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Huntsville, AL 35805  |  256-534-3131

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Valley Conservatory

Staff List


(Showing 1 - 25 of 31)


Carrie Howard

Piano/ keyboarding / violin

Graduate of Samford University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Carrie Howard teaches violin for Valley Conservatory and performs special occasion music across the south. She has recorded with local artists, toured across Alabama, and uses her music in third world countries to enrich those without access to music education.

Carrie plays a variety of other instruments and enjoys all types of music; however, after twenty seven years of playing, violin is her favorite. Although she studied under the Suzuki Method for thirteen years, she maintains a unique teaching technique that caters to the interests and development of each student. Her goals are to teach ear training, scales, arpeggios, rhythm, classical, and interest based music with each student.

Werner Smock

trumpet/guitar

Werner Smock was born in Columbus, Ohio. Because of the developing Space Program, he was brought to Huntsville, Alabama with his family as a young child.

Werner started studying choral music at age 5 with Daphine Baten and Eugene Brasher. At age 8, his Father, a Trombonist, started teaching him how to play Trumpet. Werner is very thankful that his Father made him practice playing Trumpet everyday.

Attending Westlawn Jr. High School, Werner studied with Bill Priest, the band director there, a fine Trumpet player himself. Also studied choral music with H. Kendall Smith.

At Butler High School, Werner had more advanced studies in Music Theory and Music History as well as learning jazz in the Stage Band there. Most significantly, he was privileged to play in the excellent Concert Band under the direction of Frank Kendeigh.

Also during the high school years, Werner played with the Huntsville Youth Orchestra under the baton of Russell Gerhart. Mr. Gerhart had him start playing with the Huntsville Symphony, too. Dr. Marx Pales became conductor of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra (HSO) and Werner was privileged to play with some very fine musicians along with some of the world's finest soloists. In the 1990's Werner played in the HSO under Taavo Virkhaus.

Attending Louisiana Tech University, Werner studied with James Christianson and at University of Alabama - Huntsville (UAH) he studied with George Kavanagh. There he also played in the Ruston Civic Orchestra.

After leaving the HSO, Werner played with Huntsville Opera Theatre with conductors, Dennis Johnson, Viljar Weimann and with Hunter Thomas.

Werner plays trumpet with Huntsville's First Baptist Church Orchestra (FBC) under Billy Orton and has played under him with the Huntsville Community Chorus as well.

Werner also plays Guitar in the First Fellowship praise band at FBC-Huntsville, with Jeremy Wilkerson leading the group.

Werner Smock has performed with the following musical groups at various times:

Bavarian Sauerkrauts, Swing Shift, Independent Musical Productions (IMP), Huntsville Community Chorus, Whole Backstage of Guntersville, AL., Moondust, Twickenham Jazz & Swing, Twickenham Winds, Little German Band, Ars Nova, Brass Impressions, Ahead By One, Dave Leonard Combo, New Moonlighters, Daybreak, Bill Hovik and Friends, Ivy Joe, Temptations, Jim Nabors, Mitzi Gaynor, First Baptist Church Orchestra, Huntsville Brass Band, FBC Brass, Twickenham Brass, Rocket City Jazz Orchestra, Richard Cox Orchestra, Charlie Lyle Orchestra, Charlie Lyle Combo, Sugar and Spice, Bianca Cox Mariachi Band.

Werner's specialty is music of the Baroque era as well as playing music of the Civil War on Eb cornet with Olde Towne Brass. He is known in the area as the "Wedding Trumpet" and his website can be easily located by searching with those two words.

Renee Collins

Piano/keyboarding/Viola/Violin/Conducting/Theory

Dr. Beatrice Renee Collins-Williams is the founding Director of the Valley Conservatory. Since its inception in 1998, the Valley Conservatory has exposed hundreds of young people in the Huntsville/Madison County community from elementary through college age to the arts.

