Young Artists Program
Amy Sue Barston, Cello (New York, NY)
Praised as “passionate and elegant” by The New York Times, cellist Amy Sue Barston has performed as a soloist and chamber musician on stages all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Ravinia, Bargemusic, Caramoor, Haan Hall (Jerusalem), The Banff Centre (Canada), The International Musicians Seminar (England), The Power House (Australia), and Chicago’s Symphony Center. Amy is also a devoted teacher: in her home, at the New York School for Strings, as a guest teacher at Juilliard, and at numerous summer music festivals. Several of her students commute for lessons from hundreds of miles away, some from as far away as Alaska and Japan. Amy’s upcoming schedule includes solo and chamber music performances in England, Sydney, New Zealand, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Salt Lake, Wisconsin, Rochester, Denver, Chicago, and Germany. Amy also has a brand new CD out and available, which she had the honor to record with Grammy Award-winning contemporary classical music producer, Judith Sherman.
Elisa Barston, Violin (Seattle, WA)
Praised for her “glowing sound” and “technical aplomb” (The Strad), violinist Elisa Barston is the Seattle Symphony’s Principal Second Violin. Prior to the appointment, she served as the Associate Concertmaster of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for eight seasons and was a first violin section member of The Cleveland Orchestra. As a soloist and chamber musician, Barston has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, appearing with the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the St. Louis and Taipei symphony orchestras, among many others. In 1986, she made her European debut with the English Chamber Orchestra at the request of Sir Yehudi Menuhin. Barston studied at the University of Southern California and Indiana University. photo © Larey McDaniel
Violin and Viola
Ruth Marie Ballance (Kent, WA)
Ruth Marie Ballance is a violinist, teacher, and a resident of the Seattle area. She has previously been on faculty at Samford University, where she was a member of the Samford University Quartet; University of Alabama—Birmingham; STEP Birmingham; Hochstein School of Music and Dance in Rochester, NY; Cleveland Institute of Music and Broadway School of Music and the Arts in Ohio; Credo Chamber Music at Oberlin College; and Austin Chamber Music Center Summer Workshop. Ruth Marie studied violin with Leonard Posner, Linda Cerone, David Russell, and Paul Kantor among others, and received the Cleveland Institute of Music Jerome Gross Prize in Violin in 2001. A 2011 recipient of the Suzuki Association of the Americas Certificate of Achievement, she has taken Suzuki teacher training with Ronda Cole, Edmund Sprunger, Alice Joy Lewis, Patricia D’Ercole, Carol Dallinger, Nancy Jackson, Cathryn Lee, and Christie Felsing. Ms. Ballance has been published several times in the American Suzuki Journal and has presented at both the SAA Conference and the ASTA Conference. She has performed as a concerto soloist with the Austin Symphony, the Austin Civic Orchestra, the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, and the Huntsville Youth Orchestra among others, as well as performing as a member of the Alaska Quartet in several states.
Reagan Brasch (Farmington, CT)
Reagan Brasch grew up in the Suzuki method studying with Paula Woyton in Texas. She graduated with a bachelors of music in violin performance and received her masters in music with an emphasis in Suzuki Pedagogy from the University of Denver. After teaching with Denver Talent Education for five years with James Maurer, she moved to Chicago to teach at the Music Institute of Chicago (MIC) under the direction of Gilda Barston. She has had additional Suzuki training from Linda Fiore, Joanne Bath, Ann Smelser, Michele George, Doris Preucil, and Pat D’Ercole. Mrs. Brasch gives both private and group instruction in Suzuki. She also is the program director of the early childhood Musikgarten classes to toddlers and preschoolers, as well as Events Coordinator for MIC’s Suzuki Program. She was awarded Outstanding Teacher by the Alliance for Early Childhood and the Certificate of Achievement Award from the SAA. Mrs. Brasch has taught extensively at Suzuki institutes and workshops around the country.
Daniel Gee Cordova (Austin, TX)
Daniel teaches for the Suzuki Strings of Austin, which offers private and group violin and viola instruction as well as a Suzuki Early Childhood Education class for newborn infants through age 3. As an advocate for the Suzuki in the Schools movement, Daniel structures his school curriculum on Suzuki principles as Orchestra Director at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Round Rock ISD where he teaches 6th-8th grade violin, viola, cello, bass and harp students. Additionally, Mr. Gee has taken three stages of training of the Suzuki Early Childhood Program. He teaches this class for children from birth to age three for the Suzuki Strings of Austin having previously directed this program at the University of Texas at Austin String Project. Daniel is an active member in professional organizations such as the American String Teachers’ Association, the Music Educators’ National Conference, Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Orchestra Director’s Association, and the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA). He has recently presented conference sessions at the TMEA (2014, 2016), TODA (2015, 2016), ASTA (2010) and SAA (2012, 2010) National Conferences. In May 2012, Mr. Gee was awarded the Suzuki Association of the America’s Certificate of Achievement, an award given to teachers that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to excellence in their teaching.
