Ellena Chen, NCTM
(Piano, Flute) - Ellena speaks English, Mandarin, and Korean. She has two sons. She says, “I believe becoming a parent made me a better teacher. Now I know what parents go through with their kids!” Ellena has played piano since age 3 and taught students since 1994. She is a National Certified Teacher of Music and is certified in the Suzuki piano method. Her education also includes a Master’s in Piano Performance from Southern Illinois University and a Master’s in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago. She teaches music because it gives her a sense a accomplishment when her students learn to play the piano and enjoy music.
(Violin, Viola) - Melissa Padgett is a dedicated teacher and passionate performer. She was born into a musical family, reading music by age two, and at six years old singing with the Children’s Opera Choir at the State Opera Theater in Cottbus Germany, where she spent most of her childhood. At age eight her parents enrolled her in the local conservatory where she picked up the violin. She earned her Bachelor of Music at Western Michigan University with Renata Knific, where she was honored as the Esther and Julius Stulberg Scholar, and completed her Master’s of Music with highest honors from DePaul with Dr. Olga Kaler. Melissa’s Suzuki teachers include Sharon Miller, Rebecca Sandrok, and Kathy Wood. Melissa has participated in music festivals in Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, and the U.S. Recently, she performed the Brahms violin concerto with the Gaylord Community Orchestra in Gaylord, MI, and performed a joint recital with her husband at The Next Picture Show Art Gallery in Dixon, IL. Melissa plays on a Paul Bailly violin generously on loan from the Virtu Foundation.
(Voice, Clarinet) - Richelle has being studying voice since 1999 and taught voice occasionally since 2004. Before moving to Chicago, she was a member of the Tulsa Opera Chorus and Tulsa Oratorio Chorus. She has also studied piano and clarinet. Her education includes a Masters in Vocal Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and a Bachelor’s in Sacred Music from Oral Roberts University. She teaches music because she enjoys connecting with other people through music – an exchange that’s hard to replicate. Richelle’s “mother tongue” is English but has studied diction and sings in multiple languages such as Italian, German, French, and Latin. She says, “My favorite music is classic jazz - it's what I use to relax and even to get me through washing dishes at home."
(Piano) Holly has been teaching piano for 15 years. Her students have gone on to major in music, join performing groups and simply enjoy playing for themselves. Her students say that she is: "fun, funny and energetic". She adds, "….especially after a double espresso! We work hard, but enjoy laughing together!" Holly's specialties include: Suzuki Piano, Piano Technique, Early Childhood Music, Performance Preparation and Anxiety, Adult Piano. Influential teachers have included: Concert artist Pawel Chenchinski, Pedagoge Jane Tan, Technique specialist Seymour Fink and Chicago Blues teacher Erwin Helfer. Holly also had the opportunity to study with Seymour Bernstein in New York and a UK Blues Pianist Tim Richards who wrote a "fabulous" blues pedagogy series which she uses with some students. Holly draws from a competitive background in ballroom & latin dance, body building and public speaking as well as a university education focused on dance to give her students the edge in: developing a healthy, relaxed piano technique, developing expressiveness in music and preparing for performance.
(Guitar, ukelele , piano, bass, harmonica) Ian has been playing guitar since he was 9 years old. He has been an active composer, arranger, performer, and teacher since 2007. He is currently living in Chicago and studying jazz guitar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is working towards a Bachelors Degree in Jazz Studies. He has studied guitar with Zvonimir Tot, Steve Ramsdell, and Frank Portolese. He has studied composition with Marc Mellits and jazz arranging with Jim Gallirealo. Ian performs regularly with his own group, The Ian Walsh Band, as well as an eighties rock cover band - The Breakfast Club. Ian says "I love that I get to spend my time being creative and productive as well as teaching my students to be creative and productive!"
(Piano, Violin, Voice, Acting) - With 16 years of experience teaching music and 10 years of vocal coaching, Sheila's qualifications include extensive work with large choirs, small choral groups, soloists, recording albums, and performing for large audiences. Sheila has an undergraduate degree in piano and voice from Moody and a Master’s Degree from Columbia College in Interdisciplinary Art. Music for her is "art and life" and as a private music teacher she helps mold the lesson experience to each students needs. “Because I see music as an art form, I’ve learned to follow the rules of music while always looking for ways to blend in ideas of learning through other art forms," like teaching her young violin students how to waltz so that they can learn to feel the music as they play. In addition to teaching music Sheila studied acting for 8 years in Chicago, Denver and New York and coaches local actors privately. She works as an actor in Chicago and has been seen in several commercials, films and plays in Chicago, Denver and Florida. Sheila is a member of Music Teachers National Association and teaches from a traditional method.
(Percussion, Drum Set) Mike has been playing drums since age ten. During his school years he auditioned for and performed with the Vermont Youth Orchestra, the Vermont All State Band, and the All New England Orchestra. He has also performed with the Champlain Philharmonic, the Middlebury College Orchestra, the New York Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra, and the Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Vermont (with whom he played live on Vermont Public Radio and on their 2007 album “Now Let Us Sing”). After graduating with an Economics degree and Physics minor from the University of Chicago, he taught English in South Korea where he formed the heavy metal band Erlang Kovata, whose 2014 album ‘Shattered’ was recently nominated for “Best Metal/Hardcore Album” at the Independent Music Awards. Since then Mike has turned back to his old hobby of composing, which allows him to utilize his own digitally produced tracks to aid in teaching percussion and drum set.
Piano with Ellena Chen
Violin with Melissa Padgett
Voice with Richelle Hennen
Piano with Holly Kennedy
Guitar with Ian Walsh
Multiple with Sheila Fortson
Percussion with Mike Podhaizer
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