Lesson Studio Teachers – Normal

Backed by a business over 50 years strong, The Music Shoppe has the most effective and affordable lesson studios in the area.  We bring in highly qualified teachers and let them do what they do best.

Every band and orchestra instrument has a qualified teacher, as well as other popular instruments like drum set, piano, guitar and banjo.  You can even find lessons for jazz studies, music theory, or home recording!

The age of our students range from four years all the way up to retirees.  We teach the first-time beginner, to the advanced player looking to prepare for auditions. Everyone is welcome in our lesson studios!

After browsing our teacher bios (found below), simply contact your store’s studio manager. They will assist you in finding a weekly time that will work best for your schedule.

Guitar Teachers

Marita Brake
Music Shoppe Music Education Center Director
Guitar, Ukulele, Dulcimer, & Songwriting Lessons

Marita Brake, guitar lesson teacher

If Marita isn’t a household name in Central Illinois, she should be!  Her credits include performances for two presidential inaugurals, Carnegie Hall, projects for PBS and three CDs. She’s toured throughout the United States  and Great Britain and brings that professional performance to her students. Her specialties include guitar, voice,  songwriting, dulcimer and ukulele.  Marita has taught at the Music Shoppe for over 30 years teaching all levels  and welcomes anyone at any age and level of experience. She teaches a  variety of people and styles while covering all the important stuff.  Her personal website can be found here.

Kirk Ellis
Guitar Lessons

Kirk Ellis, guitar lesson teacher

While attending Lincoln College, Kirk studied theory and composition, classical guitar and performed in various rock bands.  He also received the award for the most improved musician.  He received his Bachelors Degree from Illinois State University and studied under three different classical guitar instructors.  Kirk has toured with various country/rock bands throughout the Midwest, opening for some of the biggest names in Country.  He currently plays lead guitar, fiddle and sings harmony for the country/rock group, Brushfire.  Kirk is the regional coordinator for the Nashville Songwriters Association International, hosting monthly workshops on songwriting.  Kirk teaches various styles such as: classic rock, country, classical, acoustic, heavy metal, blues, jazz and blue grass.  He also teaches songwriting, theory, fiddle and mandolin.

Michael W. Hull
Classical Guitar Lessons

Michael Hull, classical guitar lesson teacher

Guitarist Michael Hull has been teaching for more than 20 years to students of all ages and abilities.  He particularly enjoys working with beginners.  In addition, many of his former students are aspiring musicians who have gone on to study at prestigious institutions as Northwestern University, Eastman and North Carolina School of the Arts.  Several of them serve on the faculty of colleges and universities.  Michael Holds a Master of Music from Illinois State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts/Music from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  Currently, he serves on the faculty at Heartland Community College, Illinois Central College and Bradley University.  In addition to teaching, he performs extensively as a soloist and chamber musician .  His performance credits include the Springfield Classical Guitar Society Concert Series, Cultural House of Vileyka, Belarus (former Soviet Union), orchestral guitarist for the broadway productions of The Last Five Years and Spamalot and many other venues and stages.  He has commissioned new works for the guitar, directed the Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival (2000, 2008) and is also the President of the Central Illinois Guitar Society. Michael resides in Bloomington with his wife, Svetlana and their children, Nikolai and Evelyne.

Erik Swanson
Guitar Lessons

Erik Swanson, guitar lesson teacher

Erik Swanson has taught guitar at the Music Shoppe since 2004. An accomplished guitarist and teacher, he is equally adept at teaching everything from Classic & Modern Rock to Blues, Jazz and Classical Guitar. He has taught students of all ages (from 7 and up) and skill levels, from beginner to highly advanced.

Erik prides himself on personalizing lessons for his students, selecting songs and lesson material customized to their interests and goals as guitarists. Beginner guitarists will develop a repertoire of songs while simultaneously learning to play chords, strumming patterns and picking, and cultivating general musicianship. Most beginner lessons emphasize immersion in playing, making music and having fun while still being challenged.

