July, 2015


The MusicLink Foundation has enjoyed a wonderful school year and now it is time to celebrate! This issue first applauds our Minnesota MusicLink playathon, where hundreds of children performed music at the Mall of America and helped our kids in the process. We devoted the past issue to celebrating the many Hall of Fame teachers who have guided and mentored students for from five to 20 years - they are the essence of MusicLink. We now celebrate the recipient of the MusicLink Senior Award of Achievement as well as many graduating seniors, who are models of why MusicLink is successful. Read their stories and you will see bright futures for them all, with music playing an important role in their lives. We are so proud of them!

We encourage you to visit our Facebook page to read and "like" our ongoing Teacher of the Month and Student Spotlight articles. The Teacher of the Month articles are also found on our home page.

Our Facebook Page
Our Home Page

We also encourage teachers to enjoy a MusicLink Promise to Practice event, Playathon or Benefit Recital as a summer performance opportunity for students to seek personal goals through practice, share music with the community and help our kids in the process. Details are on our website's "Supporter Info" page.

Our Supporter Info Page

Congratulations to our Graduating Seniors

MN: Juan Domingo Alvarez has taken piano from Helen Marie Plourde in St. Paul for the past three years. In his own words: "I am grateful to all of the people that helped me to go through my school years; my family, teachers, friends and mentors. Thanks for the opportunities to learn and grow. I plan to go to college and stay in the Twin Cities to do my generals and explore my career path in the social sciences. I want to work to make positive changes in people's lives. While working, I'll be using my skills and talents to enjoy life."

MO: Charles Askew is a piano student of Joyce Berg, who shares an amazing story of challenging circumstances: "At age 2 Charles asked for piano lessons which he received to a limited extent. He studied piano in grade school with a jazz gospel teacher. In his early teens he turned to classical music and taught himself. His grandfather raised him until passing away when Charles was 9. At age 12, he moved in with his single mother, who was mentally and emotionally challenged. He eventually declared emancipation from her in the summer. I find it highly significant that he did not go the common route of drugs and alcohol that marks so many young people under such circumstances, and that he had the initiative to train himself in performance and composition. He has no family support and was listed as homeless at his school."

Joyce discovered Charles at a solo and ensemble contest in which he performed the Chopin Posthumous Polonaise in b-flat minor, self-taught and impressively performed and offered him MusicLink lessons. She knew he was an unusual student who had perfect pitch, even tuning his old spinet himself with an Allen wrench. Charles has conquered major repertoire, including his own etudes, compositions and arrangements on the level of Horowitz’s Wedding March. He sometimes made his own staff paper for these creations. He performed several benefit concerts to assist in his college funding. Thanks to numerous scholarships, he will be attending the University of Missouri, Columbia in Piano Performance in the Fall.

MN: Isaac Bremseth has been a lover of classical music and an excellent student of theory and piano repertoire; he has studied with Kathleen Van Doeren for 13 years. He has won the MMTA Contest five times, played in one or two Minneapolis Music Teachers Forum Recitals every year and participated in the National Guild Auditions every year but one. In those auditions, he has always scored a Superior Rating. Isaac's additional accomplishments are the achievement rank of Eagle Scout and triple letters in football, Track and Nordic Skiing. Isaac received a full college scholarship to Marquette University in Milwaukee.

VA: Kristen Crook began her violin studies with Christina Morton at HomeSchool Plus in Virginia Beach as a four year old, following in her older brother and sister's footsteps. She is currently a member of the Bay Youth Symphony Orchestra. She has competed in several concerto competitions and is concertmistress of the Advanced Orchestra at Young Musicians of Virginia and is first violinist of the Suzuki Strings of Hampton Roads Violin Quartet, and violist for the Charis String Quartet. She received the Carroll Bailey Scholarship Award from YMV. She enjoys singing and acting as well.

