MEET MATT ALLEY
Matt Alley (Guitar, Bass)
Teaches private lessons on Fridays
Matthew Alley is a music instructor, guitarist, and ethnomusicologist. Born and raised in South Carolina, he began his musical career performing around the Carolinas before relocating to the Midwest. Matthew holds a BM in Music Performance from Winthrop University, an MM in Jazz Studies from the University of South Carolina, and an MA in Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. As a guitarist and bass guitarist, Matthew has performed with many groups in a variety of styles, having played blues, classical, country, funk, jazz, and rock. He writes and records original music and plays regularly in the Chicago area. He has taught private lessons, group classes, and college courses.
Loving all kinds of music is key to Matthew’s approach to teaching guitar. He takes students’ musical interests as the starting point for guitar lessons, designing a course of study to help them achieve their personal goals while building musical and technical fundamentals that can be transferred to any genre. He knows that there are as many types of learners as there are styles of music, and is eager to help students understand their instruments and musical personalities.
MEET LANA ANTIC
Certified instructor for the Royal School of Music Board Exams
Lana Antic (Piano, Theory)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays - Thursdays
Lana's focus is on acquiring musical skills in her students that will lead to the building of confidence, creativity and responsibility. "I strive to inspire and challenge my students by providing high quality music lessons that are encouraging, meaningful and enjoyable. My confidence in my students enhances their love of music and my ongoing goal is to instill in each of my students a lifelong enjoyment and appreciation of music."
Lana Antic started her musical journey at five years old by taking piano lessons. In 1991 she graduated from Andrews University, Michigan with a Masters Degree in Music. She is a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Music Society. Lana has achieved her musical expertise as a teacher, performer, music & choir director. She has more than 20 years of experience in teaching piano, organ and music theory. For the last eight years she has worked in England, UK developing a fine class of students who went on to receive the highest honors in The Royal School of Music piano and music theory exams.
MEET HOPE ARTHUR
Hope Arthur (Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Thursdays
Hope Arthur is a classical and ragtime musician who holds a B.M. in piano performance as well as a B.A. in German studies. She graduated with the Outstanding Senior award for Music and an Outside Field. A composer, performer, and instructor with a special interest in ethnomusicology, Hope has more than ten years of teaching experience with students of all ages and musical interests. In 2012 Hope was the winner of the IPFW Concerto Aria Competition and was a soloist with the university orchestra. Also in 2012 Hope traveled to Saarburg, Germany, to perform at the Saarburg Seranaden, a festival featuring chamber music. In 2014 she was a featured artist at Schloss Stubenberg (Castle Stubenberg) in Stubenberg, Austria. She is the founder of the Hope Arthur Orchestra, a musical ensemble that focuses on performing original bodies of work and collaborating with arts organizations such as Fort Wayne Ballet, Mikautadze Dance Theatre, Fort Wayne Cinema Center, Pyroscope Entertainment and many more. Her ensemble won an Artie Award in 2013 for Outstanding Collaboration with Fort Wayne Ballet, Too. Since graduating, Hope has been focusing on expanding her audience through touring nationally and she also continues to collaborate with filmmakers, musicians, artists and dancers locally and across the world. Hope is very excited to join the team at Music Makers and to explore music and art making in Illinois.
MEET ALEX BAHAVEOLOS
Alex Bahaveolos (Musical Theatre Vocal Director, Voice & Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays and Thursdays
"Music is a verb, not a noun. Music is not a product we create but rather the entire act of performing, practicing, and living through the art form."
Alex recently graduated from Millikin University with a B.A. in Music Education. His primary emphasis while attending Millikin was voice. While at Millikin, Alex sang in the University Choir under the Direction of Dr. Brad Holmes. His experiences in this Choir took him all throughout the country and on a European tour through the Baltic Region where he performed, taught, and truly fostered a love for choral music and the vocal art form. During his last year of Undergrad, Alex student taught at Lyons Township High School and worked under John Musick and throughout the choral program.
Alex has been working with Music Makers Theatre as their Vocal Director for five years and is excited to come on board as a teacher. His experiences with directing theatre make him a great choice for students looking in audition preparation as well as contemporary vocal styles with strong pedagogical foundation. Alex also believes in teaching theory to every student as a means of better understanding the art form.
MEET ADRIENNE BENSON
Adrienne Benson (Office Manager)
Adrienne is a life-long resident of DuPage County and comes to Music Makers with a background of employment at College of DuPage and The Container Store. As the daughter of a music teacher, a 10-year recipient of private violin lessons, and a former member of various local choirs, she carries a deep appreciation of music and the arts and loves having the opportunity to help new musicians get started on their journey. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and church-family; keeping up with her crazy dog, Eloise; attending cultural & artistic events around Chicagoland; and working to conquer her ever-growing Pinterest to-do list. Feel free to stop by the office and say hello - you’re always welcome!
