocal Music Performance from Slippery Rock University. While attending SRU, she participated in several operas, performing such roles as Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, and Sister Genevieve in Suor Angelica.

ANN MARIE FALCONE

CLARINET, VOICE & PIANO

Ann Marie Falcone is a performing composer, writer, and teacher. She creates art songs, opera, clarinet works, music for orchestra, experimental works, and essays. She produces video, recordings, and concerts of her original works in hopes to share something beneficial for the world.


In her early years, she was selected to sing in the Children's Bach Choir of Bethlehem, PA, was cast in various musicals, and played clarinet in pit orchestras. As an adult, she sang as soprano section leader and soloist at Euclid Avenue Congregational Church for six years, as a chorister with Opera Circle, and as a soprano in CityMusic Cleveland Orchestra's project of Verdi's Requiem.


With clarinet, she performed in the Catalina Chamber Orchestra and Youngstown Symphonies and gave numerous concerts.


She earned a B.M. from Northwestern University, an M.M. from The University of Arizona, where she was a teaching assistant, took vocal pedagogy at Malone College, and completed an M.F.A. in Creative Writing in nonfiction with accents in fiction and publishing at Chatham University.


Having taken and given numerous years of private voice, clarinet, and piano lessons, Ann Marie understands the beauty of the development of an artist's life.


She has been teaching since 1994. Her students have been accepted to the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphonies, the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, and the Cleveland Music School Settlement Orchestra. Two have won a Cleveland Heights High School senior solo, their concerto competition.


Voice students have participated at Heights Youth Theatre, Beachwood Theater, the Beck Center, Hathaway Brown's Summer Theatre Institute, and Stagecrafters along with their school productions. They've been selected for The Singing Angels of Cleveland and the Cleveland Orchestra Children's and Youth Choruses.


Website: https://www.falconecreationsinthemaking.com - Also, there are some Videos of her compositions at her Public Facebook Page.


She teaches voice lessons to adults and to kids starting from age ten.


She starts piano students as young as 5-years-old and teaches beginners through early advanced students.


She teaches clarinet to kids from fourth grade up at all levels.

ALEXANDRA “LEXIE” MESTER

VOICE & PIANO ages 5+

Soprano Alexandra (Lexie) Mester is a second-year Master of Music student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Dina Kuznetsova.


She completed her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri under the instruction of Dr. Amity Bryson. Her vision as a singer is to find creative ways to bring music to her community.


As a voice teacher, instilling creativity and musicality in her students are her greatest joy. Lexie has taught a wide variety of ages and skill levels. She’s taught students accepted into The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus as well as The Singing Angels of Cleveland, OH.


She hopes to continue to inspire and spark curiosity and admiration for singing in each of her students. Her goal as a voice teacher is to encourage and develop each singer’s voice, no matter what level they are at! She also teaches voice at Strongsville Academy of Music.


Recently participating in the exhibit, Sonic Blossom, by contemporary artist Lee Mingwei, Lexie used her voice to give the gift of song to museum guests at two world renowned museums, the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Singing Franz Schubert lieder, she used her voice to bring peace, joy, and harmony to museum guests.


Previous operatic roles performed and studied include First Lady of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, The Stepmother in Moran and Glass’s The Juniper Tree, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Grande Prêtresse in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, The Squirrel in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, and Micaëla from Bizet’s Carmen.

CHARLES PIPER

VOICE- Baritone

Charles Austin Piper is from Johnstown Ohio. He graduated from Otterbein University in the spring of 2017 with a BM in Vocal Performance. At Otterbein he performed roles such as Count Robinson in Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto, King Melchoir in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Mr. Gobineau in Menotti’s The Medium. In that spring he worked with Opera Columbus and their production of Bizet’s Carmen as a member of the chorus.


In 2019 received a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance at Kent State University. At Kent State he performed the role of Dr. Falke in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Top in Copland’s The Tenderland, and debuted the role of Brently in Scott Little’s The Story of an Hour.


In the spring of 2018 he performed in the chorus of Cleveland Opera Theatre’s professional debut of Dawn Sonntag’s Verlorene Heimat, was the bass soloist in The Cleveland Chamber Choirs production of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen.


In 2018 he studied at The American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, where he received the Harold Heiberg Liedersänger Preis for outstanding lieder performance.


In 2018 he won 1st place in the advanced men category at the NATS Ohio Competition. In the summer of 2019 he worked with The Ohio Light Opera company performing various roles. He currently works part time as a voice teacher and waits along with the rest of the world for the return of live theatre.

KATHRYN "KAY" TABOR

VOICE & PIANO

Kay Tabor earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Wittenberg University and went on to graduate studies in Early Music and Pedagogy at Indiana University. She has been teaching piano and voice lessons since 2008 to students of all ages and levels.


She makes lessons fun, engaging, and strives to cultivate a warm, meaningful relationship with her students. She tailors lessons to each student’s interests and helps them discover new music they enjoy practicing. Kay believes that musical study can be for everyone! Her hope as a teacher is to build students’ foundation of musical skills and inspire a lifelong love and appreciation of music.

