ONLY A FEW SPOTS REMAIN!!
Meet Our Clinicians
Meet Our Clinicians
Frank Auer, violin, began taking Suzuki violin lessons in Franklin, Tennessee when he was five years old. Since then, the Suzuki philosophy has played an important role in his life and career. He completed both his Bachelors degree at the University of Evansville and his Masters degree at the University of Maryland in Violin Performance with an emphasis on Suzuki Pedagogy. Mr. Auer has performed with the Owensboro Symphony in Kentucky, and has been a member of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra.He has registered training with the Suzuki Association of the Americas for violin books one through ten. He has received training from Ms. Ronda Cole, Dr. Carol Dallinger, Mr. Terry Durbin, and Ms. Christie Felsing. Mr. Auer has taught extensively in Suzuki programs such as the University of Evansville Suzuki Program, the College Park Suzuki Violin Program, Music Kids Suzuki Violin, and Levine School of Music. He currently teaches in Franklin, Tennessee and is the Director of Thistledown Strings.
Anne Donaldson, violin, received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and her Master's degree from Northwestern University, where she was the teaching assistant of Blair Milton. She served as Associate Concertmaster of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago from 2005-2006. Ms. Donaldson was a member of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra from 2008-2012 and was co-founder and Assistant Director of STEP, the Suzuki Talent Education Program of Birmingham for 6 years. Currently living in Washington, D.C., Ms. Donaldson plays frequently with the National Symphony Orchestra and maintains a private teaching studio. During the summer season, she performs with the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago and the Britt Classical Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon, and is on faculty at Eastern Music Festival.
Daniel Gee, violin/viola, currently resides in Austin, Texas where he teaches in many different capacities. Daniel teaches for the Suzuki Strings of Austin, which offers private and group violin and viola instruction as well as a Suzuki Early Childhood Education class for newborn infants through age 3. Mr. Gee received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Music Performance, graduating summa cum laude from the Crane School of Music at the SUNY College at Potsdam in 2006 and his Master of Music in Music and Human Learning from The Butler School of Music at the UT Austin in 2009. As an advocate for the Suzuki in the Schools movement, Daniel structures his school curriculum on Suzuki principles as Orchestra Director at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Round Rock ISD where he teaches 6th-8th grade violin, viola, cello, bass and harp students. Additionally, Mr. Gee has taken three stages of training of the Suzuki Early Childhood Program. He teaches this class for children from birth to age three for the Suzuki Strings of Austin having previously directed this program at the University of Texas at Austin String Project. Daniel is an active member in professional organizations such as the American String Teachers’ Association, the Music Educators’ National Conference, Texas Music Educators Association, and the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA). He has recently presented conference sessions at the ASTA (2010) and SAA (2012, 2010) National Conferences. In May 2012, Mr. Gee was awarded the Suzuki Association of the America’s Certificate of Achievement, an award given to teachers that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to excellence in their teaching.
James Hutchins, violin, lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and his son. He grew up in the Suzuki Method, has been a Suzuki teacher for nearly 20 years and is a proud Suzuki dad. Mr. Hutchins is a registered teacher trainer who has taught at workshops and institutes around the world, including Iceland, Lithuania, Singapore, Malaysia, the Bahamas and the United States. His studio has performed for former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House, at the National Zoo, the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and on the Millennium Stage with the National Symphony at The Kennedy Center. They have also played the National Anthem for the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Wizards and Washington Nationals. James also had the honor of performing for Dr. and Mrs. Suzuki at their home in Japan.
Ed Kreitman, violin, is the founder and Director of the Western Springs School of Talent Education and the Naperville Suzuki School. Mr. Kreitman received his undergraduate degree from Western Illinois University where he studied Suzuki Pedagogy with Doris Preucil and Almita Vamos. In 1986 , he studied at the Talent Education Summer School with Dr. Suzuki in Matsumoto, Japan.Mr. Kreitman has served the Suzuki Teacher’s Association in many capacities including a member of the Board of Directors, Violin Committee, Teacher Development team and as Coordinator for several National Suzuki Teacher Conferences. Recently he served on the SAA team which developed the Every Child Can! introductory course. Edward Kreitman enjoys an international reputation as a guest clinician at Suzuki institutes and workshops. Mr. Kreitman is a registered Teacher Trainer of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and is the author of Teaching from the Balance Point: A Guide for Suzuki Parents, Teachers and Students and Teaching with an Open Heart: A Guide for Developing Conscious Musicianship. In 2008, Mr. Kreitman was honored with the Suzuki Chair Award at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Kathy Rollings, violin/viola, lives in Columbia, MO where she maintains a full Suzuki studio of violinists and violists. She holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in violin performance, and has registered extensive teacher training with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Kathy serves on the faculties of the American Suzuki Institute, Sound Encounters, and the Ottawa Suzuki Institute in the summers, and she teaches weekend workshops as often as she can. Kathy was honored to be named the American Suzuki Institute Suzuki Chair Award holder for 2014.