MEET JAN BENSON
Jan Benson (Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
“If one can learn something as complex as a spoken language, one can learn the language of music regardless of innate musical ability, especially if it is taught in a similar fashion. The fine arts are an expression of the soul. Our art both shapes and is influenced by our culture. The importance of engaging with the arts in some form for emotional and physical health as well as life enrichment cannot be overemphasized.”
Mrs. Benson has always known she wanted to be a musician and a music teacher. She loved playing school, performing on the piano for family, and organizing neighborhood talent shows as a child, and her first experience teaching music was actually during her high school years when she offered piano lessons to neighborhood children. She brings to Music Makers over 20 years of experience teaching general and choral music to DuPage County K-8 children in the public school system, and she currently teaches in Naperville School Dist. 203.
Mrs. Benson earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree at the Conservatory of Music at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction degree from Concordia University in River Forest, IL. While also a bassoonist, having played for 10 years with the Fox Valley Symphony, Mrs. Benson draws heavily on her 12 years of piano training on a daily basis for all of her music instruction. She is delighted to be part of the Music Makers team and guide others on their musical journeys!
MEET KEITH BERTRAND
Keith Bertrand (Voice, Trumpet, Trombone, Saxophone, Flute)
Teaches private lessons on Tuesdays
"I believe the there is an artist in all of us, but there are hurdles to overcome before that creativity can be manifested. My goal is to help students realize these hurdles and give them the tools to overcome them. It is important to approach this with a nurturing attitude, but students are also taught that they are ultimately responsible for their own success. With this approach, I have found that students take greater pride in their successes, and work harder to overcome obstacles. I love my work as an educator, and believe there is no such thing as an easy song."
Keith earned his Bachelors in Music Education from Elmhurst College, and Masters degree in Vocal Pedagogy from Northeastern Illinois University. He is currently teaching private voice and instrumental students in Western Springs. Keith feels it is very important for an educator to also be an active performer. He is one of the founding members of “The Lakeside Singers”, a professional 24 voice choral group based out of Evanston, IL. When music festival season comes along, he works with IMEA, the Chicago Public Schools, as well as the surrounding suburbs, as an adjudicator and clinician. Keith enjoys acting as conductor, vocalist, and trumpet player for a community big band, and continues his audiophile hobby by repairing vintage audio gear. Yes, he listens to vinyl, and still buys tubes. Give him a call if you just don’t want that old broken tube amp or large speakers. Originally from Matteson, IL, Keith now resides in Bolingbrook.
MEET STEVE BITTE
Steve Bitte (Drums, Beginning Guitar, Beginning Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays
"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."
"I believe we all have something unique to share, either in what we share or in the way we share it. My primary goal as a music instructor is to teach competency in reading music to fully express their own personal creative expression on their instrument. The student can take this ability to read and eventually transcribe music, whether their own or other's, throughout their life. Learning a musical instrument teaches life skills to the student such as discipline (practicing everyday), perseverance (never giving up), and patience (knowing you can't achieve something worthwhile overnight). We will learn reading skills within method books and apply those skills in songs by real world artists through imitation. Parent support and reiteration of lesson content is crucial to the success of their child. Keeping the lesson environment relaxed and fun adds sprinkles to the cake!"
Steven has majored in music at College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn IL and has also attended Musician's Institute in Los Angeles CA. Steven has extensive touring and performance experience locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally since 1997. Steven operates his own music production company Blue Shade Music which works with a number of licensing agencies for licenses to TV + Film and other avenues. Check out his exclusive interview with Online Drummer for more information on his teaching approach.
MEET ANN BOURJAILY-MANEY
Ann Bourjaily Maney (K-8th Musical Theatre Music Director)
Ann received her bachelor's and master's degrees in piano performance/pedagogy from Saint Mary's College and Northwestern University, respectively. She has been involved in musical theater as a musical director and accompanist at Music Makers since 2000. In addition to Music Makers, Ann also works at St. John of the Cross as director of the Cherub and 5 Alive Teen choirs, St. Francis Xavier as an accompanist, and Nazareth Academy as a choir director. When she's not tickling the ivories, she's tending to her 4 wonderful children.
MEET PAUL CAREY
Paul Carey (Piano, Music Theory & Composition, Conducting)
Teaches private lessons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
My approach to teaching music varies from student to student. I try to discover each student’s particular interests and learning style, and then customize a plan which will allow them to progress toward discovering the joy of creating music, including the challenges it presents. I thoroughly enjoy watching students gain confidence in their achievements as they progress from beginner to more advanced player, and I firmly believe that success in music study carries over into other learning areas.
Paul’s musical career has taken him from college studies at the University of Illinois and Yale, to composing for and conducting some of the great choirs of the United States and overseas. As a pianist, he has enjoyed teaching silly six year olds, working as a choral accompanist, as well as accompanying the likes of New York Metropolitan Opera superstar Sherrill Milnes, a fellow Downers Grove native.
