CMA Instructors

Ben Thomason

beginning orchestra and director of CMA

Relocating to Texas from Los Angeles, Ben brings his experience as the Assistant Director of the Suzuki Program at Cornerstone Music Conservatory and 10 years of experience teaching violin to the CMA. He also maintained his own private studio of violin students in Los Angeles and has registered training in Suzuki Violin Units 1-7. Inspired by the legacy of Shinichi Suzuki, Ben is a compassionate and focused violin teacher, partnering with parents to provide a positive learning environment in which students learn important life skills through the challenge of learning to play the violin beautifully.

Ben began to play at the age of 3 in the Boulder, Colorado Suzuki Strings Program, studying with Amy Gesmer-Packman and Dr. William Starr. He earned a B.A. in Violin Performance from Whitman College studying with Dr. Susan Pickett, and a M.M. from California State University, Northridge, studying with Professor Michael Ferril. He has performed as a soloist in Walla Walla, Portland, Pasadena, and Los Angeles, and has been a member of the Walla Walla Symphony, Santa Monica Symphony, and now the Mid-Texas Symphony. He is an active member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, American String Teachers Association, and the Texas Music Educators Association.

Laurie Jenschke

youth choir

Laurie Jenschke has been a choral director for the past 30 years, specializing in children’s choirs and training young voices. She was the founder of the Fredericksburg Children’s Chorale, which she served as the artistic director for 22 years. She founded the Eastman Children’s Choir and The Eastman Youth Choir at the Eastman School of Music’s Community Music School in Rochester, New York. She has been a church choir director for 25 years teaching adult, youth and children’s choirs. She has taught private voice for 30 years and continues perform as a soprano soloist.

Laurie is a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin with an undergraduate degree in music education, a graduate of the University of Texas in San Antonio with a master’s degree in conducting, and has an associate degree of sacred music from Perkin’s Seminary at S.M.U. in Dallas. She now serves as the director of the four Community Music Academy Youth Choirs at TLU.

Dr. Eric Siu

director of the Advanced Orchestra

Eric was born way far away in Hong Kong. His musical training began at age 4 when he started learning the piano from his mother. At age 6, however, he switched allegiance to the violin after he enrolled in a Suzuki violin class and found it to be a real blast. When he realized that he enjoyed practicing more than he enjoyed doing homework (which he also enjoyed very much), he began to consider music as a career. He came to the United States for his higher education and earned degrees at the Mannes College of Music, The Juilliard School, and Rice University. In 2013, he moved to San Antonio after he was offered a position with the San Antonio Symphony. Several months later, he began trekking to Seguin two afternoons a week to teach at TLU’s wonderful Community Music Academy. Despite the 2-hour round-trip commute, Eric greatly enjoys his trips to Seguin as he is passionate about sharing the gift of music with the younger generation. He especially appreciates the perseverance and dedication of the Seguin community, which he cites as vital ingredients for success both on the violin as well as in all areas of life. In his spare time, Eric enjoys eating donuts in moderation, reading non-fiction, and playing harmless pranks.

Bethany Raynes

private violin instructor & CMA Outreach violin instructor

Bethany Raynes began her violin studies at the age of 9. Since then, she has performed in solo and orchestral settings in Austria, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

Bethany is an active performer in San Antonio and the surrounding area. She frequently performs with The Symphony of the Hills in Kerrville and the Mid-Texas Symphony in New Braunfels. In addition to orchestral performing, Bethany enjoys working as a pit musician in local operas and musicals. Some of the recent productions she has performed in include Company and Guys and Dolls at The Playhouse San Antonio.

A passionate educator, Bethany maintains a private violin studio from her home in addition to teaching private lessons at local schools in the San Antonio area. She is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association and the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and is a registered Suzuki teacher.

Bethany holds a M.M. in Violin Performance from the University of Texas at San Antonio as well as a B.M. in Violin Performance from Texas State University. Past teachers and trainers include Bassam Nashawati, Lynn Ledbetter, Stephanie Westney, and Laurie Scott.

