Dedicated to studying and teaching music

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Teachers

Teachers

Dedication to Teaching

meet the teachers

Great Lakes School of Music Teachers

BARBARA WATKINS | FOUNDER & DIRECTOR

PIANO, BEGINNER – 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.

Dr. SHEUNG – PING LAI

PIANO, BEGINNER – ADVANCED

Dr. Sheung-Ping Lai received her D. M. A. in Composition from The Ohio State University, her M. M. in Composition from Cleveland Institute of Music, and her M.M. in Music Education (Jazz Pedagogy Focus) from Capital University.

As a composer, her music covers a wide variety of genres and styles, and her compositions are frequently performed in public, including Western and Chinese instrumental music, choral music, electronic music, theatrical music, art songs, pop songs, and jazz, presenting a unique synthesis of the East and the West. Her jazz CD album Spring Nocturnes, released in 2021, is available on i-Tunes, Amazon Music, and Spotify.

As a music educator, Dr. Lai has substantial college teaching experience in the U. S. and in Asia. Since the COVID pandemic, she has been giving online music lessons to students across the globe. Dr. Lai takes pride in students’ accomplishments. She is a mentor to award-winning young composers, performers, and inspired music educators.

Dr. Lai believes that anyone can make music and have fun. Cross-cultural music making and education can enlighten souls, break cultural barriers, bring people close together, and achieve global harmony.

SHARI L. ARMSTRONG

BRASS

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 was a member of both the Cuyahoga Community College Orchestra and Solon Community Band.

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!

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.

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