Congratulations to our Seniors!
As our 25th anniversary year continues, we are enjoying lots of student accomplishments and are proud of the many MusicLink seniors who are graduating from high school. We share their stories with you and encourage you to join us in our celebration through Playathons, Promise to Practice events in your studios, contributing to MusicLink, or signing up to teach on our Teacher Volunteer List.
25th Anniversary Celebration Continues
Campaign: We are continuing our Silver Anniversary Campaign to raise $100,000 by the end of 2017. Our current total is $79,025 thanks to our many donors and student events. These funds help send our kids to camp, move pianos, repair and send instruments where they are needed, assist with teacher reimbursements, and help recruit new teachers to the program.
Business Partners: We have added 10 new business partners so far this year and are reaching out to 20 additional piano dealers to help build healthy partnerships across the country to help our students and teachers through fund raising and instrument donations and discounts.
Fundraisers: Another goal we have set is to encourage 25 fund-raising events for MusicLink across the country. So far, MusicLink has enjoyed fundraising events in 8 states: Illinois, several in Minnesota, New York, Virginia, Oklahoma and a new Promise to Practice event held by Helen Haynes at the Jefferson City Music Academy in Missouri. Helen learned of the idea of Promise to Practice shortly before her Spring recital and decided to give it a try for 3 weeks. "It gave my students that extra push they needed to really shine in the recital. We'll be doing this again, extending it to our whole studio." Her studio event raised $625 for the MusicLink Foundation. We would love to help other states organize these win-win events for their students or organizations.
Teachers: We have reached the goal of recognizing the 25th new MusicLink teacher in 2017. We welcome Sheila Dacus from Wake Forest, NC.
Sheila Dacus has been teaching piano for over 35 years and has an innovative studio in Wake Forest, NC. She earned an M.M. in Piano Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University and a B.A. summa cum laude in Applied Piano and Music Education from the University of Jamestown. She holds the MTNA Permanent Certificate in Piano.
Sheila has taught private and group piano to preschool through college students in studios in North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, and North Dakota. She is an adjunct professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and previously taught at Wayne Community College, University of Mount Olive, and Blinn College.
She is 1st Vice President-Programs for the Raleigh Piano Teachers Association, has served on the board of the Kansas City MTA, Kansas City Federated Music Teachers, and North Carolina MTA, and was founder of the Brenham (TX) Area MTA. Sheila has directed adult, youth and children's choirs, hand bells, and piano and instrumental ensembles. She currently serves as assistant pianist at her church and is in demand as an adjudicator and accompanist.
Sheila says, "I have had several scholarship students through the years. I am thrilled to be part of MusicLink and to be able to offer its support to deserving students."
New York MusicLink Playathon
is a Grand Success
The New York MusicLink annual fundraiser was held in April, at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, New York. The event was organized by MusicLink coordinator Patricia Cestaro. The fundraiser was designed as a Playathon. Participants had a chance to perform in the rotunda of the mall on a Yamaha grand piano. The piano, Clavinova and sound system were provided by the Faust Harrison Piano Store. The keyboard provided an opportunity for donors to receive an enjoyable music lesson.
Pamphlets and posters were distributed by Northport High School and Huntington High School students to raise awareness and encourage participation in this fundraiser. Students of all levels and music teachers performed. The seating provided shoppers and family members with a place to relax and hear the concert. The candy bowls attracted visitors to the tables, with a jar for donations right next to the candy. A local music store (Munro Music) helped by donating four $50.00 gift certificates to be awarded to the top fundraisers. Student leaders were Olivia Gotlib (Saturday) and Gabby Bica (Sunday) while Areille Harvey was the student photographer.
The fundraiser was a huge success! It raised over $3500.00 for the MusicLink Foundation which will be used to help underprivileged students to follow their musical passions and receive the nurturing and guidance they need along the way.
MusicLink Senior Award Winners
Emily Fillmore (IA) received the 2017 MusicLink Senior Achievement Award of $1000 provided by the Arline and Russell Bridge Endowment Fund. The award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a graduating senior MusicLink student. Emily has been a violin student of Linda Judiesch since the age of five at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, IA. Her teacher could tell from the start that Emily was bright, motivated, and enjoyed making music.
Emily has been in the Iowa All-State Orchestra for the past four years, was co-winner of the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, and received the National School Orchestra Award from Muscatine High School. Emily has even taken on a few students in high school and explains: "In my future I hope to teach children to love music from an early age. Eventually I would like to have my own violin studio. I have recently seen the joys that can be brought to my life if I were to bring music to children in third world countries or to public high schools across the United States." Emily plans to continue her performance studies at Brigham Young University - Idaho.
