Ben Thomason: director of CMA, beginning orchestra, & private violin
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.
Shareen Vader: director of CMA youth choirs
Mrs. Shareen Vader will begin her 30th year of teaching in August of 2017, and serves as Head Choral Director and Piano Instructor at Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Texas. She has a double major in Music Performance (Voice and Piano) and holds a Music Education degree from Texas State University in San Marcos. She also received a Master's in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University. She began her teaching career in the Lamar CISD in Rosenberg, Texas, teaching elementary music, as well as middle school and high school choir. In 1996, she moved to the Seguin area and taught with Judson ISD for nine years, teaching High School Choral Music and Music Theory for three years at Judson High School, and then taught elementary music at Crestview Elementary School in Judson ISD for six years. Mrs. Vader went on to begin a Choral program at La Vernia ISD, teaching intermediate and secondary music & choir for four years. She has been at Canyon High School in Comal ISD since 2009, teaching secondary choir and piano classes.
Mrs. Vader is the proud mother of two Aggie daughters, an Aggie son-in-law, and a new grandmother. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, gardening, and working with her horses and dogs, as well as spending time with Morris Vader, her husband of almost 30 years.
Dr. Eric Siu: director of the CMA Performers, CMA Outreach violin, & private violin
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 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, & private violin
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. She 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.
Elizabeth L. Massad: CMA Outreach cello & private cello
Elizabeth L. Massad, also known as Liz Massad, is from Corpus Christi, Texas. At 6 years old, she began piano lessons and cello lessons at 8 years old. She studied composition with Dr. Michael Ippolito, Dr. Neil Flory, Richard Hall, Dr. Russell Riepe, and Dr. Thomas Clark. Elizabeth studied cello with Dr. Karla Hamelin, Claire Holland-Onuf, Susan Sturman, and Benjamin Westney. Her studies also include, piano and choir with Mildred Benight and Judy Mellenbruch.
Elizabeth holds a Master of Music Composition, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Texas State University. Her main interests are composing for film scores, commercials, video games and performing electronic, classical, and new music. Elizabeth's music has been performed by the Del Mar Chamber Orchestra in Corpus Christi, and students at Texas State University in San Marcos. She was named principal cellist for the Texas State University Symphony Orchestra, the Del Mar Chamber Orchestra, the and the Starlight Symphony Orchestra.
In 2017, she had the honor of being a guest soloist for the Del Mar Chamber Orchestra. She performed works written by colleagues that range from string quartets and cello solos, to amplified cello with visuals. In addition, Elizabeth performed as a pit musician for operas and musicals including "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"with Texas State University’s Musical Theater Department. Her compositions are featured in the film Yorktown (of which parts of the score can be found on iTunes) and El Cucuy, 2014 SXSW film participant and winner of the Pepe Serna award. As a studio musician, she recorded cello for multiple projects, including Ashleigh Stone’s album, "Elements" (2015) and Memories in Broken Glass’s album,"Enigma Infinate"(2017).
Dr. Eliza Jeffords: private violin & viola
Dr. Eliza (Thomason) Jeffords is the director of strings and an assistant professor at TLU, 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, and at Oklahoma State, The University of Texas at Austin, TLU, and Stephen F. Austin University, chamber music at the International Double Reed Society conference, and solo recitals in various Texas locations.
Chad Ibison: private classical guitar
Chad Ibison is an assistant professor at TLU and has more than 20 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” (ClassicalGuitar.org). 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.
Bobbi Mauldin: private violin
Bobbi Mauldin, a graduate of the University of Houston, began her teaching career in 1980. She has taught orchestra in public schools across the State of Texas and is sought after as a clinician and adjudicator. Mrs. Mauldin developed and directed the Suzuki Violin program at McGaha Academy in Wichita Falls and the Pecos Suzuki Violins in Pecos, TX. She has received several awards and governmental grants for innovative teaching. She has also been a featured presenter at the annual Magnet Schools of Texas Convention as well as the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Mrs. Mauldin’s orchestras have been TMEA Honor Orchestra finalists several times and consistent UIL Sweepstakes winners for the past thirty-one years. Mrs. Mauldin conducted the Clear Brook High School Chamber Orchestra at the Southeast Regional Music Convention in Monroe, Louisiana in 2008 and conducted the Denton High School Orchestra in Carnegie Hall in 1994. She has also been on several curriculum writing committees as well as chairman of the University Interscholastic League Orchestra Sight Reading Selection Committee in 2005 and 2006.
Mrs. Mauldin has been named several times to Who’s Who Among America’s teachers and Who’s Who Among American Women. Mrs. Mauldin is a member of the Texas Music Educators’ Association, Texas Music Adjudicators’ Association, Texas Orchestra Directors’ Association and the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She is a registered Suzuki Violin teacher.
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