As students advance, lessons will turn to mastering broader musical concepts that will improve their musicianship. Intermediate and advanced lessons can cover a broad range of topics, from learning to improvise with scales and modes, improving technique, finger-style, reading music, understanding and applying music theory to the guitar and exploring more challenging styles of music.

Erik has earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Classical Guitar from Bradley and Illinois State University and is currently a Doctoral student at the University of Illinois in the Jazz Program. He also has served as an adjunct faculty member at Lincoln Christian College teaching classical guitar and guitar ensemble and has also served on the faculty at Heartland Community College and Lincoln College. He gigs frequently in a variety of jazz groups, in classical duos, and as a soloist.

Erik’s personal website can be found here.

Rhonda Steidinger
Guitar & Piano Lessons

Rhonda Steidinger, guitar lesson teacher

Rhonda Steidinger attended Illinois Wesleyan University and has studied guitar under the instruction of Marita Brake, Studio Manager at the “Music Shoppe”. She has taught out of her private studio, “Strings and Keys” for 15 years where she has taught guitar and piano to individuals ranging in age from 4 to 68. She was an elementary teacher at Pontiac Christian School for 7 years and music instructor for 2 years. As a music instructor she taught recorder and guitar, facilitated music appreciation lessons, and organized spring and fall musical programs for ages Kindergarten through 8th grade. Additionally, Rhonda has been the guitar leader for her church worship team for 15 years. Rhonda’s flexible schedule allows time for home-schooled students to attend early afternoon and week day lessons. Her developed teaching experience will enhance your interest and appreciation for music through a guided learning process in a positive and fun environment.

Scott Terrell
Guitar Lessons

Scott Terrell, guitar lesson teacher

Scott Terrell rejoined The Music Shoppe Inc. teaching staff in 2008 after returning from extensive touring with his bands As the Crow Flies, The Abacinators, and The Dexrays.  Scott has over a decade of professional teaching experience with both electric and acoustic guitar, specializing in many styles.

Scott began his teaching career with The Music Shoppe Inc. in the summer of 1999 at the age of seventeen.  In 2001, he left The Music Shoppe Inc. to pursue another market and to expand his client base for music performance.  He returned in the spring of 2008 and has become a very popular instructor in just the short amount of time since his return.  Scott teaches students of all ages and all styles, with an emphasis on good technique but still trying to keep it fun.  Much of Scott’s teaching methods are techniques that he has developed himself whether it be an approach to understanding a music theory concept, or a basic exercise that is fun to play as well as technically beneficial.

Dan Troyer
Banjo, Dobro, & Mandolin Lessons

Dan Troyer, banjo lesson teacher

Dan Troyer, a Bloomington/Normal native, began taking lessons in violin, piano and guitar at the Music Shoppe at a young age.  He discovered bluegrass music later in life and attended East Tennessee State University where he earned a Bachelor’s  Degree in Bluegrass, Country and Old-Time Music Performance.  He toured the United States for two years playing banjo with the Sons of Bluegrass, and has shared the stage and recorded with Bluegrass legends such as Del McCoury, J.D. Crowe, Bobby Osborne, Adam Steffey, Hunter Berry and Michael Cleveland.  He specializes in bluegrass banjo, mandolin and dobro, and loves to share his passion and knowledge of the music with people of all ages!

Piano Teachers

Robert Nakea
Piano Lessons

Robert Nakea, piano lesson teacher

Robert Nakea is originally from Hawaii. He started learning piano at age six, and by age 15 made his solo debut with the Honolulu Symphony. He is a two-time laureate of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition (1988 and 1994), and was the winner of the Joseph Fisch International Piano Competition in 1986.  He has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, performing in such venues as the Bergen International Music Festival in Norway, the Eisteddfod Festival of Wales, and Operafestival di Roma.  An active concert pianist, Mr. Nakea enjoys teaching young musicians of all skill levels, instilling in them a love for music and for the instrument.

