2015 Teachers of the Month

January, 2015

Our January MusicLink Teacher of the Month is Jeanne Evans of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Jeanne Evans is from Saint Paul, Minnesota, but has lived and taught music for the past 15 years in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After working in the arts and higher education administration for over 20 years, her move gave her the opportunity to return to her first college degree - vocal music education, from the University of Wisconsin. She also earned a Master of Arts in English from the University of St. Thomas, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Vicksburg is a small town, with a big love of the arts, so her music studio grew quickly, teaching both voice and piano.

Over the years, Jeanne has helped several students with a clear gift in music, and no means with which to pay for lessons, a chance to learn and grow in confidence to pursue their dreams. She loves to keep in touch with her students as they go on to college and other activities, including music theatre, opera, music business, and education.

When she heard about the MusicLink Foundation, it was a way to connect to a national organization with a similar goal, to help students in need who love music. She appreciates that MusicLink keeps track of how many students are being given a chance to flourish in music, not only nationally, but also individually, through the annual evaluations for each student who receive the benefit of low-cost/free music lessons. Last year, a graduating senior student won the essay contest held by MusicLink, which was an honor, and so exciting for the student.

Jeanne is the President of Vicksburg's Mississippi Music Teachers Association (MTNA), and organizes recitals and guest artist performances for the public. She also is a member of the National Federation of Music Clubs, and National Association of Teachers of Singing. She coaches students for roles in local musical theatre productions, and annual contests and festivals. She has been music director, soloist, and organist for several churches over her 35-year career in music.

Living in the South has allowed Jeanne to grow flowers all year long, something she could only dream of in Minnesota! She is married to Al Evans, and has three grown step-children, and two grandchildren. A member of the Vicksburg Art Association, she is an avid watercolorist, and enjoys baking, and collecting funny sayings from her students.

Congratulations, Jeanne! Thank you for helping MusicLink to cultivate promising students and encouraging them each to blossom into fine musicians fit for the world's stage.


February, 2015

Our February Teacher of the Month is Solveig Englund of Gilbert, Arizona.

"Growing up in a musical family, making music has always been a part of my life," Solveig Englund says. "Teaching and performing music helped pay my way to go to college."

A pianist, organist, and accompanist, Solveig attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN and graduated with a B.S. in music therapy and a B.A. in music education.

"Majoring in music therapy and music education made it clear to me that music should be available to anyone. A person's limitations - either physical, mental, or financial - should not be a stumbling block to making and enjoying music," said Solveig, who has been operating her music studio, Future Musicians, since 1987 out of St. Paul, MN, and now currently in Arizona, where she teaches piano lessons and preschool music classes.

"Over the years, I have enjoyed teaching students - watching them grow and work to achieve short-term and long-term goals. In so many areas of our lives today, we get instant rewards and gratification. Teaching students to make music helps them in so many ways outside of their music," she says.

Solveig has been involved with MusicLink for more than 10 years as an active teacher. "MusicLink has been a wonderful tool that music teachers can use to bring music to EVERYONE," she says. "It is so great to see teachers across the country wanting to help others without regard to always making financial gains."

"My MusicLink students have taught me about teaching and taking students to a new level of music making," Solveig says. "I am proud to be a part of MusicLink and what it does to help students and teachers alike."

Congratulations, Solveig! We're so pleased and proud to recognize you as one of our outstanding MusicLink teachers! Thank you for making lessons possible for all music students.


March, 2015

MusicLink's March Teacher of the Month is Sharon Girard of Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

Sharon B. Girard is an independent music teacher in Windsor Locks, CT. She has been teaching for almost 40 years. Sharon earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Western CT State College (now University) and her Master of Music Education degree from the Hartt School, University of Hartford.

As a 25-­year member of MTNA, Sharon is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music. She has served on the board of her local Hartford Chapter including a two-­year term as President. She is now serving on the state board as the Certification Chair. She is also a member of Musical Club of Hartford, the oldest continuously active musical club established by women, with members as performers.

"I always loved the performing arts and teaching, so it was logical to become a music teacher," she says. In addition to her private teaching, Sharon has taught K­-5 in the public schools, a "Music for Little People" program at various sites, and is a festival adjudicator. In addition she was the music coordinator for a church's vacation bible school program for over 20 years and the youth choir director at her former church. Sharon sings in her church choir as well as the Vocal Ensemble at Musical Club of Hartford.

