2016 Teachers of the Month

February, 2016

MusicLink's February Teacher of the Month is Jaette Carpenter of North Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Choir director and piano, guitar, and vocal instructor Jaette Carpenter is co-founder of the Hopewell Music Cooperative-North in Minneapolis. Hopewell is a nonprofit music school founded to help bring music to children who would otherwise never envision the opportunity to study and accomplish an instrument, or perform.

"As a music teacher in the North Minneapolis area, I have been connected with the MusicLink program for about a decade now, and the program has been a godsend for my teaching efforts and for my students," Jaette said. "Through MusicLink, Hopewell music students have received help finding much-needed and valued instruments and music. I will never forget the day a beautiful grand piano arrived for the students through MusicLink."

Jaette's students have also had the opportunity to perform several times on behalf of MusicLink at the Mall of America as well as during a fundraising biking event in the summer of 2015.

"The MusicLink program truly lives its mission statement of linking teacher with students and student with needed teacher and the equipment necessary to accomplish music. It is through the unending dedication of MusicLink and those that spearhead this organization that the Hopewell teachers are able to continue our mission of 'Music for All'," Jaette said.

She added: "It is truly only through the combined efforts of our teachers, the amazing uplifting efforts of Musiclink, Keys 4/4 Kids, and support from friends, that we are heading into our fifth year at Hopewell Music Cooperative-North. We have much work ahead of us. Thank you, MusicLink, for walking this road with us. Your program is creating miracles."

Congratulations, Jaette! You are creating miracles for deserving young musicians in Minneapolis, and MusicLink is so fortunate to have you journeying alongside!


March, 2016

Diane Briscoe spent several years in France studying piano and accompanying ballet at the "Conservatoire régional de Lorient." She returned to Canada to complete music degrees, set up a private studio, and was a founding member of the Piano Association Ottawa/Gatineau. Having grown up in an isolated region of northern Ontario where a stable musical education could be somewhat elusive, Diane realized early on that private music lessons were often only reserved for the lucky few. She has been privileged to work with several MusicLink families who value a musical education for their children and are thankful for the opportunities. A bursary from MusicLink allowed one of her students to attend a summer camp last year.

"Thanks to MusicLink's founder Joanne Haroutounian, its Board of Directors and Advisors, Regional Coordinators, Staff, dedicated teachers and countless other behind-the-scenes volunteers, thousands of children in need have been able to learn an instrument and benefit from a multitude of positive experiences. Thank you, MusicLink," she said.

Congratulations, Diane, and thank you for helping MusicLink to expand its reach to deserving students in Canada and providing the gift of a musical education in your studio!


April, 2016

MusicLink's April Teacher of the Month is Michelle Gordon of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.

Michelle Gordon, NCTM, is an Independent Piano Teacher living in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. She has spoken extensively at Music Teacher's National Association Conferences, as well as at the National Conference of Keyboard Pedagogy on the subject of Music Technology. She has also written articles for "Clavier Companion" and "American Music Teacher," as well as co-authored "Studio Makeover: Technology Addition," a book for piano teachers interested in setting up a technology lab in their studio. She was the Massachusetts Music Teacher's Association President from 1999-2001, and in 2009 was selected as the MMTA "Teacher of the Year."

Accepting her first MusicLink student in December 2000, Michelle has been a MusicLink teacher for 16 years. In April 2015, she was honored as a MusicLink Teacher of Distinction.

"I have always believed in what this program stood for, and I am proud to be a part of it. I have been able to help out coordinating MusicLink for the State of Massachusetts, and saw how great the need is," she said. "This year I have four MusicLink students, one of whom has been with me and a part of MusicLink for six years. Over those years, MusicLink has supported his musical growth; loaned him a keyboard (which became his after four years of music study in my studio); and generous publishers have supplied discounts for all of his music. He continues to enjoy his lessons."

Michelle added: "I am proud to be a MusicLink teacher, and I am grateful for the program."

Congratulations, Michelle! MusicLink is grateful to you for your dedication to your students and your leadership in coordinating the MusicLink program in the state of Massachusetts. Best wishes and keep up the terrific work!


May, 2016

MusicLink's May Teacher of the Month is Linda Smith of Minnesota.

Linda Smith has been teaching piano and beginning classical guitar for 18 years. Through the years, she has taught up to seven MusicLink students at a time.

"I find that MusicLink students are very motivated and their parents are involved in the lesson, so the student stays invested in the process," Linda says.

"One of my students, Rachel Ginter, was given the MusicLink scholarship and started her college career in music," Linda added. "It has been a joy to see the skills and interest in music flourish in my students."

Congratulations, Linda! We're so grateful for all you've done and we're incredibly proud that your MusicLink student is pursuing a college degree in music. Best wishes to you both!


July, 2016

MusicLink's July Teacher of the Month is Marjorie Lee of Virginia.

Northern Virginia Music Teachers (NVMTA) affiliates, Marjorie Lee and her husband Kenneth, a clarinetist, began teaching in Vienna in 1976, and maintain a family studio that includes their son, Daniel Lee, a graduate of The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.

Marjorie & Kenneth have been active in NVMTA for the past 38 years. Marjorie was NVMTA President in 1999-2001, the NVMTA 50th Anniversary. Marjorie is proud to be one of the first members of MusicLink, which Joanne Haroutounian originated in Northern Virginia. She has a studio of 42 students ages 4-18.

Congratulations, Marjorie! Your long-running dedication to MusicLink has been a tremendous partnership and we thank you for your years of service and leadership.


October, 2016

MusicLink's October Teacher of the Month is Marcia Vahl of Minnesota.

Marcia Vahl, NCTM, has been teaching music in private schools and in her private piano studio for more than 40 years. Early in her career she was music director of a large private school and taught all the music in the school, which included all the preschool and elementary grades twice a week, Elementary and Junior High School choral, and Senior High School choral, band, and orchestra, plus an advanced Rudiments of Music as a high school elective. Even with a full time teaching job, she managed to teach at least 10 piano students per week. Her studio grew in numbers when she retired from classroom teaching to build her home studio.

Marcia became involved with MusicLink when several families had financial difficulties paying for lessons. "Watching these students excel in their work at the piano and grow to love playing has been ample award for the time we've spent together. They have been a great inspiration to continue working with MusicLink," she said.

"It was great to see these students participate in Minnesota's Annual Piano Contest and Honors Concert, pass Theory Tests with the highest grades, and participate in yearly Piano Exams that further encouraged their music making," Marcia added.

Currently Marcia maintains a private studio and is President-Elect of Minnesota Music Teachers Association.

Congratulations, Marcia! Thank you for all that you have done for MusicLink!


November, 2016

MusicLink's November 2016 Teacher of the Month is Sister Dominica Gerszewski of Crookston, Minnesota.

Sister Dominica Gerszewski is a piano teacher with her studio at Mount St. Benedict Monastery in Crookston, Minn. She belongs to the Crookston Benedictines. A MusicLink Teacher for more than 10 years, Sister Dominica says she first became involved in the program when a few other Sisters who were teaching MusicLink students were unable to accommodate more students. Sister Dominca stepped in, and ever since then she has had several MusicLink students in her studio.

"I enjoy teaching students especially if they practice and do their best," she says. "What has been the most memorable moment - when in getting ready for a recital or competition, the student feels good about themselves that she or he can play a piece well and have it for memory."

Congratulations Sister Dominica! Thank you for your longtime service to MusicLink and thank you for guiding so many students to do their best in music and in life.