Afrim Shabani
Piano Lessons

Afrim Shabani, piano lesson teacher

Faculty member at Illinois State University and Heartland Community College, member of the American Composers Forum.

Sarah Strand
Piano Lessons

Sarah Strand, piano lesson teacher

Sarah has a Bachelor’s of Music Education degree from Illinois State University where she graduated with departmental honors.

Along with teaching piano for 30  years, Sarah has also taught high school choirs and music appreciation classes.  Sarah comes from a very musical family and herself has enjoyed playing piano since the age of 5.  Sarah’s specialty is teaching children of all ages and being able to share the world of music with them.

Sarah Idleman
Piano Lessons

Sarah Idleman, piano lesson teacher

Sarah has been playing music her whole life!

A mother of 2 boys, she holds of Bachelor of Science in Music Business from Illinois State University. She has studied percussion, piano and voice at the colligate level. Sarah has been working with children professionally for over 15 years and has specialized education and experience working with “children from hard places.”

In addition to her extensive musical training she is trained in Therapeutic Relational Intervention (Texas Christian University), Therapeutic Crisis Intervention ( Cornell University), as well as Love and Logic. Sarah has worked in many fields to strengthen families, in the roll of ministry leadership, family therapist and in-home consultation.

Sarah believes that music builds brain connections, strengthens confidence, builds communication skills and fosters resiliency in both children and adults.

Jennifer Booker-Smith
Piano Lessons

Jennifer Booker-Smith, piano lesson teacher

I have over 15 years experience teaching students from ages 5 – high school. I am a member of Orpheus Club, (the Bloomington/Normal chapter of the National Federation of Music Clubs), the Peoria Area Music Teachers Association, and the Music Teachers National Association. I enjoy playing keys in the worship band of a local church, and also play keys and sing with a local cover band. I also dabble in guitar and bass.

I really enjoy encouraging my students to pursue their own interests. Some students love to compose and create their own pieces, some love classical, others prefer hymns or popular tunes. Whatever the case, I try to teach in a way so that they will develop a life-long love of piano and music, and that they will be able to continue teaching themselves as they grow.

I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Illinois State University in 1994, graduating Magna Cum Laude and with University Honors. I earned my teacher certification from University of Houston, Clear Lake in 2000. In addition to teaching piano, I have taught art in public schools for 5 years, and Spanish for 2 years.

As for my family, I am mom to Calder, Christina, and Feifer.

Jennifer’s website

Woodwind Teachers

Sally Hoffman
Flute Lessons

Sally Hoffman, flute lesson teacher

Sally Hoffmann is a private flute teacher of students in Bloomington Normal and the Central Illinois area. She is from  Pontiac, IL and has a Bachelor of Music Education, Illinois State University, 1978.  She studied with Max Schoenfeld  and has 30+ years of teaching experience.  She has extensive performance experience in bands, orchestras and chamber  music.  She also has music-directed and conducted in numerous theatres througout the region.  She is also a composer  and arranger.

Flute teaching is specialized in beginner, intermediate and advanced intermediate levels. Instruction places emphasis on music reading, flute performance, and music theory.  Sally works with students of all ages including adults.

The lesson plans are tailored to meet individual levels of talent and desire.  Recitals are held frequently.  Flutists are prepared for auditions and competitions such IMEA and band/chair placements. Extensive preparation for solo and ensemble contest – Sally accompanies her own students on piano as needed.

Alex Clay
Flute Lessons

Alex Clay, flute lesson teacher

Alex Clay is the Flute Teaching Assistant at Illinois State University, where she studies with Dr. Kimberly Risinger. She is currently earning her Master’s degree in Flute Performance. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Alex began studying piano at the age of seven and flute at the age of ten. She went on to attend the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, where she studied with Dr. Andrée Martin and received her Bachelor of Flute Performance degree.

