Meet Our Faculty

The strongest single factor in our success is our highly experienced, educated and caring staff.

Encore is grateful to each one of our talented and dedicated faculty.

Allison Atteberry
Music Together | Early Childhood Music Instructor
  • Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance from Illinois Wesleyan
  • 30+ years of solo and choral singing
  • Trained at Brevard Music Center, Operafestival di Roma and the OperaWorks Summer Intensive
  • Studied and performed at Sarasota Opera in the Apprentice Artists Program
  • Conducted the Friendship Singers choir at Gary United Methodist Church
  • Certified and Trained Music Together® and MusikGarten Teacher
  • Current Family Music Teacher at First Congregational Church in Crystal Lake
Jean Bishop
Flute Instructor
  • Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance from the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University
  • Ms. Bishop has taught flute privately for over 25 years from beginner children and adults to college-level flute minors
  • She has studied with Ralph Johnson of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Jean Berkenstock from the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Mardele Combs Marcellus of the Montreal Symphony
  • She is principal flute with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and principal piccolo with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra
Joanna Bryk-Roberts
Violin Instructor
  • Studied at Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland, and received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from DePaul University, where she studied with violin professors Joseph Genualdi and Ilya Kaler
  • Joanna performed with chamber orchestras in Poland, Switzerland, Germany and Spanish Court
  • She has played in the Chicago area with the Lira Ensemble, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Advent Chamber Orchestra, New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago and a variety of other chamber groups
Kira Crippen
Clarinet & Saxophone Instructor
  • Graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

  • Served as the Vice President of the National Band Association at UIUC

  • Studied clarinet with Dr. Janice Minor

  • Studied wind band conducting and band pedagogy with Dr. Beth Peterson and Dr. Kim Fleming

  • Member of ensembles such as the Marching Illini, the Illinois Wind Orchestra, and the Illinois Wind Symphony

  • Joined band on a whim at age 16, fell in love with the craft, and has since dedicated herself to creating, teaching, and celebrating music