Dr. Meredith Blecha-Wells, cello, leads a dynamic career dedicated to both performing and teaching. Currently, she is the Associate Professor of Cello at Oklahoma State University, where she was recently awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Junior Faculty Award for Scholarly Excellence. Dr. Blecha-Wells received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Cello Performance from Indiana University, studying under Janos Starker and Helga Winold. Additionally, she holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music, where she served as the teaching assistant to Distinguished Professor Alan Harris. During her earlier studies, Dr. Blecha-Wells worked with Marc Johnson of the Vermeer String Quartet. A devoted teacher, Dr. Blecha-Wells has taught throughout the United States and has most recently given classes at Indiana University, the University of Kansas, Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Northern Colorado, Florida Gulf Coast University, and the University of Georgia. In addition to her teaching position at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Blecha-Wells is dedicated to teaching at the precollege level. Dr. Blecha-Wells is currently the director of the Oklahoma State University String Academy, a program that she co-founded in 2009. Additionally, she is a Suzuki cello teacher and has completed training with Gilda Barston, Pamela Davenport, Nancy Hair, and David Evenchick. She has started a Suzuki cello program at Oklahoma State University and has taught at the Chicago Suzuki Institute as well as the Colorado Suzuki Institute. Previous teaching posts include Point CounterPoint Chamber Music Camp in Vermont, Indiana University Summer Music Clinic, the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, the Eastman Community Music School, the Indianapolis Academy of Music, and Indiana University’s String Academy.
Avi Friedlander, cello, is the founder and director of STEP Birmingham. Mr. Friedlander currently teaches at both STEP Birmingham and the Alabama School of Fine Arts and formerly taught at Emory University. He received his Master’s and Bachelor’s of Music performance degrees from The University of Michigan, and pursued his professional studies degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music. Mr. Friedlander is the former Assistant Principal cellist of the Atlanta Opera and member of The New World Symphony. He has been trained in the Suzuki methods with Dr. Tanya Carey, Pam Devenport, Rick Mooney and Gilda Barston. Mr. Friedlander has also studied Early Child Development with Ed Sprunger, teaching group classes with Carey Beth Hockett and Terry Durbin, Music Mind Games by Elizabeth Cunha and cello pedagogy with Irene Sharp. Mr. Friedlander has studied improvisation with Ellen Rowe at the University of Michigan and Eugene Friesen from the Berkely College of Music in Boston. His primary teachers have included Anthony Elliott, Stephen Geber, Tanya Carey and David Premo. He has also studied with Richard Aaron, Eric Kim, Yehuda Hanani and Hans Jensen. Mr. Friedlander has taught at workshops and festivals around the country and has performed and recorded music from classical to rock. Mr. Friedlander currently performs with Sunday Jazz Night and String Theory Birmingham and writes his own arrangements for solo cello and ensembles from Jimi Hendrix to Pearl Jam.
Abbey Hansen, cello, artist-teacher and SAA registered Cello Teacher Trainer, Abbey Hansen, maintains an active teaching and performing schedule in the Cleveland area. Ms. Hansen serves as full-time faculty at the at the Sato Center for Suzuki Studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In addition to her work with Suzuki students, she conducts a two-year graduate Suzuki teacher-training program, part of a unique dual Master's degree in Cello Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy. Prior to her appointment at CIM, Ms. Hansen served on faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago, Rockford College Music Academy, Community School of the Arts at Northern Illinois University and Music Academy at Lawrence University. An in-demand guest clinician, Ms. Hansen has taught and lectured at workshops and institutes in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Colorado and Haiti. Ms. Hansen has also performed in several chamber music ensembles in the Chicagoland area and has been featured on faculty and alumni recitals throughout the Midwest. In 2006, she had the privilege of performing in a friendship concert at the Suzuki Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan. In 2016 Ms. Hansen became the youngest ever registered Suzuki Cello Teacher Trainer. She is also the recipient of the Suzuki Association of the Americas' Level 1 Certificate of Achievement for excellence in Suzuki education. Ms. Hansen's students have served as principal players in Chicago area youth orchestras, Interlochen and Blue Lake summer camps, and were selected to join the Suzuki Youth Orchestra of the Americas. Hansen Studio cellists have placed in Chicagoland competitions including Granquist, Protege Philharmonic, Rockford Women's Club and Midwest Young Artists and have continued their cello studies at top universities such as Amhurst, Drake, Brown and University of Illinois. Ms. Hansen grew up in Iowa City, IA and began her cello studies in the public school system. She graduated from Lawrence University earning a Bachelors of Music in cello performance. She continued her education as a Dutton Low Strings Fellow at Northern Illinois University, earning both a Masters of Music (Cello Performance and Pedagogy) and a Performers Certificate. Ms. Hansen has registered Suzuki training with Gilda Barston, Pam Devenport, Nancy Hair, Carol Tarr and Jean Dexter. Her primary cello teachers include Betsy Hawtrey, Janet Anthony and Marc Johnson. Ms. Hansen lives in Cleveland Heights, OH with her husband, two Suzuki cellist children, and two Havanese dogs.
