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 CMA Performers, CMA Outreach violin instructor, and private violin instructor

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

director of the Intermediate Orchestra, CMA Outreach violin instructor, & private 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

private 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. Chad Ibison

guitar instructor

Chad Ibison is the new Assistant Professor at Texas Lutheran University and has over twenty years of guitar teaching experience.

American guitarist Chad Ibison has captivated audiences across North America and abroad through his imaginative musical interpretations and charismatic stage presence. Hailed through critical acclaim, Chad has been described as “really versatile in terms of contrast and range of expression” (Classical Guitar Canada) with “masterful phrasing combined with technical precision” ( Composer Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, perhaps best describes Ibison’s impact as a performer; “Chad gave an incendiary performance. His approach was, at the same time, aggressive and intimate. He melded with the instrument, and the result was brash, expressive and technically secure.”

Along with his critical acclaim, Ibison has accumulated ten first place awards among his eighteen top prize wins at international guitar competitions. Chad has distinguished himself in some of the world’s most prestigious competitions: The Guitar Foundation of America, JoAnn Falletta Concerto Competition and Boston’s New England Conservatory Guitarfest. As a result of the competition wins, Chad is sought after as a concert artist throughout America. He participates regularly at many guitar festivals as a performer, teacher and judge.

Currently, Chad resides in Austin, Texas where he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a doctorate in guitar performance. For the past four years, Chad served as Adam Holzman’s teaching assistant. For his final year as a doctoral candidate, Chad created a new critical edition of selections from the 24 Caprichos de Goya, op. 195 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

As a dedicated educator, Chad began teaching at a young age which eventually led to the formation of his thriving company, CMI Music Lessons in Houston, Texas, where Chad taught on average sixty students per week for over ten years. In addition, Chad has also taught at the Columbus Conservatory, Orpheus Music Academy, St. Elmo Elementary, The University of Texas at Austin and in masterclasses across the United States and abroad.

David Milburn

bass instructor

Upcoming Events

Candidates’ Forum

October 26, 2016 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Family Physics Night 2016

October 27, 2016 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Giving Tuesday 2016

November 29, 2016 all day

Christmas Vespers 2016

December 2, 2016 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Christmas Vespers 2016

December 3, 2016 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

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