Lilly Corrigan
Guitar, Piano, Early Childhood Instructor; Music Therapist; Interim Program Coordinator
  • Experience teaching piano, guitar and ukulele lessons
  • Received a Bachelor’s of Music in music therapy from the University of Iowa, along with a minor in American Sign Language
  • Worked as a music therapist in special education for 3.5 years. Served students with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, intellectual/developmental disability, Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD), Other Health Impairment (OHI)
  • Certified and Trained Music Together® Teacher
  • She is happy to work with students of all ages and ability levels including both typical and adapted lessons
Jillian Forbes
Prelude Orchestra Conductor; Violin Instructor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, Illinois State University
  • Current member of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA)
  • Suzuki trained through the Western Springs School of Talent Education
  • Completed Suzuki training through Chicago Suzuki Institute
  • Currently teaches 200+ students in Woodstock District 200
Terry Foster
Symphony Orchestra Conductor, Viola Instructor
  • Bachelor’s Degree is in Music Performance on Viola from Florida Southern College
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Northwestern University where his focus was string pedagogy and a Master’s Degree in Music Performance on Viola from Northwestern University where he primarily studied chamber and orchestral music
  • Orchestra Director at H.D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin, IL  since 2011
  • Served as the Music Director and Symphony Conductor of the McHenry County Youth Orchestras as well as the Intermediate Conductor of the Hyde Park Youth Orchestra
  • Primary Viola teachers were Roland Vamos and Laura Brenner, and he studied orchestral conducting with Victor Yampolsky and string pedagogy with James Kjelland
Jeanette Gehrmann
Financial Administrator & Office Manager
  • Degree in Associate Accounting, Chippewa Valley Technical College
  • Received Accreditation in Accountancy
  • Worked for a CPA firm in Central Wisconsin, eight years as a supervisor in the accounting department of a health insurance company, two years as an accountant for a property management company in California, and as the payroll accountant for the Village of Barrington before taking time off to stay home with her twin daughters
  • Has been with Encore since 2007; as her daughters grew so did her hours and responsibilities with EMA
Michelle Hackman
Voice Instructor
  • Ms. Hackman has been teaching voice and performing professionally in the Chicagoland area since 2001
  • Graduates of her studio have gone on to study, and to major in musical theatre, vocal performance, music education, music business, composition, and vocal jazz performance at many of the top-ranked colleges for those majors
  • Many of her students are also award-winning singers receiving acknowledgement from The Schmidt Competition, Classical Singer Vocal Competition, Woodstock Fine Arts Scholarship Winners, as well as many college talent scholarships
  • Many of her students audition for and participate in some of the most prestigious summer programs in the world including: The High School Music Theater and Classical Vocalist Programs at Interlochen, ISYM, Broadway Break-Thru, Oberlin Vocal Performance Program, and Tanglewood Young Artist’s Program through Boston University
  • An award-winning performer herself, she enjoys performing opera, concert-work, and musical theatre
Russ Henning
Brass Instructor
  • Graduated from Elk Grove (IL) High School and Indiana University (Bloomington), and received his MBA from Tampa College in Florida
  • One of the top 25 french horn players in Nunda Township, Illinois and has been teaching trumpet and horn since 1975
  • Horn and Trumpet Instructor at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois and Assistant Band Director at Woodstock High School
  • Founding member of Winds Off The Lake – McHenry County’s premiere woodwind quintet, and CorCorps – the McHenry County area horn choir
  • Announcer and horn section leader for Woodstock City Band, plays with the orchestra of Voices In Harmony, performed with the Harper Symphony Orchestra, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.  On festival Sundays, he can be found playing trumpet in various area churches. After spending almost 20 years in the market research industry, he served as a school service representative for Karnes Music Company, Piano Trends Music in Crystal Lake, and Breber Music Company in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.
  • Previous positions include 5th Grade band director at Valley View School in McHenry District 15, 6th Grade Band coach in Johnsburg District 12, and Assistant Marching Band director at McHenry High School
Spencer Hile
Encore Wind Symphony Conductor
  • Graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Instrumental Music Education
  • Studied euphonium privately with Mark Moore, and conducting and band pedagogy with Dr. Linda Moorhouse and Dr. Stephen Peterson
  • Currently Director of Bands at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois (since 2021). Prior to that, McHenry High School in McHenry, Illinois (2016-2021)
  • Member of a tuba/euphonium quartet that performed at the prestigious Fischoff Chamber Music Competition
  • Member of ILMEA and the National Band Association
  • Interest in music began when he joined band in his freshman year playing euphonium at Highland Park High School. While at Highland Park, he had the privilege of touring to China, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovenia.