Dr. Eliza Jeffords

violin & viola instructor

Dr. Eliza (Thomason) Jeffords is the Director of Strings and Assistant-Professor at Texas Lutheran University, holding the Anita Windecker Endowed Chair. She completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), where she served as teaching assistant to Masao Kawasaki and Catharine Carroll. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Vanderbilt University, magna cum laude, and Master of Music from Indiana University. Previous to her current position, Dr. Jeffords has served as a mentoring fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School, and on the faculties of the Cincinnati Music Academy, Wyoming (Ohio) Center for the Arts, and the Talent Education Suzuki School in Connecticut. A registered Suzuki violin and viola instructor, she has also studied string pedagogy with Mimi Zweig and Kurt Sassmannshaus. As a dedicated educator, Dr. Jeffords has presented at the American String Teachers Association National Conference and Texas Music Educators Association Convention, and has served on the Texas ASTA Board for three years. She has studied orchestral rehearsal techniques with Cliff Colnot at Indiana University.

Sought after as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral violist, Dr. Jeffords keeps an active performance schedule. She is currently assistant-principal with the Mid-Texas Symphony and violist for the Mid-Texas Symphony Chamber Players, as well as appearing often with the San Antonio and Corpus Christi Symphonies. In addition to having previously won positions with the Spokane, New Haven, and New World Symphonies, her orchestral solos as principal violist with the Aspen Concert Orchestra have been featured on The Classical Station of New York City and NPR's show, Performance Today.

An advocate of new music, Dr. Jeffords has premiered several works for solo viola, chamber ensemble, and orchestra. Most recently she has recorded new chamber music for the MSR Classics recording label; "Winning Works of the 2010 Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition." Jeffords' other recent performances include chamber and solo works on Texas Public Radio, at Oklahoma State, UT-Austin, Texas Lutheran, and Stephen F Austin Universities, chamber music at the International Double Reed Society conference, and solo recitals in various Texas locations.

Dr. Joseph Palmer

guitar instructor

Joseph Palmer is quickly gaining recognition as one of the leading guitarists of his generation. He has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad, being awarded a total of fourteen prizes in international competitions (between 2012-2013), including; 1st Prize in the Columbus International Guitar Symposium, 1st Prize in the Louisville Solo Artist Competition, 1st Prize in the University of Colorado Guitar Competition in Boulder, 1st Prize in the East Carolina University Guitar Competition, 1st Prize in the Texas A&M Guitar Competition, 1st Prize in the Mississippi Guitar Competition, 1st Prize in the 'Classical Minds' competition in Houston, Texas, 3rd Prize in the 2013 World Guitar Competition in Novi Sad, Serbia, 2nd Prize in the Montreal International Guitar Competition, 3rd Prize in the Boston GuitarFest, and top prizes in the Tennessee Guitar Competition, and the Appalachian Guitar Festival in North Carolina.

Recently, Joseph Palmer has been a featured soloist for the Fort Worth Guitar Guild's Concert Series, the East Carolina University Summer Guitar Festival, the Texas Classical Guitar Camp Evening Recital Series, the Georgia Music Education Association Convention, and the Austin Classical Guitar Society's 'Classical Cactus' Series.

In 2001, Joseph first began studying classical guitar in his hometown of Rockwall, Texas at the age of fifteen. In 2005, he was awarded a full scholarship to study at the Schwob School of Music in Columbus, Georgia where he studied under Dr. Andrew Zohn and received his Bachelor's degree in Music Performance. In 2009, he was awarded a substantial scholarship to study under the world-renown performer and teacher Adam Holzman at the University of Texas at Austin where he received his Master of Music Performance degree, and furthermore, is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree.

Joseph first began his teaching career in 2007 as a private guitar instructor at the Schwob School of Music in Columbus, GA. In 2009, he joined the faculty of Orpheus Academy of Music in Austin, TX where he taught part-time for four years. During this time he also worked as a teacher for the University of Texas Music Outreach Program. In addition, he has been also running his own private guitar studio in Austin, TX since 2009. His students have been accepted to study in music programs at several major universities in the U.S. and have won awards in regional and state music competitions. As of Fall 2013, Joseph Palmer joined the faculty of Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, TX, as Adjunct Professor of Guitar.

David Milburn

bass instructor

Upcoming Events

Krost Symposium 2016

October 5, 2016 all day

Neurocognition of Music and Art

Giving Tuesday 2016

November 29, 2016 all day

Cokie Roberts, Brown Distinguished Lecture

March 29, 2017 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

TLU Spanish Contest 2017

April 8, 2017 7:30 am - 5:00 pm

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