Christie_K_Abe Photo blk.jpg

Christie-Keiko Abe


An Australian Violinist, Christie-Keiko Abe performs as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. She has given solo recitals in the USA, Austria, Japan and Australia. Her students have been successful in auditions and national/international competitions. Her students participate in the Chicago Youth Symphony, Midwest Young Artist Orchestra, DuPage Orchestra, Elgin Youth Symphony, IMEA All State, Interlochen Summer Music Camps, Chicago Suzuki Institute, Aspen Music Festival, New World Symphony, Chicago Trio Chamber workshops and many other music events.

Ms. Abe received her Bachelor of Music degree with Honors from The Sydney Conservatorium of Music at The University of Sydney, her Master of Music from the Australian Institute of Music, her PhD Specialist in Music in performance with Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honors from The University of Michigan School of Music, and post-graduate program Artist Certificate in performance from The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music where she served as an assistant to Prof. David Perry. She has attended master-classes of Dorothy Delay, Cho-Liang Lin, Pamera Frank, Igor Ozim, Ruggiero Ricci and Igor Oistrakh. She also studied Suzuki Pedagogy for Violin & Piano.

As a soloist performer, Ms Abe has appeared with the Sydney Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, the Schubertiade Series, Saturday at Sherwood, Columbia College Chicago Recital Series, Metropolis Performing Arts Center Classical concert series, Australian Musicians Academy Recital Series, Pan Pacific music Festival & Mostly Mozart festival in Australia, Starling recital series in Aspen, Akademie Konzert series in Austria, International Chamber Artists Recital series, Concert series sponsored by the Chicago Japanese American Association and Sound Stage for the WTTW 11 and ABC television networks.

She has recorded on the NAXOS, Arabesque, and Albany labels with the IRIS Orchestra, the Equillibrim label with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra and WTTW national production label for the sound stage DVD. Among many others, Ms. Abe is a founding member of the IRIS Orchestra under music director Michael Stern in Memphis, Tennessee. She is also a member of the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. She was the Concertmaster at the Michigan Musical Theater Orchestra.


Marija Bubanj


Violin and Viola performances have taken her from prominent European stages to various Chicago venues as Ms. Bubanj has kept on pursuing her interests and sharing her passions with her students.  Many of her chamber and orchestra performances include concerts in Serbia, Austria, Rome Chamber Music Festival, the Chicago Cultural Center where she performed at the Lifeline charity events under the patronage of HRH Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia, WFMT 98.7 FM live radio broadcast in 2007 with EDU piano Quintet, Indianapolis Christmas Ball 2005, performing with world-class musicians Classical and Jazz music genres. 

Her teaching philosophy is based on a belief of the positive impact music can have on a child’s intellect, academics, creativity, social skills and self-esteem more than any other life pursuit.  She believes that every student has a unique talent, and it is the teacher’s role to provide a high-qualitymusic instruction where the students can explore all their musical growth.  She offers instruction with love and patience that incorporates different learning styles based on a balanced posture, efficient practice habits, and listening to the great performers.  She has been a certified Suzuki teacher since 1999.  Her students have won major prizes, competitions, orchestra auditions and prestigious music colleges, and were selected to perform at a special event organized by Michelle Obama at the White House in November of 2016.  

She is also very honored of a composition written for her - a string quartet – Ariel, composed by internationally acclaimed composer Kim Diehnelt.


Christopher Gorcik


Christopher Gorcik is a graduate of Northern Illinois University where he received a B.M. in Music Performance with a Jazz Emphasis in 1996. He has studied bass with Nick Schneider, Larry Gray, Marlene Rosenberg, and Greg Sarchet.

Chris has been a full-time member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, as well as Chicago area swing bands The Blues Swingers and The Rhythm Rockets. In addition to jazz and blues, Chris has performed with many of the Chicago area’s best known musical acts including indie-rock band Naked Mile, country music artists Dayna Malow and Mark Lonsway, Caribbean rock band Mr. Myers, and New Orleans R&B artist Professor John. Chris has performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Country Music Festival, Wheatland Music Festival, the Petrillo Music Shell, the Aragon Ballroom, the House of Blues, Park West, Sox Park, the Green Mill, and dozens of other well-known music venues throughout the Chicagoland area and the Midwest.

As a recording artist, Chris holds credits as a performer, composer, arranger, producer, and engineer on nationally released albums by The Blues Swingers, Naked Mile, Todd Donnelly, and Jackson Rohm. He also appears as a performer on the DVD “Quincy Jones: 50 Years in Music – Live at Montreux 1996”. Chris self-released his first solo album under the artist name “Last Half Acre” in the spring of 2017.

