Preparatory Music Instructors

Miranda Kirby

Patty Bird
Tara Davis, Suzuki piano
Katie Miller Fall only
Chi Nguyen
Anne Waltner

Miranda Kirby
Lisa Wright

Violin & Viola
Melissa Combe
Tara Davis
Joan Griffing
Christa Hoover
Maria Lorcas
Sharon Miller
Meg Smeltzer
Jacinda Stahly
Megan Tiller
Celia Turner
Jeremiah Vallotton
Melinda Walton
Kelly Wiedemann
Madeline Williamson

Double Bass
Lindsay Lam

John Dull
Mark Whetzel

Wind Instruments
Elizabeth Brightbill, flute, Suzuki flute



Patty Bird, piano – M.M. Northwestern University

Mrs. Patty Bird received her M.M. degree from Northwestern University. She has taught piano privately in Lynchburg, Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg over the last 25 years, and accompanied voice students at Lynchburg College. She has been the organist at several churches in the Richmond and Lynchburg areas, and has served as organist at Lynchburg College’s Christmas Vespers programs. She is the accompanist at Dayton United Methodist Church, and has been teaching piano in the Preparatory Music program since January, 2008.

Katie Miller, piano – college intern (EMU Senior)Fall only

Chi Nguyen, piano – M.M. Florida State University

Chi Nguyen has a B.M. in Piano Performance from James Madison University and an M.M. in Performance (Piano Pedagogy emphasis) from Florida State University. Vietnamese-American pianist and teacher Chi Nguyen comes from a culturally and musically diverse background. Ms. Chi was born in Indonesia as her family fled Vietnam for a better life in the United States. This diversity has led to a personal connection to her recent Master’s lecture recital on Contemporary American Women Composers. The program showcases different perspectives on American music, including works by Emma Lou Diemer, Chen Yi, Judith Lang Zaimont, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. In addition to exploring both classical and contemporary repertoire, she is devoted to cultivating her students’ love of music by developing their musical and technical skills. She began teaching private lessons while an undergraduate, and currently works with students of all ages and abilities. In Spring 2013, she participated in the Florida State University Pre-College Symposium with a teaching demonstration that was critiqued by several master pedagogues from across the U.S. Chi is grateful for her many mentors, including Heidi Louise Williams, Paulo Steinberg, Sandra Wright Shen, Emily Yap Chua, and Sally Crawford. Chi also developed her individual and group teaching abilities with advisor Victoria McArthur at FSU, and has performed in masterclasses for Ludmila Lazar and Menahem Pressler.

Anne Waltner, piano – D.M.A. Cleveland Institute of Music

Pianist Anne Waltner has performed on four continents in numerous solo and collaborative roles. For the past two years, she has been Assistant Professor of music at West Virginia State University and is regarded both as a demanding teacher and a highly artistic performer. A recent graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree and an Artist Diploma in collaborative piano, she studied with Anita Pontremoli and Olga Radosavljevich. Anne received her Masters and Bachelor degrees in solo piano performance from Chicago College of Performing Arts with Ludmila Lazar, and Goshen (IN) College with Marvin Blickenstaff, respectively. Dr. Waltner is excited to begin her new role as Assistant Professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University in August, where her responsibilities will include teaching music theory and applied piano. In addition to her musical activities, Dr. Waltner actively participates in the operation of her family farm in southeastern South Dakota. Over the course of the growing season, she enjoys operating tractors, 18-wheel tractor-trailer rigs, and combines. Spending summers in her childhood home allows her to reconnect with the tight-knit, rural Mennonite community of her youth.

Previously Anne taught at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, IL, Woodstock School in Mussoorie India, and at the Rainey Institute in Cleveland, OH.


