Faculty

Our outstanding and experienced faculty helps every student discover the joy of playing music so they’re motivated to learn. Our individual lessons offer personalized attention from instructors who are flexible and creative in working with all students from beginner to advanced, young child to adult.

Guitar/Ukulele

MAYA RATSEY
Guitar - All styles

Maya Ratsey was raised in Vero Beach Florida, and began playing guitar at age 10. He graduated from the Schumann School for the Visual and Performing Arts, part of the Indian River Charter High School system. There afterward Maya moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota to attend McNally Smith College of Music where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance in 2015. He has been teaching guitar, bass, and piano for 6 years at in home and studio locations. Maya is also a professional guitar player in the Twin Cities, playing and touring with numerous bands and artists.

MICHAEL CARVALE
Upright and electric bass, Ukelele,
Beginning guitar

Born and raised on the East Coast, Michael Carvale moved to Minneapolis, MN in the 1990’s to attend The McNally School of Music. He is an exceptional educator who taught guitar and bass throughout the 90s as well as working very young children at the Child Garden Montessori. Over the years, his talents have brought him all over the globe and back. Heavily influenced by Traditional Jazz, American Roots, Dixieland and Blues, he continues his mission to preserve the past while trying to reach new audiences. Michael has lived, preformed and studied music in New Jersey, Minneapolis, Memphis, France, Switzerland and Saint Louis.
Michael has received numerous Readers Poll Awards for his performance and contributions with different artist, including Blues Album of the year with The Lamont Cranston Band, Album of the year in Minneapolis, St Paul, Seattle, Washington DC with The Vagabonds, Two Life Time Achievement awards for his work with The Lamont Cranston Band and as a solo artist, The prestigious “POP” award for consistent professionalism and outstanding performance from the Minnesota Music Academy, and In August 2011 Michael was inducted in the Minnesota Rock & Roll/Country Hall of Fame.
Michael has shared the stage with many famous artists over the years including Lamont Cranston, Bruce McCabe, Bo Diddley, Paul Schaffer, Keb Mo, The Blues Brothers, Wilson Picket, Pinetop Perkins, Gatemouth Brown, Steve Schectman, John Lee Hooker, Jeff Healy, Hubert Sumlin, John Nemeth, Son Seals, Kim Wilson, Gunhild Carling, Pokey LaFarge, Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders.

GRACE BRAY
Voice, Ukulele, Piano

Grace is a twin cities based vocalist hailing from the southern of Rosemount, MN. She has performed in numerous working bands all over the state and traveled the country on tour. She has a passion for everything music and finds joy instilling the knowledge she has gathered in anyone willing to learn. Along with being an established vocalist Grace is also an accomplished piano player and songwriter. She is currently working on her debut album of all original full band music. In her spare time Grace enjoys blogging, knitting and playing or watching anything that has to do with hockey.

DYLAN ROWINSKI
Guitar

Dylan Rowinski is a current student at the McNally Smith College of Music, where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Guitar Performance. Dylan enjoys studying various contemporary styles, on both electric and acoustic guitar. In addition to being a student Dylan is a also a music theory tutor at McNalley Smith. Outside of the school and ensembles he is part of there, Dylan also enjoys playing cello, and performing with this instrument in a St. Paul-based duo called The Wall of Ridiculousness and other live performing groups in the Twin Cities. Dylan's work has also been featured on some original works, such as Orchestrated Chaos, an EP of ukulele artist Marlowe.

 
 

Piano

MAX RADLOFF
Piano - Beginner to advanced

Max holds a D.M.A. Piano Performance awarded in December 1984. Studied under Paul Freed, University of Minnesota.
Teaching Experience: Dr. Martin Luther College, piano instructor University of Minnesota, Teaching Assistant in Music Theory and Piano Concordia University, adjunct Piano Instructor Piano Instructor: The Studio Grand, Fanfare Music Studios, MN Valley Academy of Music, independent home studio

MARY GOETZ
Piano - Beginner to advanced

Holds degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the New England Conservatory. She has been teaching piano to children and adults in the Twin Cities area since 1992 and emphasizes physical comfort and control to enhance the enjoyment of music and the piano. Mary also enjoys performing frequently as a collaborative artist as well as a soloist. She is a performing member of Thursday Musical and an active member of the national Guild of Piano Teachers and Minnesota Music Teachers Association.