Sharon's philosophy of "Music for Everyone for Life" has led her to teach students with developmental delays as well as adult students in their golden years. She became a MusicLink teacher in 1998 so that a student in financial need could continue piano study.

"The MusicLink program has allowed several of my students to continue to experience the joy of music making when it otherwise would not have been possible," Sharon says.

Her latest MusicLink student received a piano in August and was able to graduate from a small electronic instrument to a beautiful acoustic instrument. Sharon has recently become the Connecticut MusicLink coordinator and hopes to share the benefits of MusicLink with other teachers in the state.

Congratulations, Sharon! Thank you for being such a dedicated instructor in Connecticut and now a MusicLink state coordinator. We look forward to seeing the program grow and thrive under your leadership just as all your students have.


April, 2015

MusicLink's April Teacher of the Month is Nora Wolfram Martin of Lawrenceville, GA.

Nora W. Martin is an independent piano teacher in Lawrenceville, GA. She graduated with a BBA in Finance from Texas Tech University. After stepping down from an insurance career in 2000, she renewed her personal piano lessons through her son's piano teacher and then began teaching piano in 2005.

During her continuing membership with MTNA, Nora served many years with the Ensemble Committee and is currently chair of NFMC Festival. She is a member of the Advisory Committee after serving four years as Treasurer. The pianist in her local church, Nora also heads up a volunteer team assisting the needs of a local missionary. Along with private piano lessons in her home studio, Nora also tutors academic writing (English language) and mathematics including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

"My primary piano teaching passion actually came up unexpectedly," Nora says. "I was approached by a family from the Hispanic congregation in our church about lessons. The mother was so passionate for her girls that she offered to stop buying new shoes and clothes to pay for piano lessons. At that time, though, my studio hours were completely booked. I promised her that I would do my best to conjure up a way to work with her girls. I decided to attend the MTNA National Conference when it was held in Atlanta. It was there that I discovered the MusicLink Foundation booth and talked with the representatives. My head was brimming with ideas!"

Plans formed, doors began to open, donations of keyboards poured in, and Grace Piano Academy - with the help of musician friend, Kathy Stanley - opened its doors to 15 low-income students in January 2011. Two years later, Kathy had to move out of the county and now Nora has two college students as teaching interns, a secretary who trades her help for lessons, and more than 30 piano students, many of whom are the original 15 students.

"With the assistance of MusicLink, we have placed 15 acoustic pianos into student homes and purchased most of our music at discounted prices provided through MusicLink business partners," Nora says. "Just recently, we added a guitar teacher and started with five students in beginning group guitar. We offer popular summer piano camps (with help from other teachers) and a composer camp focused on the life, music and times of a single composer – this year will be the Schumanns."

Nora adds: "My heart has always leaned towards helping the less fortunate who want to be helped. While most of my MusicLink students might not pursue a career in music, they may become part of a worship team in their church or become more disciplined and courageous to reach outside of where they grew up. I believe music is a balm, a motivator, a catalyst that positively changes lives and opens unexpected doors that only need to be walked through. I'm blessed to be a part."

Congratulations, Nora! Thank you for being the catalyst opening doors for MusicLink students and changing their lives!


June, 2015


MusicLink's June Teacher of the Month is Brandy Pancoast of Kettle Falls, WA.

Brandy Pancoast is from Kettle Falls, Washington, located about 80 miles north of Spokane and about 45 minutes from Idaho and Canada. The closest town has a population of 1,660 and yet she has a full program in this rural American community.

Brandy started teaching piano when she was 13 after being asked to teach her cousin and 26 years later, she is still going strong. She loves what she does and loves to share her music. She has had many MusicLink students since moving to Washington in 2000 and first learning about the program. She was even a MusicLink Coordinator for a while. Brandy believes that music is a gift for a lifetime and is something to be shared. She teaches the Musikgarten early childhood program, piano classes and private piano lessons.