Miranda Kirby, cello, Suzuki cello – M.M. Northwestern University, Suzuki teacher training

Miranda received a Bachelor’s of Music in both cello and vocal studies from James Madison University and Master’s of Music from Northwestern University. She was orchestra director at West Potomac High School and South Lakes High School in Fairfax County Public Schools for several years. She taught International Baccalaureate music courses for FCPS as well, receiving her I.B. certification at New World College in New Mexico. As an orchestra director, her groups attended several competitions each year and received superior ratings consistently. She went on to receive the Crystal Apple-Shining Star teaching award for outstanding contributions to education at South Lakes High School. She has been a regular conductor of orchestras at JMU Spring String Thing and instructor and conductor for Vienna Summer Strings Camp. After returning to the area, she taught and developed curriculum for both instrumental and vocal music courses, music theory and history at Stuart Hall School in Staunton. Miranda is a certified Suzuki teacher, completing her training through an apprenticeship with Tanya Lesinsky Carey in Chicago. Miranda has studied cello performance privately with Tanya Lesinsky Carey, James Kjelland, Jim Lee (National Symphony), and performed in workshops and masterclasses with Irene Sharp at Mannes College in New York. She has been a performing member with University Shenandoah Symphony, Loudoun Symphony, Mt. Vernon Symphony, and Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic. She was a founding member of Potomac String Quartet, performing regularly at George Mason University and throughout the Washington area. She now freelances around the Shenandoah Valley. She is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, American String Teachers Association, National Association for Music Education and Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association.

Lisa Wright, cello, Suzuki cello – B.M. Eastman School of Music, Suzuki teacher training

Originally from Harrisonburg, VA, Lisa Wright is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and spent many years performing and teaching in New York City. Ms. Wright served as Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at the Mannes College of Music in New York City while actively freelancing. Ms. Wright has served on the faculties of The Mannes College of Music Preparatory Division, School for Strings, the Calhoun School and the Bloomingdale School of Music. She has performed with many groups in and around the New York City area including the Stamford Symphony and the Grammy-nominated EOS Ensemble. Ms. Wright presently serves on the faculty at Eastern Mennonite University, has a large private studio in Charlottesville and is the Director of Strings at the Woodberry Forest School in Orange, VA. She regularly performs with the Roanoke Symphony, Opera Roanoke, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and the Chamber Orchestra of Charlottesville.

Violin & Viola

Melissa Combe, Suzuki violin – M.M. University of Utah, B.M. Brigham Young University, Suzuki teacher training

Melissa Combe, a native of Salt Lake City Utah, was raised with the Suzuki Violin method. Through her collegiate studies in violin performance, she advocates and continues to study the benefits of teachers as performers. As the first violinist of the Rosco String Quartet, based in Salt Lake City, she recently won first place at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) string quartet competition in March 2014. Throughout the past three years, the quartet studied under world renowned string quartets such as the Juilliard, Tokyo, and American string quartets, as well as with Robert Mann at the Manhattan School of Music. She has been teaching privately for the past 7 years and received Suzuki teacher training from Edmund Sprunger and Linda Fiore at the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute in Draper, UT. She is also a proud new mother as of June, as well as a new resident of Harrisonburg where her husband is a graduate student at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

Tara Davis, Suzuki violin, Suzuki piano – B.M.A. University of Western Ontario, Suzuki teacher training

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Musical Arts in Music Performance from the University of Western Ontario, Tara Davis has worked as a freelance musician on both violin and piano for almost 20 years, performing around the world in various orchestras, small ensembles, theater productions and as a soloist and guest artist for many different types of concerts, recitals, church services and special events. Tara is a registered Suzuki teacher, having studied Suzuki Music Pedagogy with Mrs. Daphne Hughes in Ontario Canada and more recently with Sharon Miller at EMU.

Joan Griffing, violin, viola – D.M.A. Ohio State University

Joan Griffing is currently Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Eastern Mennonite University where she teaches violin and viola, coaches chamber music and conducts the EMU orchestra. She is also concertmaster of the Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Virginia Symphony, and violinist with the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. In the spring of 1999, she premiered a Violin Concerto written for her by Terry Vosbein, composer-in-residence at Washington and Lee University. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Indiana University where she studied with Tadeusz Wronski, and her Doctor of Musical Arts in violin performance from The Ohio State University Dr. Griffing has performed as concertmaster with the AIMS Festival Orchestra in Austria and Italy as well as with the Coronado, Grand Teton, Norfolk and Spoleto Festivals in this country. Recent international appearances include a tour of Taiwan in 2004 with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, a series of recitals and master classes in May of 2006 in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, a lecture recital in Adelaide, Australia at the International Viola Congress in June of 2007, and a set of recitals and master classes in the northeastern part of Brazil in August of 2007 and November of 2008. She is a founding member and tours regularly with the chamber music group Musica Harmonia, formed to promote peace and cultural understanding through musical collaboration.