Her experiences cross several disciplines that include conducting, teaching and performing. As a conductor, she has directed several orchestras across the country including the Colorado Symphony, Women's Philharmonic (San Francisco), Denver Young Artists Orchestra, the Huntsville Youth Orchestra, Alabama All-State Reading Orchestra, West Tennessee All-State Orchestra, Oakwood College Symphony, Michigan State University Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra and members of the Aspen School of Music Festival Orchestra, where she was a conducting scholarship recipient.

During her Doctoral studies at Michigan State University, she conducted the Michigan State University Symphony and Chamber orchestras in various theater performances, served as a vocal director for several opera/musical theater productions, and presented the first concert of symphonic music by composers of African American descent.

In addition to her conducting experiences, Dr. Collins has performed with several orchestras including the Greeley Philharmonic, Midland Symphony Orchestra and Denver Young Artist Orchestra, where she was a member of the viola section. She has taught music education on all levels; applied piano and viola on the college level; and has worked in administration at Michigan State University where she served as an academic advisor to undergraduate students for the College of Arts and Letters.

Dr. Collins holds dual bachelor's degrees in Music Education and Piano Performance from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University. Her biography is listed in the International Who's Who in Music.

Tamar Saliashvili

piano/keyboarding

Tamar Saliashvili holds a Diploma in Piano (an equivalent of Masters Degree) from Tbilisi State Conservatory, Tbilisi, Georgia. In 2001, she moved from Georgia to the United States. She has over 20 years of experience in teaching piano and performing as a solo and a collaborative pianist. Since 2008 she has been living in Madison, AL with her family. Tamar Saliashvili joined the Valley Conservatory faculty in 2012.

Dan Hornstein

euphonium/trombone/piano/keyboarding/violia/violin/cello/upright string bass/voice/composing/conducting

Dr. Daniel Hornstein retired from the Huntsville City Schools in 2011, where he was the director of the Arts Magnet Orchestra program, He still teaches music (brass strings,

and piano lessons, music theory and music education) through the Valley Conservatory and German through Alabama ACCESS distance learning.

He has previously been a faculty member at the University of North Alabama, Minot State University (ND), and the University of Texas at Arlington. He has had a major career as an orchestra conductor, appearing in guest engagements in such widely-separated cities as Scottsdale, AZ, Hickory, NC, Marianske Lazne (Marianbad), the Czech Republic, Munich, Germany, and Fairbanks, AL. He has served as a founding member of Minot State Universityʼs Ambassador Brass Quintet and cellist of the MSU Faculty String Quartet as well as appearing with the Minot Chamber Chorale, Western Plains Opera, and Opera South as a vocal soloist.

A native North Dakotan, he was the first North Dakotan ever to be admitted to the National High School Student Soloist Hall of Fame, sponsored by the School Musician

magazine. He attended Michigan State University under both a National Merit Scholarship and an MSU Band Scholarship. While a freshman, he was named one of “Stateʼs Top Twenty” (out of a student body of 40,000), and was a member of the Honors College. He graduated summa cum laude after only three years of study.

It was then the the time of the Vietnam War, and Dr. Hornstein served his country as the featured euphonium soloist of the USAF Band, Washington, DC. In addition to

performing concerts in Washington and many ceremonial duties (often playing in the While House, at Arlington National Cemetery, and elsewhere in Washington), he soloed with the USAF Band on tour in every state of the union and on several overseas tours. Dr. Hornstein performed at the inauguration of President Nixon and for the funerals of Presidents Eisenhower, Truman, and Johnson.

During his enlistment, he earned his Masterʼs degree in Orchestral and Opera Conducting from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and began his study of the cello. Upon his discharge, Dr. Hornstein became the conductor of the Georgetown Symphony in Washington, DC, and began doctoral studies at Catholic University in music theory and musicology. Since then, he has led orchestras and taught in Texas, Minnesota, Virginia, Maryland, and North Dakota, and finished his Ph.D. at North Texas State, with a major in music education and minors in conducting and business management.

