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Our Director

vera pictureVera McCoy-Sulentic (violin) is Director of the Suzuki Program at SIUE. She has been a registered teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas since 1991 and conducts long term Suzuki teacher training at SIUE. A frequent clinician at Suzuki workshops, she has traveled throughout the United States and Canada, and has taught in Bermuda, Sweden, Taiwan, and Brazil. She was the recipient of SIUE’s Excellence in Teaching award in 1996 and has been a faculty member and director of the SIUE Suzuki Program since 1997. Additionally, she has 10 years of string teaching experience in the public schools of Edwardsville, Ill., and Eugene, Ore.

In 1988, Vera earned a Masters in Music Education from SIUE which included long term teacher training with John Kendall. Other Suzuki training has been with Mihoko Hirata, Yuko Mori, Evelyn Hermann, and Doris Pruecil. Academic degrees include a B.M. in Music Education from the University of Oregon and a B.A. in French from the University of Iowa.

Faculty Teachers

carrie pictureCarrie Grace Beisler (violin) grew up as a “Suzuki kid” in Minneapolis, Minn., studying with Nancy Lokken at Augsburg College and graduating from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance in 2011. At the U of Iowa, she studied with Dr. Scott Conklin, played in the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and Baroque Ensemble. Other performing experience includes the Quad Cities Symphony, Southeast Iowa Symphony, Ottumwa Symphony, Oskaloosa Symphony Orchestra, Cedar Rapids Theater Pit Orchestra, and Lyric Arts Main Street Stage Pit Orchestra.

In May 2013, Carrie graduated with her Master’s Degree in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from the University of Minnesota, studying under Professor Mark Bjork. In addition to her long term training at the University of Minnesota, she has taken additional Suzuki training in Books 1-8 with Carol Dallinger, Alice Joy Lewis, Nancy Jackson, and Christie Felsing.

Carrie has gained extensive experience in arts administration during her internships with the Minnesota Youth Symphonies and the Colorado Suzuki Institute in Beaver Creek, Colo. Her most recent teaching appointment was with the faculty of St. Joseph’s School of Music in St. Paul, Minn.

linda pictureLinda Bristol (violin and viola) earned her BME from Lindenwood College and her MME from SIUE. She also is a pianist. In 2012, she retired from teaching orchestra in the Edwardsville School District after 16 years of teaching at the middle school and elementary levels. Before teaching in Edwardsville, Linda taught in Parkway, Hazelwood and several private schools in the area. She studied Suzuki pedagogy with John Kendall and Carol Smith. Linda has been a faculty teacher in the SIUE Suzuki Program since 2002. Linda’s three children all went through the Suzuki Program at SIUE. Her daughter, Heather, is a Suzuki teacher in Missoula, Mont.

allison pictureAllison Huebner-Woerner (violin and viola) earned her BSEd in Music Education from the University of Missouri at Columbia and her M.M. in violin performance from SIUE. She did doctoral studies at the University of Missouri at Columbia, where she was John McLeod’s doctoral assistant. She did long-term Suzuki teacher training with John Kendall and Carol Smith and has been a faculty member of the SIUE Suzuki program since 1994. She is Founder and Director of St. Charles Suzuki Strings, now called Ballwin Strings. She has played in numerous St. Louis-area orchestras and string quartets, including the St. Louis Philharmonic and the Florissant Valley Orchestra, for which she served as concertmaster and soloist. Allison is the esteemed and hard-working director of our Tour Group!

stephanie pictureStephanie Hunt (cello) is a versatile musician, performing on both modern and baroque cello. She plays frequently as a continuo cellist and was the continuo cellist for the Tanglewood Music Center’s Bach Festival. Stephanie is a member of Trio Lumea, a piano trio that performs on historical instruments. Trio Lumea has performed throughout the Netherlands and was recently invited to perform at the Royaumont Abbey in France.