He has taught beginning through advanced piano, harp, choir, music theory & composition, and conducting in private studios as well as his during his stint as head of the music program at the famed North Carolina Governor’s School in Raleigh, NC.
His approximately 200 sacred and secular choral compositions range from the serious to the silly (note the Mashed Potato Love Poem, or Peace on Earth and Lots of Little Crickets, two of his biggest hits) and these works have been performed on six out of seven of the Earth’s continents (can you guess the “hold-out” continent?). His compositions are published by Oxford University Press and other fine publishers. As a conductor he has led festival and All-State choirs in various states as well as in Asia. He currently resides in Oak Park, the birthplace of author Ernest Hemingway and the Hostess Twinkie.
MEET KATIE COUSINS
Katie Cousins (Violin, Viola)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays
"Everyone, no matter how young or young-at-heart, has a unique viewpoint to reveal, and music is an ideal universal language in which to do just that. Learning a new art should be both enjoyable and challenging; through music, students of all ages not only learn how to work with an instrument, but also how to diagnose and approach difficult problems, exercise critical thinking, and learn to work with others to reach a common goal. In lessons, I aim to create an environment in which students feel comfortable exploring both technical processes and an awareness of sound - music reading, ear training, listening, and an appreciation of musical history are all important facets of my teaching."
Violinist Katie Cousins is a versatile performer and teacher with a passion for an enormous range of musical styles. She has been featured on stages across the U.S. and Europe, and is dedicated to making both classic and new music accessible to a diverse population. Currently based in Chicago, Katie is a member of the Peoria Symphony, and throughout her career has also enjoyed performing with the Chicago Arts Orchestra, the Waterbury Symphony, the Hartford Opera Theater Orchestra, and the Spirit of Broadway Theater outside of New York, among others. With a special passion for chamber music, Katie has spent time in both Austria and Italy sharing masterpieces of the chamber repertoire with European audiences. She has worked with members of the Emerson, Pacifica, and St. Lawrence String Quartets, and in the fall of 2011, co-founded Isosceles, a violin-saxophone-piano trio with which she toured across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S.
Katie holds a Master of Music and a Graduate Professional Diploma in Violin Performance from the Hartt School in Hartford, CT. While there, she developed a special interest in contemporary music, leading to her performances with the 016 New Music Ensemble, and several recent world premier performances of new chamber works on stages across the country. Before completing her graduate studies at Hartt, Katie received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a strong advocate for the development and strengthening of music programs in schools across the U.S., and has been teaching in private, small group, and classroom settings for over ten years.
MEET JULIET DAWSON
Juliet Dawson (Violin, Viola)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays and Tuesdays
Juliet is a Chicago-based violist/violinist who has been passionate about string music ever since she was tricked into playing the viola at age 11. Since then, she has received her BM in viola performance from the University of Michigan and her MM from the Hartt School of Music.
As a chamber musician, she has performed as part of Hartt's prestigious chamber program Performance 2020, along with colleagues and professors from both U of M and the Hartt. Currently, she performs with the Living Room Players, a diverse collection of professional musicians in the Chicago area. As a soloist, Juliet debuted with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra in 2007. Since then she has appeared in scholarship showcases as well as faculty concerts. More recently she performed with the Hartt Symphony Orchestra as a winner of the 2012 Paranov Concerto Competition, performing the first viola concerto in over a decade of the competition's history.
She has acted as principal and section viola of her scholastic orchestras, as well as regional, baroque, and opera orchestras in Michigan, Connecticut, and Illinois. Before beginning at Music Makers, she has acted as a private instructor for both violin and viola for the last ten years.
MEET MICKI DOHERTY
Micki Doherty (Musical Theatre Director)
"I love to watch kids who say, 'I can't', realize that they can!"
Micki earned her bachelors degree in Production of Musical Theater from The University of Illinois, with a triple minor in vocal performance, theater and business. For 7 years she was a talent agent with The Arlene Wilson Agency. Here she learned about the business while booking and casting performers for movies, television and stage. She was finally able to combine her passion for musical theater and her love of kids at Music Makers of Western Springs! For 12 years she has been thrilled and privileged to run the musical theater program and to teach Kindermusik and voice. Nothing gives her greater joy that to watch someone who thinks they can’t realize they can!! Micki has also had the honor to direct the St. Francis Spirit Choir with Music Makers' owner, Jeremy Michor, for the past 13 years. When she’s not directing and teaching she is usually chauffeuring one of her three kids, Jack, Kate and Abby to one of their many activities. She wouldn’t have it any other way!
MEET SUJATA GAZDER
Sujata Gazder (Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Fridays & Saturdays
"I believe that a solid grounding in note skills, rhythm and technique is very important. After learning the basics, a musician must look inside themselves to find their expression and create their art. I believe in creating a safe and enthusiastic environment for my students to explore that part of themselves. Enabling a student to access that inner expression allows them to grow not only as an artist but also as a person."