He and his family spent the 1995-96 academic year in Munich, Germany, on a Fulbright teaching music and English at the Willi-Brandt-Gesamtschule, studying cello, and earning the Zertifikat - Deutsch als Fremdsprache (German language proficiency certificate) from the Munich Volkshochschule and Goethe Institute. He was the associate principal cellist of the orchestra of the Bürger-Sänger-Zunft and a soloist with the Munich Madrigal Choir, as well as serving as rehearsal conductor of both organizations. Dr. Hornstein was made a member of the 160-year old musical brotherhood of the Bürger-Sänger-Zunft, the only American ever, joining such other musical luminaries as Richard Strauß and Richard Wagner. He and his family were featured in a documentary on “Fifty Years of the Fulbright” produced by Deutsche Welle, broadcasting arm of the German government. This documentary was shown on nationwide German television and has been translated into five different languages.

He has guest-conducted many orchestras, including the 2010 Colorado All-State Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, the Arctic Chamber Orchestra (Fairbanks, Alaska), the Western Bohemian Symphony (Czeck Republic), and the BSZ Symphony (Munich, Germany.)

Dr. Hornstein has presented several recitals (on both low brass and the cello), performed as a vocal soloist, (including such works as Brahms: German Requiem and

Pucciniʼs opera Gianni Schicci), served as editor of the North Dakota Music Educator, the Journal of the North Dakota Music Educators National Conference, and advisor for Minot Stateʼs Collegiate MENC chapter, which was honored in 1999 with a “National Chapter of Excellence” award, one of only four in the country. Dr. Hornstein was personally honored with the “String Teacher of the Year” award from the North Dakota American String Teacherʼs Association in the spring 0f 2000, the first time this award had been given for ten years. In October of 2000, he was named by the National MENC organization as one of North Dakotaʼs “Top Ten Music Educators” and listed in the journal Teaching Music. He also has numerous publications in music and music education journals, including The American String Teacher, The Instrumentalist, Dakota Strings, and the North Dakota Music Educator.

Since coming to Alabama, he has served as President of the Alabama Orchestra Association and President of the Alabama chapter of the American Strings Teachers Association. He is one of only 13 music teachers in the state to hold the coveted National Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and is certified and “Highly Qualified” to teach German, History, English, and Social Studies as well as Music.

Benny Jacobs-El

Piano/keyboarding/Jazz Piano

Benny Jacobs-El, born in Brooklyn, New York, was fascinated by music from an early age.  Inspired by Louis Armstrong’s music- personality and the music of the ‘Be-Bop’ era, he began his musical education as a trombone player and attended the High School for the Performing Arts (known as “Fame” school to media fans) in New York.  After graduation, he attended the Julliard School of Music where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in trombone.  During this time he played in several bands including the New Youth Band, New York Jazz Septet, Slide Hampton Octet and the Lloyd Prince Orchestra. 

From 1964-66 Benny played trombone with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and various Latin bands in New York City.  To provide for his growing family of 10 kids, Benny and his fantastic wife relocated to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands in 1974, where he taught music in the public schools for 30 years: 21 year in elementary school- 9 years in high school. 

He began focusing on the piano when he went to St. Croix, using the keyboard as a teaching tool and to accompany the elementary school students singing.  After several years in St. Croix, he began to work at a number of Jazz groups.  “My greatest musical opportunity was when I became the piano player for the Jimmy Hamilton Quartet.  Jimmy was a great clarinetist and saxophone player who retired from the Duke Ellington Orchestra after a stint of 26 years, and he settled in St. Croix and began teaching school band.  I worked in Jimmy’s quartet for the last 9 years of his live.  I move with my family from St. Croix to Huntsville, AL and was blessed to meet Mr. Devere Pride, and here we are.”

