Meet the Faculty

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Certified instructor for the Royal School of Music Board Exams

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.

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Hope Arthur (Piano, Voice & Accordion)
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.

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Alex Bahaveolos (Music Makers 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.  

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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. She recently graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, IL with a B.A. in Organizational Management. As the daughter of a music teacher (see Jan Benson's profile below!), 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 helping friends and family with a variety of household and organizational projects. Feel free to stop by the office and say hello - you’re always welcome!

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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!

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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.

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."
Albert Einstein

"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. 

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Ann Bourjaily Maney (K-8th Summer 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. 

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Paul Carey (Piano, Harp, Music Theory & Composition, Conducting, Harp Vibes Instructor)
Teaches private lessons on Tuesdays  - Thursdays

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.

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Chris Castillo (Violin, Guitar, Music Theory & Composition; Beginning Viola, Cello, & Piano)
Joining Music Makers soon!

Teach music and singing at school in such a way that it is not a torture but a joy for the pupil; instill a thirst for finer music in them, a thirst which will last for a lifetime.” - Kodaly

A multi-faceted musician and educator, Christopher Castillo is both a noted performer and composer. He has performed as an orchestral violinist, chamber musician, and soloist. His principal teachers include Edgar Gabriel of String Fusion and Dr. Sarah Gentry. As a guitarist, he has experience in numerous bands playing rock, blues, and jazz. He has studied classical guitar with Steve Ramsdell and jazz guitar/improvisation with Dr. Zvonimir Tot. His numerous compositions, including Starvation in the Presence of GracePain, and Philosopher in a Jar, have been premiered by distinguished artists at both Illinois State University and Elmhurst College. In recent years Chris has increasingly turned his attention to pedagogy and currently enjoys teaching music to kids and adults of any age; emphasizing the development of sound technique and fundamentals.

Chris holds a Masters degree from Illinois State University and a Bachelors degree from Elmhurst College. He is currently preparing for his Suzuki Method teacher certification.

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Dr. Wenlin Cheng (Piano)
Joining Music Makers soon!

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everting” ---Plato
Dr. Cheng is an artist with passion for creative piano pedagogy. She received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance at Michigan State University. She gained the top prize of the Asian Youth Music Competition, International Piano Competition of Vienna, and Taipei Music Competitions.
Dr. Cheng was chosen to perform in the prestigious Gilmore Keyboard Festival, and was honored to play in master classes with concert artists Yelfim Bronfman and Serge Babayan. She received many positive comments as a result of her sensibility and expression.

Dr. Cheng applies all of her knowledge and experiences in piano pedagogy to her teaching. Her goal is to offer a life-long gift to every student. Dr. Cheng believes that each student’s learning experiences contribute significantly to their lives and influence their personal values. She has taught a wide variety of musical genres, such as classical, chamber music, jazz, and pop.  

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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.  efore 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.

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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. 

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Micki Doherty (Music Makers 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!

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Sujata Gazder (Piano & Voice)
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.

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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.

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Rob Hynes (Guitar, Bass Guitar, Ukulele, Banjo, Mandolin, Rock Band Instructor)
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.

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Joy Jeffries (Voice & Songwriting) -- NEW!!
Teaches private lessons on Mondays and Saturdays

Joy Jeffries has a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. A classically trained singer, Joy’s techniques and teaching style are deeply rooted in this genre. She strongly believes that once you study classical techniques of any instrument that you can flourish in any other genre of music that you desire. Joy’s formal vocal studies first began as a sophomore in high school where she was also very active in show choir, concert and honor choirs. Her lessons and experiences during this period of her life led Joy towards pursuing music as a career.

As a mezzo-soprano, Joy’s voice has a warm depth in color and soulful characteristics. These attributes led her to discover jazz while in college - self-teaching herself this genre of music. Joy has performed jazz at various venues throughout Chicago and was reviewed in the Chicago Tribune and interviewed on WGN Radio early in her career.  Besides singing, Joy Jeffries has always had a passion for writing music. During her undergraduate studies, she expanded her music pursuits to include composition and songwriting. To this day, Joy continues to be an avid songwriter and thoroughly enjoys the creative process of songwriting. In 2012, she was a featured artist on a charitable anti-bullying nonprofit album “Anonymuse” available on iTunes; a project that was created by one of her former students. Joy hopes to record her debut album of all original music in the very near future.

Joy has been teaching private voice lessons for over 20 years, and it is through her teaching that Joy has truly found her voice. She has gained great satisfaction and accomplishment from seeing her students flourish vocally over the years.

Joy is excited to be back at Music Makers to share her love for music and vocal talents with all of her students!

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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.

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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. 

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Ben Lansing (Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Mandolin, Banjo, Dobro, Lap steel)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays & 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.


Steven Maloney (Violin & Beginning Viola)
Teaches private lessons on Wednesdays

“The joy of music making is awakened and fostered through the art of teaching.”
A graduate of The Juilliard School, Steven Maloney was recently voted one of Chicago’s best violin teachers by and has been featured in The Strad magazine. He has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as soloist, chamber musician, orchestra player, teacher, and most recently as the creator and developer of Accompany (, and Accompany Suzuki ® Edition (,  both web-based applications which feature flexible speed piano accompaniment for violin students. His own students have been featured on WFMT “From the Top”, have won several competitions and been accepted into college and conservatory programs.  
“My teaching is individually tailored to each student.  Whether you need help with school orchestra music, solo technique, coaching for an audition or recital, or just want to discover (or re-discover) the joy of music and have lots of fun, I have a unique and dynamic approach for you with a proven track record of success.”
Steven is a member of the American String Teachers Association and the Suzuki Association of the Americas.  He has full Spanish fluency and speaks informal conversational Mandarin.  He teaches all ages, from young children to adult learners and seniors.