Sujata has over 25 years of teaching experience. She is able to teach both classical and popular styles on the piano and is comfortable with both children and adults. Sujata studied under the Royal School of Music, London until age 18 in India. She was the youngest finalist at the All in Your Box competition in 1988. (She gained admission to the Julliard School of Music.) Sujata received a bachelors and masters of music at The Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. She majored in music theory with a minor in piano performance. She taught for three years at the Chicago Musical College from 1995 to 1997 and at Music Makers of Western Springs from 1996 to 2006. From 2006 to 2014 Sujata continued her teaching privately, and she has since rejoined Music Makers' faculty on Fridays and Saturdays teaching both private lessons and group classes.
MEET STEPHEN M. GENOVESE
Stephen M. Genovese ("One Step Closer" Audition Workshop Coach)
Available by appointment only
STEPHEN M. GENOVESE has spent the last 30 years involved in one aspect or another of theatre. Steve is the co-founder and Founding Artistic Director, as well as Past-President of BoHo Theatre in Chicago, currently celebrating 10 years of bringing quality storytelling to audiences. Steve has performed at or worked with Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre, Pheasant Run Theatre, and Court Theatre, among others, and was honored by the Joseph Jefferson Committee with a Best Director-Musical achievement citation for the BoHo production of SideShow. Other production credits as director include the 8-time Jeff-nominated musical The Glorious Ones, and the smash hit I Am My Own Wife (co-directed with Peter Marston Sullivan) which also won a Jeff award. He is the current director of Deerfield Family Theater, having staged a hugely successful production of The Secret Garden this past Fall, and The King and I the Fall prior. Additionally, Steve works at Shepard Middle School in Deerfield with their annual musical. Other works directed by Steve include the critically acclaimed musicals The Wild Party, Jekyll & Hyde and La Cage aux Folles and the award-winning Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Hauptmann, and The Rainmaker. Steve has sung the National Anthem at a Chicago Cubs game, chased Michael Jordan around the city in a commercial for Nike, and generally made a delightful fool of himself, all in the name of art. In addition to acting and directing, Steve costumes, designs sets, writes, creates props, and does pretty much anything else that allows his creative side to continually flourish.
MEET MARY GIBSON
Mary Gibson (Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Wednesdays and Fridays
Mary holds a Bachelor of Music Degree and Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance from the Chicago Conservatory College with a voice minor.
Her musical journey includes private piano instruction, choral educator/conductor of 32 years: those being spent at Montini Catholic High School, Lombard (12 years) and Lake Park High School, Roselle (20 years). In her role as choral educator Mary has served as vocal director for numerous musicals. Her choral students have participated at the All-State level at the Illinois Musical Educators Associations (IMEA) Choral Festivals.
Mary has also enjoyed being the vocalist for the Glen Ellyn Jazz Ensemble. She has worked with college level students as an accompanist for the Elmhurst College Choir Program under the direction of Susan Moninger.
Mary enjoys the collaborative efforts of parent, student and teacher in creating and developing the immense joy of music.
MEET ROB HYNES
Check out Rob's
Rock Band & Hall of Famers programs!
Rob Hynes (Guitar, Bass Guitar, Ukulele, Banjo, Mandolin)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays - Thursdays
"My teaching philosophy centers around making lessons and practice fun through the exploration of a wide variety of techniques and styles. It is my belief that this is the key to growth. I strive to instill a firm understanding of music fundamentals and instruct while using the student's favorite songs as examples. Skills developed during lessons are sight reading, improvisation, ear training and more."
Robert Hynes has been an instructor at Music Makers of Western Springs for over ten years and enjoys the chance to share his love of music through private & semi-private lessons, guitar ensembles, and Rock Band. Instruction is available for all styles of guitar including classical, jazz, rock, blues, slide/bottleneck, country/bluegrass, and pop. Other instruments offered are bass guitar, ukulele, banjo, and mandolin. Skills taught in lessons include sightreading, ear training, chord comping, song and solo transcription, technique development and songwriting. Robert is also responsible for guitar repair at the studio.
Having written music & performed with a wide variety of groups throughout the Chicagoland area for almost 20 years, Robert has built an impressive live-performance resume including stops at the Taste of Chicago, Park West, and House of Blues. The Robert Hynes Band - a group featuring his original compositions - has shared the stage with acclaimed national acts such as Buckwheat Zydeco, the Mighty Blue Kings, Rusted Root Trio, Leo Nocontelli (guitarist of the Meters), and CJ Chenier. He has performed in wedding bands, jazz ensembles, blues bands, cover bands, and done studio work for other acts as well.