Debi Loach

Drums/Percussion

Deborah Loach is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. She played percussion regularly with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra from 1999-2006. She then won a Section Percussion Audition with the Mobile Symphony in 2007. She has an active teaching studio, & is Professor of Percussion at University of Alabama in Huntsville. She teaches private students at UAH as well as the UAH Percussion Ensemble & UAH Steel Drum Band. She played percussion on The Universe Symphony by Charles Ives with the Nashville Symphony on their most recent visit to Carnegie Hall.
Deborah currently resides in Nashville with her husband, Richard Graber.
Deborah is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music.
Annsy Vanoukia

Piano/Composing/Theory

Annsy Vanoukia was born in Martinique, October 9th 1985, an island in the Caribbean, Department of France.  As a young child he showed interest in music, playing the guitar at age 5, and learning to play the piano on his own initiative.  Receiving lessons from one of the most famous piano teachers on the island, he started playing for the youth choir of his home church at 11 years old.  This opportunity led him to be the Minister of Music for a 1000 member congregation.  Playing for local groups while developing his skills, Annsy pursued a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in mathematics graduating in 2004.  He then went on to pursue another degree in computer science.  After 2 years, Annsy changed majors and decided to start a music career as a touring artist.

While on tour in Europe, Annsy was the pianist for the group “Symbiose” in 2005. He then made connection with major gospel artists in France. He played and worked with many artists such as Piero Battery, Max Zita, New Generation Gospel, and many others artists while he was in Paris. He then received the opportunity to attend Oakwood University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Theory and Composition. While attending OU he was highly involved in musical activities on and off campus.   

Known throughout the gospel community for his accompanying skills, Annsy has played for choirs of different genres of music including Madison Mission SDA Mass Choir, Alabama A&M Gospel Choir, Dynamic Praise, Oakwood University Aeolians, Rayshun Waker & Colorado Movement, and different groups (Jamel Strong & Messages, Limitless, Ricky Miller & Endowed With Power, Stan Torrain & Continual Praise). He has played and ministered at many churches in the area.  In addition, he has played for several gospel artists including Beverly Crawford, Donnie McClurkin, Le’Andria Johnson, Maurette Brown-Clark, Yolanda Adams, Wess Morgan, Tramaine Hawkins and Lamar Campbell.

Amy Helser
Flute

Amy Helser has been a flutist and pianist since childhood. She is a 2010 graduate of UAHuntsville, where she studied with Bob Gifford, earning a Bachelor of Music in flute performance. Amy is flute teacher on the staff at Valley Conservatory in Huntsville. She is a member of the First Baptist Church Orchestra, and is an active freelance musician. She has been flutist on premiers of compositions by Sara McDaris in collaboration with renowned composer Emma Lou Diemer, and also on compositions by local composers, Curtis Lindsay, and Dr. Ron Wray. Amy is employed as a music ministry assistant at First Baptist Church in Huntsville. She is married, and has one daughter, Robin, who works as a zookeeper at the Red River Zoo in Fargo, North Dakota.
Devere Pride

Bass/Saxphone

Devere Pride, Bass/Saxphone, is from Cleveland Ohio where he studied bass in high school with a member of the Cleveland Orchestra.  An all-around musician, Mr. Pride is well versed as a classical and jazz musician and is highly respected in both arenas.  As an aspiring young bassist, Devere played in the Cleveland All-City Orchestra, and the Ohio All-State Orchestra in addition to his high school orchestra and band programs. He has played with the Northeast Ohio Regional Orchestra and continues to play with various community orchestras in the Huntsville/Madison, County area including the Valley Conservatory Symphony Chamber Orchestras and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra where he has been a member for more than 20 years.

On the jazz scene, Mr. Pride is one of the most sought after “gig” bass players in the region.  Primarily self-taught through study on his own, Devere learned jazz from many musicians he met along the way and from listening to recordings and performances.  An accomplished jazz artist within his own right, Devere has produced two CD recording with his group ‘The Devere Pride Trio’ and has played with several leading jazz artist including Fred Wesley, Ellis Marselas, Delfayo Marselas, Randy Weston, Jerry Byrd, Jimmy Heath and Houston Person.

In addition to his performing, Devere is also very active in hosting various jazz jam seesions throughout the community and teaches part-time at Oakwood University and the Valley Conservatory.

