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MUSIC

INSTRUCTORS

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Suzuki Violin, Ukulele

DEPARTMENT HEAD

BETSEY KARAKO

​Elizabeth Karako is an active performer and teacher in the St. Louis area. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree with high honors from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a Master of Music in Violin Performance with an emphasis in Suzuki Pedagogy from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. During the summers of 2014-2018, she served as a Unit Director and Associate Staff Director at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. Elizabeth currently plays with the Salem-St. Louis Chamber Orchestra and is registered through the Suzuki Association of the Americas for Volumes 1-10 of the Violin School. 

Questions about lessons?

Click the Private Lesson Inquiry button below. Your information will go straight to Betsey and she will connect you with the teacher she sees as the best fit for you.  Have other questions, contact Betsey directly at betseykarako@dayspringarts.org 

About Our Teachers:
  • Advanced degrees and highly qualified
  • Passionate about teaching
  • Provide a nurturing environment
  • Collaborate, providing unique opportunities for education and performance
  • Participate in professional groups (SLAMTA, NFMC, MTNA, MMTA, and Royal Conservatory Exams)
Teachers can help assess for readiness and appropriate ages for beginning private lessons.
 
Please contact Betsey Karako for more information to make sure students are set for success in musical studies!
 

PIANO INSTRUCTORS

Nancy Bortosky

Piano

Nancy (Schaaf) Bortosky received her formal education from Webster University, with a BM Ed. in Music Education and a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy. She has studied with Gail Delente of Washington D.C. and Jules Gentil from the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris; and has taken workshops with accompanists Nancy Revzen and John Wustman from U. of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. She has worked as a freelance accompanist for 25 years in the St. Louis and Chicago metropolitan areas for many fine soloists, having also professionally worked with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Chamber Chorus, Windfire- flute and percussion with John and Paula Kasica, and the St. Louis Conservatory and Webster University as staff accompanist. Ms. Schaaf’s work with children has included choir direction and music teaching at a school for gifted children in Chicago and she has taught piano privately for 20 years, developing students to college level. As part of her function as Music Director of New Covenant Church, she led choirs and orchestras, writing and arranging music for various settings, including several musicals. Since 1992 she has worked as Director of DaySpring School of the Arts, having been a founder of the school. She continues to perform and teach piano & musical theater, having been on the piano faculty of the Masterworks Festival of the Performing Arts in Houghton, NY in 2000. In her involvement in the piano teaching community she has been Vice president of programming for SLAMTA for 4 years and is state treasurer of MMTA. She has been a founding member of the Maryland Hgts. Arts Commission, and has served as chairperson for 2 years. She lives in St. Louis with her 3 awesome children.

Huiyun Liang

Piano

​Huiyun Liang is a D.M.A. candidate in Piano Pedagogy at the University of South Carolina (USC), and holds a master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She was a recipient of a full graduate assistantship in teaching class piano and accompanying at USC from 2013-2016. She also taught piano lessons and group classes for students of all ages and levels at the USC community music program. Her students have received outstanding results in the South Carolina Music Teachers Association’ district and state auditions and Royal Conservatory Music examinations. She served as a vice president of MTNA Collegiate Chapter at USC from 2016-2017. Huiyun has studied piano with Dr. Janice Wenger and Dr. Joseph Rackers, and chamber music with Prof. Phillip Bush.

Formerly involved in the production of numerous TV programs and concerts in China, Huiyun moved to the United States to pursue her dream of becoming a musician in 2011. She has established herself as a pianist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Huiyun has given solo recitals in the U.S. as well as in her hometown, Wuhan, China. As a chamber musician, she performed at the 2017 Vianden Festival in Luxembourg. Featured as “Emerging Piano Pedagogue” by Hong Kong Commercial Daily, Huiyun is also actively presenting at American national conferences, including Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) National Conference, National Conference of Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP), and Piano Pedagogy Symposium. Her pedagogical article on music memory has been awarded and published by Clavier Companion in 2015. Aimed to maximize students’ learning outcomes, her dissertation focuses on video modeling in piano teaching. Huiyun is very motivated to share her passion and experience with the music community in St. Louis.