Alex has received numerous awards including Third Place in the Mid-South Flute Society Young Artist Competition, two Honorable Mentions in the Georgia Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Solo Competition, Third Place in the Georgia Philharmonic Concerto Competition, and was selected as a performer for the Florida Flute Association Masterclass Competition. In 2016, she performed the Ibert Flute Concerto as a winner of the ISU Band Concerto Competition. Most recently, she won the ISU Orchestra Concerto/Aria Competition and performed the Nielsen Flute Concerto.

As an active teacher, Alex teaches students of all ages. She structures her lessons based on the basic fundamentals of flute playing, including breathing, tone development, technique, posture, musicality, etc., and on the individual needs of the students. Alex taught private lessons at the Columbus School of Music and Dance in Columbus, Georgia, as well as privately out of her home. She was also a music theory tutor and a student ambassador for school recruitment events at Columbus State University. Alex has been a judge for the Illinois Elementary School Association Solo and Ensemble. Following completing her Master’s degree, Alex plans to pursue a Doctorate in Flute Performance and become a university professor, while regularly performing in regional ensembles.

Rachel Bailey
Native American Flute, Irish Flute, & Fife Lessons

Rachel Bailey, fife, irish flute, & native american flute lesson teacher

Rachel Bailey studied with Patricia George at Brigham Young University-Idaho where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Music Performance. She also earned her Master’s of Music Degree in flute performance and studied with Dr. Adah Toland-Jones at Texas State University. Ms. Bailey was a winner in the Concerto Competition at Texas State in 2008 and soloed with the orchestra on the Liebermann Flute Concerto in 2009. She was also a student at Trevor Wye’s flute studio in Ashford, Kent UK, where she completed her certificate in 2011.

Rachel delves into a vast variety of music from classical to modern and plays flute, Irish flute, Native American flute, djembe, mandolin, piano, and electronic music. She currently plays with the Irish music group, Paddy’s Favorite Sons. She is excited to offer a variety of music courses to the Music Shoppe including Music Together classes, drum circles, and more!

Jennifer McNamara
Oboe & Flute Lessons

Jennifer McNamara, oboe teacher at The Music Shoppe of Normal

Jennifer McNamara holds a Bachelor’s in Oboe Performance degree from Illinois State University, where she studied oboe with Judith Dicker. She also studied college level flute while attending ISU. During her time at ISU, Jennifer performed as principal oboist in ISU’s top ensembles, and received a full tuition scholarship. She has extensive experience playing in band, orchestra, and chamber groups.

Jennifer has 15+ years of teaching experience. She loves teaching students of a wide variety of ages and skill levels. Jennifer tailors her lessons to meet her students needs and interests. She helps prepare her students for auditions such as IMEA, solo ensemble competition, and band chair placement. Jennifer believes in creating a positive learning environment and is very encouraging to her students.

Dr. David Cyzak
Bassoon & Oboe Lessons

David Cyzek, oboe teacher at The Music Shoppe of Normal

Dr. David Cyzak (*see-zak) is the Affiliate Instructor of Oboe at Bradley University and Second Oboist with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with orchestras throughout Illinois including the Heartland Festival Orchestra, Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Peoria Bach Festival Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, and the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra. He has a passion for teaching and enjoys maintaining a studio of diverse ages and experience levels.

In lessons, he introduces simple and easy to understand concepts that enable rapid progress and a foundation for further advancement. A fun and exciting learning environment empowers each student to reach their fullest potential with a smile on their face and confidence in their newfound capabilities.

Bill Toovey
Clarinet Lessons

Bill Hoovey, clarinet teacher

Bill Toovey, clarinet, holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Master of Music Education from Illinois State University.  During his 30-plus years in music education, Bill taught instrumental music in both Colorado and Illinois.  He continues to be an active performer and conductor with community-based ensembles.

The lesson curriculum emphasizes the essentials of proper performance technique and theory fundamentals.  Bill designs lessons for students of all ages and ability/interest levels.