Jotham Bremseth (MN) is the recipient of the 2017 Ruth Stenson Memorial MusicLink Award. The award of $1000 recognizes the outstanding achievement of a graduating senior from the state of Minnesota. The award is dedicated to Ruth Stenson, a MusicLink teacher who spent many years teaching students through the program.
Jotham was a piano student of Kathleen Van Doeren for seven years. He was active in MMTA events, receiving honors ratings in Minneapolis Forum recitals and participating in the MMTA theory program and National Guild Auditions every year. His teacher explains that "Jotham's love of music, enthusiasm for studying new works, and his courteous manner make him a joy to teach." Jotham sees music as playing dual roles in his education -- a subject of study and a study aid and stimulant. "Apart from music as a subject, it has been a source of help in academics, providing motivation, concentration and recall." His interest in musical theater provided a social outlet for Jotham, connecting with a variety of friends and acquaintances. Jotham plans on attending the University of Saint Thomas, pursuing a major in either physics, engineering or computer science.
New Teachers for MusicLink
The MusicLink Foundation has a grand total of 2,646 teachers who have taught in the program, with 10 new teachers added over the past few months:
AK: Michael Cardenas; CA: Maureen Spranza; KS: Mara Balke; MN: Sarah Carter-Sweatte, Michael Schumacher; NC: Sheila Dacus; NV: Emma Pease-Byron; NY: Polly Kurash; UT: Mindy Garff, Lani Tarr.
In Memoriam - Sue Lippmann
Sue Lippmann with her grandchildren
The MusicLink Foundation is honored to be the recipient of nearly $900 in donations in memory of Sue Lippmann of Silver Spring, MD. She was a passionate and dedicated music teacher in San Francisco for 40 years before she and her husband moved to the DC area to live with their daughter and her family, According to her daughter, "She was one of those teachers who did more than impart music skills. She had the talent and ability to meet each student where they were, develop a relationship with them, and help them express themselves through music. My mom, herself, found her voice through music after a difficult and lonely childhood. Music allowed her to come alive and find herself, and she passed that along to every one of her lucky students (as well as to her extremely lucky daughters)." Mrs. Lippmann passed away in May, and her family is so pleased to be able to encourage support of the MusicLink Foundation in her name.
We Applaud our MusicLink
Abigail Butler (MN) is a student of Carolyn Spargo and has been studying the piano for 12 years. She finds that playing the piano and being involved in various piano competitions and recitals has been a wonderful experience. She plans to continue playing for enjoyment in college. She will be attending Pepperdine University in the fall, with a plan to double major in biology and chemistry, towards a pre-medical pathway. After earning a bachelor's degree, she plans to enter medical school to become a surgeon.
Anne Carroll (TX) has been a piano student of Sherry Frush for eight years where she also served on the studio's staff and was a leader in the studio. Her teacher said, "I have had the privilege of watching Anne progress into an accomplished musician and performer." Anne participated in many events connected with the Abilene Music Teacher Association and has earned state medals from the Texas State Music Teachers Theory Tests. She was also the winner in multiple performance and composition competitions at the local level. Anne states: "Music has influenced me throughout my years of study. I practice because I enjoy practicing, not because I have to practice. It is in my everyday life, and it has become my passion. I find great accomplishment in knowing I am a part of the beauty and harmony music brings." Anne will attend Abilene Christian University majoring in kinesiology with a minor in music.
Emily Colwell (TX) has been studying piano for 12 years, including nine years through MusicLink with Sherry Frush. She earned medals for 11 years in the state TMTA theory test as well as earning medals in UIL for her piano and vocal solos. She participated in various local festivals, including 12 years in the AMTA Fall Festival of American Music. She has performed in studio recitals, community Artwalks, retirement centers and the Abilene Philharmonic Home Tours. She has been on the Frush studio staff for two years and will continue as a collegiate staff member next year. Emily plans to attend Abilene Christian University majoring in Elementary Education.
Angela Doffing (MN) has been studying with Nancy Van Kampen for seven years. Her teacher explains that "it has been a wonderful time for both of us because Angela loves piano. Even though she was busy with National Honor Society and Relay for Life, Angela would get her practicing in and keep learning. I am sure she will take music with her and I wish her all the best." Angela will be attending the University of Wisconsin - Superior in the fall.
Gabrielle Green (MS) has studied voice with Jeanne Evans for the past two years, and graduated from the Mississippi School of the Arts where she was accepted for the school's vocal program. Gabrielle earned Superior ratings years for vocal solos in the Federated Music Festivals and the Mississippi Music Teachers Evaluations for the past three years. She has performed in Honors Recitals, and the State Finals Recital, where she won the Gold Medal for Level 12. She was a hit as the Wardrobe in "Beauty and the Beast" at her high school. Gabby plans to attend Brigham Young University - Idaho in the coming year and will audition for choir and opera activities.