Allie Hulen
Beginning Piano, Guitar & Singer/Songwriter Instructor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Western Illinois University where she also studied piano, tuba, and guitar
  • Piano instructor for Western Illinois University Community Music School
  • Children’s Choir Director and Choral Intern at First Christian Church of Macomb
  • Local performing artist representing EMA, various gigs as a local singer/songwriter, and church musician/summer service accompanist for First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake,
Keith Hulen
Intermezzo Orchestra Conductor; Guitar, Clarinet & Clarinet Ensemble Instructor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Clarinet Performance & Music Education, Western Illinois University
  • Master’s Degree in Clarinet Performance & Music Composition, Western Illinois University
  • Performance Experience: United States Air Force Band (concert band, ceremonial band, clarinet quartet, woodwind quintet, & chamber winds)
  • Current Band Director at Hannah Beardsley Middle School in Crystal Lake, IL
Anita Hwang
Cello & Piano Instructor
  • Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the Tainan University of Technology in Taiwan, a Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance, a Master’s Degree in Cello Performance and a Master’s Degree in Orchestra Study in Cello from Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL
  • Played in orchestras in Taiwan and the United States since 1984, including the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra
  • Served as principal cellist of the Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra and cellist of Omaha Conservatory of Music Piano Trio, performing at Omaha Chamber Music Society and The Organ Vesper Series
  • Maintains a private cello studio and was the cello instructor at Northwest Indiana Suzuki School, Valparaiso High School, and adjunct faculty at McHenry County College
  • Performs actively as soloist in recitals and chamber music, as well as coaches chamber music and is an orchestra cello section coach for public schools and youth orchestras
  • Principal teachers include John Sharp, Stephen Balderston, Richard Hirschl from CSO, Natalia Khoma, and Kim Scholes
  • Taught cello and piano since 1985 and is a registered and certified Suzuki teacher through book 10 and is an accomplished piano teacher and accompanist
Brent Jordan
EMA-YO Percussion Coach, Percussion-Drumset Instructor
  • Masters & Doctoral of Musical Arts in Jazz Studies/Percussion from University of Illinois, Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from Northwestern University
  • Active educator and freelance musician in the Chicagoland area, serving as adjunct faculty in drum set and percussion at McHenry County College and Elgin Community College
  • Performs in a wide range of styles and ensembles, including symphonic orchestras, concert bands, pit orchestras, big bands, jazz combos as well as pop and dance bands
  • Recorded for several projects, including the University of Illinois Concert Jazz Ensemble’s record Free Play, which was awarded Downbeat Magazine’s 34th Annual Student Music Award for outstanding performance.
Marykate Kuhne
Encore Wind Symphony Jr. Conductor
  • Director of Bands and Instrumental Music, Prairie Ridge High School (2020-Current)
  • Assistant Director of Bands, Illinois State University (2019-2020)
  • Master’s of Music, Conducting and Clarinet Performance, Illinois State University (2019)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Illinois State University (2017-2019)
  • Bachelor’s of Science in Music Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2016)
  • Performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in concert
  • Three year Drum Major for “The Legend” IUP Marching Band
  • My passion for music started in my childhood when I was introduced to radio, vinyl, cassette tapes, and CD’s that transported me to various eras in music history. I was eager to study music in high school as a clarinetist and aspiring conductor, and it has led me on an unexpected journey of connection and communication. I am thrilled to share my passion for music and learn alongside my students as we grow through the wind band medium.
Regina Leslie
Violin Instructor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in violin performance with high honors from the University of Illinois with post graduate studies at Northwestern University
  • Served as violinist with Chicago Sinfonietta, Richmond (VA), Gainesville, and Rockford Symphonies, and toured Japan with the Bill Porter Orchestra as a soloist-playing and singing. Currently, she freelances in the Chicago area with various ensembles as a classical and electric violinist
  • Primary violin teachers were Ruth Ray (a student of Leopold Auer, who taught Jascha Heifetz), Emmanuel Vardi, and Gerardo Ribeiro
  • Ms. Leslie began studying violin at the age of 5 learning through the Suzuki Method. She is a certified Suzuki instructor, and received her training at the Chicago Suzuki Institute.  She introduces note reading as soon as her students feel secure with their instruments. She also loves teaching older students who are ready for a traditional approach
  • Ms Leslie is an avid traveler and adventure seeker.  She has traveled to 4 continents and is a certified SCUBA diver. More can be found about her at
Roger Melka
Trumpet Instructor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Trumpet Performance, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Master’s of Music Degree in Trumpet Performance, Northwestern University