Beth Hildenbrand
Clarinet Lessons

Beth Hildenbrand, clarinet lesson teacher

Beth Hildenbrand is an up-and-coming clarinetist and music educator. She holds a master’s degree in Music Performance, as well as Bachelor of Music Education and Performance degrees from Illinois State University. Throughout her seven years at ISU, Beth consistently placed among the top in Dr. David Gresham’s clarinet studio and performed extensively as the principal clarinetist, as an E-flat clarinetist, and as a bass clarinetist within the university’s most prestigious ensembles. Currently, she performs as a first clarinetist within the Prairie Wind Ensemble, a professional group based out of Peoria, IL, and she also performs regularly with ensembles at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Along with her life as a performing musician, Beth is a highly dedicated music educator. She is licensed to teach K-12 music courses in the State of Illinois and was the teaching assistant for the clarinet studio during her master’s degree. For the past twelve years, Beth has maintained a dedicated studio of clarinetists and saxophonists. She is an avid clarinet pedagogue, and she regularly teaches clarinet master classes and sectionals at schools and festivals in Central Illinois, and has adjudicated clarinet auditions for music camps, honor bands, and contests. She is a member of the International Clarinet Association, the College Music Society, and the National Association for Music Education.

Beth teaches clarinet and bass clarinet to students of all ages and all levels ranging from beginner through advanced college undergraduate. Lessons focus on proper tone production, building and improving technique through various methods, practice technique, and preparation for auditions. Beth has taught students who have placed highly within their respective schools’ music programs, students who were selected to perform in honor bands, and students who pursued collegiate degrees in music.

Brett Thole
Saxophone Lessons

Brett Thole, saxophone teacher

Brett Thole is a saxophone performer and educator in the Bloomington-Normal area.  He holds a Bachelors of Music in Saxophone performance from Illinois State University, and is currently continuing his education there as the saxophone Graduate Assistant.  Brett is a student of Dr. Paul Nolen, and prior to attending ISU he studied with Adrianne Honnold.  Throughout his time at ISU, Brett has consistently placed in the top ensembles for both Jazz and Concert Bands.  He also was selected to participate in the Symphony Orchestra when they performed works involving saxophone.  Brett has performed in several recitals and masterclasses with world renowned saxophonists.  Being a member of the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA), he attended and competed in the 2010 conference in Athens, GA.  As a member of the Viridian Sax Quartet, he advanced to the regional round of the Music Teachers National Association chamber competition in 2013.  He also was a semifinalist with this quartet for the NASA conference at the University of Illinois in 2014.  Brett appeared as a soloist with the Illinois State University Wind Symphony after winning the Band Concerto Competition in 2013.   In addition to his academic performing, Brett is also a member of the Heartland Jazz Orchestra and is often asked to perform for musicals at Illinois Wesleyan University.

While Brett is an active performer, he is also in high demand as an educator.  While at Illinois State University, Brett has taken multiple courses in saxophone pedagogy.  He is often asked to give masterclasses in the Bloomington-Normal area, while simultaneously maintaining a private studio.  His students consistently place high in their schools’ ensembles as well as honor bands and solo and ensemble contests.  Brett is a judge for the IHSA Solo and Ensemble contests and also invited to be a judge for the Illinois Music Educators Association District 3 contest.  He works with students of all ages and ability levels.  Some of his students continued on and pursued music careers of their own.  Lessons with Brett are tailored to meet each students’ individual needs and interests.

Brass Teachers

Marty Abbott
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, and Cornet Lessons

Marty Abbott, trumpet teacher at The Music Shoppe of Normal

Marty Abbott earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Illinois State University in 1975, and returned to complete his MME in 1989. Mr. Abbott taught for 33 years in Illinois schools and retired in 2008. In 2009, Mr. Abbott and his wife moved to Kentucky, and from 2010-2013 he was the assistant band director for the Corbin School District. He was then asked to be the Trumpet Instructor for The University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky for the next three years. Mr. Abbott and his wife Marilyn moved back to Illinois in 2016 to be closer to his three children and seven grandchildren.