Sharla Bender

Piano

A music teacher for 19 years, Dr. Sharla Bender has a passion for mentoring students of all ages and skill levels in piano and violin. Her introduction to formal music began with violin lessons in 5 th grade and continued through several degrees, including a Bachelor of Music from Huntingdon College, a Master of Music, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Alabama. During graduate school she studied with the late Amanda Penick who was the 2008 National Music Teacher of the Year as well as the host of a 28-year-long series called The Pianist at Work by Alabama Public Television. Sharla believes that music is meant to be shared and enjoyed. She partners with her students so that they can fully develop their musical talents.
Sharla most recently served as a music professor at Urshan College in Florissant, MO from Spring 2014 - Spring 2019, where she taught private piano lessons and music classes such as Ear Training and Sight Singing, Class Piano, Music Appreciation, Piano Literature, and Piano Pedagogy. She continues to serve as an adjunct professor of piano there. Sharla has a variety of experience, including her years as an instructor of the Academy of Performing Arts, an adjunct professor of music at Faulkner University, as well as successfully running her own private studio in her home states of Alabama and Missouri. She has also performed in the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, as a featured soprano soloist with the Urshan College Chamber Choir, and in recitals around the community. Sharla became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) in April 2019.

Journee Carter

Piano and Music Theory

Journee Carter received her Masters of Music from Shenandoah Conservatory and her Bachelors of Music from Webster University both specializing in vocal performance, specifically opera. Since completing her Master’s program she has been actively participating in St. Louis based productions both on and off stage.

Doris Lam

Piano

​Doris Lam was born in Hong Kong and began playing the piano at age of 6. She has recevied her BA (Hons) in music with emphasis in music theory and analysis in 1999, from the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU). She has earned certifications of Grade 8 Piano and Music theory from Royal School of Music (ABRSM) and Trinity Guildhall (ATCL). After she graduated, she kept her piano study with Mr. Khong Wing-Yin. Her passion of music motivated her to get involved in different music activities. While she was still in Hong Kong, she earned first runner-up in high school music competition. She has been a piano accompanist in churches for their choir’s. She was a choir member of HKBU, and earned awards from international choir competitions in Europe. She conducted a children’s choir and church choir for a couple years after she graduated.

Lydia Rosensteel

Piano, Clarinet

​Lydia grew up as a Missionary Kid in Papua New Guinea. She began playing piano at the age of 8 and clarinet when she was 10 as part of a band program at a mission based international school. She continued playing and singing in an active music program there until she finished high school and taught piano her last two years of high school before moving back to the United States to attend college. She graduated from Taylor University in Indiana with a B.M. in Music Performance in Clarinet, studying under Dr. Christopher Bade, and a piano minor under the direction of Kathy Grile. In 2008 she was awarded the Presser Scholarship in recognition of music and academic excellence. Lydia has been teaching piano and clarinet privately in the St. Louis area for over 10 years. She enjoys playing with community bands and ensembles in church and around St. Louis. She has a great love and interest in music from around the world and enjoys incorporating that diversity wherever possible.

Ann Ahrens

Piano

Ann Ahrens earned a Master of Arts in Music from Webster University in 2001, and a PhD in Christian Worship from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2017. Ann has taught music and worship arts at Urshan College in Wentzville, MO for 25 years where she currently serves as Professor of Music and Worship Studies. In addition to her service at the college level, Ann has taught private and group piano at The Community Music School of Webster University (2002-2006) and Missouri Baptist University (2006-2008). Ann has studied piano with Daniel Schene, Cathy Benton, and Ruth Price. In addition to teaching piano, theory, and history, Ann’s areas of interest include the function of music in the corporate church worship service.

VOICE INSTRUCTORS

 
Jermaine Smith

Voice Faculty

The tenor is closely associated with the role of Sporting Life, which he recently made his debut at Des Moines Metro Opera, Atlanta Opera, Metropolitan Opera Artist Contract, Teatro San Carlo in Napli, Italy, Seatle Opera and Tanglewood Music Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Hollywood Bowl's premiere performance of Porgy & Bess in concert, Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Porgy and Bess as well as in Cape Town Opera's guest engagement at the newly opened opera house in Oslo, Norway a couple of seasons ago. He has also preformed the role in Japan, Germany, Sweden, Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sicily, The Grand Canary Islands and in this country at Union Ave Opera, Opera Pacific, and in Francesca Zambello's production at both Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera. Most recently he has brought his portrayal to Paris's Opera-Comique, the Theatre de Caen, the Granada Festival, the Opera de Luxembourg, and the Santa Fe Symphony. His other operatic repertoire includes the title role/ Joshua's Boots (world premiere at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, revival at Kansas City Lyric Opera), Henry Davis/Street Scene and Zodzetrick/ Treemonisha (both with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis). He has made numerous appearances with the St. Louis Symphony. Smith is an alumnus of the New England Conservatory of Music and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Currently Director of Special Programs and Arts at Sumner High School and founder of Vera Voce Music, www.veravocemusic.com.