Christa Hoover, Suzuki violin – B.A. Wheaton College, Suzuki teacher training

Maria Lorcas, Suzuki violin, violin, Youth Orchestra Conductor – M.M. Carnegie Mellon University, Suzuki teacher training

Mrs. Maria Lorcas began her undergraduate studies in her native country of Venezuela. She later received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music (Violin Performance) from Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon Universities respectively. Mrs. Lorcas has performed extensively in both Venezuela and the United States. Orchestra positions that she has held include concertmaster of the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Symphony (Venezuela), and first violinist in the Simon Bolivar Symphony (Venezuela), the Wheeling, Westmoreland and Altoona Symphonies, More recently she has performed with the Shenandoah Bach Festival Orchestra, the Charlottesville Chamber Orchestra as well as various ensembles in the Charlottesville and Lexington areas. Mrs. Lorcas has been teaching privately and coaching orchestra strings since 1993. She is also a trained Suzuki violin teacher. She currently has a studio in the Preparatory Music Program at EMU, teaches in the Violin Outreach Project and in the City schools, and conducts the Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony.

Sharon Miller, administrative director, Suzuki violin, viola, Jr. Strings conductor, Suzuki Pedagogy – M.M. East Carolina University

Mrs. Sharon Miller has been the conductor of the Junior Strings ensemble since its inception in 2001. She teaches music education at Eastern Mennonite University in addition to serving as the administrative director of the Shenandoah Valley Preparatory Music Program and teaching violin, viola and Suzuki pedagogy courses in that program. Mrs. Miller received her M.Ed. (music) from Towson State University and M.M. (Suzuki Pedagogy) from East Carolina University. She is a registered Suzuki Violin Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has taught at institutes and workshops in the eastern United States. As a performer, she plays violin with the University Shenandoah Symphony, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival and serves as Assistant Concertmaster with the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra.

Meg Smeltzer, Suzuki violin – B.A. EMU, Suzuki teacher training

Meg Smeltzer has spent most of her life in Harrisonburg and began studying Suzuki violin in the Preparatory Music Program at the age of 6. Throughout high school she sang with the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir, the EMHS Touring Choir and Chamber Choir, and was a member of the Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony. Meg began teaching Suzuki violin in 2012, while studying violin performance at EMU, and also was involved with numerous chamber music ensembles at EMU before graduating in 2013. When not teaching violin lessons, Meg enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, gardening, and performing on violin or viola.

Jacinda Stahly, Suzuki violin – college intern (EMU sophomore)

Megan Tiller, Suzuki violin – B.A. EMU, Suzuki teacher training

Megan Tiller is originally from southwestern Virginia where she grew up as a Suzuki violin student from the age of 4. She received her B.A. from EMU and is now in her 9th year of teaching Suzuki violin classes in EMU’s Preparatory Music Program and in her 8th year of teaching violin classes in the Harrisonburg City Schools. Megan also served as EMU’s Preparatory Music Administrative Assistant from 2007-2011. In addition to teaching private and group classes to students of all ages, Megan has particular interest in old-time fiddle music, often teaching and attending fiddle workshops throughout the year. When she is not teaching, she is actively involved in the local music scene and enjoys working in a variety of musical environments across the country. Megan also owns Tiller Strings out of Harrisonburg, VA.