Donna Ruiz
Violin

A recent Huntsville transplant, Donna Ruiz was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN. She began playing violin in Junior High and participated in school and community youth orchestras. After majoring in Music Education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Mrs. Ruiz moved to Savannah, GA and taught elementary general music and 2nd through 8th grade string orchestra classes as well as played with the Savannah Philharmonic and Beaufort, South Carolina Symphony. She also joined the Savannah Goliards where she played the vielle (medieval fiddle) with John Hillenbrand. She has since settled into the musical life of Huntsville where she is on the faculty at Valley Conservatory where she teaches strings through their music education program at Oakwood Adventist Academy. She also plays with the Valley Conservatory Lyceum Orchestra and other various local ensembles.
Theron Thomas
Theron Thomas, II, more commonly known as Therry (pronounced Terry), was born in Wilmington, Delaware on April 30, 1987. He began his life as a shy kid who only tag along if his parents were around. One day, when he was just five years old, his parents were rehearsing a duet they were planning to sing for church. He heard the song and quickly learned and started to harmonize a third part. His parents overheard him and asked him to sing with them. Being the shy boy that he was, he refused. He later accepted only to the bribe that they would take him to Chuck E. Cheese’s after.

After that first bribe, they couldn’t stop him! They could easily tell that music was becoming his passion at a young age. He began singing solos in children’s choir and solos in church and with his immediate family, including his younger sister. When it was time to go away to high school, Pine Forge Academy in Pennsylvania seemed to be the best choice. Once he got there, he joined the choir and immediately acquired solos under the direction of Jason Max Ferdinand.

Although talented, he still had much growth to do. He soon became very comfortable on stage and music become even more prominent in his life. Once it was time for college in 2005, Oakwood University, where his parents met, seemed to be the perfect fit. He began to sing on praise teams in church and join the world renowned Aeolians and was soon traveling all over the world singing and ministering. It was there where he joined an already established group, Committed. He graduated from Oakwood University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Music.

When he joined the group Committed, he would have never imagined that they would one day compete for and win a Sony recording contract on the second season of NBC’s The Sing Off! Though already becoming established in this new music career, he is always striving to better himself musically in every way possible. Along with singing with Committed, he is also teaching voice at the Valley Conservatory.

Martha Brouse
Voice/Piano

Martha Freeman Brouse brings to Valley Conservatory over thirty years of professional singing and teaching experience. She began her professional opera career in Germany as the “Mother” in a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, a role which she has sung many times and would later win a “Wings” Award. While in Europe, she was also under contract with the Linz State Opera in Linz, Austria where she performed in approximately 280 performances per year. After singing abroad for over six years, Mrs. Brouse returned to New York City and earned a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Madame Rita Patane, Joan Dornamann, Nico Castel, and Kathryn La Bouff of the Metropolitan Opera Company, Michael Rhodes (Germany) and Althea Bridges (Austria). Her opera coaches have been Mignon Dunn, Stephen Wadsworth, Marlena Malas, Dennis Helmrich, Warren Jones, and Benton Hess. While in New York, she was a soloist with the United States Military Academy Chapel and performed as a guest soloist with the United States Army Band at West Point. Mrs. Brouse’s international career has included concert has included concert work, church music, oratorio, musical theater, and opera. She has sung in over 40 opera and musical theater productions for audiences as large as 30,000 people. Some of her lyric opera leading roles include Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutti(UTEP Opera), Micaela in Carmen(HOT), Pamina in The Magic Flute(HOT, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus(YAOT, N.C.), and Serpina in La Serva Padrona(UTEP), Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly (The Opera, El Paso, Texas.) Mrs. Brouse has also performed with numerous musical theater professional casts, including Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar (Linz State Theater, Austria), Cats, Phantom of the Opera as Christine (Nashville), and Camelot as Guenevere (El Paso, Texas).

Some of her most recent orchestral solo performances include Beethoven’s Mass in C, Handel’s Messiah, Saint Saens’ Christmas Oratorio, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem. She has been an active soloist in the Huntsville area with the Huntsville Community Chorus, the Twickenham Singers, the Brasher Chorale, and the Huntsville Opera Theater.