Robert first learned guitar and piano at a very young age from his father, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist. Piano, guitar, voice, and viola lessons were continued at school and at the house of a next-door neighbor who was an instructor. Robert has attended Downers Grove South High School, Davea Career Center (Media Technology), and College of DuPage, and has received countless hours of private guitar instruction from the area's finest guitarists.
MEET MADELINE LERRICE KATCHER
Madeline Lerrice Katcher (Cello)
Teaches private lessons on Thursdays
Madeline, a recent alumnus of Millikin University School of Music and recipient of the Young Artist Talent Award, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance. While attending Millikin, she was a member of the Millikin Decatur Symphony Orchestra which performed under the direction of Dr. Michael Luxner. She was principal cellist along with her professor, Amy Catron. She also performed with the internationally acclaimed Millikin University Choir under the direction of Dr. Brad Holmes and toured throughout the US and Europe. She has performed in many musicals; including Spring Awakening, The Adams Family, and most recently Dogfight.
Madeline began playing the cello at the age of seven and soon became a member of the Lincoln-Way Youth Strings Orchestra. Throughout high school, Madeline was selected to perform with the Illinois Music Educator’s All-State Orchestra. She is a previous member of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Protégé Philharmonic. Eventually she would like to return to graduate school to study cello performance.
Madeline is excited to join the Music Makers team and share her love and passion for the cello with her students! She believes that passion for music can be contagious, so her goal is to keep her students engaged and keep music as fun as possible.
MEET SEAN KEENEHAN
Sean Keenehan (Percussion, Drums)
Teaches private lessons on Saturdays
“I believe that all music is relative and have been teaching all musical genres at Music Makers since 2000—as Duke Ellington once said, ‘If it sounds good, it IS good.’ Beginning with a solid foundation of the basics, I identify with each student’s unique personality and structure curriculums according to the student’s learning style, incorporating snare drum, drum set, xylophone, percussion and musical theory studies accordingly. I have had the privilege of studying with great instructors and do my best to honor and emulate their spirit through my own teaching approach.”
Sean Keenehan began his dedicated musical studies in Philadelphia and, after relocating to the Chicagoland area, remained increasingly active as a determined percussionist in school jazz, symphonic, orchestra and marching band programs, achieving numerous awards for solo and ensemble performances through college.
As a music performance major at Columbia College Chicago, Sean engulfed himself in the city’s blues, jazz and fusion scene and studied under the direction of the late and legendary jazz composer William Russo, Fulbright Specialist Kimo Williams and former Ramsey Lewis percussionist Frank Donaldson. During his freshman year, Sean was hired by Columbia as a session drummer and also performed percussion for several of the college’s musical theater productions, including “Chicago” and “Godspell.”
An accomplished rock/pop career has allowed Sean to record and perform with a vast array of artists and enabled him to travel from coast-to-coast in support of a diversity of international acts—including Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Queensyrche, The Mighty MIghty Bosstones, Disturbed, Sum 41, Ratt, The Plain White T’s and Alter Bridge—earning worldwide radio/video airplay, critically-acclaimed press reviews, an appearance on Fuse TV and two appearances as a guest host for the music television show JBTV along the way.
Sean also works in Chicago as a multi-media journalist and has a BA in Communication Studies Magna Cum Laude from Loyola University Chicago.
MEET JEFF KIMMEL
Jeff Kimmel (Clarinet, Saxophone, Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays - Wednesdays
"As a teacher, my aim is to help students see the strength within themselves by using the learning of music as a means of self-discovery. Lessons incorporate listening, technique building, theory, ear training, duets, and improvisation to develop deeper understanding and mastery. Musical material becomes a jumping off point for creative expression and interpretation."
Jeff Kimmel is a Chicago-based clarinetist, improviser, and composer. Originally from Greenville, SC, he moved to Boston to attend the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied improvisation and composition. Since relocating to Chicago in 2007, he has become an active part of the city's vibrant creative music community.
Currently, Jeff performs regularly with a diverse array of ensembles, including ragtime with The Great Crush, notated experimental music with a.per.i.od.ic ensemble, and maintains regular collaborations with local improvisers. He has been featured on several recordings with groups that emphasize the cultivation of long-standing musical relationships. In 2011, he released a CD of his original quartet music, Charm Offensive, to critical acclaim. His work has been funded twice by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and in the fall of 2011, he was selected to attend a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
MEET BEN LANSING
Ben Lansing (Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Mandolin, Banjo, Dobro, Lap steel)
Teaches private lessons on Thursdays
"As a teacher, I create individual lesson plans for each student, according to age, experience, preferred style(s) of music, and long-term goals. I have taught students from age 5 to over 70. One of the biggest challenges in teaching musical instruments is keeping the student excited enough to practice regularly. I generally teach through songs that are easily recognized. This allows the student to hear when he/she is performing the song correctly, and the result is immediately rewarding. While teaching songs, I look for opportunities to introduce the appropriate theory (chords, scales, technique, etc.) so that students can play the songs and understand the harmonic structure. I work with every student to help promote a good sense of time and feel, which I believe is an essential part of making music."