Celia Turner, Suzuki violin – college intern (JMU Junior)

Jeremiah Vallotton, Suzuki violin – B.A. EMU

Melinda Walton, Suzuki violin – B.A. University of Northern Iowa, Suzuki Teacher Training

Melinda Walton, originally from Iowa, started playing violin at the age of 10. She played in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra from age 16 until she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. While at university and under the instruction of Frederick Halgedahl, Melinda was principal second violinist and had the opportunity to travel abroad with the university orchestra to Russia, where she played with the Moscow Symphony. She moved to Harrisonburg in December of 2009 with her husband and received Suzuki teacher training in January of 2012 with Sharon Miller at EMU. In addition to teaching in the preparatory program at EMU, Melinda is a mother to a four-year old boy and works at Morgan Stanley as a Client Service Associate.

Kelly Wiedemann, Suzuki violin – B.M. Washington Adventist University, Suzuki teacher training

Kelly Wiedemann is originally from the Shenandoah Valley and was in the EMU Suzuki violin program from age 4 through high school. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Washington Adventist University in Maryland. While at WAU, Kelly studied violin with Zino Bogachek, a violinist with the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. She also had the opportunity to tour with the New England Symphonic Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse. The ensemble frequently toured internationally and throughout the United States, including performances at Carnegie Hall. Kelly has been teaching Suzuki violin since 2003. Most recently, from 2008 to 2011 Kelly served as Director of K-12 Music at Hinsdale Adventist Academy located just outside of Chicago, teaching strings, small ensembles, choir, and band, as well as directing school musicals and concerts. Kelly enjoys making all types of music with family and friends and introducing her students to the fascinating realm of world music.

Madeline Williamson, Suzuki violin – intern (HS junior)

Double Bass

Lindsay Lam, double bass – B.M. University of Maryland

Lindsay Lam, from Denver, Colorado, started playing Double Bass at the age of 7 while still living in Mississippi. After moving to Denver, she attended Denver School of the Arts, where she was a featured soloist with the DSA Orchestra’s 2005 tour to New Mexico and earned her Arts Endorsed Diploma. She also performed with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and the Colorado Young Sinfonia. While beginning her college studies in Denver, she served as Section Bass with the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra, also performing with the Cheyenne Symphony. After transferring to the University of Maryland, she was a finalist in the UMD Symphony Orchestra’s 2009 Concerto Competition before graduating with her Bachelors of Music in Double Bass Performance in 2011. Most recently, she has been the Double Bass instructor at Howard Community College, a member of the newly founded National String Symphonia, playing in a local folk band, working at Gailes’ Violin Shop in College Park, and teaching privately. Her primary teachers include the late Kenneth Harper (Assistant Principle, Colorado Symphony), Susan Cahill (Colorado Symphony), Ali Yazdanfar (Principle, Montreal Symphony), and Robert Oppelt (Principle, National Symphony). She is excited to start the next chapter of her life in Harrisonburg, where her husband will be teaching Computer Science at James Madison University.


John Dull, guitar, Suzuki guitar – M.M. East Carolina University, Suzuki teacher training

Mr. Dull serves as Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, Staunton, is an award-winning composer, and freelance performer. Mr. Dull has taught guitar at all levels and in various styles since 2002.

Mark Whetzel, guitar – Studied graduate-level improvisation at JMU

Mr. Whetzel has studied privately and/or participated in master classes with Andrew York, John Abercrombie, and Vic Juris. Mr. Whetzel has taught privately and in groups since 1983 and is adjunct music faculty of EMU.

Wind Instruments

Elizabeth Brightbill, flute, Suzuki flute – D.M.A. Indiana University, Suzuki teacher training

Elizabeth Brightbill (D. M., Indiana University) performs in the prize-winning flute and cello duo, Terra Voce. Previously, she held the position of Principal Flute with the Tulsa Philharmonic and Opera orchestras for ten years. She has also performed with a number of other orchestras across the country, including the Alabama Symphony, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and the Britt, Wintergreen, and OK Mozart Festival orchestras. She has appeared as soloist with the Tulsa Philharmonic, has performed in concerts at numerous National Flute Association conventions, and with Terra Voce has appeared at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. A recipient of multiple awards, Elizabeth has been a prize-winner and finalist in several national and regional competitions. She has taught at all levels of instruction for over fifteen years and her devotion to teaching is demonstrated in the success of her students at the local, regional, and national levels.