Each week, Brandy teaches about 80 students ranging in age from 1 through 63, and nine of whom are current MusicLink students. She regularly has students who choose to continue their education in music at the collegiate level. Brandy says one of her favorite things is when she makes discoveries about her students' musical activities, such as one student who has been accompanying at church for the last two years and Brandy didn't even know it. "I then know that I have succeeded in my goal to create ‘Music For A Lifetime' for my students," she said.

Brandy is certified with MTNA and WSMTA in piano as well as licensed as a Musikgarten teacher. She has been active in MTNA both in Colorado prior to her move to Washington and in Washington since she arrived by serving in whatever leadership role she was needed for...workshop chair, treasurer, etc. Currently, she is taking a step back out of MTNA leadership while she home schools her children (six at home and one more adoption in process) while maintaining her studio. Brandy expects to be back in a more active role when her children are ready for her to do that. Meanwhile she is a Center Representative for the Royal Conservatory Piano & Theory Exams and participates in their examinations with her students.

Congratulations to you, Brandy, and thank you for bringing the love of music to so many children and for encouraging them to pursue music for a lifetime!!!


July, 2015


MusicLink's July Teacher of the Month is Kathy Miller of New Ringgold, PA.

Kathy M. Miller is a teacher, cellist, author and nature photographer. She graduated summa cum laude from Kutztown University with bachelor degrees in education and music.

Kathy first became involved with MusicLink when she was a member of the Lehigh Valley Music Teacher's Association in Pennsylvania. There are no string programs in any schools in her county, so it's up to the private teachers to provide string players for the county youth orchestra. She started to offer cello scholarships via MusicLink so the orchestra would have a cello section.

"MusicLink has provided opportunities for my students to attend summer camps through the camp scholarship program," said Kathy. "This helped prepare them for the youth orchestra and was their only ensemble opportunity. Through a Luthier that partnered with MusicLink, I was able to obtain good instruments at a reduced price for use by my MusicLink students. I also took advantage of the Grass Roots grants for help with supplies needed for MusicLink students."

In addition to the images found in her award-winning children's books "Chippy Chipmunk Parties in the Garden", "Chippy Chipmunk: Babies in the Garden," and "Chippy Chipmunk: Friends in the Garden," Miller's photographs have been published in various newspapers and magazines and have graced the covers of journals, brochures, Hawk Mountain News, and the Schuylkill County Visitors Guide.

In 2014 Kathy received the "President's Volunteer Service Award" in recognition and appreciation of her commitment to strengthening our nation and for making a difference through volunteer service.

In 2015 Kathy received the "Celebrate Literacy Award" from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Reading Association, a council of the International Literacy Association. The Celebrate Literacy Award recognizes organizations, institutions, and individuals that have made significant literacy contributions at the local, state, or provincial level.

Kathy's multi-media nature program has been presented to numerous libraries and schools across North America. Highly engaging and interactive, it includes aural and visual components about backyard nature. It includes tips on photography, video clips and a hands-on burrow building simulation. She is a speaker at various Reading and Library Association Conferences.

Congratulations, Kathy! Thank you for continuing to support MusicLink and inspiring children through your music and your books!


August, 2015


MusicLink's August Teacher of the Month is Ruth Richard of Oregon.

"I have enjoyed teaching piano in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Oregon," Ruth Richard said. "Through the years, there have been students who are interested in piano, yet the parents are not able to provide all the financial support that lessons and performances require. When we moved to Oregon, I learned about the MusicLink program and started offering it to students who came to me with a desire, but without the resources. MusicLink provided them with the extra resources to be able to enjoy the benefits of a well-rounded piano education, helping out with much, if not all, of their books and entrance fees for OMTA syllabus and Festivals, as well as for Federated Music Clubs. It's amazing all the different organizations that MusicLink has brought together to help these students," she said.

"It's been a delight to see these students participate in the events, and to blossom and develop a love for and an understanding of music. In return, they generously share their gifts and talents in the schools, their churches, and various other places in the community."

"My thanks to all of you that make MusicLink a possibility," Ruth said.

Ruth, thank you for bringing MusicLink into your studio and helping to nurture these blossoming young musicians! Congratulations on your recognition as our MusicLink Teacher of the Month!


October, 2015


MusicLink's October Teacher of the Month is Linda Judiesch of Iowa.