Ben Lansing began playing guitar at fourteen, influenced by various rock and metal bands of the day. Taking lessons in Memphis with a local blues guitarist, he learned early on the importance of tone, rhythm, and groove. That first teacher taught him how to improvise and play slide guitar, which has become a dominant aspect of his playing and a specialized aspect of his teaching.
Another unique element of Ben's playing style is his use of hybrid picking (incorporating both a pick and fingers simultaneously). This versatile picking technique allows for sounds and note combinations not possible with pick or fingers alone.
Since moving to Chicago in 1998, Ben has played in many bands, both live and on studio recordings. These bands range in style from rock, blues, country, folk, funk, fusion, traditional and free jazz, to many types of "world" music. His ability to play traditional West African guitar styles has lead to performances with international artists, and he has toured Europe and America playing American roots music.
In addition to playing many styles of music, Ben also enjoys playing many different stringed instruments, including electric, acoustic, slide, and fretless guitar, bass, ukulele, mandolin, dobro, lap steel, and banjo. Playing a variety of styles and instruments has garnered him studio work with other artists and for tv and film soundtracks.
Ben continues to play and record with a number of artists in the Chicago area. He strives to continue advancing both technically and creatively as a musician and to continue to evolve his unique approach to stringed instruments.
MEET YUQING LIU
Yuqing Liu (Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays
“Piano lessons provide students with a new perspective on invaluable life-skills such as commitment, responsibility, dedication, patience, determination, confidence, discipline, focus, and delayed gratification.”
Yuqing Liu had a strong interest in music since she was a child, and to teach was always her dream. She had her first piano lesson when she was 10 years old. She was so excited about the sound of a piano! After 3 years of study, she passed her exam and was accepted into the Tianjin Music School to start her professional piano performance study. In 2008, she attended Tianjin Conservatory of Music, China, for her Bachelor’s degree. In 2014, she came to the U.S. for a further study with Dr. Goldenberg at Northern Illinois University, and got her Master’s degree in Piano Performance in May of 2016.
MEET PHIL KLEVEN
Phil Kleven (Violin, Viola, & Cello)
Teaches private lessons on Wednesdays
"In my teaching, technique is critical to success. When you take lessons with me, your child will build a strong technical foundation, which can be applied to any musical genre."
Phillip Kleven received his Masters Degree and Graduate Professional Diploma from The Hartt School, and Bachelor’s Degree from Bradley University. Mr. Kleven has performed extensively in Chicago, Hartford, Boston, and New York. He has performed with Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Emanuel Ax, and members of the Chicago Symphony, Chicago Lyric Opera, and New York Philharmonic. He has appeared as concertmaster of the Hartt Symphony, Hartt Opera and Pit Orchestras, Wheaton Symphony and the Bradley University Symphony. His principal teachers include Anton Miller and Marcia Henry Liebenow, and he has also studied with James Buswell, Gregory Fulkerson, Oleh Krysa, Lara St. John, Piotr Milewski, and the Miami and St. Lawrence String Quartets.
MEET JEREMY & GWEN MICHOR
Jeremy & Gwen Michor (Owners and Studio Directors)
Music Makers is a family-owned business run by Jeremy & Gwen Michor of Western Springs. The school was started in 1978 by Jeremy’s mother, Penny Wright, with Penny teaching in her home until the move to Grand Avenue in 1986.
Jeremy took over the business in 1995 with his wife Gwen joining him in 1998. Jeremy and Gwen believe that the school’s professional staff, friendly atmosphere, and wide variety of programs are what draw students of all ages and talents to Music Makers. They are the proud parents of four beautiful children, all of whom are involved with Music Makers lessons/theatre classes. In his spare time, Jeremy also co-directs the Spirit Choir at St. Francis Xavier in La Grange and enjoys singing and playing guitar in the locally popular band, Hidden Village.
MEET MARISSA OSTREGO
Marissa Ostrego (Piano, Voice, Music Technology Advisor)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays - Thursdays
"My students and I become music detectives in class. We search for clues, such as symbols, title, and tempo, to play the "mystery" piece technically and musically to the best of one's ability. We look and listen for matching measures to "solve" the song more efficiently."
Marissa Ostrego was born and raised in Western Springs, IL. She attended St. Francis Xavier Grade School, Lyons Township High School, and North Central College. Marissa was involved in music activities throughout her school career and was blessed to have studied under talented mentors. She believes music has a unique ability to enrich people’s lives. Marissa earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and received her Type 10 Teaching Certificate from the Illinois State Board of Education in Spring 2010. As an educator, Marissa hopes to inspire others to develop an appreciation for music and to strive to reach their musical potential. She currently teaches beginner piano and voice lessons at Music Makers of Western Springs.