Mr. Abbott was in the Brass Band of Central Illinois when it was first formed, playing the flugelhorn. While in Kentucky he played in the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band in Crossville, Tennessee.

He looks forward to sharing his passion for the trumpet, fluegelhorn, or cornet with students!

Emily Wolski
French Horn Lessons

Emily Wolski, french horn teacher at The Music Shoppe of Normal
Emily Wolski is an active horn player in the Bloomington-Normal, IL area. She has held the title of principal horn with the Illinois State Wind Symphony, Illinois State Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Winds, and was a section leader for the 21 member mellophone section of the Big Red Marching Machine.  Outside of larger ensembles, she also enjoys playing in a number of different chamber ensembles, including the Illinois State Graduate Woodwind quintets.
Performing is a clear passion for Emily, but teaching plays a major role in her life as well. Emily has been teaching privately since 2009, with students ranging from Kindergarten to High School. On top of teaching lessons, she is also a Marching Tech for Pontiac Township High School where she assists in leading the Mellophone section and running full band in daily warm ups. In addition to her marching band experience, Emily has also taught masterclasses and lessons during the annual Junior High Band Camp hosted at Illinois State University.

Michael Archer
Trombone & Baritone Lessons

Michael Archer, trombone and baritone lesson teacher

Michael graduated from Bradley University in 2014 with degrees in Music Business and Trombone Performance. Originally from Peoria, Illinois, he has performed throughout the Midwest in various capacities for many years.

Among other things, he regularly plays for professional Broadway tours that come through the Central Illinois area, including Mary Poppins, White Christmas, and Wicked.  Michael specializes in performing with symphony orchestras, pit orchestras, concert bands, jazz big bands, and chamber music ensembles.

Orchestral String Teachers

Paul Huppert
Violin, Viola, & Electric Violin Lessons

Paul Huppert, violin lesson teacher

Paul Huppert began violin studies at the age of seven. Moving rapidly through the Suzuki method, his performing experience both as a recitalist and soloist with orchestra began at the age of nine. While a student at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he received the Emil Hermann award in violin, and appeared as guest Concertmaster, and soloist with the Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra. Paul was also appointed Associate Concertmaster of the West Virginia Symphony. During this time, he was also a substitute section violinist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Since then, Paul Huppert has served in titled positions with numerous orchestras and music festivals across the country. Currently Paul serves as Concertmaster with the St. Louis Civic Orchestra and is owner of Noteworthy Music LLC. Paul Huppert keeps an active teaching schedule in both Missouri and Illinois. Paul’s teaching expertise encompasses classical performance, as well as comprehensive technical guidance. Paul is available for group (ensemble) coaching as well as orchestral playing technique. Paul’s teaching blog can be found here: http://www.lessons4violin.wordpress.com. Paul Huppert’s teaching and performance videos can be found on YouTube as well as Vimeo. Paul’s LLC Noteworthy Music includes his teaching method, the Noteworthy Music-School for Strings which has taught and fostered musical education in over 50 countries both via Skype and downloadable video lessons- http://www.noteworthyonline.net. This method incorporates a comprehensive classical approach to reading music notation and performing technique on both violin and viola. Electric violin and viola are taught as well and covers classical, rock, funk, jazz, irish, contemporary Christian, and traditional folk and gospel styles. To inquire about electric instrument instruction: info@AllElectricViolin.com.

Paul also directs the Twin City String Collective. More information can be found here.