Gaye Detzer (Vashon, WA)
Gaye Detzer has been a Suzuki teacher for more than 30 years and currently maintains a private studio. She has taught violin classes and chamber music at Suzuki institutes in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, as well as at Vivace! Chamber Players. Gaye plays violin and viola with the Arioso Ensemble and the Vashon-Maury Chamber Orchestra and is also the music director of the Vashon Youth String Orchestra and the Teen String Ensemble. Her family has four Suzuki children, one of whom graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music and is now making a career as a cellist. Another is part of a rock band that has toured the United States and Europe.
Yasuko Eastman (Victoria, B.C.)
Yasuko Eastman began teaching the Suzuki Method in 1963 in Japan. In 1966, she arrived in Edmonton, Canada, to help establish the Suzuki program there at the recommendation of Dr. Suzuki. Yasuko moved to Victoria with her family in 1985, where she continues to enjoy teaching at home. Yasuko’s former students are active as professional and amateur musicians and are contributing to the world in diverse ways. She has served as concertmaster of the Victoria Chamber Orchestra since 1996, and is also a founding member of the Galiano Ensemble of Victoria and first violinist of the Heron Quartet. Yasuko’s teachers include Koichi Hasegawa, Shinichi Suzuki, Thomas Rolston, and members of the Hungarian String Quartet. She holds a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Education from the Osaka College of Music, and a Master of Music from the University of Alberta. Yasuko enjoys traveling, hiking, gardening, designing, and drawing.
Leo Kitajima Geefay (Mountain View, CA)
Leo Kitajima Geefay is an active musician and educator with an eclectic background in violin pedagogy, improvisation, composition, and arranging. He grew up in Los Angeles studying violin and music theory at the Colburn School of Performing Arts. Fascinated by many musical genres, Leo received his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California as the only jazz violinist in the program. Realizing the value of improvisation, Leo began introducing the concept to students of all ages in creative and accessible ways. He continued developing his unique pedagogical approach at Northwestern University, where he earned his Master of Music Education. Leo encourages all students to deepen their joy for music by improvising and creating new music.
Leo currently teaches orchestra, jazz, and electronic music at Menlo School in California. He has also taught at the Colburn School, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, and Westridge School. Photo by Pete Zivkov.
Mihoko Hirata (Bellevue, WA)
Lisa Humphrey (Bellingham, WA)
Lisa Humphrey has taught Suzuki violin and viola for 15 years. She received her Suzuki violin training from Teri Einfeldt and Linda Fiore and her Suzuki viola training from Betsy Stuen-Walker. Formerly on the faculty of the Hartt School of Music, she currently runs the Humphrey Music School in Bellingham, Washington, where she maintains a studio of 50+ students. Lisa’s students have performed with the National Youth Symphony USA, at Carnegie Hall, and at the Sydney Opera House. Lisa has a masters degree in viola performance from Indiana University, where she completed additional teacher training with Mimi Zweig, and a Bachelors degree in viola performance from the Hartt School of Music. Also an avid performer, she has performed solo, chamber, and orchestral music around the country and throughout Russia and Armenia. She has performed as guest artist with both the Emerson String Quartet and the Leontovich String Quartet (NYC). Lisa has recently recorded and released a series of viola sonatas, along with pianist Adam Whiting, available through Google Play. In her free time, she practices with her 6 year old (Suzuki viola and piano) and 3 year old (cello pre-Twinkle). She is a yoga enthusiast and incorporates whole body balance and awareness into her lessons.
Helen Higa (Honolulu, HI)
Helen comes from a family of music teachers and was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She studied with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki for two and a half years in Matsumoto, Japan, receiving her Teacher Certification from him in 1973. Other teachers include William Starr, Louise Behrend, and Gerald Beal. In 1983, Helen became a Certified Teacher of the Alexander Technique from the American Center for the Alexander Technique in New York City, and she taught in the Center’s Teacher Training Program until returning to Hawaii in 1987. In 1990 she began teaching with the late Hiroko Primrose, who founded the Suzuki program at the Punahou Music School. Helen is presently the head of this Suzuki program and has a private violin studio of over 40 students. Her other teaching positions have included the University of Tennessee’s Suzuki Program, New York’s School for Strings, and the Diller-Quaille School of Music. In recent years, Helen has enjoyed exploring how the Alexander Technique can offer insights and complement her students’ understanding of Dr. Suzuki’s violin pedagogy and philosophy. Helen serves as the president of Suzuki Talent Education of Hawaii and is a part-time member of the Honolulu Symphony.