HELEN PETERSON, Director
Group piano - Simply music, Pre-Piano Class and Kindermusik

Helen Peterson, Director of River School of Music. She also is excited to introduce a unique piano method called SIMPLY MUSIC®. This is a piano class that allows students to learn and play lots of songs fast! Simply Music® is a great fit for adult beginners, and young students who will need motivation through the learning to read process. Pre-Piano Class is our introduction to piano class. It is a joyful, creative start to this big and complicated instrument.
Helen is also a Kindermusik Educator and has been honored many times for running on of the largest and best programs world wide, Kindermusik of the Valley was voted best music class in the Twin Cities by Parents Picks and Helen was chosen as Kindermusik’s Inspirational Educator of the Year for her work on curriculum development, educator training and outreach work in her community.

KRIS LOE
Beginner to advanced

Kris has been a piano teacher for over 20 years, and absolutely loves teaching lessons!
Over the years she has taught students of all ages, from Kindergarteners to senior citizens, all at different levels. Kris has been playing the piano herself since she was 7 years old, and continues to study as an adult to keep advancing my own skills and knowledge of repertoire.
- Licensed Teacher by the State of Minnesota, for Pre-K and Elementary School.
- A pianist for over 40 years.
- Holds a Majored in music at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, and received Bachelor of Arts degree from the U of M in Minneapolis.
- Nearing completion of my Master of Arts in Education degree from Augsburg College in Minneapolis.
- Have most recently studied piano with Dr. Marianne Fleming Bryan, and attend pedagogy workshops regularly.

GRACE BRAY
Voice, Ukulele, Piano

Grace is a twin cities based vocalist hailing from the southern of Rosemount, MN. She has performed in numerous working bands all over the state and traveled the country on tour. She has a passion for everything music and finds joy instilling the knowledge she has gathered in anyone willing to learn. Along with being an established vocalist Grace is also an accomplished piano player and songwriter. She is currently working on her debut album of all original full band music. In her spare time Grace enjoys blogging, knitting and playing or watching anything that has to do with hockey.

STEPHANIE NEVILLES
Piano

Stephanie Nevilles is a classically trained pianist and composer from Minneapolis, MN. Sharing her love of music through teaching brings her great joy! Before relocating to the Burnsville area Stephanie maintained a thriving piano studio for people of all ages. She has performed with classical and theatrical ensembles, as well as with rock bands. She composed original works for film, musical theater, orchestras, quartets, and solo piano. Her music has been applauded for its originality and charismatic charm. She studied music at St. Olaf College and received her Master's from Hamline University. In 2015, Stephanie participated in the Nautilus Music Theater’s Composer-Librettist Studio as a composer, and performed a variety of music including her original works at the New Griots Festival.

TINA EGLI
Kindermusik, Pre-Piano Class

Tina Egli was first introduced to Kindermusik in the mid 90’s while living in Newport, RI.
She taught for three years with her dear friend Maria Anthon who owns Kindermusik of Aquidneck Island. She loved teaching and sharing the love of music with children and their families. After moving back to the Midwest, Tina was able to experience Kindermusik once again as a mother with both of her sons through the Kindermusik of the Valley program. Now that they have graduated from Kindermusik, she enjoys teaching again in Minnesota for her dear friend Helen Peterson. She loves sharing music with children and their families, encouraging self confidence and growth and adding joy to other people’s lives through this incredible program.
Tina currently lives in Elko, MN with her husband Nate and sons Zachary (14) and Kyle (10) She loves watching her children continue their own journey’s with music.

 
 

Brass

NICHOLAS ADRAGNA
Tuba, Trombone, Baritone

With his performances described as “flawless”, tubist Nick Adragna has enjoyed a busy solo, teaching, and performing career across the country. He began his musical studies at the age of 12 in Arlington, Texas, were he later made the All State Band as a high school freshman. He later moved to Sterling Heights, Michigan and completed his Bachelor of Music degree in Tuba Performance at Oakland University in the studio of Dr.
Kenneth Kroesche. While at Oakland University, Nick twice won the Pontiac Oakland Symphony Concerto Competition and served as the orchestra’s principal tuba for four years. He was also an active competitor outside school and placed in the finals at the national level for the Music Teachers National Association’s Young Artist Brass Competition three years running.
Nick finished his Master of Music degree in Tuba Performance in 2011 at the University of New Mexico in the studio of Dr. Richard White. At UNM he was awarded a graduate assistantship to perform in the graduate brass quintet, the Sandia Brass. While in New Mexico, Nick performed with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Roswell Symphony Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony Brass Quintet, and the Santa Fe Symphony Brass Quintet. He has performed live on TV and radio with the CSB and in a tuba quartet on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. He joined the Copper Street Brass in June 2011 and holds an active low brass studio in the Twin Cities.