Stephanie has attended a number of music festivals, some of which include Festivalensemble Stuttgart, the Meadowmount School, the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, and two summers as a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow. She graduated with a bachelor of music in modern cello summa cum laude from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and received a Master of Music in modern cello from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. She graduated with both a bachelor of music honours and a master of music in baroque cello from the Utrecht Conservatory (Netherlands). Her teachers include Viola de Hoog, Norman Fischer, Hans Jørgen Jensen, Ross Harbaugh, and Monique Bartels. After living five years in the Netherlands, Stephanie returned to the States and is teaching cello privately in St. Louis and through the SIUE Suzuki Program.

erika pictureErika Lord-Castillo (violin, viola) has been a faculty teacher in the SIUE Suzuki Program since 2009. Erika grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, and earned a bachelor of music degree in violin performance and a bachelor of arts degree in literature, sciences and arts from the University of Iowa in 2005. She holds a master’s in music education from SIUE, and studied Suzuki pedagogy violin books 1-10 with Vera McCoy-Sulentic. Erika has also completed Suzuki teacher training with Michelle Higa George, Moshe Neumann, Judy Bossuat, Nancy Jackson, and Christie Felsing. After graduating from Iowa, she lived in Corvallis, Ore., for two years, where she taught privately and in the Corvallis Public Schools through the Corvallis Youth Symphony’s Elementary Strings Program. Erika also spent three years teaching elementary through high school orchestra in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in North St. Louis County. Erika has performed with numerous community orchestras in Iowa and in Oregon, and with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra. Erika’s violin teachers include Annette-Barbara Vogel, Katie Wolfe, and Lenora Anop. Erika presented her master’s thesis at the American String Teachers Association national conference in March 2011, and her article, “John Kendall’s Early Contributions to Suzuki Education in the United States,” was published in the American Suzuki Journal in fall 2012.

vicki pictureVicki Lottes (violin, viola) grew up in a Cincinnati musical family with 12 children and she graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (BME) and Indiana University (M.M. studying with Josef Gingold). For 32 years, Vicki taught orchestra and string classes in Massachusetts and Missouri public schools, most recently 20 years with the Parkway School District (St. Louis County) in high school, middle school, and elementary school. She helped Parkway grow their Suzuki program for all third grade students in 18 schools. Vicki trained with John Kendall and Vera McCoy-Sulentic at SIUE. She is a member of the SAA and taught Suzuki violin and viola students at her home studio in West St. Louis County for 6 years. Vicki has taught private lessons at SIUE since 2007, and co-directed the SIUE Summer String Camp for eight years. Vicki is the mother of two boys who studied Suzuki violin and cello.

Adjunct and Group Class Teachers

Kim Gindler will be teaching cello and reading classes. She began studying the violin in the SIUE Suzuki Program when she was four years old and was a member of Mr. Kendall’s first tour group to Ireland and Sweden. As a teenager, she was concertmaster of the CASA Young People’s Orchestra as well as the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in music from SIUE and finished three levels of Orff certification through Webster University, where she studied music and movement, percussion, improvisation and theater techniques. In addition to the violin, she loves dancing, and playing the flute and the piano. Kim has taught high school and middle school orchestra, elementary strings, middle school general music, and middle school choir. Her son, Lars, is a cello student in the SIUE Suzuki Proram.

courtney pictureCourtney King, a native of Oswego, Ill., holds a bachelor of flute performance from DePaul University (2000) in Chicago where she studied under Mary Stolper, soloist and chamber performer and regularly performed for Donald Peck, former principal flutist in the CSO. She was a member of the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight, stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, until 2004. She also performed with the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America at Scott AFB for recordings and touring until 2007. Courtney has played for presidents, U.S. and foreign dignitaries, veterans and Americans of all ages. Even with all that excitement, she decided staying home with her children was way more fun! Today, she is a home schooling mother of thre amazing kids (all in this program). She holds a small flute studio from her home and performs flute/piccolo in the Belleville Philharmonic.

Daniel Mieloch moved to Illinois in 2003 to attend SIUE and earn his master’s degree in conducting after attaining his bachelor’s degrees in music education and violin performance from Lebanon Valley College. Daniel Mieloch is director of orchestras at Fort Zumwalt West High School. Daniel has been honored to work with the SIUE Suzuki Department since the spring of 2010 and is the principal conductor of the Edwardsville Youth Orchestra.