She currently is on the faculty at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. She served on the voice faculty at Oakwood University ( for 7 years), Huntsville, Alabama, El Paso Community College, and Ars Nova School of the Arts, teaching Voice, Diction, and Music Appreciation. Additionally, Mrs. Brouse has maintained a busy teaching schedule at her private voice studio, Belle Voce Studio where she has directed The Marriage of Figaro(abridged) and Les Miserables (The Project) and numerous camps and recitals. In addition, she is active as an adjudicator for local and regional competitions and musical consultant and clinician for area school groups (ie. James Clemens High School, Madison Band and Choral Camp, and Decatur High School, Pulaski Musical Theater Co.). She is a member of these music organizations: NATS, NFMC and MTNA.

Her students include successful, active professional, semi-professional, and amateur singers who have been very competitive for college scholarships, won local, regional, and National competitions, played community theater leading roles, and positions as church soloists. Mrs. Brouse has also held numerous leadership positions in local volunteer organizations.

She is married to Steven Brouse, U.S. Army Colonel, retired. They live on a farm in Madison with their daughter, horses, dogs, and cats.

Laura Knaupp
Piano

Laura Knaupp has been studying piano since the age of 9 and has been teaching siblings and neighbors since she was in high school. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Thomas Edison State College and has been teaching piano lessons professionally since 2007. She also teaches beginning Guitar. Laura believes in cultivating well-rounded musicians by teaching as many aspects of music as possible including performance, theory, technique, sight reading, ear training, memorization, improvisation, and composition. Besides teaching, Laura has played in her church worship band and has held office in the Huntsville Music Teachers Association. Laura also has training in piano tuning and provides piano tuning services in the Huntsville area. When not practicing or teaching, Laura enjoys piano rebuilding, song writing and composing, singing, playing tennis, and spending time with family and friends.
Jihyun Meredith
Piano

Jihyun is from Seoul Korea and came to the United States in 2000. She is a graduate of Pai-chai University in South Korea where she majored in piano performance. In Korea she was presented in several recitals and concerts including a performance with the Chungnam Symphony Orchestra where she performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto #20 in E Minor. Ms. Meredith is an excellent teacher and pianist who enjoys reading and traveling. In addition to teaching at the Valley Conservatory she is the accompanist for the Korean Church.
Roger Rudolph
Percussion/Drums
Pat Register
Voice
Pat Register is originally from Florence, Alabama. She currently holds a Bachelor’s in Art in Music/Vocal Performance from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a Master’s in Music Vocal Performance from Arkansas State University. While in the Huntsville, Alabama area Mrs. Register sung with the University of Alabama Huntsville Concert Choir, Huntsville Opera Theatre, and Madison Community Choir. Mrs. Register also performed with the Concert Choir, Women’s Choir, Chamber Choir, and Arkansas State Opera Theatre at Arkansas State University. During that time she performed the roles of “The Abess” in Suor Angelica, “Ciesca” in Gianni Schicchi, “Ludmilla” in The Bartered Bride, and “Rosalinde” in Die Fledermaus. Mrs. Register also performed the role of the Mother Superior in Sound of Music. While performing with the Arkansas State University choral program she sang the soprano solos in the Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Mozart’s Regina Coeli. She has also won her division at National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) twice, once while living in Arkansas and once in Mississippi.

I have always wanted to teach. I have been teaching private voice since 2008. I want students to exceed and reach their goals. My emphasis is on correct vocal technique including breath support, mouth position, and standing position. I also let the student pick songs that he or she would like to sing. I try to make the lesson as fun as possible, but also maintain a professional atmosphere.
Kevin Lay
Cello
 