UT: Christian DeSpain discovered piano as a means of expressing what is most beautiful at an early age, and we will be forever particularly grateful to the two amazing women who nurtured his talent by sacrificing their own time and talent, and often their own personal resources: Annette Houston and Penni Eads! With love they have taught discipline and brought accomplishment (let's hear it for Level 10 completion!!) into his life in a way that others could not. As he embarks on an LDS mission to the New York Utica mission, he brings not just his love of music, but the capacity to interject this soulful communication into the conversation of conversion. MusicLink played an integral part in keeping us going when tuition was tough during single mom days, and the Mundi Project brought our poor little piano into the world of functioning instruments! So much to be grateful for; so many people whose efforts combined to make one family's life more beautiful. THANK YOU! (written by Christian's mother)

MO: Ian DeWalt is a piano student of Joyce Berg and also is an accomplished cellist. He was chosen to perform for the recital masterclass with UMKC professor Jane Solose this fall. He received number 1 in ratings at District and State High School Solo and Ensemble contests. Ian participated as accompanist in his high school musicals, jazz band and string ensembles. He is planning to attend William Jewell College, majoring in music performance on cello and piano.


TX: Russell Dickerson is a gifted young man who has studied piano with Sherry Frush for 7 years. His passion for music and learning continue to increase and his hard work and dedication are quite evident - especially when he's on stage performing, at a lesson or practicing at home. Russell has been a wonderful student with high goals and supportive parents which is a terrific combination. He works hard, is extremely intelligent and a gentleman. His kind demeanor is a wonderful presence in Frush Music Studio where he is on staff. Russell has made a significant difference both with computer and office work as well as teaching young students piano and theory. Russell is also a strong leader with excellent morals and behavior. He was a very active honor student at Wylie High School where he was on the Cross Country Track Team, named All District cross country first team, and is a leader in his church youth group. Russell received a scholarship to attend the University of Texas where he will be a freshman Fall 2015.

CA: Jason Espana is a graduate of Woodside High School in Redwood City, CA and has studied piano with Sue Field for two years. He completed the RCM Grade 1 piano and Basic Rudiments of Theory that he passed with Distinction. He hopes to continue his piano studies as well as saxophone while at San Francisco State University. His teacher said, "it was a genuine pleasure teaching him."

TX: Mandy Faccenda has studied piano with Sherry Frush for seven years, who describes her as "an exemplary student with quite a lot of natural talent, discipline, and an excellent work ethic." Mandy has multiple talents, performing on voice, guitar and piano in her senior recital. She has continually achieved honors in Abilene Music Teachers Association festivals and contests and has been on the staff of the Frush Music Studio for the past four years. Mandy plans to major in music education at Hardin-Simmons University and earned scholarships in piano and through her grades that will pay for most of her college education.

Selena Herr studied piano with Anna Jeanne Flesner for nine years where she was active in Federation and National Guild events. She was in Tracy High School Choir for three years and also accompanied the choir on piano and played guitar in small school vocal ensembles. As a senior, she took three college classes while in high school and performed in band, choir, and was active in speech, the National Honor Society, and Peer Helpers. She also performed piano, guitar and vocally in church worship. Selena had also taken college courses during her sophomore and junior years. She is planning to pursue the path of a physician's assistant in college and is very grateful for the help she received through MusicLink.

UT: Liam Howard has studied the piano for 11 years, his last five years with Joyce Hawkins. "With the help of Mrs. Hawkins, I not only learned how to play the piano, but also learned what it takes to become a proper performer and accompanist." He enjoys accompanying in church as well as with different instrumentalists and as rehearsal pianist for his high school theater department. He played alto saxophone in the marching band through high school, performing in solo and ensembles as a soloist and an accompanist. He also is active in track and field as well as AP studies, but still finds time to sketch and make videos, including producing a local television show about high school sports. Liam is an active church member, attending seminary regularly for four years. He plans to attend BYU Provo for a semester prior to a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

MO: Ansar Lemon is a piano student of Joyce Berg. He has received many honors for his achievements in music, including first place in the 2015 Talent Hunt Competition in the Kansas City area sponsored by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. It included a $250 award and an all-expenses-paid trip to Des Moines, Iowa. There, he represented the Omicron Xi Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and won the first prize of $600 in the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.'s Eighth District Talent Hunt Program as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to Jacksonville, Florida, where he was awarded $1000. Ansar excels academically. He received a perfect SAT score. He plans to major in physics at Cornell University.

