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PPSI Faculty Biographies


Kimberly Meier-Sims Headshot Kimberly Meier-Sims, OH
Kimberly Meier-Sims joined the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2004, where she is a Violin Faculty member and Director of the Sato Center for Suzuki Studies. A ociation of the Americas, she conducts a two-year graduate Suzuki teacher-training program at CIM, which is part of a unique Master of Music dual degree in Violin or Vregistered Violin Teacher Trainer through the Suzuki Assiola Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy. Over the past thirty-five years Ms. Meier-Sims has worked with young students and teachers, promoting the Suzuki Method of teaching at Suzuki summer institutes and workshops throughout the U.S. and internationally in England and Ireland. In 2015 she received the CIM Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 2001 she received the Tennessee Governor's School Outstanding Teacher Award. In 2002 she was the violin coordinator for the Suzuki Association of the Americas National Conference in Minneapolis. Ms. Meier-Sims presently plays in Cleveland’s Blue Water Chamber Orchestra. Prior to moving to Cleveland she was a regular substitute violinist for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Principal Second Violinist of the Cedar Rapids Symphony in Iowa. She has published articles in the American Suzuki Journal, Strings Magazine and the Tennessee Musician.
      Ms. Meier-Sims received her Bachelor of Music degree in education and violin performance from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where she studied violin and Suzuki pedagogy with John Kendall, the founder of the Suzuki Method in the United States. At Western Illinois University she received her Master of Arts degree in violin performance studying violin and Suzuki pedagogy with Almita Vamos. In the summer of 1986, Ms. Meier-Sims studied violin and pedagogy with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in Matsumoto, Japan at the Talent Education Research Institute. From 1984-1996 Ms. Meier-Sims was a full time violin instructor at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, where she studied Suzuki pedagogy with the founder of the school, Doris Preucil. In 1988, she became one of the youngest Suzuki Teacher Trainers in the U.S. Prior to moving to Cleveland with her husband Stephen Sims (graduate of CIM), she was a faculty member of the University of Memphis Scheidt School of Music (1996-2004), where she conducted the two-year graduate Suzuki violin teacher-training program, coordinated the Suzuki String Program, and directed the University of Memphis Suzuki String Institute.
      Ms. Meier-Sims’ CIM Conservatory Suzuki Pedagogy graduates have received full-time positions at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, the University of Arkansas, and the Dallas Suzuki Institute. Other employment includes the Sato Center for Suzuki Studies, Suzuki-Orff School of Music in Chicago, Western Springs School of Talent Education, Levine School of Music, Cleveland Music Settlement, Avon School of Music, Broadway School of Music & Art, and the Interlochen Arts Camp. Ms. Meier-Sims’ private violin students have been members of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and the Cleveland Contemporary Youth Orchestra. They have included winners of the Lakeland Concerto Competition, the CIM Pre-College Concerto Competition, and the Sigma Alpha Iota Competition. They have performed in the Learning Through Creativity Composer's Guild project, the Suzuki Youth Orchestra of the Americas, and in Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference master classes with Paul Kantor & Scott Conklin.

Ann Montzka Smeler Headshot Ann Montzka Smelser, IL
Ann Montzka Smelser began playing violin at the age of 3 with the help of her mother and father, Marilyn and Arthur Montzka. Later she studied under Kazuko Numanami and Sarah Hersh at the Oberlin College Suzuki Program and later with Rebecca Sandrok and Pierre Menard. In between receiving her Bachelors of Music Education and Masters in Performance and Pedagogue at Northern Illinois University, Ann studied with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan.
      After college, Ann toured extensively with the Ruggieri String Quartet to all four corners of the United States through Columbia Artists Management. Ann has performed in many orchestras and chamber ensembles and is currently principal 2nd violinist with Camerata Chicago and concertmaster of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. In 2003 Ann received the Hester Byron Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2013 was inducted into the Sycamore Music Booster Hall of Fame and was honored to receive the Legacy Award.
      Ann is a lifetime member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has been invited to present at several SAA Conferences. Ann has served as coordinator of the Suzuki Youth Orchestras of the Americas in 2006 and 2008 and coordinator for Violin at the 2014 and 2016 National Suzuki Conferences held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
      Ann became a Registered Suzuki Teacher Trainer in 2005 and currently teaches Suzuki Pedagogy at both Northwestern University and Northern Illinois University. Ann teaches about 40 private students and is director of the NIU, CSA Suzuki Strings Program at NIU and a teacher at MIC in Winnetka. Ann enjoys working with Suzuki families and teachers at Suzuki Institutes and workshops throughout the United States. Ann was a guest teacher at the 2010 International String Conference in Singapore and has given Teacher Training courses in Lima, Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico City.
      Ann lives in DeKalb, IL with her husband, Linc, and her Golden Retriever, Chloe. Linc and Ann are proud Suzuki parents of their daughter, Genevieve, and son, Benjamin, who are currently pursuing music in college.