In addition to performing, Chris has actively taught private bass lessons for over 20 years through his home studio, the NIU Community School of the Arts, and Sherwood Community Music School. He currently holds the position of Director of Business Operations for the Office of Continuing and Community Education at Columbia College Chicago.



Erica Lessie


Erica Lessie received her B.M. in cello performance from Indiana University, where she studied with Fritz Magg. At Florida State University, she earned an M.M. in cello performance and completed coursework for a D.M.A.

Currently, she is teaching cello at DePaul University Community Music Division, Chicago High School for the Arts, and Whitney Young High School. At Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College she is both a cello and Music Together instructor. Ms. Lessie is a freelance cellist in the Chicago area. She is a founding member of the cross-style string quartet Red Riding Hood and co-founder of Cherchez la Femme, an ensemble dedicated to performing works by women. She is an auxiliary member of the rock band Tributosaurus.


Melissa Padgett


Introduced to the Suzuki Method as an adult, Melissa was very impressed by the joyful nature in which Suzuki students performed music. Probably the most important aspect about music that she would like to share with students and parents, is that above all the high standards and hard work it takes to produce a polished performance, music is fun! It is a beautiful way that we can create a meaningful experience with others while expressing feelings and emotions that are beyond words. Her favorite part about teaching is that "aha-moment"- when the student starts to smile and look at you during the lesson after the concept went "click." 

Growing up in a family with two parents who are opera singers, music has always been part of Melissa's life. However, her earliest memory with the violin is distinctly in her memory. She had been listening to the Mozart violin concertos for over a year during playtime, and finally when she was 8, she went to an open house at our local music conservatory in Cottbus, Germany. She tried the violin, and I knew right away it was the instrument for her.

Melissa graduated from DePaul University with Masters Degree in Music and is an active performer in churches and regional orchestras in the Chicago area. She is also on staff at the DePaul School of Music as Head Librarian of Ensembles.


Tatum 2017.jpg

Alison Tatum


Violinist Alison Tatum is an active performer and educator in the Chicago area. A certified Suzuki Method instructor, Alison has also taken multiple collegiate courses in traditional pedagogy methods and has over 15 years of teaching experience. In addition to maintaining a private studio, she has worked as a camp counselor, sectional coach, assistant instructor at a Montessori preschool, geometry and writing tutor, high school music history and music theory instructor, and Suzuki group instructor.

An avid chamber musician, Alison is a founding member of the string quartet, Amethyst Ensemble, and the mixed-instrumental ensemble, Amazonland Chamber Players. Alison can often be found in the pit orchestra at various musical theatre establishments around Chicago, freelances with several orchestras in the Chicago area, and appears regularly with the worship team at Covenant Presbyterian Church, where she improvises in both classical and folk styles. In addition to her performing career, Alison regularly arranges music for performances by Amethyst Ensemble and Covenant Orchestra Ensemble. 

lison began her musical studies at a young age in her native Kansas City, Missouri. She holds a Performance Certificate and a Masters of Music degree from DePaul University, and a Bachelors degree in Violin Performance and Music Theory from the University of Missouri in Columbia where she graduated summa cum laude. Her teachers include Dr. Olga Dubossarskaya Kaler, Eva Szekely, Edward Dolbashian, Leslie Perna, and Dr. Neil Minturn

When she is not playing or teaching the violin, Alison dabbles with viola and electric bass. She also enjoys cooking and baking, playing board games with friends, making artsy things, and spending as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors.


Nobuaki Tanaka


Mr. Tanaka is the former Suzuki program founder/director at Upper Valley Music Center and Twin State Suzuki Workshop in Lebanon, NH. A registered Suzuki teacher in Book 1 though Book 10, he has studied long term Suzuki pedagogy with Louise Scott, Karin Hallberg, and Joanne Bath. Additional short-term training with Nancy Lokken, Barbara Barber, Alice Joy Lewis, Daphne Hughes, and Michele George. He studied violin with Hana Aoto, Hal Grossman, Louise Scott, Victor Liva and Ara Gregorian, and he was former member of Flagstaff Symphony.

His students have received the award in the Northern Illinois Chandler-Starr Competition, and participating Rockford Symphony Youth orchestra and regional youth orchestras.

Previously, he taught at Upper Valley Music Center, Music Academy in Rockford, and Rockford College. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and music education from Northern Arizona University with emphasis on Suzuki pedagogy; master of music in music performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from East Carolina University.



Martine Benmann




Emilia Blaszak