Kevin Lay, viola da gamba, has a masters degree in historical performance from the Early Music Institute at Indiana University 2002. While at IU, he was a graduate assistant, won the Jason Paras Scholarship, won the annual concerto competition, and co-founded the award-winning group Liaison. Since graduating, Kevin has lived in his home town of Huntsville Alabama and has worked as a professional photographer for his “day job.” During the last 6 years, he has performed with many groups in the south, including Vox Angelica, the Zephiro series, and Ars Nova here in Hutsville, the Knoxville Early Music Project in Knoxville, TN, the Shoals Symphony in Florence, AL, and Belle Meade Baroque in Nashville, TN. Kevin has also been a guest artist at Union University in Jacksonville, TN, LSU in New Orleans, FSU in Tallahassee, FL, and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Heidi Crane
Voice/Piano/Keyboarding, Guitar
Heidi Crane recently moved to Huntsville, Alabama after finishing a Masters of Music in Performance at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. Primarily a vocalist, Heidi has played roles such as Ann Page in Otto Nicolai's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and Esmerelda in "The Bartered Bride." She has also performed musical theater roles including Grace in "Annie" and Percy in "The Spitfire Grill." Growing up, Heidi toured internationally with the Anima Children's chorus and was section leader and part time accompanist for her high school choir. Along with singing, Heidi loves piano and guitar. Heidi has had fifteen years of piano lessons and two years of guitar lessons; with this experience, she now confidently teaches piano from the beginner to late intermediate level and guitar at the beginner level.
Marilyn Rue
Cello/Voice/Piano

Early in her life in Huntsville she worked with Dr. Collins at Oakwood College, and after so many request's and, also offering so many "NO's" she agreed to teach at the Valley Conservatory. Marilyn was so surprised to find that she loves teaching; sharing with the students her love of music, it's historical place in our culture and hoping to carry on the value of music in our society and into the future. Marilyn has been teaching at the Valley Conservatory for approximately one year.
Marilyn was born into the perfect family! Her father was a violist, conductor, and music teacher. Her mother was a violinist, so of course, Marilyn started playing the violin when she was 3 years old (she still owns her 16th size violin).

At age 17 her family moved to Stuttgart, Germany where her father oversaw orchestra and choral music in the Army high school system. Marilyn attended Staatlich Hochschule fur Musik and studied cello and voice. She was surprised to find out that she really loved singing, and ultimately studied with the foremost opera voice teacher in Germany while studying cello and serving as section leader for the Ludwigsburger Staatsorchestra.

Returning to San Diego, CA. her home town, she continued studies at San Diego State University as a double major, voice and cello, also studied and coached voice at USC. This was enormously time consuming, private lessons and performing in both areas and traveling to Los Angeles every week. After winning the Metropolitan Opera Auditions she decided to make the choice to choose one major, voice, with minors in cello and German. During this time, she won the audition with the San Diego Symphony, and embarked on a 35 year career as a symphony musician. At the same time, she enjoyed a career as an opera and oratorio singer, going on tour with Michael Tilson Thomas and performing Bachiannas Brasillieras in concert throughout Great Britain as well as the Hollywood Bowl. Additionally, she served as Minister of Music in a very understanding church, which allowed her to travel on concert tours throughout the United States. She also founded and managed the Pacific Chamber Ensemble, a chamber orchestra that performed 8 concerts a year.

In 1995 Marilyn retired from San Diego Symphony and moved to Huntsville with her husband, the late Paul Zubrod, because of it's active cultural community. Paul founded the Brass Band of Huntsville and Marilyn began shuttling between Huntsville and San Diego, still performing with the San Diego Opera orchestra. But soon she was asked to play with the Huntsville Symphony, which she did until last spring when she retired, yet again.

Chris McDonald
electric guitar/acoustic guitar/banjo, ukulele/violin/piano
 
Chris McDonald is a classical, rock and jazz musician who specializes in electric and acoustic guitar. He also plays banjo, ukulele, violin, and piano. Chris is a graduate of the University of Alabama in Huntsville where he studied classical guitar and earned a B.A. in Music. A Huntsville native, Chris is very active in the local music scene. He performs regularly in pit orchestras for musical theater productions. Chris leads music every Sunday at First Christian Church in Huntsville. He also works for the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Librarian, 3rd grade violin class instructor, and guitarist.
Kenesha Ryce
Violin/Viola/Piano/Guitar
 
At six month old Kenesha was introduced to the violin, when her older sister began taking violin lessons. Kenesha attended ever lesson and practice session before her first birthday. She could be heard humming the tunes of Suzuki Book One cassette.