MEET DANIEL SEGNER
Daniel Segner (Piano, Voice)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays and Fridays
“Learning an instrument is a skill that you will have your entire life. My students focus on fundamentals and technique so that they can explore genres of music that speak to them. Any student who works hard, masters the fundamentals, and is passionate about what they play will become fine musicians.”
Daniel Segner is a graduate of Valparaiso University where he earned his Bachelor of Music in Church Music/Organ Performance with his teacher Dr. Lorraine Brugh. He is the Principal Organist for First United Methodist Church at Chicago Temple in Chicago, Illinois, where he serves under Director of Music Erik Nussbaum and also holds a position as Organist/Pianist for Immanuel Lutheran Church in Downers Grove. For the last three years he has worked as the Director of Music at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Chesterton, IN, and has served most recently as the Interim Cantor and Organist at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lincolnwood, IL. He has studied piano with Nicole Lee, voice with Dr. Christopher Cock, and harpsichord with Dr. Joseph Bognar.
As a pianist, Daniel has enjoyed competing and playing recitals for most of his career; however, his true passion has been collaboration with other instrumentalists. The desire to collaborate, along with his history as a professional chorister, led him to study the organ. For the past 8 years, Daniel’s primary work on the piano has been accompanying a wide variety of soloists and ensembles: from vocalists, brass, and strings, to piano four-hands and piano six-hands.
Including his work as a capable accompanist, some of his notable past performances have been the opening recital for the Pipe Organ Encounter hosted by the American Guild of Organists, a guest artist for Paul Manz Organ Recital Series, and as a recitalist for an organ rededication service at Augustana Lutheran Church in Hobart, IN. Collaborations have included performances with Chorus Angelorum, Civitas (Chicago Symphony Orchestra chamber group), and with the Valparaiso University Symphony and LaPorte Symphony Orchestras. Recently, he has performed alongside the Valparaiso University Chorale in their summer tour of Germany where he played in Luebeck, Jueterbog, and Leipzig. While at Valparaiso University, he received the Ronald G. Reidenbach Prize in Church Music and the Signature Artist Award.
MEET MICHAEL SMITH
Michael Kent Smith (Guitar, Bass, Mandolin, Dulcimer)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays and Tuesdays
"My approach is very individualized for each student and depends on that person's learning style. A young child beginner, an adult returning to music after many years away from it and a semi-professional musician all start from very different places and have unique goals that need to be addressed individually. The most important aspect of learning music is that the student should feel good about their progress and that the overall learning experience be a positive one. Music has so many benefits and I work to help the student receive as many of those as possible!"
Michael Kent Smith is a performer, composer and teacher who uses guitars along with a variety of folk instruments such as the dulcimer, performing on them and taping the various strands together into vivid compositions that are a blend of rock, blues, classical, folk, Celtic, Spanish and jazz. He has a relaxed, open rapport with students and audiences alike and keeps them engaged with stories of the origins of the music and anecdotes from his global travels.Michael has toured Europe, Mexico and Africa and performs regularly around the United States with concerts at such notable venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Chicago Cultural Center. On the global front he has performed in the Festival Cervantino in Guanajuato Mexico, the International Festival of World Music in Mexico City and the International Guitar Festival in Zihuatanejo as well as touring with the Tom Sank Festival in Paris, Rome, Mali and Burkina Faso.
He studied classical guitar with Denis Azabagic, fingerstyle guitar with Martin Simpson and Edward Gehard, jazz with Richard Medel, composition with Howard Krueger and flamenco with Manuel Lozano in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. He was the guitarist and principal composer in Pong Unit, the ensemble fronted by poet Marc Smith, inventor of the Poetry Slam. In addition, he has won the Outstanding Soloist award at the prestigious Midwest Jazz festival, was selected as a top 5 finalist in the Blues division of the Yamaha "Six String Theory" competition in 2011 and was voted Chicago’s Best Guitarist way back in 1989.
Michael has released three CDs,“After the Harvest” in 2002, “Beauty Without Warning” in 2005 and "La Esperanza Sigue" in 2010. He has also appeared as guitarist on CDs by a number artists including Marc Smith, Steven Hashimoto, Joe Hasiewicz and Al Rose. Smith is also a painter and printmaker and his work can be seen on the covers of all of his CDs.
As an educator, Smith has over twenty years of experience teaching in private lessons, classrooms, clinics and master classes.
MEET NATALIE STAWARSKI
Natalie Stawarski (Violin)
Teaches private lessons on Wednesdays
Natalie Stawarski is from Downers Grove, Illinois where she began playing violin at the age of 10 through her elementary school music program. She has gained a Bachelor of Music from Millikin University, where she studied under Georgia Hornbacker, and then went to study with Dr. Sarah Gentry at Illinois State university while pursuing a master’s degree. Natalie furthered her education by going to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where she became trained in Suzuki up to book 8 under Vera McCoy Sulentic, and continued studying violin under Dr. Lenora Anop. Natalie has participated and performed in various classical, bluegrass, and free improv ensembles, as well as doing work within the recording studio at Millikin University. Natalie has also performed at the International Chamber Music Festival in Kyustendil, Bulgaria.