  • Private Trumpet Teacher in IL High School District 214 (1977-1987), Private Trumpet Teacher at Piano Trends (1998-2002), Private Trumpet Teacher for McHenry County Youth Orchestra & Academy (2002-2006), Private Trumpet Teacher for Veritas Music and Learning Center (2013-present)
  • Served as principal trumpet in the Chicagoland area from 1974-2007, including the Park Forest Orchestra, Chicago Civic Orchestra, Chicago Chamber Brass, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, St. James Cathedral Orchestra and Brass Ensemble, and Grace Lutheran Church Orchestra and Brass Ensemble; Chicago Symphony Orchestra Trumpet Section Substitute and Extra
  • Studied with 3 former Chicago Symphony Orchestra members
Carol Munn
Di Canto Choir Conductor
  • National Board certified (NBPTS) in Music K-12
  • Director of Voice Builders Summer Choir, Lake in the Hills
  • IL-ACDA Middle/Jr. High Choirs Youth Repertoire & Resources Chair (American Choral Director’s Association)
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, North Park University
  • Master’s Degree in Teaching, Aurora University
  • Former ILMEA District 7 Junior Chorus Representative,
  • Choir Director at McHenry Middle School
Emily Munn-Wood
Cello Instructor
  • Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and summa cum laude, with a Master’s degree in Cello Performance from DePaul University
  • Performs with the Peoria Symphony since 2020
  • Completed Suzuki Book 1 training with Dr. Carey Cheney in summer 2014 and took courses in studio teaching as a profession and in cello pedagogy during her time at DePaul
  • Proud AmeriCorps alum and taught English as a New Language preschool during her service year
  • Mentored with the Amherst-Pelham Regional Middle School eighth grade orchestra and served as an English as a Second Language tutor through the Jones Public Library in Amherst
Cynara Pierzina
EMA Founder & Executive Director; Flute & Chamber Ensemble Instructor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Flute Performance, Augustana College
  • Master’s Degree in Flute Performance, DePaul University
  • Over 25 years experience in Arts Administration
  • Served as Assistant Director of DePaul University’s Community Music School, Director of Admission and Programs/Interim Executive Director at Sherwood Conservatory of Music and as Assistant Director of McHenry County Music Center before co-founding Encore Music Academy in 2005
  • Performed in Lake Forest Symphony, Park Ridge Civic Orchestra, University of Chicago Orchestra, and Minstrel’s Chamber Ensemble
  • Recipient of first place awards in the Lakeview Musical Society Woodwind Competition and the Society of American Musicians Young Artist Composition
Ruth Ann Poppen
Piano Instructor
  • Private Piano Instructor and Collaborative Pianist
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Wartburg College
  • Master of Arts/Church Music from Wartburg Seminary
  • Fifteen years teaching experience in Iowa public schools
  • Over thirty years experience as full-time church musician in Chicago area
Ashley Puenner
Voice Instructor
  • Mezzo-soprano; holds degrees in Voice Performance from Illinois Wesleyan University and the University of Kansas
  • Previously with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, she was a Studio Artist in residence with the Florentine Opera for 2016-2018, where she performed roles in main-stage operas, education opera outreach and concert work, and will be a 2018 Summer Resident Artist with Opera North
  • Performed for President Obama and as a back-up singer for Josh Groban, and made her New York City debut in 2016 in recital at the National Opera Center
  • As a recording artist, Ashley can be heard on the world premiere recording of the opera Sister Carrie
  • More information can be found at
Alison Rohrbach
Bella Voce Choir Director
  • Bachelor’s Degree in K-12 General and Vocal Music Education, Carroll University
  • Master’s Degree in Music Education, Boston University
  • Current elementary general and vocal music teacher in the Barrington school district
  • Current member of Chicagoland Voices and small A cappella group “C6”
Kim Scherrer
Middle School Summer Musical Director
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Choral Music Education, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Master’s Degree, VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, IL
  • Current Director of Choirs at Crystal Lake Central High School, as well as serving previously as Choral Director and Department Chair at CLC from 1996-2001
  • Former conductor of Bella Voce and Di Canto Choirs (Encore Youth Choir) and EMA Board Member
  • Highly dedicated to her students and their vocal development
Karen Snodgrass
Violin Instructor
  • Attended Northwestern University as a voice major and graduated from Carthage College with a BA in Music Education
  • Deep love of children and teaching, studying and teaching Suzuki violin, Kindermusik, and handbell ringing
  • Founded a graded bell choir program at First Congregational Church and was elected Midwest (Area VIII) Chairperson for the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers serving on the national board for six years
  • Has directed children’s choirs in churches and public school settings for over 40 years
  • Retired Crystal Lake School District 47 general music teacher and EYC’s Bella Voce Choir Conductor from 2008-2014
Casey Paul
Flute & Flute Ensemble Instructor
