Music Department

Eduardo M. Cedeño, Cello, String Bass, Violin, and Viola

Eduardo M. Cedeño; Cello, String Bass, Violin, and Viola

Eduardo M. Cedeño; Cello, String Bass, Violin, and Viola

Eduardo Cedeño, holds a B.A. degree in Music and M.M. degree from Butler University Jordan College of Music in Indianapolis, IN, with post-graduate work at Boston University and additional studies in Europe. Cedeño has studied conducting at workshops under the direction of Maestro Ennio Nicotra in Mirano, Italy, Maestro Adrian Gnam and Maestro Robert Gutter in Atlanta, Georgia.   As an undergraduate student, Cedeño studied under Jackson Wiley, Music Director Emeritus of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, violin under Hidetaro Suzuki, former Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He studied voice under the direction of Helena Lazarska, Professor of Music at the University of Music, Vienna, Austria and under André Aerne, Butler University.   He won first prize in the International Choir Competition, Guido D’Arezzo, Italy as a Tenor member of the Schola Cantorum of Caracas.

Cedeño has performed as a conductor, soloist and collaborative artist in the United States, Europe, and South America. As a founding member of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, Director and Conductor of the Merida Symphony Orchestra and as a Founding Member of the Philharmonic Choral Group of Caracas, he has worked with the acclaimed José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema and the Orquesta Nacional Juvenil de Venezuela .

Eduardo has collaborated with numerous performing organizations including the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Opera, Charlotte Civic Orchestra, UNCC Opera and Carolina Voices and various other orchestras in Caracas, Venezuela. Mr. Cedeño previously served as Orchestra Director at Cannon School in Concord, NC.

Cedeño is Strings Instructor and Adjunct Faculty (Applied Violin, Music Appreciation and Fundamentals of Music) at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, North Carolina and Chorus Director at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. Formerly the Conductor of the Gaston School of the Arts Youth Orchestra, he now is Strings Instructor at Gaston School of the Arts.

He is co-founder and former President and Principal Conductor of the Cornelius Youth Orchestras in Cornelius, NC and founder and Principal Conductor of the Lake Norman Youth Orchestra in Davidson, NC.

Cedeño currently serves as Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Lake Norman Orchestra in Mooresville, North Carolina, which has been recognized for its performance and collaboration in both Vienna and in Salzburg, Austria. Starting in 2015, he will also serve as Conductor for MusicalMinds Huntersville, North Carolina, a 501 (c) (3) project, founded by the Lake Norman Kiwanis Club, an El Sistema inspired project that through music, inspires social change in children and communities in the region of Lake Norman.

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Brian Cripe, Percussion

Brian Cripe, Percussion

Mr. Cripe has played the drums since 4th grade, and has also played keyboard, bass, guitar and flute.  He has played on tour in Canada and Venezuela. He has performed with Buddy Rich and has played with the Frank Love Orchestra and has played with the Stardusters locally.  He played with a rock band for many years while also playing percussion with theatres at Central PiedmontCommunity College, UNC-Charlotte, BelmontAbbeyCollege, and WingateCollege. In addition, he has also performed at Theatre Charlotte, Matthews Community Theatre, Ablemarle Community Theatre, Hickory Community Theatre, the Green Room, the Speedway Club, Little Theatre of Gastonia and GSOA Playhouse. He holds a dual degree in biology and high energy physics from Purdue University in Indiana and worked at Duke Power for 20 years before taking his current job with PresbyterianHospital as a health physicist.

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Janice Deal, Piano

Janice Deal, Piano

Mrs. Janice Deal grew up in Durham, North Carolina but has called Gastonia home for over twenty-five years.   After high school, she attended Mars Hill College and UNC, Chapel Hill as music major.  She later studied voice at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC while living in that area.   Mrs. Deal has served churches in North Carolina and Virginia in various music positions and is currently music director/organist at Christ United Methodist Church in Gastonia.   She has taught piano and organ students privately for many years and considers teaching individual students to be a special joy.

Dr. Nata Dolnik, Piano

Dr. Nata Dolnik has received her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees in Piano, Chamber, and Accompaniment from the famous Conservatory of Georgia, Tbilisi.  In 1993, Dr. Dolnik became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music.  She has worked as a faculty professor at Johnson County Community College of Kansas as well as at Queen’s University, Charlotte.  Dr. Dolnik is a ten-time nominee in Kansas City’s 5th and 9th Annual Concert Competition.  She has also received 15 festival wins with 1st place scores.

Nannette Dorsett, piano instructor

Danette Banks, piano instructor

Danette Banks, Piano

“I have been experiencing the love of playing and performing music for 40 years and still find it challenging to this day.  Music is a journey of the senses which can open and expand our minds. For the first 11 years of my musical journey, I journeyed hours and hours in the discovery of the rhythms, notes and expression but I journeyed in solitude.  What a wonderful joy was awaiting me when I discovered how much fun it was to make music as part of an ensemble or as I like to think of it, a team.  A musical team can be a band, an orchestra, a chorus, a church choir, a quartet, or a duet, and in all cases it is exhilarating to make music with other people. I hope that I can guide and encourage my students to learn to enjoy this journey that can provide a life time of adventure, social interaction and creativity.