Brent Stater

Voice Faculty

The baritone performed in the demanding title role of Feilx Mendelssohn’s Elijah over the
weekend and pushed himself through the difficult task in the manner Kenyans conquer 26.2
miles—with ease. Stater’s voice was powerful enough and his musical-acting strong enough
that Elijah’s conviction was not only believable, it was inspiring.” —Tribune Review,
Pittsburgh, PA. As a classical vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Brent Stater has enjoyed a career as a professional performer for 40 years. As an operatic baritone, he has been a featured soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C, as well as the Pittsburgh,Virginia, Johnstown, Nittany Valley, Pennsylvania Center, Canton, Greensburg, and Edgewood symphonies. The baritone has also performed as a soloist with the Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Dayton Opera, Microscopic Opera, Canton Civic Opera, Illinois Opera Theater, Illinois Repertory Theater, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Collegium Musicum and Chatham Baroque.
The baritone has created several operatic roles including Edward Biddle in Jeremy Beck’s The Biddle boys and Mrs. Soffel, Harry Cooper in Todd Goodman’s Night of the Living Dead, and King Ferdinand in Leonardo Balada’s Muerte de Colon. His performance of Muerte de Colon can be heard on the Naxos Label. Over the years, he has enjoyed a parallel career as a rock musician, performing primarily on the electric and acoustic guitars, as well as keyboards and organ. As the owner of his own rock school, he and his students have shared the stage with such legendary rock acts as KISS, Kansas, Ace Frehley, Charlie Daniels, Ted Nugent, Survivor, Third Eye Blind, Buck Cherry, Puddle of Mud, and many others.
Mr. Stater is an honors graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy in Northern Michigan, and
holds a Bachelor of Music (honors) in Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois School of Music. He has been teaching voice, piano, guitar, set drumming, trumpet, music theory, and various other instruments for 37 years. Many of his students are working professional musicians and his voice students have attended such prestigious institutions as the Juilliard School in NYC.

David Gregory

Voice Faculty

David Gregory developed a passion for songwriting over a decade ago. This passion served as the foundation and catapult into the greater world of music. In 2018, David entered the professional world of teaching with private voice and piano lessons. In 2020, he became the official worship pastor for his home church. In 2021, he released his debut worship project titled "Jesus Is Enough".David graduated with his Bachelor's in Music from Missouri Baptist University in the spring of 2022. While at MBU, he developed a deep love for music education and now aspires to be the best educator he can be. Highlights of David's educational career include directing MBU's gospel choir with his original songs, starting a successful club for songwriters, music producers, and artists, and soloing for MBU's select choir and opera theatre. David's first love will forever be songwriting and composition, however, in close seconds are piano/keys improvisation, vocal styles, arranging, worship leading, and performance. David is grateful and excited to be a part of the DaySpring family, and he is thrilled to be making so many wonderful relationships and so much awesome music with the students and faculty of our academy.

STRING INSTRUCTORS

 
Betsey Karako

Violin, Ukulele

Elizabeth Karako is an active performer and teacher in the St. Louis area. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree with high honors from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a Master of Music in Violin Performance with an emphasis in Suzuki Pedagogy from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. During the summers of 2014-2018, she served as a Unit Director and Associate Staff Director at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. Elizabeth currently plays with the Salem-St. Louis Chamber Orchestra and is registered through the Suzuki Association of the Americas for Volumes 1-10 of the Violin School.

Samuel Larson

Violin

Sam Larson has been playing viola since he was nine years old and is currently studying for a Bachelor’s in music performance, at the University of Missouri St. Louis under Prof. Joanna Mendoza. Throughout his music career, he has had the opportunity to receive a wonderful education through a variety of teachers and has a long history with learning pedagogical skills in performing and teaching classical music.
Sam has been a part of many orchestras and chamber groups throughout his career. These programs include Webster University’s Young People Symphonic Orchestra, Webster’s Preparatory Program, the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, the University of Missouri’s Symphonic Orchestra, and many chamber groups.
Having had so many amazing opportunities and teachers to educate him about music, Sam decided that he wanted to share that education and passion with kids as well. He has had his own private studio since high school and continues teaching to this day. During the lessons, Sam aims to teach his students everything from music theory, to instrument technique, and standard repertoire.
Sam’s passion for teaching music is unparalleled. He believes that music is the language of the soul and that every person has this inside of them. Sam wants to teach music to students of all ages because music not only is an outlet of creativity for people, but it also teaches lessons about dedication, hard work, problem solving, teamwork, and respect. His biggest hope for all his students is for them to be able to walk away from his studio with skills that will perpetuate their success in life and be able to share beautiful music with others.