NH: Ian Soderberg is a piano student of Carleen Graff and is also a vocalist, and composer. He has performed in many piano festivals through the years and enjoyed eight summers at the Plymouth State University's Piano Monster Camp, often supported by a MusicLink camp scholarship. He performed vocally in All-State, Jazz All-State, All New England and All Eastern festivals for vocal performance. He has composed for high school ensembles and accompanies the choir as collaborative pianist. Ian plans to attend Ithaca College, studying music compositions. "I would like to thank the MusicLink organization for the piano they brought to my home four years ago. Thank you MusicLink, and Dr. Graff for opening the doors into such a wonderful world of opportunities."

OR: Jasnery Valenzuela, a student of Laura Jáuregui Wynter, is a graduating senior from Lincoln High School, born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She is the oldest of three and has a very supportive family. Jasnery has been playing the violin since she was five and a half, talking and singing even before that, and has enjoyed writing ever since the third grade. At school, she is an active student in the music program and participates in orchestra, percussion, and choir. She is a member of the student-run A Cappella group, Vivace. She also has played with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony since the 6th grade. After high school, Jasnery plans to go to Portland Community College and pursue a double major in English and Music. She wants to write and publish books of her own and eventually become an editor. Additionally, she wants to be a worship leader and a violin/music teacher to keep music in her life.

MN: Leah Williams has studied piano with Sally Ritchie for 14 years. She could read music before she could recognize the alphabet. Leah has participated in state competitions every year throughout middle and high school, receiving many first place awards. She is currently the leader of her worship band at church and will be going on a mission trip for her church for the fall semester and if possible, the spring semester as well. Her interests extend from music to drama and she plans to major in counseling or therapy in college. From her teacher: "Leah is an amazing young woman and has been a wonderful student who will be greatly missed by this piano teacher!"

VA: Connor Wood is a graduating senior at Maggie Walker Governor's School in Richmond. He has taken piano lessons with Gabriella Ryan for twelve years, reaching the level of advanced repertoire, including Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 in his senior recital. He was a recipient of a free piano through the MusicLink Foundation. He learned violin from Gabriella's daughter Kim, and organ from Larry Robinson. Connor was one of the top QuizBowl winners. He intends to major in Global Affairs at Yale University, but will always keep music with him, as there are symphonies, chamber groups, and opera companies to join. He is a stamp collector, and hopes to be a diplomat someday.

The following ML students are also graduating seniors. Look for their writeups in our Fall eLINK:

  • IL: Hope Mironas, student of Marcia Mally
  • MN: Heather Anderson, student of Kris Latcham
  • MN: Michael Jardine, student of Lois Muelich
  • MN: Alexis Johnson, student of Kirsten Levorson
  • MN: Alistair Witherspoon, student of Sally O'Reilly
  • ND: Rochelle Van Bruggen, student of Robin Allebach & Jason Laczkoski
  • NH: Caitlin Yeaton, student of Cassandra Reed
  • NY: Tatum Henry, student of Jean Vilkelis
  • OK: Morgan Eckhoff, student of Larry Baldwin
  • OK: Madalyn Estes, student of Larry Baldwin
  • OR: Amy Qiu, student of Pauline Eidemiller
  • VA: Zena Greer, student of Phyllis Vickers
  • WA: Noelle Farr, student of Maria Sier
  • WI: Frost White, student of Jonathan Thornton

MusicLink Hall of Fame

The previous issue of the eLINK recognized our Hall of Fame teachers. We'd like to clarify the process used to calculate the lists of honorees for the Hall of Fame. In an attempt to be fair and accurate, we calculated how many years each teacher was actively teaching a MusicLink student or students. In many cases, this number does not correspond to the number of years a teacher has been registered with MusicLink. We understand that teachers may take a break from teaching, or just not have any local students during a period of time. We built our list in recognition of the actual years of active teaching that our wonderful teachers have given. If you feel that you were left off a list, please contact us and we would be happy to revisit your MusicLink teaching history.

