CMA students learn from talented, certified musicians
Shareen Vader: CMA Director & Choral Director
Mrs. Shareen Vader retired from public school teaching in May of 2019, after a career of 31 years in public school education. She has a double major in Music Performance (Voice and Piano) and holds an All-Level 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 and choir for four years. She completed her public school teaching at Canyon High School in Comal ISD from 2009-2019, teaching secondary choir and piano classes. She joined the Community Music Academy staff in 2017, directing the youth choirs. In addition, Mrs. Vader continues to accompany for local schools and UIL events.
Mrs. Vader has been married to her loving husband, Morris since 1987. They enjoy the outdoors, gardening, riding horses, and of course, special time with their children, and grandchildren.
Dr. Eric Siu: CMA Performers Director, CMA Outreach Violin, & Private Violin
Eric Siu has been a member of the San Antonio Symphony since 2013 and a member of Texas Lutheran University’s violin faculty since 2014. Eric was born in Hong Kong and began violin studies at age 6. Following studies at Wells Cathedral School (UK), he earned degrees at the Juilliard School and the Mannes College of Music where he studied with Sally Thomas. In 2012, he graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rice University where he studied with Kathleen Winkler.
Eric’s solo performances have been heard on KUHF Houston Public Radio and Classic FM. He has presented a recital of the complete violin sonatas of Eugene Ysaÿe and a lecture-recital on Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin. As a chamber musician, Eric has performed at the Three Cities Chamber Music Marathon at the Kennedy Center and at the Cali de Camara festival in Colombia. He also performs regularly with the Ritter Piano Trio, a collaboration which began at Rice University as a student ensemble. Eric has performed with the Houston Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic as a substitute musician.
Eric has attended the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove and the Pacific Music Festival, where he was concertmaster for two years. An avid pedagogue, Eric earned his Suzuki Teaching Certification at the School for Strings in New York, and served as Sally Thomas’s teaching assistant at the Meadowmount School of Music for five years. He has taught masterclasses at the Antonio Maria Valencia conservatory in Colombia.
Elizabeth (Liz) Massad: CMA Outreach Cello Instructor, Beginning & Chamber Orchestra Director, and 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 Ellenborough.
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, The SMART orchestra in San Marcos, and students at Texas State University. She was named principal cellist for the Texas State University Symphony Orchestra, the Del Mar Chamber Orchestra, and the Starlight Symphony Orchestra. Elizabeth was also one of the finalists for the Artistic Director position for the SMART orchestra in 2019.
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), El Cucuy, 2014 SXSW film participant and winner of the Pepe Serna award and Muerte: Tales of Horror. 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).
Elizabeth is the Cello instructor and Beginning and Chamber Orchestra Director for the Community Music Academy at Texas Lutheran University and also runs a private cello studio. She is certified in Suzuki Cello Training in books 1-3.
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.
Dr. Elizabeth Lee: Private Cello
Elizabeth Lee (cello) is a dedicated performer and independent teacher residing in Austin. She completed a DMA in Cello Performance at the University of Texas at Austin studying with Joshua Gindele of the Miro Quartet. She is currently a faculty member at TLU.
Past studies have included degrees from Rice University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as well as training in the Juilliard Pre-College division. Her principal teachers have included Norman Fischer, Jean-Michel Fonteneau, Timothy Eddy, Hyung-Won Chang, Andre Emelianoff, and Michael Kannen.
Nominated by Austin Critics Table Award for Best Instrumentalist in 2009 for her performance of the Dvorak Cello Concerto, she is also committed to playing cello across many music genres and enjoys exploring the many possibilities of sound. This commitment has led to performances across North America, Asia, and Europe.
Elizabeth was a prize-winner in the Yonkers Enrico Fermi Concerto Competition resulting in a performance with the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra at just 15 years old. She has also been a featured soloist with the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, and the Texas Chamber Players.
With a passion for chamber music, Elizabeth has also performed as a chamber musician and recitalist in esteemed halls including the Overture Center, Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall. In addition, In addition she has performed in masterclasses for Mstislav Rostropovich, Paul Katz, Desmond Hoebig, Colin Carr and Lynn Harrell.
As a chamber musician, she has performed with artists Ian Swensen, Jorja Fleezanis, Bonnie Hampton, Joel Krosnick, Jean-Michel Fonteneau, eighth blackbird, Bang On A Can AllStars, and the Colorfield Ensemble. Elizabeth is a founding member of the Sonorous Ensemble, and Okean Trio premiering many newly composed works.
As an orchestral musician, she has performed with the Austin Symphony, Mid-Texas Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, and the San Francisco Lyric Opera. She has also ventured beyond classical music and has recorded and toured with the bands Future of Forestry, Fernando Ortega, as well as recorded for independent artists. You can follow her on social media and YouTube @cellomoji.
Michael Keplinger: Private Classical Guitar & Lindenbaum Outreach Guitar Class
Michael Keplinger is a guitar educator, composer, and performer based in San Antonio, Texas. He currently teaches classical guitar at Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas Lutheran University, and also teaches guitar ensembles for HOME Orchestra. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from The University of Texas Brownsville and a master’s degree in guitar performance from the University of Texas San Antonio.
During his studies, he has participated in numerous masterclasses and performances with world renown artists such as the Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, David Russell, Latin Grammy nominee Berta Rojas, and Guitar Foundation of America winners Johannes Möller and Dimitri Illarionov among others. Michael also composes music for both solo guitar and guitar ensemble. In 2019, Michael won 1st prize for the Austin Classical Guitar Composition Competition and the next year, was commissioned for another work called “Forward”. He is also the primary music writer for his hard rock band "Bingo Night". In addition, Michael has found success in several solo guitar competitions and performs regularly for various events.
Heather Couture began her studies in music education at Texas State University under the direction of violinist Dr. Lynn Ledbetter. Throughout her time at Texas State, she participated in the Symphony Orchestra, chamber music ensembles, and the Gamelan Lipi Awan ensemble. She was the president of the American String Teachers Association Texas State chapter for two years, and while the program was under her direction the Texas State chapter won the “Most Improved Student Chapter” award. Heather was also a lead teacher in the Texas State String Project for three years. After a study abroad in China, she won an award through the Texas State Undergraduate Research Competition for her research involving the Chinese diasporic musical performance known as Shen Yun.
After graduating summa cum laude with a degree in music, Heather went on to attend graduate school at both the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Texas at Austin, where she is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology. Heather has a variety of world music performance experience, including performing with such ensembles as Japanese Gagaku, Chinese Jiangnan Sizhu, Javanese Gamelan, and Balinese Gamelan. She currently performs in chamber ensembles or solo on Violin and Chinese Guqin for community events and gigs and has continued to teach private violin lessons and perform on violin throughout her graduate career.
She also gives masterclasses for world music ensembles such as Javanese Gamelan and hopes to bring the culture and music of the Guqin to K-12 students in the Central Texas area. She recently came back from fieldwork in Taiwan, in which shestudied musical tourism and identity politics. Heather’s world music background gives her a unique perspective while teaching violin, and she tries to utilize music and culture from other countries to make lessons interesting and engaging. She maintains membership with the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American String Teachers Association, and the Texas Music Educators Association