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.

Breda Barry
Voice & Piano Instructor
  • Earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree and Bachelor of Music degree from the National University of Ireland as well as a diploma in Sacred Liturgy from Pontifical University of Maynooth, Ireland
  • Currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Liturgy and Music from St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, IN
  • Has taught both private voice and piano for over 20 years and is a frequent soloist and musician for local churches the Rockford and Chicagoland areas
  • Recorded and performed with G.I.A Publications, OCP Publications, Rory Cooney, Gary Daigle, St. Louis Jesuits, David Haas, Michael Joncas, Jeanne Cotter, Liam Lawton and Feargal King
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
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
  • Terry’s primary Viola teachers were Roland Vamos and Laura Brenner, and he studied orchestral conducting with Victor Yampolsky and string pedagogy with James Kjelland
Eric Friel
Cello & Double Bass Instructor
  • Graduate of Illinois State University, majoring in Music Education and Cello Performance
  • Served as principal cellist with several orchestras, including Blue Lake International Youth Orchestra
  • Winner of Lakeview Orchestra’s first annual Young Artists Competition and was a finalist in ISU’s Concerto-Aria Competition
  • He is very passionate about teaching and has taught privately for seven years
  • His mission is to use his talents to be a positive force for the whole community and serve as a role model to young students
Jeanette Gehrmann
Financial Administrator & Office Manager
  • Degree in Associate Accounting, Chippewa Valley Technical College
  • Received Accreditation in Accountancy
  • Experience: Worked for a CPA firm in Central Wisconsin, worked for eight years as a supervisor in the accounting department of a health insurance company, worked for two years as an accountant for a property management company in California, briefly worked 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
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 the band director at McHenry High School in McHenry, Illinois (since 2016), where he teaches two jazz bands, two concert bands, percussion ensemble, and music theory
  • He was a member of a tuba euphonium quartet that performed at the prestigious Fischoff Chamber Music Competition
  • His professional affiliations are with ILMEA and the National Band Association
  • His 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
  • Performance Experience: Summer service accompanist for First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, various gigs as a local singer/songwriter, local artist representing EMA, and church musician
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
  • She was 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
  • She 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
  • She is a soloist and actively performs in recitals and chamber music, as well as coaches chamber music and is an orchestra cello section coach for public schools and youth orchestras
  • Her principal teachers include John Sharp, Stephen Balderston, Richard Hirschl from CSO, Natalia Khoma, and Kim Scholes
  • She has actively 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
Kristen Inion
Early Childhood Music Instructor
  • Graduated from the Moody Bible Institute and North Park University where she studied music and teaching and toured internationally with the Moody Chorale
  • Taught Kindergarten and second grade before having her own children, Charlie and Liza
Carol Munn
Di Canto Choir Conductor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, North Park University
  • Master’s Degree in Teaching, Aurora University
  • Recently appointed the position of ILMEA District 7 Junior Chorus Representative-Elect
  • Currently the choir director at McHenry Middle School, building a strong choir program over the last 11 years
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
  • Emily began her first season with the Peoria Symphony in 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
  • She is a proud AmeriCorps alum and taught English as a New Language preschool during her service year
  • She has 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
Bill Olsen
Clarinet & Saxophone Instructor
  • Received his B.A. from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and his M.M in performance from the St. Louis Conservatory of Music
  • Member of the South Bend Symphony and Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Experience: performed with the St. Louis Symphony under Leonard Slatkin and Erich Leinsdorf, performed with Jerry Lewis and Manhattan Transfer, toured Switzerland with the Chicago Sinfonietta, and featured as a soloist in concerts sponsored by the Chicago Park District
  • Studied clarinet with George Silfies and Tina Ward, bass clarinet with James Meyer and William Helmers, and saxophone with Fred Baranyai.
  • Currently teaches clarinet, bass clarinet, contra clarinet, and saxophone at Willowbrook High School, Niles North High School, and Maine East High School
Cynara Pierzina
EMA Founder & Executive Director; Flute & Flute Ensemble Instructor
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Flute Performance, Augustana College
  • Master’s Degree in Flute Performance, DePaul University
  • Performance Experience: Lake Forest Symphony, Park Ridge Civic Orchestra, University of Chicago Orchestra, and Minstrel’s Chamber Ensemble
  • Awards: Recipient of first place awards in the Lakeview Musical Society Woodwind Competition and the Society of American Musicians Young Artist Composition
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 ashleypuenner.com
Roger Reupert
Trumpet Instructor
  • Attended the American Conservatory of Music where he studied trumpet performance with William Scarlett, Richard Henly, Louis Davidson and Luther Didrickson
  • Winner of the University of Chicago Concerto Competition in 1982, former Principal trumpet and soloist with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, and performer with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago
  • He played for the National Tour of “Into the Woods” and the World Tour of “West Side Story”
  • Most recently, Roger has played for the Broadway in Chicago version of “Aladdin”,“Wicked”, “Miss Saigon”, “Chorus Line” “Young Frankenstein” “Phantom of the Opera”, “Dreamgirls”, “Chicago” and “9 to 5 the Musical”
  • Roger is on the adjunct faculty of the McHenry County College and is a consistent substitute conductor, brass coach, and trumpet instructor for the McHenry County Youth Orchestra where he has had a connection since 2000
  • Roger’s passion is to mentor all ages of players at all levels and inspire students to excel as musicians whether their goal is for personal enrichment or a professional career
  • Many of his students have achieved state recognition, ILMEA awards, with some going on to become well-respected professional musicians
Lon Schmidt
Guitar Instructor
  • Master of Music Degree from Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University
  • His post-graduate studies at Vandercook College of Music include classes on Beginning Guitar, Guitar for the Non-Guitarist, Guitar Skills and Curriculum and Guitar Literature and Pedagogy
  • He spent 32 years at Cary Junior High where he was director of choirs and taught classroom guitar
  • He is an active member of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Crystal Lake, where he directs the adult choir, accompanies the children’s choir and plays with the Praise Team
Karen Snodgrass
Violin Instructor
  • Attended Northwestern University as a voice major and graduated from Carthage College with a BA in Music Education
  • Her love of children and teaching has taken her down many paths including studying and teaching Suzuki violin, Kindermusik, and handbell ringing
  • Developed 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 25 years
  • She most recently retired from Crystal Lake School District 47 and conducted EYC’s Bella Voce Choir from 2008-2014
Casey Sukel
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. Casey’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
  • Currently serving as 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
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, she was the principal violist for the Sophia Chamber Orchestra, playing more than 200 concerts on five European tours
  • She played section viola in 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
  • She 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
  • She provides consulting expertise and workshops for independent music teachers through Inscribe Music Solutions
  • She is a 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, Bella Voce, and Cantabile Choirs)
  • Encore Touring Choir Conductor
  • Currently serves as the Director of Music at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake
Maggie Tucker
Program Coordinator
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Linguistics, Michigan State University
  • Fluent in Spanish, studied abroad in Valencia, Spain
  • Experience: Resident Assistant, Student Supervisor, and Tour Guide at Michigan State University
  • Member of Encore Youth Choir from 2005-2015
  • Working as Program Coordinator for Encore Music Academy since 2019
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