Blake Brasch Headshot Blake Brasch, CT
Blake Brasch is cello teacher at the Music Institute of Chicago and admin. Director of the Chicago Suzuki Institute. He studied with Alan Harris at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Mark Schroeder at Ohio University. He did his pre-college studies with Carol Tarr and Gilda Barston. He teaches at workshops and institutes around the country throughout the year. His students have placed and/or received top prizes in regional competitions such as the Society of American competition, Walgreens Competition and the Depaul Concerto Competition. He is a certified Suzuki CelloTeacher Trainer from the Suzuki Association of Americas. He began his Suzuki training at the age of 6 and attended MANY Suzuki institutes with his family growing up and is very proud to now attend them as a parent.

Beth Cantrell Headshot Beth Cantrell, VA
Dr. Beth has taught children and adults at Suzuki Institutes and workshops throughout the United States for over 30 years. She currently serves on the SAA Board, is a member of the SAA Cello Committee, and aa Registered Teacher Trainer. She maintains a thriving private studio at Crozet Arts in Central Virginia. In addition to teaching, Dr. Cantrell has performed with the Richmond Symphony, Opera on the James, the Charlottesville Chamber Orchestra, the Waynesboro Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, and the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra. A founding member of the Charlottesville Cello Club, she serves on its steering committee.
      She was active in the Atlanta area for 18 years as a teacher, chamber and orchestral performer, adjudicator, and recording studio musician. Prior to moving to Virginia with her family in 2001, she served as principal cellist for the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, and was on the faculty of Kennesaw State University and the Georgia Academy of Music. While serving as the director of the community outreach program for the School of Music at Georgia State University, she was actively involved in reestablishing the Atlanta Suzuki Institute. She can be heard as cello soloist on the bestselling album “Orinoco Flow” by the Taliesin Orchestra.
      Dr. Beth earned degrees in cello performance and music history from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Florida State University, and the University of Georgia. She has two young adult children, and has been married to Paul Cantrell since 1986.


Mary Kay Waddington Headshot Mary Kay Waddington, CO
Mary Kay Waddington authored the Suzuki Harp School and has been teaching Suzuki harp in Denver for more than 35 years. She has worked extensively with harp builders to make small harps available to very young students and has invented right hand levers and pedal extensions to further the use of these instruments. Presently, Mary Kay is working on new ways to make music reading more accessible to all students, working with the ISA committee to publish new Suzuki harp volumes, and trying to start Suzuki harp programs in South America.

Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE)

Danette Schuh Headshot Danette Schuh, TX
Danette Schuh is the Director of Dolce Music Studio, home of Dolce Strings and Dolce Babies, where she teaches violin, viola and Suzuki Early Childhood classes. She also co-directs the Dolce Strings Touring Ensemble. She is an SAA Registered SECE Teacher Trainer. As one of the teachers who taught SECE classes at the 16th World Convention in Japan, she also had the privilege of speaking and presenting the SECE curriculum in depth. A sought-after clinician at institutes, workshops, festivals and schools, she has been teaching for over 30 years, and has held positions such as President of the Houston Area Suzuki Strings Association (now Southeast Texas Suzuki Association), and state board member of Texas Music Teachers Association. She has received the Houston Music Teachers Association President’s “Bravo” award and was also awarded “Teacher of the Year”. She has been published in the American Suzuki Journal, contributed a video to Parents and Partners Online, and has presented at numerous SAA Conferences and Leadership Retreats. She is currently the SECE Coordinator for the 2018 SAA Conference. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree with honors from Indiana University, where she studied violin with Tadeusz Wronski and Josef Gingold. She has had the great privilege of studying SECE with the creators of the curriculum, Dorothy Jones and Sharon Jones. Mrs. Schuh also performs with the Möbius Chamber Ensemble and as a freelance violinist and violist in the greater Houston area. She and her husband, Todd, reside in Sugar Land, Texas.

Sharon Jones Headshot Sharon Jones, ON
Sharon Jones began her violin studies as one of the first Suzuki students in Ontario. At the age of 11, she had the unique opportunity to work with Dr. Suzuki at an International Society of Music Educators Conference in Canada as part of a small group of North American children. She later worked with Dr. Suzuki again in Berlin and in the United States. Other Suzuki mentors over the years include Dorothy Jones, Alice Joy Lewis, and Bill Starr. Sharon is an SAA registered Teacher Trainer in Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE). With Dorothy Jones, she developed the curriculum used worldwide in SECE classes and has taught SECE classes continuously since that time, more than 25 years ago. She is also the singer on the SECE curriculum recording. Sharon is the founder and director of the Thames Valley Suzuki School in London, Ontario where she continues her work as a violin and SECE teacher in addition to her training and mentorship of many SECE teachers around the world. In London, she also directs and performs with the celtic group, Haggis Stew. Sharon has been a presenter, clinician, teacher, and trainer at conferences, institutes, and workshops in Canada, US, Ireland, Japan, and Australia.



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