A few corrections are in order:

  • Marcia Wilke (Teacher of Distinction) is from Washington, not Oregon.
  • Hilda Beth Dupaquier (Teacher of Distinction, LA) was incorrectly listed as Helen Dupaquier.


Teachers accidentally left off Hall of Fame (5 to 9 years) list:

  • Barbara Kinnick, MN
  • Lucia May, MN
  • Helen Marie Plourde, MN

Minnesota MusicLink Playathon at
the Mall of America Raises $10,000

Isabel Cao

The Minnesota MusicLink Playathon took place at the Mall of America on the weekend of Feb. 7 and 8, 2015. It was another successful event raising over $10,000 to benefit the work of the MusicLink Foundation. The weekend was filled with music with 244 performances on piano, violin, cello, trumpet, guitar and voice. 48 teachers were represented and the 32 students from the studio of Kim Nichols raised a whopping $1,455 alone.

The highlight of the weekend was the Popular Styles Hour, which took place on Saturday evening , with students performing solos from the popular styles genre. Several of the students took advantage of the opportunity to perform with the back-up music of the local combo, the Katzen Jammers. The audience loved the performances and the students were proud to show their musical skills.

Our thanks go out to sponsors MMTA and Schmitt Music and to the Mall of America for hosting the event. Special thanks to all the wonderful volunteers, and to Gary Wege who served as our photographer.

The students who raised over $100 in pledges for the MusicLink Foundation through their participation in the event are pictured at the end of this eLINK.

MusicLink Camp Sponsor Program

Each summer the MusicLink Foundation provides summer camp scholarships of $250 for our MusicLink students, thanks to donations from those who read our eLINKs and want to help us bring these rewarding experiences to our students. We are offering the opportunity of having a camp scholarship in your name with a summer contribution of $250 or more. Simply designate your contribution over the summer months (June - August) as part of the camp sponsor program along with the name you would like to use for your personal camp scholarship. We will keep you informed about the student and summer program chosen for this scholarship. You can easily contribute through our website HERE.

This year, the MusicLink Foundation scholarship recipients will enjoy summer programs in ten states and Canada - NY, IL, MN, OR, CO, VA, TX, LA, CA, VT and Ontario. Summer programs include the Piano Institute at Ithaca College, Bravo! Institute at the University of Minnesota, the Oregon Suzuki Institute, the Ottawa Summer Piano Camp, the Piano Academy in Ft. Lewis CO., MTAC Chico Summer Music Academy, the Chicago Duo Piano Festival, plus many others.

A note from the parent of one of these camp scholarship recipients who attended the Lake Sylvia Flute Camp in Minnesota expresses the importance of these camp experiences for our students:

My daughter is still on cloud 9 from camp. I cannot impress upon you enough the measure of our gratitude and appreciation for you as well as everyone at camp. This was truly a pivotal moment in her life. I can't explain it all right now without sounding cliche, but it was probably one of the most important things we have done for her in a long time. We could not have done it without UMFA, MusicLink , Nancy Maloney and you. Thank you.

MusicLink Senior Award of Excellence

The MusicLink Senior Award of Excellence is an award of $1000.00 made possible by the Arline and Russell Bridge Endowment Fund.