MATTHEW SALVAGGIO

WOODWINDS

Matthew Salvaggio is the founder and Music Director of the Cleveland Repertory Orchestra. Additionally, the 2021/22 season marks his fifth season as Music Director of the Euclid Symphony Orchestra, where his responsibilities include conducting classical, pops, and educational concerts, and his seventh season as Musical and Artistic Director of the University Heights Symphonic Band.


Matt was a 2020 finalist for the American Prize in wind conducting and a 2015 semi-finalist in the National Band Association’s Young Conductor Mentor Project. In 2019, he was a finalist for conducting positions with both the United States Army and Air Force Bands – an honor reserved for a select few each year.


As an artistic leader, Matthew has guided his ensembles through the process of becoming independent non-profit entities and expanded programming with each of his organizations. In 2019, he established the annual Tom Baker Young Artists Competition with the Euclid Symphony Orchestra - which awards a performance opportunity with the ESO and a cash prize.


An advocate for new music, Matt has helped commission nearly twenty works in the last decade from composers including Mark Camphouse, Anthony O’Toole, and Steve Danyew. Artistic collaborations include John Rautenberg (Cleveland Orchestra), John DiCesare (Seattle Symphony), Joshua Lauretig (Buffalo Philharmonic), Kyra Kester (Akron Symphony), Cameron Leach, J.c. Sherman, Emily Cornelius, and ESO concertmaster Liesl Hook.


From 2014-2018, Matt served as Director of Bands on the faculty at Hiram College, and adjunct professor of conducting at Lakeland Community College. He is active as a guest conductor and clinician and has been invited to conduct local public-school bands, community bands, summer music camps, and honors ensembles.


While completing his master’s degree, Mr. Salvaggio founded and conducted the Kent Intercollegiate Wind Ensemble – a community/service-based ensemble in Kent, Ohio. With that group, he conducted several world premieres and recorded two film scores.


Matt has also served as Graduate Assistant Director of Orchestras and Graduate Assistant in Bands at Kent State University. In 2007, he was a guest conductor in residence with the Medina Community Band.


Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Matt earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Akron and a Master of Music degree in conducting from Kent State University.


At Kent State, his primary teachers were Scott Seaton and Wayne Gorder, and he has undertaken additional conducting study in symposia with Donald Hunsberger, Mallory Thompson, Michael Haithcock, Rodney Winther, and Michael Votta. Matt maintains memberships in the College Band Directors National Conference, National Conductors Guild, Ohio Music Education Association, National Association for Music Education, Association of Concert Bands, World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, and Tau Beta Sigma (’07).


Matt lives in Cleveland with his partner, Joshua.


For more information, visit him on the web at www.matthewsalvaggio.com.

SHARI L. ARMSTRONG

FRENCH HORN

Shari Armstrong received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University Mount Union in 1992 and her Masters in Education from Malone University in 1995. While at Mount Union, she was involved in several ensembles, including the Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Brass Choir, and other smaller groups.


The Brass Choir gave her the opportunity to perform in churches around the state of Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as performing at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. She has also played for pit orchestras for various musicals at the Carnation City Players in Alliance, Ohio.


Her career path has been a varied one over the years since college, including teaching music, working in child care, as a nanny, and most recently as a freelance writer and editor. She is also an active member at the Bible Baptist Church in Bedford, where she is on the Music Committee, performs special music with various vocal ensembles, and plays the French horn for offertory.


She has also directed the children's Christmas program and Shari is a member of both the Cuyahoga Community College Orchestra and Solon Community Band."

KEVIN NATOLI

TRUMPET

Kevin Natoli is a Cleveland-based trumpeter and Alexander Technique teacher currently holding positions with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as well as New World Symphony in Miami, FL.


He received his Master's degree in trumpet performance at the New England Conservatory studying with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Rhode Island Philharmonic. Kevin is also a graduate of an Alexander Technique Certification program at the Boston Conservatory with Debi Adams.


He maintains a diverse teaching studio and travels around the country performing in a variety of musical settings - most recently, he performed with the Juneau Symphony in Alaska, and was a featured soloist with the Carthage College Wind Ensemble in Wisconsin.

JEFF BREZNAY

GUITAR & DRUMS

Jeff has played music in various bands starting in the early 70's, mostly classic rock and rhythm and blues. Early on playing saxophone and learning guitar, he also did vocals, lead and back up. as well as recording sessions of original music. Jeff looks at music as an art form of expression; Learning an instrument allows this expression to come out and gives an inner satisfaction for ones soul.


In order to attain this one must learn an instrument and then perform to share it with others in order to achieve this feeling that is like no other. Learning an instrument, but not performing only, gets you halfway there; performing is like the cherry on top and the fruit of ones labor!

DUSTIN HANUSCH

GUITAR, BASS GUITAR & UKULELE

My name is Dustin Hanusch (ha-NISH), and I am a musician, teacher, and producer, based in Franklin Tennessee. I was born in Renton, Washington, raised in San Diego, California, and began my career in Los Angeles, California. I have been studying music in one form or another since I was ten years old and I have been playing the guitar since I was 15 (31 years old as of 2020).