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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.

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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. 

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KRISTOFER SPIKE  (Piano, Theory)
Teaches private lessons on Fridays

"Learning music is like learning about life. Sure, you will learn about scales and arpeggios, chords and harmony, rhythms and riffs, technique and performing. But on a bigger scale, you will learn some things you can apply to every aspect of your life. How to set goals and develop strategies for achieving them, how to tap into your inner powers of perseverance and determination to succeed, how to identify problems and find solutions. Most importantly of all, you learn about beauty and the joy of sharing that beauty with the people around you. Music lessons build character and are as much about shaping a good person as they are about creating a good musician."

Kristofer Spike is an Australian composer and pianist now living in Chicago. Kris attended the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he got a Bachelor of Music Education degree and also a Licentiate Performer's Diploma from Trinity College, London. After finishing his degree he worked as a freelance pianist playing many different types of music and has spent many years teaching and accompanying in schools and from his home studio. As a composer, Kris has developed a unique style which draws upon many influences but always aims to feature soaring melodies and rich harmony, Many of his pieces have been inspired by his concern for environmental issues and with his group, Wind Energy he has produced 5 CDs  of his compositions. He has given concerts in most Australia's capital cities and his music is regularly played on fine music radio stations. Some of his large collection of compositions can be found on his YouTube channel.

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Isaac Stevenson (Drums, Piano)
Teaches private lessons on Wednesdays & Thursdays

"The best way to keep students engaged and passionate about music is to relate what they are learning to their goals from day one. I work with students to set individualized, concrete goals, which keeps them motivated and excited!"

Isaac Stevenson received a degree from DePaul University in Percussion Performance and Audio Engineering, studying primarily with Ed Harrison, Eric Millstein (Lyric Opera), and Ian Ding (New Music Detroit). Stevenson is skilled in a variety of musical styles, including classical music, performance art, new music, hip-hop, and metal. Stevenson is frequently seen performing with mocrep, a Chicago-based new music ensemble that combines music, theater, and performance art. Stevenson also plays drums in the hip/hop-free jazz fusion group Not Lovely, and bass in the band Sin Vacas. 

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Jon Studtmann (Guitar)
Teaches private lessons on Tuesdays and Fridays

"Since every student has a different background and a unique way of learning, I like to think that my teaching method is a combination of many methods. I feel it is important to adjust to the personality of the learner."

Jon Studtmann is a music educator and freelance musician based in the Chicagoland area. He has been teaching private guitar since 1993, and has been part of the Music Makers faculty since January 2017. Jon's teaching style focuses on learning proper guitar technique; reading music in standard notation, guitar notation, and chord symbols; exploring music theory; developing music appreciation; and expanding each individual student's repertoire. 

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Ysraelia (Izzy) G. Sullivan
(Director of Client and Faculty Services; Music Makers Theatre Musical Director)

"Izzy" earned her B.A. in Music (minors; Special Education, Theatre) from Mundelein College of Loyola University in Chicago, 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 organist/pianist at three different Chicagoland churches. Besides working in the office, she has also served as Music Director for Music Makers Theatre. Her credits as a Music Director includeproductions 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", "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown",  "Avenue Q", "Les Miserables", and "In the Heights". She is currently the Music Director for productions of "Madagascar, Jr",  "Singin' In the Rain, Jr" (both January, 2018) and "West Side Story" (March, 2018). Next Summer, she will be working on "Catch Me if You Can" and "Jeckyl & Hyde" (Summer, 2018). 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 continues to serve 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, sporting events, theatrical events, traveling, and spending time with their family and friends. Izzy also enjoyed a period of doing runway full-figured modeling but finds her greatest joy doing anything musical!

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Gretchen Wells-Malitz (Voice, Guitar, Piano, Rock Band Jr. Instructor)
Teaches private lessons on 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 directs the Rock Band Jr. Program at Music Makers.

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Megan Yeung (Violin & Viola)
Teaches private lessons on Saturdays

"The primary objective in my teaching philosophy is for my students to be able to learn the joy of making music, while also building a foundation of a tireless work ethic required of a musician from a young age. I find it most important to emphasize instilling proper technique in my students while they are still young beginners using different systems of scales and etudes. My students also learn a vast variety of repertoire chosen with guidance from the Suzuki books and ABRSM exams. These pieces teach students new technique, musicality, and unique styles of music according to different time periods."

“Megan Yeung began her musical studies in Hong Kong at the age of three, studying the violin with Mr. Ping Wing Chan of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. She was introduced to the viola in the fourth grade, and has since fallen in love with the rich, warm sound of the instrument. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Music Performance degree, studying with renowned pedagogues Almita and Roland Vamos.
Megan performed with the Libertyville String Quartet as their violinist and violist for four years. She also taught violin and viola for two years at Bravo Waukegan and continues to maintain a small private studio of students. She has been accepted to study at music festivals such as: Tanglewood Institute at Boston University, Chautauqua Music Festival, and Philadelphia International Music House Festival. She has also had the opportunity as a soloist and orchestral musician to work with cellist Yo Yo Ma, composer Bryce Dessner, and San Francisco Symphony’s principal violist Jonathan Vinocour.”

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Marissa Zagoudis (Piano, Voice, Music Technology Advisor, Wee Sing Instructor)
Teaches private lessons on Mondays - Fridays

"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 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.