Alana Houston (NC) of Elizabeth City, NC is a voice student of Cathy Pescevich Kreplin. She just graduated from Northeastern High School and is on her way to Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she will be studying voice performance on a full scholarship. A beloved local performer, in April of this year, Alana moved all the way up to the professional stage, playing "Dorothy" to much critical acclaim in "The Wiz" - a joint collaboration between The Virginia Stage Company and Norfolk State University. From her teacher - "All the best to this bright and beautiful rising star."
Sophie Sims (TX) has been studying piano with Sherry Frush for eight years and has taught in the Frush studio for three years. She performed in various venues such as studio recitals, community ArtWalks, retirement centers, and the historic Paramount Theater prior to movies. She earned TMTA theory medals and other honors and performed in an Abilene MTA multi-piano ensemble at the TMTA state convention. She will attend Asbury University in Kentucky and plans to major in Equine studies.
David Wang (VA), a senior at Centreville High School, began studying piano at age seven with Marlene Miles. This year he earned his Grand 75-pt. cup and Hymn Playing 45-point cup and obtained superior ratings every year. David also participated in the National Guild of Piano Teachers auditions for ten years receiving the coveted Paderewski Medal as well as many Superior Plus ratings. He has played violin since fourth grade and enjoys the orchestra. David thoroughly enjoys running, and is a member of the cross-country team and the track and field team. He has participated in multiple meets and invitationals for the 800m and 1600m races. In addition, he is a member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Tri-M (music) Honor Society. He also tutors students in math, Spanish and other areas as needed. As a member of the Key 26 Club, an international service club, he volunteers at bingo nights for senior centers, bake sales, and at fairs.
He also attends and enjoys participating in activities at his church. David will be attending the University of Virginia majoring in engineering.
MusicLink Seniors - No Photos
Hannah Aiken (WI) has studied viola with Lisa Chodorowski for nine years. She will be attending Lawrence University as a viola music major.
Kiana Brown (MN) has been studying piano with Jaette Carpenter for 7 years. She graduated from Henry High School in North Minneapolis and received a full scholarship to Augsburg College. She will major in English Literature and minor in music and the arts.
Ritwika Chakrabarti (GA) was a piano student of Debra Hughes and plans to further her education in the sciences in general, but is seriously pursuing genetic studies.
Stephanie Jardine (UT) has been a piano student of Cheryl Rytting for the past year, with prior MusicLink lessons with Lois Muelich. She will be attending Snow College as a music major.
Andrew Joel (GA) has studied piano with Debra Hughes for two years. He has been accepted with a full scholarship to Georgetown University where he will major in finance with special attention to stock market trading and international business.
Natahlia Robinson (GA) has studied with Debra Hughes for two years. She will be attending Kennessaw State in Georgia while pursuing a degree in psychology. In June, Natahlia performed with Ritwicka and Andrew in a senior recital of multiple solo piano music , all three graduating from the same piano studio.
Gabriela Sierra (MN), a piano student of Jaette Carpenter for the past seven years, graduated from Fair School in downtown Minneapolis with high honors (3.5-4.0) as a member of the National Honor Society. She also completed her first two years of college at the University of Minnesota and will continue in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Additional MusicLink Graduating Seniors
DC students of Chris Sharp: Nyah Abraham, Aniya Abraham, Bryce Cole, Dominique Lee, Kendall McKnight, Makeda Philber, Amir Warrick.
MusicLink Sends Students to Music Camp
Every year the MusicLink Foundation provides music camp scholarships up to $250 to the camp of choice for MusicLink students who apply for these scholarships. They are available after six months of MusicLink lessons. This year we sent 17 students to camps in VA, TX, NY, WA, IA, NH, GA and CO states totaling $3,955 in camp scholarships.
Have you seen our student spotlight feature? So far we have featured four outstanding MusicLink students. Past spotlights can be found on our MusicLink Facebook page or on our website. On our home page click on NEWS and then Spotlight Archives. If YOU have a student who deserves some time in the spotlight, please email us your nomination at
The MusicLink Foundation provides teacher reimbursements up to $100 per year for student events and music paid by the teacher. We recently sent our 2017 checks to 27 teachers in 11 states totaling $1,527.
Evaluations Still Due
Thanks to the 140 teachers who have submitted their year-end evaluations on their students. It's greatly appreciated. If you are one of the 136 teachers who have still not submitted yours, please do so by July 15th.