Emily Brother is a graduate of West Linn High School in Portland, OR and has been a piano student of Dorothy Fahlman for the past six years. She has won numerous competitions, including the MTNA Oregon State and Northwest Division Competitions in Senior Piano for 2015 and a two-time winner of the Young Artists Debut! Van Buren Concerto Competition for 2013 and 2015. She won the Portland Monday Musical Club scholarship in 2014, was the recipient of the Portland Beaux Arts Society scholarship in 2012, and has been a MusicLink Scholarship recipient.

Emily has been a featured performer in the Snowman Foundation's "Ten Grands" concerts for the past four years in Portland at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and in Seattle at Benaroya Hall, as well as performing in "Ten Grands for Kids." Emily attended the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine in 2012 and 2013 where she studied with Ben Kim, and Yong Hi Moon respectively. She was an intern for the Portland Piano International Summer Festival and Portland Summer Ensembles in 2014.

In addition to her passion for music, Emily also enjoys math, science, Spanish, writing, and tennis. Emily is the Vice-President of her high school honor society, teaches piano to beginning students, and frequently volunteers her time performing piano recitals at senior retirement facilities.

Emily will attend Harvard University and plans to continue her music studies through the New England Conservatory of Music. "Whatever career goals I set in the coming years, my overarching life aspiration is to achieve a professional level of pianistic maturity. Although there may be a limit on the number of musicians who win international competitions, there will never be a limit on the number of pianists that can perform with an acute level of sensitivity, insight, passion and depth. I will be most satisfied if that is the level of playing that I achieve."

New MusicLink Teachers
& Business Partners

We welcome the following 26 teachers, who joined the MusicLink Foundation in the past 6 months: Alberta, Canada: Michele Downs; FL: Sarah Robertson; GA: Mary Dekkers (returning), Debra Hughes; IL: Marina Nir; MA: Ellen Levine: MN: Marcia Benson, Margaret Clark, Ellie Leimer, Andrea Myers, Meredith Vaughan; MO: Marcia Fernandez; NY: Dan Fogel, Julie Wegener; ND: Courtney Pederson; OR: Jan Mittelstaedt (returning), Crystal Richter, Western-Li Summerton; PA: Candice Blake; TX: Beatrice Stanley; UT: Janice Sullivan; WA: Carla Dudley, Karin McCullough, Amanda Snell, Angela Wentz; WI: Rebecca Czubin.

We also welcome these new business partners: CO: Kid's Music Playground; IN: Chupp's Pianos; OR: Portland Piano International; WA: Dickerson Piano Service.

MusicLink Legacy Partners

As we celebrate all of these wonderful accomplishments of MusicLink students and teachers, we face the responsibility of guaranteeing the ongoing support of our programs each year, always emphasizing our "grass roots" approach, with administrative costs at only 10% of our total budget. Funding primarily relies on contributions from the public. We have established a level of giving called MusicLink Legacy Partners, for donors who recognize the need to secure the future growth and expansion of MusicLink through annual donations of $5000 - $9,999 (Bravo Tier), or $10,000 or more (Encore Tier). We have thus far reached out to former grantors and corporate business partners and welcome any inquiries about how a business or private foundation can be part of this donation level. Please consider how you or your business can join this extraordinary group of donors. Download our Legacy Partner information below for more details about the program.

MusicLink Legacy Partners


$250 Fundraisers - MN MusicLink Playathon.

Students received either an iPod shuffle or a $50 Target Gift Card.

Olivia Bode

Sarah King

Derek Kiser

Julie Meles

Ajay Raman

Soumya Raman

Ian Rogers

Isaac Zook-Stanley

$100 MN MusicLink Playathon Fundraisers

Ariana Awiszus

Michelle Berg

Anne Carper

Mary Jo Dalsin

Tatum Evans

Alex Ewald

Kaylee Greve

Calvin Hume

Lillie Imm

Joshua Larson

Jessica Tranby-Laudahl

Carly Mumm

Jackie Sheehan

Joe Taylor

Aviva Milgrom

Rohit Wilson

Rylie Bode

Emerson & Tyler Tutt