I was a percussionist in marching and concert band throughout grade school. I received my first formal guitar instruction at the age of 25 when I studied Classical Guitar performance at Los Angeles Valley College under the tutelage of Dr. Jordan Charnofsky and Dr. Gregory Newton.


I currently live in Franklin, Tennessee, teaching music, performing throughout the greater Nashville area, and recording and producing music and YouTube videos. I perform live solo guitar for corporate and private events, accompany soloists in performance, and perform music therapy for memory care patients.


My debut EP, "Culmination," was released March of 2019 and my debut album, "Positively Lovely," was released May of 2020. It is my mission to enrich people's lives through music, via entertainment and education.

GARY SIPERKO

GUITARS, BASS, MANDOLIN, UKULELE

BMus: Berklee College of Music


Gary Siperko is a professional touring/recording guitarist and composer most notably associated with The Legendary Shack Shakers, Pere Ubu, and Rocket From The Tombs. Mr. Siperko has over 30 years of experience teaching and performing. He teaches Contemporary and Classical Guitar as well as Bass, Mandolin and Ukulele. Beginning lessons focus on fundamentals as well as playing basic songs.


Intermediate to advanced lessons focus on the application of Music Theory to the instrument to help students acquire strong compositional and songwriting skills, knowledge of chord construction, the ability to play scales proficiently, and gain necessary skills needed for solo improvisation, as well as sight-reading skills.


In addition to a wealth of teaching experience, Gary has earned a reputation as a virtuosic live performer and highly sought after professional guitar instructor.


In 2011, he joined Rocket from the Tombs for the USA 'Barfly' Tour, replacing Richard Lloyd(Television) in Peter Laughners’ former guitar position in the band. He has since toured with Rocket From The Tombs throughout the United States and Europe, as well as co-writing and recording songs for 'Black Record' (2015, Fire Records).


In 2016, he joined Pere Ubu and toured on the 'Coed Jail' Tour, followed by co-writing, recording and touring as a member of Pere Ubu in support the '20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo' album (Cherry Red 2017). In 2017, he joined the Legendary Shack Shakers and toured in support of their release “After You’ve gone” and appears in the official video for the song “Sing a worried song” from the album.


In 2018, he toured world-wide with JD Wilkes and The Legendary Shack Shakers in support of the release “Fire Dream”, in addition to more touring in Europe with Pere Ubu. Some highlights include performing at the Centre Pompidou Modern Art Museum in Paris, France with Rocket From the Tombs, and recording live at Sun Studios in Memphis,TN with The Legendary Shack Shakers.

GREG BERLIN

VIOLIN & VIOLA

Gregory Berlin is a graduate of Indiana University; he earned a BM in violin performance and BSOF in Business. In addition he has a MBA in finance from the Weatherhead School of Business at Case Western Reserve University. Gregory has performed with many different local orchestras & symphonies.


He enjoys performing chamber music as a soloist or with small groups (duo/trio/quartet). Gregory currently serves on the board of the Broadway School of Music (BSMA) in Slavic Village Cleveland, Ohio. He teaches violin and viola at Great Lakes School of Music LLC and Fairmount School for the Arts.

XIRLITA PITSCH

VIOLIN, VIOLA, CELLO & BEGINNING to ADVANCED PIANO

My violin-playing career began when I was five years old. My parents, both violinists, were instrumental in my early education. My first professional teacher was Dr. Hans Lange, conductor of the Albuquerque Symphony. I also played in his chamber orchestra in Santa Fe. Later I studied in Phoenix, Arizona, with Albert Shepherd and played in the Phoenix Symphony.


I went on scholarship to Hartt College of Music and studied with Raphael Bronstein. Shortly before my graduation and after marriage to my husband John Oliveira, we both were accepted into the Kansas City Philharmonic.


I played there for four years until my husband became a first violinist with the Houston Symphony. Following the move to Houston, I played with the Houston Ballet. At the same time I did a lot of free-lance work and began teaching privately. After twenty years in Houston my husband and I moved to Ohio where he died a year later.


I went back to school to study cello with Moshe Amitai at Kent State and earned a masters degree in Violin Performance at the University of Akron. I created the “Youthful Chamber Orchestra” in Alliance, an intergenerational ensemble, mostly fuelled by my students. I was also principal cellist of the Alliance Symphony and a violinist in the Youngstown Orchestra.


After I remarried in 2002, I moved to Cleveland Heights. I have been a violinist with the Cleveland Philharmonic, the Heights Chamber Orchestra and the Suburban Orchestra. I also have been principal cellist with the Euclid and Lakeland orchestras.


I model my lessons on what I learned from Raphael Bronstein and on the successful techniques used by my late husband in his teaching days. My husband was the first teacher of his younger brother Elmar Oliveira who later became an internationally recognized violinist. I enjoy especially the beginning student and am convinced of the importance of the early lessons as the foundation for a musician’s success.

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