  • Earned Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Flute Performance from Illinois State University
  • Completed her student teaching at Hannah Beardsley Middle School in Crystal Lake and was a band director in Wauconda School District 118 at Matthews and Wauconda Middle Schools
  • Currently the band director at Marlowe Middle School in Huntley, IL
  • With a depth of teaching and training experience, Ms. Paul’s strength is getting to know her students and their learning styles to best suit their needs
Steve Szalaj
Voices in Harmony Founder & Artistic Director, Joyful Noise Conductor
  • Bachelor of Music Education, Millikin University
  • Master of Music Education/Choral, Roosevelt University
  • 34-year career teaching vocal music in public schools
  • Active Member of the American Choral Directors Association
  • Retired choral director and adjunct instructor in voice at McHenry County College
  • Founding Artistic Director of Voices in Harmony, which began in 1987 as the Crystal Lake Community Choir
Sherry Taliaferro
Piano Instructor & EYC Accompanist
  • Private Piano Instructor and Accompanist, began studying piano at age 8
  • Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from The University of Iowa, graduating magnum cum laude
  • Over thirty years teaching experience and has accompanied for numerous soloists, college choirs, churches, and music festivals in Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois
  • Currently accompanies for schools in District 47 and District 155 and for the Encore Youth Choir
Desislava “Desi” Tantcheva
Violin & Viola Instructor
  • Holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the State Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Prior to moving to the U.S. in 1996, principal violist for the Sophia Chamber Orchestra, playing more than 200 concerts on five European tours
  • Performed in viola section for the National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Sofia, Bulgaria and the Academy Symphony Orchestra sponsored by the Ministry of Culture
  • Member of the highly-regarded European Youth Symphony Orchestra which performed in 1995 in Luxembourg, the cultural capital of Europe for that year
  • Currently performs with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra, the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, and is the principal violist for the newly-founded Lake County Symphony Orchestra as well as a member of the Chicago-based string quartet, Foglia
  • Teaching both traditional and Suzuki methods, Desi is also on the faculty of the People’s School of Music in Chicago and Lake County Music Center in Lindenhurst, IL where  she teaches both violin and viola
Beverly Taylor
Group Piano Instructor
  • Earned her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Degrees, both in Piano Performance, from West Virginia University
  • Teacher and collaborative pianist with over 30 years of experience in working with young musicians and adults
  • Owns and teaches at Inscribe Piano Studio in Crystal Lake and is an accompanist for the Prairie Ridge High School choirs as well as EMA’s Bella Voce and Di Canto choirs
  • Provides consulting expertise and workshops for independent music teachers through Inscribe Music Solutions
  • Nationally certified teacher of music (NCTM) and active member of Music Teachers National Association, Illinois State Music Teachers Association, Fox Hills Music Teachers Association, and Northwest Suburban Music Teachers Association
Ann Tucker
EMA Founder & Artistic Director; Encore Youth Choir Conductor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Choral Music Education, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Master’s Degree in Music Education, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Encore Youth Choir Conductor (Aria and Cantabile Choirs)
  • Encore Touring Choir Conductor
  • Currently serves as the Director of Music at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake
Andrew Viveros
Viola & Double Bass Instructor
  • Graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Instrumental Music Education
  • Recipient of ISU School of Music Scholarship
  • Studied double bass privately with Benjamin DeKock
  • Orchestra Director for Woodstock Public Schools
  • Member of ILMEA and the American String Teacher Association
Tom Vos
Suzuki Violin and Viola, Piano, & Composition Instructor
  • Bachelor of Music Degree in Violin Performance and Jazz Studies, DePaul University
  • Suzuki trained, and completed Suzuki violin teaching training for books 1-3 at the Chicago Suzuki Institute
  • Experience: 20+ years as a professional freelance musician; recorded on every major scoring stage in Hollywood and has participated in both Grammy and Academy Award winning projects; performed and recorded commercial music, film and television scores, and live concerts; made appearances in films and television shows, and several national and international tours
  • Current member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers) and has received the ASCAP Popular Music Award (or “ASCAPlus”) numerous times since first receiving the award in 1998
  • The Pilgrim Press published several of Tom’s original pieces
Natalie Zoia
Flute Instructor
  • Bachelor of Music Degree in Flute Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Master of Music Degree in Flute Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts
  • Performance Diploma from the Chicago College of Performing Arts
  • Primary teachers include Dr. Jonathan Keeble, Dr. Jennie Oh Brown, Marie Tachouet (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Emma Gerstein (Chicago Symphony Orchestra)