I began teaching my first piano student when I was 14 years old.  I have since enjoyed teaching in many different ways. I’ve taught private students, homeschool choruses, pre-K-8th grade (using music curriculum that I created), 8th grade science students, large choirs of beautiful angelic children’s voices, adult church choirs, youth and adult bands, gospel choirs,  reading literacy students, and soldier medics how to prepare for their responsibilities. I also homeschooled my own children.  I am a teacher.  It is how I think and behave. I love to learn, and I also love helping others love learning.

The methods I choose for a student will be individualized based on where that student is and where the student would like to go.  I will select different methods for different kinds of learners. However, we will certainly begin by looking at the student’s instrument and learning environment and evaluate the technique and knowledge of the student.  We will also begin by discussing long term goals and setting clear short term goals in ear-training, sight-reading, performance as well as theory and composition.  The keyboard is a great place to learn musical fundamentals, especially for beginners because it is so easy to visualize intervals and patterns.

My teaching style will vary with the learning style of the student.  If the student is a kinesthetic learner, we may get up from the keyboard and express the rhythm through motion.  The important thing to keep in mind in any student’s journey is that some days it is going to come easily and other times it will seem like your student is frustrated as he or she strives to master a new skill.  These learning plateaus are all a part of what makes music so challenging and in the end, so rewarding.”

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Todd Geer, Voice and Kidz-n-Harmony

Todd Geer, Voice and Kidz-n-Harmony

A native of Charlotte, NC, Todd Geer holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Binghamton University. After his academic training he continued his studies as a resident artist with Tri-Cities Opera where he sang much of his core repertoire for the first time under the tutelage of his teachers Peyton Hibbitt and the late Carmen Savoca.  Mr. Geer resides in Charlotte, NC  and serves as Resident Artist of Myers Park Baptist Church.   Mr. Geer was awarded the prestigious Adler Fellowship with San Francisco Opera in 1999 where he performed as resident artist for two seasons.  He made his San Francisco Opera debut as Don Gaspar in La Favorite, followed by a leading role debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème that same season.  Subsequently, he has taken part in more than twenty productions with San Francisco Opera, both as a resident and guest artist.

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Erica Hefner, GSOA Youth Orchestra

Erica Hefner, GSOA Youth Orchestra

Erica earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from UNC Greensboro. She currently directs the orchestras at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, NC, and has worked as an orchestra teacher in CMS for 11 years. Under her direction, her orchestras have consistently received Superior and Excellent ratings at state festivals, participated in a variety of collaborative programs with the arts, academics, and community, and grown exponentially in size. Erica is chair of the CMS All County Orchestra and Western Region Music Performance Assessment, and was named Northwest School of the Arts teacher of the year for the 2014-2015 school year. She is thrilled to conduct the Gaston School of the Arts Youth Orchestra, and looks forward to a great year of wonderful music!

Yulia Helm, Mozart for Kids

Yulia Helm, Mozart Kids

Yulia Helm, Mozart Kids

Yulia Helms has taught piano  and music theory to children and  adults at Gaston School of the Arts since 2008.   She has also been an accompanist for the North Carolina  Dance Theatre in Charlotte and at  the University of North Carolina in  Charlotte.  She has also worked with the Charlotte Symphony’s Education Department on several projects. In her native Uzbekistan,  Mrs. Helm taught piano students in  grades kindergarten through high school from 1995-1998, while performing as the  primary pianist for the Orchestra Bayanisti  Ekaterinburga.   She holds a 1998 degree in music with top honors from the Ural State Conservatory in Ekaterineburg, Russia. She is married and has two sons.

Monica Morgan; french horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba

Monica Morgan; french horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba

Monica Morgan, French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, and Tuba

Biography coming soon…

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Chad Pollard, Piano

Chad Pollard, Piano

Chad Pollard holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has done post graduate studies at both Liberty University and Southeastern Seminary. Chad’s list of teachers include Eric Larsen, Clifton Matthews, Dr. Allison Gagnon and George Kiorpes. As a performer, Chad has spent most of his time collaborating with other performers, specifically he has extensive work with vocalist and string players. As a teacher, Chad has specialized in college preparations for high school students. He has had many students win scholarships to music schools nationally. Chad has been the worship pastor at Parkwood Baptist Church since the Fall of 2008. Chad is also a fine singer and conductor having studied both James Albritten. He has also had the opportunity to research and study commercial voice and choral music in his many opportunities as a worship pastor.

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Paul Rogers, Guitar

Paul Rogers, Guitar

Paul Rogers, trained as a studio musician and performer in the greater Charlotte and Atlanta area. He holds an undergraduate degree in Music Education from Liberty University.  Paul has been teaching privately for several years and offers lessons in acoustic, electric and bass guitar.

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Jan Siler, Piano and Woodwinds

Jan Siler, Piano and Woodwinds

Mrs. Jan Siler holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas and a Master’s of Music in Clarinet Performance from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Md. She has taught at Gaston School of the Arts since 1983, and has more than 35 years of experience teaching piano, clarinet, flute, saxophone, oboe and bassoon.  She has performed with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra and the Western Piedmont Symphony as both 1st and 2ndclarinet.  Mrs. Siler’s students participate yearly in the NC Federation of Music Clubs Festival in Gastonia with the majority receiving either superior or excellent. Mrs. Siler’s teaching philosophy is that music is a language and her goal is to teach students to read that language so that they eventually understand it and can teach themselves. She believes that no one is too old to begin music lessons. She introduces her students to good classical musical literature, but will also let students pick “their” kind of music to motivate them.  She teaches skills that are specific to each instrument such as touch, embouchure, breathing, and playing in tune.

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