Christine Bock
Viola & Violin Lessons

Christine Bock, viola and violin lesson teacher

Chris Bock has performed as soloist and principal violist with numerous orchestras in the Midwest. Just to mention a couple orchestras, Ms. Bock was principal violist of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra for almost 20 years, Millikin-Decatur Symphony for 30 years, and The South Bend Symphony, for 13 years – all concurrent positions! Having retired from her principal positions, Chris is now enjoying more time for teaching and fiddling. Chris has a Bachelor of Performance Degree from Illinois State University and a Masters of Performance Degree from Northwestern University and a partially completed a doctorate from the University of Illinois. She has taught at various Universities for the past 30 years and taught at Millikin University for 18 years. Chris currently has a studio at The Music Shoppe studios and maintains a studio of about 60 students. Ms. Bock teaches all ages and all advancement on violin, viola and fiddle and there are recitals offered every fall and spring. Go to her website for more details at: www.Bocvla.314webmedia.com

Over the years, Chris has held principal positions in numerous orchestras such as Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Millikin-Decatur Symphony, Peoria Symphony, Missouri Symphony Society, and South Bend Symphony. Along with her accomplishments as an orchestral musician Chris has had a long career as a chamber player, as a soloist with orchestra, and in recital on both the violin and viola. Chris Bock can be heard on CDs Journeys featuring works of the composer Baksa with the Heim Duo on the MSR Classics label, Celtic Rose by Marita Brake and The Book of Laments by Christopher Pond.

Chris Bock has grown up in the classical world, but played briefly in a rock band called The Polite Coyotes and discovered she enjoys performing rock music and jamming on the fiddle! Now, she runs wild in the Celtic neighborhoods and is a member of The Shanties. In her seventh year as the fiddler in this new Irish rock band, Chris has fallen in love with Irish music and playing a star role on the fiddle. Go to www.theshanties.com for upcoming concert dates.

In addition to music, Chris has a passion for writing, art, fitness, healthy cooking, and has run four Chicago marathons. Chris also promotes the artwork of her late husband Walter Bock, offering original art and high quality digital images: www.waltbock.com (website is currently unavailable). She makes her home in Normal with her two Siamese cats, Joce and Min.

Teaching style:
Chris Bock has decades of experience teaching all ages from as young as four years old to university level and then professionals seeking performance positions in orchestra. Chris Bock is a very energetic and enthusiastic teacher who believes that the process of learning an instrument is challenging but fun! She encourages the student to practice daily to acquire skills and helps the student learn how to practice and unlock their potential. Ms Bock has a unique ability to empathize with the student to target solutions, and to adjust to their pace of learning. Ms Bock believes in positive teaching, and is always encouraging and patient.

Amanda Mendez
Cello Lessons

Amanda Mendez, cello lesson teacher

Amanda Mendez grew up in the Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. She started playing cello at the age of fourteen and quickly decided to pursue it as a career. She attained her Bachelor of Music in cello performance at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois where she studied with Dr. Nina Gordon. During her time there she was the recipient of the Louis A. Bury Music Scholarship, the Amateur Music Club Scholarship, and the Todd M. French/Stringworks Talent Award.  She also worked with the Illinois Chamber Music Festival and Cello Camps as a counselor, coach, and event coordinator. She was named on the Dean’s List each semester and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Amanda later attended Illinois State University where she attained her Master of Music in cello performance under the guidance of Dr. Adriana LaRosa Ransom. During her time there she held a position as graduate assistant and as assistant principle of the Illinois State Symphony Orchestra.

Amanda has also studied cello and chamber music abroad at La Schola Cantorum Conservatory in Paris, France with Madame Eugenie Fabre and has participated multiple times as a chamber musician in the International Chamber Music Festival in Kyustendil, Bulgaria.

Currently, she is an instructor at the Music Shoppe and with the String Preparatory Department at Illinois Wesleyan University. She lives in Bloomington, Illinois.

Greg Clough
Bass Lessons

Greg Clough, bass lesson teacher

Greg Clough is currently in the last year of a music education degree from Illinois State University. He has 11 years experience playing electric bass and 9 years on the upright bass. He currently plays with local Ska band Ska’s the Limit, various jazz trios around the Normal and Rockford area, and is a sub for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He has won several awards including the Rockford Area Music Industry award for best Jazz group in 2013. His teaching encompasses an eclectic range of styles including rock, jazz, classical, and ska. Lessons focus on technique as well as theory.