MEET PHILLIP SUDDERBERG
Phillip Sudderberg (Drums)
Teaches private lessons on Wednesdays
Phillip Sudderberg is an active educator and percussionist contributing to a number of Chicago's many vibrant communities. Versed in classroom education strategies, as well as one-on-one pedagogy with academic and musical learners alike, Phillip finds a great deal of satisfaction in witnessing students conquer challenges and nurturing the consequent boon to their creative voices as a result.
While an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Phillip completed courses of studies in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Jazz Performance. He has pursued studies with a number of today's most singular drummers, the likes of Ricardo Flores, Chad Taylor, Frank Rosaly, Ches Smith, Dana Hall, and Tim Daisy. An active performer, Phillip continues to expand creative relationships with many members of Chicago’s improvised and new music scenes, including Jim Baker, Keefe Jackson, Eli Namay, Alex Grimes, and Ken Vandermark. Phillip is a founding member of Grandkids, a rock band based in Chicago, and actively tours with art-pop ensemble Wei Zhongle.
Lastly, Phillip is a cofounder of Gilded Records (http://www.gildedrecords.com/), an independent record label based in Chicago that focuses on exclusive releases, as well as curation through its ongoing live music series in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
MEET YSRAELIA G. SULLIVAN
Ysraelia G. Sullivan
(Director of Client and Faculty Services; Musical Theatre Music Director, High School & College)
"Matching students and teachers, or matching a student to an instrument is like piecing together a puzzle. There are different components on one piece that need to fit with other pieces. It is my job to help bring all of these components and matching pieces together to create a completed picture for the best possible learning experience!"
"Izzy" earned her B.A. in Music (minor; Special Education, Theatre) from Mundelein College of Loyola University in Chicago in 1992, and subsequently studied the harpsichord under world-renowned artist David Schrader as part of her Musicology studies at Roosevelt University’s College of the Performing Arts during her Graduate studies.
Izzy was an adjunct faculty member of Loyola University Chicago for four years before trying her hand at music therapy for special needs children as well as Alzheimers/dementia patients. She is currently a church musician and choir director at three different Chicagoland churches. Besides working in the office, she has been the accompanist for the GLEEmers program and has also served as Music Director for Music Makers Theatre (High School/College ages). Her credits as a Music Director include: productions of "Rent", "Willy Wonka", Miss Saigon", "Spring Awakening", "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", "Bye Bye, Birdie", "Mary Poppins", "A Chorus Line", "The Addams Family", "Tarzan", "Dogfight" and "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown". She is currently the Music Director for Music Makers Theatre production of "Avenue Q" (January, 2017) and is excited to work on "Les Miserables" and "In the Heights" (Summer, 2017). Credits as a Performer include Queenie (Show Boat), Mazeppa (Gypsy), Miss Jones (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), Ensemble (The Life-- Jeffrey Award, Circle Theatre) and as a member of the chorus for "Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah" starring world renowned tenor Rodrick Dixon at the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, for which she now serves as an Ambassador. She has had the honor of performing and conducting for both best-selling author and poet Nikki Giovanni and also the late Maya Angelou. In her spare time, she and her hubby enjoy attending live music concerts, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Izzy also enjoyed a period of doing runway full-figured modeling but finds her greatest joy doing anything musical!
MEET GRETCHEN WELLS-MALITZ
Gretchen Wells-Malitz (Voice, Guitar, Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays
"My goal as a teacher is to help students understand musical theory, technique, and artistry in an encouraging and inspiring environment."
Gretchen teaches private voice, piano and guitar lessons at Music Makers. Her degrees in music performance are from DePaul University and Illinois State University. Gretchen is an early childhood teacher and the music provider for the Active Learners Preschool/Clarendon Hills Park District. She is also part of the adjunct music faculty at the DePaul School for New Learning in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to teaching, Gretchen has created and developed music classes for several local preschools, and performs early childhood music classes at local libraries. She co-directs the Rock Band Program at Music Makers as well as Pop Trax, a group singing class.
of Western Springs
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4211 Grand Ave.
Western Springs, IL. 60558
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Voted National Studio
Mondays: 10am - 8pm
Tuesdays: 12pm - 8pm
Wednesdays: 9am - 8pm
Thursdays: 9am - 8pm
Fridays: 12pm - 6pm
Saturdays: 9am - 5pm
Sundays: Office Closed
Office hours do not necessarily reflect
Lessons available on days listed. Times vary.
Please call the office for information.
For hours NOT listed here, please call the office for an appointment!