Gary Lee

Cello

​Gary Lee is a private cello teacher and freelance musician. He earned his MM in Cello Performance from the St. Louis Conservatory of Music and his BM in Cello Performance (cum laude) from Illinois Wesleyan University. His teachers include Yuan Tung, Robert Luke, Gordon Robson, and Karl Lear. His education includes training in chamber music, orchestral repertoire, contemporary music ensemble, and early music ensemble. Other instruments studied include piano and bass viola da gamba. He was a member of Missouri All-State Orchestra in the first three years of its existence, seated principal cello his senior year. Active as a freelance musician in both Missouri and Illinois, Gary is principal cellist and librarian of the Alton Symphony Orchestra. He is a cellist in the Landolfi String Quartet, Richard Wappel Trio, and Gateway Festival Orchestra. He has played as extra cellist for Town & Country Symphony, Florissant Valley Symphony, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Masterworks Chorale, and other area ensembles. He has played as a member or extra for various Illinois and Missouri orchestras. He has played in ensembles for touring musicians, most recently Classic Albums Live!, Bernadette Peters, and Amy Grant with Michael W. Smith.Gary is a member of Musicians' Association of St. Louis (AFM Local 2-197), Suzuki Association of the Americas, American String Teachers Association, and Viola da Gamba Society of America. He was recently honored with the Outstanding Studio Educator 2016 Award from the American String Teachers Association, Missouri Chapter.

Rob Miller

Guitar, Ukulele

Rob Miller is a composer, musician, theatre advocate, and music educator who taught music in the public school system for 29 years and now enjoys teaching guitar and ukulele at DaySpring A&E. He holds both a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Music degree in Music Composition from Webster University, St. Louis.  He was honored in 1999 to be among the first inductees to the St. Louis Community College at Meramec’s Alumni Walk of Fame as a founding member of the Oldies band, Sh-Boom. Rob currently serves on the board of directors for First Run Theatre, the steering committee for the St. Louis Writers’ Group, and performs regularly with Butch Wax and the Hollywoods. 

WIND INSTRUCTORS

 
Lydia Rosensteel

Piano, Clarinet

​Lydia grew up as a Missionary Kid in Papua New Guinea. She began playing piano at the age of 8 and clarinet when she was 10 as part of a band program at a mission based international school. She continued playing and singing in an active music program there until she finished high school and taught piano her last two years of high school before moving back to the United States to attend college. She graduated from Taylor University in Indiana with a B.M. in Music Performance in Clarinet, studying under Dr. Christopher Bade, and a piano minor under the direction of Kathy Grile. In 2008 she was awarded the Presser Scholarship in recognition of music and academic excellence. Lydia has been teaching piano and clarinet privately in the St. Louis area for over 10 years. She enjoys playing with community bands and ensembles in church and around St. Louis. She has a great love and interest in music from around the world and enjoys incorporating that diversity wherever possible.

Rachel Moose

Flute

Chris Cheek

Saxophone

Originally hailing from St. Louis, MO., Chris Cheek has been performing throughout the world for the past 30 years. Following studies in Boston, Chris moved to New York where he was readily answering the call for his work as a saxophone player and improviser. Cheek’s musicianship has earned him tenure with some of the most respected and singular artists in the world. Paul Motian recruited him in 19994 to join the Electric Be Bop Band where he remained a mainstay until the maestro’s passing in 2011. Through his association with Motian, he was summoned to work with other such luminaries, notably Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow and Bill Frisell. What follows is international prominence and a log of countless recordings, live performances, and tours. Along with over 100 recordings as a sideman, Cheek has produced five albums as a leader with formations that have seen the likes of Brad Mehldau, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Steve Cardenas and Jorge Rossy. He also co-leads such wayward outfits as the Bloomdaddies, Rudder, and Reed’s Ramble. Chris has also been a long time member of Guillermo Klein’s “Los Guachos” and has recorded and performed with the big bands of Dafnis Prieto and Miguel Zenon.
Chris graduated from Berklee College of Music with a Bachelors degree in Jazz performance in 1991 and has just recently received his Masters degree in Jazz composition and arranging at Queens college in New York. He has been an adjunct faculty member at the New School since 2003.

BRASS AND PERCUSSION INSTRUCTORS

 
Dr. Crystal Chu-Sharp

Percussion

Dr. Crystal Chu-Sharp holds a D.M.A. in Percussion Performance with a secondary area in Wind Conducting from the University of Oregon. Previously, Crystal earned her M.M. from New York University, B.M. from the National University of Singapore, and studied in an exchange program at the Peabody Institute. Originally from Hong Kong, Dr. Chu-Sharp is happy to call St Louis home with her family. Her doctoral research is concerned with interdisciplinary art and creative performance practice, including the pedagogical value. Dr. Chu-Sharp specializes in performing new music by living composers, solo marimba, and percussion chamber music. Her teaching style is goal-oriented, and suitable for all ages, and she always aims to provide an inclusive learning environment for her students.