Sarah Kim, cello, leads a vibrant and diverse career as performer, educator and arts administrator. She is an acclaimed instructor who was named 2016 Ohio String Teachers Association Studio Teacher of the Year as well as a recipient of the 2015 Overture Arts Educator Awards by the Cincinnati Arts Association. As chair of the Suzuki cello program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Ms. Kim has developed programs at the renowned School for Creative and Performing Arts and the Hyde Park Gifted Academy. Additionally, Ms. Kim is an Artist Faculty member of the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, Vermont. Previous teaching appointments have included the pre-college faculties of Roosevelt University and Northern Kentucky University. In demand as a clinician at cello workshops throughout the country, Ms. Kim has given master classes held at Oklahoma State University, University of Tennessee, and the University of South Carolina as well as numerous Suzuki workshops. Ms.Kim’s students have received top prizes and honors in prestigious competitions such as the Cleveland Cello Society, the Walgreens National Concerto Competition, and American Protege Competitions. As a solo artist and chamber musician, she has performed across the U.S. and Europe in both the classical and alternative genres. Ms. Kim continues to be an active performer in the Cincinnati area. She has performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and as guest principal cello of the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. She performs regularly in chamber music and as a duo with her husband, Alan Rafferty, a professor of cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music . Ms. Kim is the Executive Director of the Cincinnati Young Artists, a nationally recognized program presenting advanced chamber music and cello workshops for pre-college and college students throughout the year. A native of Minneapolis, Ms. Kim’s primary studies have been with Hans Jorgen Jensen, Steve Doane and Peter Howard. She holds a B.M. in Cello Performance from the Eastman School of Music and a M.M. in Cello Performance and Pedagogy from Northwestern University. She is a registered Suzuki instructor and has completed her training with Tanya Carey, Melissa Kraut, and Pamela Devenport.
Catherine Giel, accompanist, holds a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in piano performance and also completed a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from the Florida State University College of Music. She studied piano with Leonidas Lipovetsky and Dr. James Nalley and served as accompanist and stage manager to the Florida State Opera in addition to recitaling with numerous vocalists, instrumentalists, and ensembles in the region. For five years, Catherine served as the accompanist in concert and on tour with the top undergraduate collegiate choral ensemble at Florida State, the University Singers, under the direction of Dr. Kevin Fenton. Previously, Catherine was the Education Manager for the internationally acclaimed Spivey Hall for over four years, where she facilitated extensive arts education programs for children and adults. In 2008, Catherine founded, with Dr. Fenton as Artistic Director, the Orlando-based Festival Singers of Florida. Catherine maintains a dynamic performance schedule as a frequent pianist with The Atlanta Opera, has appeared as a Staff Accompanist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, and served as a collaborative artist for numerous venues, competitions, and auditions throughout the country. In Atlanta, Catherine is a sought-after vocal coach, specializing in the operatic and art song repertoire.
Anna Huthmaker, cellist and bow maker, holds performance degrees in 'cello and string bass. When her parents lured her into managing tHuthmaker Violins, she became the low strings specialist and resident "Bow Queen." She's studied bow restoration and making with Lynn Hannings, George Rubino, Robert Ray and William Salcow. Anna also performs as a free-lance musician. She has performed with the Celtic band "The Border Collies," recorded with a number of folk singers and performs with the Johns Creek Symphony. Anna heads two non-profit organizations: Trail Dames and LSF-USA (Luthiers Sans Frontières). With LSF, she's traveled to Equador, Haiti, Cuba and Trinidad to do bow repairing and luthier education. With Trail Dames, she empowers women to climb mountains.