Molly Madden
Harp Lessons

Molly Madden, harp lesson teacher

Raised in a musical home, Molly Madden was just two years old when she first laid her fingers on a harp. She received Bachelor’s degrees in both Harp Performance and Music Education and a Master’s degree in Harp Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also received extensive training and practice in harp pedagogy. Molly completed her student teaching in Champaign-Urbana for grades K-8, teaching band, music technology, and general music. In addition to private teaching, Molly is an active performer, serving as principal harpist for the Champaign-Urbana Symphony and Heartland Festival Orchestras. She also frequently performs with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, The Champaign-Urbana Theater Company, The Chorale (Champaign-Urbana), Illinois State University Wind Symphony, and chamber ensembles in Central Illinois. You can learn more by visiting her website: http://mollyharp.com/

Drum & Percussion Teachers

Jeff Young
Percussion and Drum Set Lessons

Jeff Young, drum set and percussion teacher

Whatever your drumming needs are, Jeff Young can help you! Jeff has a very wide range of expertise on anything from drum set to concert or world percussion. Jeff holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University and a Masters degree in Music Performance from Illinois State University. He has also served on the faculty at Heartland Community College since 2007. Jeff’s teaching experience includes private lessons, traditional classroom teaching, and marching drum line instruction. Jeff also serves regularly as a judge at IMEA-sponsored events for grades 5-12.

Jeff began his drumming life with a practice pad and a set of bells from The Music Shoppe. He also took private lessons at The Music Shoppe in junior high and high school. Currently a member of The Music Shoppe sales staff (since 2006), Jeff helps today’s beginners get started in their musical lives. Jeff plays drum set for two local bands: Marc Boon & the Unknown Legends, and Jack Dupp & the Empty Bottles. Jeff also performs on guitar, piano, and lead vocals in the band Blackwater FOE. Whether it be a rock band or an orchestra, Jeff is comfortable performing in any musical situation: however, Jeff’s dream job is to play in a pit orchestra for a Broadway musical.

Derek Spring
Drum Set Lessons

Derek Spring, drum set lesson teacher

Derek is a professional working drummer living in Bloomington, IL. He majored in Music Composition at Columbia College in Chicago, IL, and has over 30 years of teaching, performance and recording experience. Lesson plans are personalized so that the students will achieve their goals in a productive and encouraging environment. Drum lessons are available from beginner to advanced.

Derek is currently performing with Green Shoe Studio country music recording artist Aileeah Colgan, as well as the Happy Farm Records rockabilly band The Hillbilly Jones. Derek is also a performing member of the New Hope Church Methodist Worship Band, along with fill in work for local rock/pop cover band Heroso.

Voice Teachers

Dr. Denise LaGrassa
Vocal Lessons

Denise LaGrassa, voice lesson teacher

Veteran Chicago artist, Denise LaGrassa, has received performance praise from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader.  Her latest CD “April Dreams”, received high marks from the national publication “All About Jazz”.  LaGrassa offers private and group lessons for children and adults.  She provides her students with a unique opportunity to learn how to sing, perform and compose.  She develops her student’s individual sound and style in a comfortable atmosphere while shaping and creating music. Through a series of interactive exercises, students experience new levels of understanding of rhythm, poetry, melody and vocal phrasing.

Denise’s personal website can be found here.

Sound & Home Recording

Tony Williams
Home Recording Instruction

Tony Williams, home recording lesson teacher

Tony Williams is a graduate of Illinois State University, and has a certification in audio engineering from The Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, OH.  He has been a musician for over twenty-eight years, performing a variety of styles across much of the U.S., including the legendary CBGB in New York.  Tony operated a professional recording studio for five years, producing nearly every imaginable style of music in addition to commercial work.  He has either engineered or performed in recording sessions in Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and New York.  He has been with The Music Shoppe since 2002 as a salesperson and guitar repair technician.