Kenesha was granted the pleasure of accompanying her parents when they purchased the gift for her third birthday. Yes, you guessed it, her first violin, a 1/16. Oh what a gift, I still remember.

Her formal lessons began with Lynn Webster-Sawyer, however, that was short-lived, because Kenesha had already choreographed the entire Book One cassette. Certainly, she could not understand why her parents and teacher would not allow her to dance to the music, while she played her violin. She knew it all. Yet, after a six month (short lifetime) hiatus, she soon began to understand, she had to follow instructions. She could dance before or after lessons and rehearsal times, but not during those times.

When she resumed her formal lessons, she was ready to go! As a freshman at Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy (GAAA), Kensha taught violin classes throughout the (2008-2009) school year. In 2009 she opened, Wee Play Strings Music Studio out of her home and had 5 violin students and 1 piano student.

While in college at Oakwood University, Kenesha studied with Veronica Johnson in pursuit of a violin performance degree. During the summer of 2014, she attended North Carolina Suzuki Institute at East Carolina University. She completed her studies and recieved certification to teach Suzuki Violin Book 1. Kenesha became a volunteer with COG-ME (Community, Opportunity and Generosity through Music Education), teaching violin lessons to elementary and middle school students in the Huntsville Community (2014-2016). In the Spring of 2016, she began working as a substitute in the Valley Conservatory. She has been a regular instructor for just over 1 year.

Edliv Noel

Piano/Violin/Voice

Edliv Noel was born in Fort Lauderdale, FL and came to Huntsville, AL in 2005. She is a student at Oakwood University majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Voice. From a young age Edliv began studying music beginning with piano and later adding violin. She has been in a number of choirs and orchestras. Currently she is a member of the Oakwood University Choir and OU Percussion Drumline. After graduating from Oakwood Academy, she was offered a position as a teacher assistant at the Valley Conservatory. Edliv plans to move forward into the medical field as well as always keeping in touch with the musician’s life. In her spare time, Edliv enjoys doing photography.

 

Josh Couts
Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano
 
Josh has a Masters degree in Modern American Music from Longy School of Music of Bard College and a Bachelors degree in music from University of Alabama in Huntsville. During his formal studies at Longy and UAH, he studied both classical music on nylon string guitar and jazz on the electric guitar making him a well rounded performer and educator in these genres and others.

Josh started his college education in music at the Ohio State University but left after a year upon being accepted into the Army Bands Program. He spent four years in the Army, with most of that time being spent at Redstone Arsenal with the Army Material Command Band. While in the 389th Army band, he was part of over 200 musical performances with different groups, including a jazz orchestra, three to six piece jazz combo, a popular music ensemble, wind ensemble, and solo jazz and classical guitar. He was part of many educational outreach programs while with the band including master classes and performances at universities, high schools, and middle schools. During his time with the 389th Army Band, Josh was able to take night classes and finish his undergraduate degree at UAH.

Upon completing his four-year contract with the Army, Josh and his wife Megan oved to Boston so he could pursue his Masters degree at Longy School of Music. At Longy, he studied jazz improvisation concepts with Mark Zaleski and Leo Blanco and classical guitar with William Riley. Josh grew as a jazz composer and arranger during his time at Longyas he studied George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concepts with Ben Schwendener and helped arrange music for many of the ensembles he was involved in. While living in Boston, Josh was able to perform and record as a freelance musician outside of Longy with many notable musicians including Mark Zaleski, Sohyun, George Garzone, John Lockwood and grammy winner Mark Walker.

After receiving his Masters degree, Josh moved back to Huntsville, AL with his wife Megan, where he is part of many performing music projects and works as a guitar instructor and music educator.
 

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