Robert Valentine, our collaborative pianist, is affiliated with Winter Opera Saint Louis, serves as the choral director at Our Lord’s Lutheran Church in Maryville, Ill., and enjoys working with the local community to make great musical experiences.  A Georgia native, Robert earned his B.A. in music performance from Georgia College & State University. Upon receiving his M.M. in collaborative piano and choral Ccnducting from SIUE, he then worked as a choirmaster and rehearsal accompanist. In 2010, Robert moved to Austin, Texas, where he worked with Texas State University’s Wind Symphony and Opera Theatre productions as a repetiteur and a featured pianist. In addition, he acted as rehearsal pianist and pit musician for Angelique, a Texas State Opera Theatre production that earned the 2012 National Opera Association Award for Best Opera Production. He has worked throughout the country on numerous operas — including Hansel and Gretel, Too Many Sopranos, Die Fledermaus, Die Zauberflöte, and Tosca—as repetiteur, choirmaster, or rehearsal pianist. Throughout the years, Robert has collaborated with American composers Jonathan Newman, Steve Bryant, David Maslanka, and Clyde Tipton as well as Julliard professor Wayne O’Quinn.

Graduate Students — 2014–2015

Natalie Stawarski graduated from Millikin University with a degree in Violin performance, then went on to Illinois State University, where she graduated with a master’s in violin performance. She has studied under Georgia Hornbacker and Dr Sarah Gentry. Through her studies, she has performed in various chamber ensembles in both the United States and Bulgaria, free improv groups, and bluegrass ensembles. She also has performed with the Millikin Decatur Symphony, the Jacksonville Symphony Society, and the Danville Symphony. She has taught violin privately, and through the ISU String Project. She is excited to be studying Suzuki at SIUE and looks forward to developing her skills as both a teacher and a performer.

Elaine Wisniewski, originally from New Jersey, began playing viola at the age of nine in public school and later studied with Judith Morse. In eighth grade, she auditioned and was accepted into Central Jersey’s Regions Orchestra. In high school, she was accepted into the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra. Next, she studied with Honggong Li of the Shanghai Quartet while receiving her bachelor of music education degree at Montclair State University. During her studies there, she received the Jean and Francis Poltorak Music Scholarship. She also was President of Montclair’s American String Teachers Association chapter and an active private teacher during that time. After graduating, she continued her education by attending Rutgers University for a master’s in performance, studying with Craig Mumm of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Elaine taught private violin, viola and cello lessons at Music Notes Academy while obtaining her degree. In her spare time, she performed with the Tim Keyes Consort and the Freelance Ensemble Artists of N.J. The past two summers, she has attended Meadowmount School of Music, studying with Patricia McCarty.

Stephanie Wooley graduated with a degree in viola performance from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She has studied with Susan Dapkunas, Michael Barta, Dr. Meng Chun-Chi, and Dr. Aurelien Petillot and has regularly performed with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Southern Illinois String Quartets, and other local ensembles. She is a certified Kindermusik educator, and has taught violin and viola privately and in public schools since 2004. She is thrilled to be in the SIUE Suzuki Program and looks forward to developing as a pedagogue.


ellen pictureEllen Singh has had a lifelong joy of and experience with music and young children. She has been a licensed Kindermusik educator since 2004. A graduate of both the University of Evansville (B.S. in sociology and interpersonal communications) and the University of Illinois (master’s degree in social work), she has a broad spectrum of educational and clinical experiences, including child development, group dynamics, and relationship building, which are essential in teaching music to children and their families. Musically, she has her foundations in many years of piano and flute lessons as well as having taught herself to play electric bass guitar. She has performed in various groups throughout high school and college. Additionally, she has enjoyed the opportunities of performing (flute) in her church and in various community orchestras throughout the country.

As a licensed Kindermusik educator, Ellen brings the love of music, movement, and learning to children and families in this community, in partnership with the SIUE Suzuki program, in her Kindermusik classes. Her greatest love is being a mother of her four young children.

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