Linda Judiesch received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Chicago Musical College, Roosevelt University, and is a graduate of the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan. She has been a member of the Rochester Philharmonic, National Symphony of Chile, McMaster Chamber Orchestra and Symphony Hamilton. She has been on the faculty of the University of Costa Rica, the Hamilton Suzuki School of Music, the Music Center of the North Shore, and the Suzuki School of Music in Bermuda. She was the founding president of the Ontario Suzuki Teachers' Association, and has been a frequent institute clinician. She has been on the Preucil School of Music faculty since 1997 and is a member of the Orchestra Iowa.

"I have had the pleasure of being a MusicLink teacher for quite a few years now, and am so glad that there is an organization like this to encourage and assist teachers in teaching students who need some financial assistance," said Linda. "It's a shame that some children are not able to study an instrument because of the cost. Our school does offer some scholarship assistance but sometimes that's still not sufficient, and MusicLink helps with the extra necessary costs of strings, books, and other supplies.

I especially am glad that there are MusicLink scholarships for attending a music camp in the summer. My students have taken advantage of that several times."

Linda added: "I try to tell other teachers about the MusicLink program and encourage them to get involved with it. It would be great if somehow it could have a higher profile, so more people would become MusicLink teachers. I think it makes my students feel special, and motivates them to take their study seriously. Way to go, MusicLink!"

Way to go, Linda! Thank you for being such a huge part of MusicLink and helping us spread the word to students and teachers, alike. Congratulations!


November, 2015

Our November MusicLink Teacher of the Month is Dorothy Pederson Fahlman of Oregon.

Dorothy is a nationally certified teacher of music and past president of OMTA and Portland District. Division offices she has held include Treasurer, IMTF, and Baldwin. Professional careers include teacher of piano, theory, and musicianship, script writer, director and puppeteer in Oregon, in association with Puppeteers of America; co-creator of musical video "Wee Sing Together."

Dorothy is also an adjudicator, speaker, and clinician at the national, division, and state levels of MTNA. She created and co-chaired the first adjudicator's conference, training adjudicators for the OMTA Syllabus program. She also created, organized, and chaired the music exchange of teachers, artists, and students between Khabarovsk, Russia and Oregon.

Dorothy says that the financial and inspirational support of the MusicLink Foundation played a significant role in the success of several of her students, most recently Emily Brother.

Among Emily's musical accomplishments are: a performance of Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto with the Metro Arts Symphony; participating in the senior performance piano competition at the MTNA National Conference in March 2015; and giving a senior piano recital. Emily is currently a freshman at Harvard.

Dorothy says: "A special thanks to MusicLink and MTNA for supporting Emily in her pre-college musical journey!"

Congratulations, Dorothy! You and your students continue to be an inspiration for all of us at MusicLink. Best wishes for continued success – and thank you for all you do for MusicLink!!


December, 2015

MusicLink's December Teacher of the Month is Katie Schelp of Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Katie Schelp has been teaching elementary music in the Ponca City Public Schools and piano and clarinet lessons in her private music studio since 2007.

After graduating from Concordia University Chicago with a Bachelor of Music Education and a Certificate in Piano Pedagogy, Katie completed her Kodály Certification at Minnesota State University Moorhead (where she now serves on the Kodaly Institute faculty) and her Orff-Schulwerk Certification at Southern Methodist University. She is currently completing her Master of Music Education at Anderson University.

Katie is active with many musical organizations and ensembles in Oklahoma. She serves as co-President of the Ponca City chapter of Oklahoma Music Teachers Association and President of the Oklahoma Orff Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. She accompanies the choir at First Lutheran Church and performs with the Ponca City Recorder Consort.

"My involvement with MusicLink is inspired by my mom, Debbie Meier, a MusicLink teacher in Illinois. I watched MusicLink students flourish in my mom's piano studio over the years, so I was eager to partner with MusicLink myself when the opportunity arose,” Katie said. "I firmly believe that the gift of music is a gift for everyone, regardless of their financial status. I am incredibly thankful for all that MusicLink and its partners have done to help teachers make music accessible to eager students."

Congratulations, Katie! MusicLink is grateful to you for making music accessible to all students – and both you and your mom are inspirations for us all.