Music Teachers

Elena Kolganova

Elena Kolganova studied vocal performance at the College and Conservatory in her native city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She completed her training in two prestigious artist development opera programs – the Houston Grand Opera Studio and the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists (Ryan Opera Center).Her professional experience includes engagements with the Houston Grand Opera, Lyric […]

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Brytish C. Moore-Thomas

Brytish C. Moore-Thomas has proven to be a much sought after musician, educator and advocate for the Arts, having served in multiple capacities in the Arts and Entertainment profession. Brytish has earned degrees in Music Education from Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL and Vandercook College of Music, Chicago, IL, in addition to a certificate in […]

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Ashley Pedersen

Ashley Pedersen, from the south suburbs of Chicago, attended Jacksonville State University, where she majored in Music Education with an emphasis on Percussion and is continuing her studies here in the mid-west. Ashley has participated in many different performance ensembles such as Carolina Crown, Music City Drum Corps, and Music City Mystique playing Mallet Percussion […]

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Joseph Wilkinson

Joseph Wilkinson graduated from Saint Xavier University in May of 2016 with a degree in Piano performance and has been playing piano for 17 years. He has experience playing piano as a soloist as well as an accompanist. As a teacher, Joseph wants to help students to enjoy playing music, as well as grow a […]

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Derek Zinke

Mr. Derek Zinke is a professional vocalist with experience in classical and musical theatre genres. He is a graduate of Illinois State University with B.A. in Music Education and Vocal Performance (Classical). He is currently continuing in higher education seeking a Masters in Music Education from VanderCook College. He also has 5 years experience teaching […]

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Jon Jackson

Originally from Sterling Heights, MI, Jon Jackson began studying guitar and percussion in elementary school.  He later went on to attend The University of North Texas in Denton, TX, where he received a BM in Music Education and an MA in Music Composition.  As a drummer and percussionist, he was a regular performer on the […]

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Alice Kraynak

Alice Kraynak is a multi instrumentalist graduate of Columbia College Chicago where she studied Music Composition. She is no stranger to The Music Connection, as she began her music education there at a very young age! Alice is well-versed in several styles including Classical, Pop, Rock, and Folk. She has also had the privilege to […]

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Rachel West

Joining the Music Connection staff in August 2015, Rachel West is a piano instructor with experience teaching a variety of ages and talents. Rachel is passionate about inspiring others through music and cultivating the best possible learning environment based on individual goals, ability, and personality. Also on staff at the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra as Education and Operations […]

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Melinda Sondag

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Mindy Sondag has found her home in the Chicago area.  Mindy has studied piano from age 5, and received her Bachelor’s in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH and her Masters Degree in Piano Performance from Brandon University in Brandon, MB, Canada.  She has had many […]

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Pam Peckman

Welcome to our new Art Teacher! Pam brings an expertise that includes: color, design, typography, and art history. From Chagall to Chihuly, Pam has revealed the world of art to students in the Homer District 33C school district for the past 12 years. She has worked with children in a variety of disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing and believes that above all, art should be both FUN and child centered.

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Christina Eubank

Mrs. Christina Eubank is a professional pianist/vocalist/accompanist with a wealth of experiences. She has an extensive background in piano pedagogy and has been teaching children and adults for over 30 years. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance with a minor in voice from the American Conservatory of Music, taught private & […]

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Fred Kuester

A native of Kankakee, Illinois, Fred graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Music Education.  He began bass studies with Nancy McCain of Chicago Heights, and continued later studies with Harold Carnes and  Warren Benfield, both of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Fred taught orchestra and band for thirty years in the public schools of […]

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Tai Fraction

Tai Fraction

Tai Fraction, a native of Chicago, has studied the violin for 16 years. In high school she played with the Merit Symphony Orchestra and the All-City Orchestra, where she served as concertmaster. She has toured four states with these orchestras and was also invited to play for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in […]

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Kate Lesniak Kulicz

Kate Lesniak Kulicz is a classically trained violinist who specializes in jazz, fiddle, classical, and rock music. She has been playing the violin for almost 20 years and has been teaching for 15 years. Kate graduated in 2011 from Bradley University in Peoria, IL with a Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance after studying under Marcia […]

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Janelle Lake

Janelle Lake is a creative and diverse full-time harpist in Chicago. Equally comfortable with solo, chamber, and orchestral works, she specializes in contemporary, jazz, and pop music.  Currently, she teaches between 30-40 students of all ages at Columbia College’s Sherwood Conservatory of Music, at the Music Connection, and in her own private studio in Chicago.  In 2011, […]

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Farobag Homi Cooper

Music Director of the Chicago Philharmonia Orchestra since 1985, Farobag Homi Cooper  has also served as the Artistic Director of the University of Chicago’s Performing Artists Series from 1990 through 2002 and principal conductor of its resident professional ensembles, the Mostly Mozart Chamber Players and the Camerata Virtuosi. He is also a skilled interpreter of […]

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Mirela Luarasi

Mirela Luarasi

Albanian born and raised pianist Mirela Luarasi has performed as recitalist, chamber musician, collaborative pianist, and taught piano professionally for over 20 years throughout Europe and the United States. Mrs. Luarasi holds her graduate degrees in piano performance from the Academy of Fine Arts in Tirana Albania, where she served as external assistant professor of […]

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Ana Simonovska

Ana Simonovska

Ana Simonovska hails from Skopje, Macedonia, where she began playing the violin at the age of five. She attended Skopje’s performing arts high school, where she studied violin and viola with Prof. Jelena Stanischich and Prof. Marina Chado. A graduate in viola performance under Prof. Ognyan Stanchev at the State Music Academy “Pancho Vladigerov” of […]

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Heather Caspaire

Heather Carlasare

Heather J. Carlasare, a native of New York City, was born into a very musical family. Both of her parents are professional musicians and she was brought up in the classical tradition at an early age, starting violin lessons at the age of seven. She attended LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts in Lincoln Center, […]

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Gretel Mink Hansen

Gretel Mink Hansen, a Florida Native, is a graduate from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music in Coral Gables, Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance. Gretel received numerous scholarships and awards for Vocal Excellence from the University and performed in Opera and Musical Theater Productions throughout South Florida. She was also […]

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Chris Rejman

Chris Rejman

Chris has played guitar for seventeen years and studied classical guitar at Columbia College Chicago. In 2004 and 2007, he traveled to Spain and participated in several master study classes with world-class virtuoso players such as David Russell, Costas Costiolis, and Manuel Barrueco. He has also taken a master study class with Lorenzo Micheli in […]

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Carl Johnston

Carl Johnston

Carl Johnston is a veteran Chicago performer and educator.  He has taught violin and viola privately for the past 30 years at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, DePaul University, American Conservatory of Music, VanderCook College of Music, Amundsen High School in Chicago, IL, Munster High School in Munster, IN, Lincoln Hall Middle School in […]

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