CORBIN DILLON
Trumpet, French horn


Corbin’s teaching experience spans over 14 years. He received his bachelor’s degree in Music Education from The University of Texas at Austin where he studied with Raymond Crisara. For the next five years he was an Assistant Band Director at Seguin High School in Seguin Texas, where he taught concert, marching, and jazz bands, as well as beginning music classes. Although he loved teaching, Corbin missed performing on his trumpet, so he headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico to earn his Master of Music in Trumpet Performance with virtuoso trumpeter Dr. John Marchiando, Principal Trumpet of the New Mexico Philharmonic.
A founding member of the Copper Street Brass, Corbin has been an essential part of that ensemble’s meteoric success. As the CSB’s Associate Artistic Director and Program Manager, he keeps the group’s more than 100 educational sessions and 40 performances running smoothly each season.

 

String

ANN BUR
Violin, Viola, Suzuki violin

Graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin with a B.M. Degree in Music Education. During college, Ann attended the American Suzuki Instiute as a quartet coach. After moving to Minneapolis, Ann taught private lessons for 6 years. She recently completed a Suzuki Pedagogy Class at the University of Minnesota that covered books 1-4. For the past 11 years Ann has played viola in the Kenwood Chamber Orchestra

NINA WESTBROOK
Cello, Suzuki Cello & Violin,

Nina Westbrook has a BA degree in Music Education from Mansfield University of Mansfield, PA. She has done advanced work at Eastman School of Music, the University of Iowa and the University of South Dakota. Nina is a freelance cellist in the Twin Cities.
She received Suzuki Cello Training at the Stevens Point, WI Suzuki Institute. Nina received Suzuki Violin Training with Mark Bjork at MacPhail and with Bette Johnson in Minneapolis. Nina teaches both Suzuki Cello and Violin through advanced levels

MAUREEN NILSEN
Violin, Suzuki violin

Maureen Nilsen began studying violin at age 8. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota, while studying under renowned pedagogue Sally O’Reilly, and a Master of Music degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, studying with the Dallas Symphony’s Associate Concertmaster Jan Mark Sloman. Her musical career has taken her to concert halls throughout the US, Europe and China. Ms. Nilsen has performed in symphony orchestras such as the South Dakota Symphony, the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, East Texas Symphony Orchestra, the Abilene Philharmonic, the South Arkansas Symphony, the Mankato Symphony and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra. She also has a passion for other styles such as jazz, big band, musicals, and popular music, and has performed as a background musician with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Steamroller, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Amy Grant and Michael Bolton. As a teacher, Ms. Nilsen aims to guide her students to become the best violinists they can be, in a nurturing and fun environment. She works to develop confidence and a love of music in her students that will last a lifetime

Voice

HANNAH PETERSON
Voice

Hannah Hanssen, soprano, recently graduated cum laude from St. Olaf College with a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance and a minor in Women and Gender Studies.
While at St. Olaf she enjoyed the opportunity to perform in four on-campus opera productions including Conrad Susa’s Transformations, andBenjamin Britten’s, Albert Herring, as well as“That’s Opera!” – a student composed produced and performed youth program teaching local elementary students about Lyric Theater. Under the vocal instruction of Minnesota Opera and “A Prairie Home Companion” legend Janis Hardy, Hannah also sang in Chapel Choir and was selected as a Senior Soloist.
As a Burnsville High School graduate, Hannah is very connected to the Burnsville community and treasures memories of performing in BHS Concert Band and Concert Choir as well as seven musical productions. She currently performs locally with her jazz duo, Better Together. Sharing their love of jazz standards, the group has performed on the grandstand stage at the Minnesota State Fair and was selected to perform as part of the 53rd annual “Jazz a Juan” Festival in Antibes, France.
Hannah strives to share her love of music on any platform available. Emphasizing Classical technique as a basis for all singing, she hopes to enrich young singers with a philosophy of healthy, expressive singing while helping set goals for their musical development through the study of art song, aria, and musical theater repertoire.

GRACE BRAY
Voice, Ukulele, Piano

Grace is a twin cities based vocalist hailing from the southern of Rosemount, MN. She has performed in numerous working bands all over the state and traveled the country on tour. She has a passion for everything music and finds joy instilling the knowledge she has gathered in anyone willing to learn. Along with being an established vocalist Grace is also an accomplished piano player and songwriter. She is currently working on her debut album of all original full band music. In her spare time Grace enjoys blogging, knitting and playing or watching anything that has to do with hockey.

LISA HARRIGAN
Voice, Piano

Lisa is a vocalist, keyboardist, and proud music instructor. She holds a Bachelors degree of music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts, and studied classical voice with Mr. Matthew Chellis, as well as jazz voice and theory with Miss Cheryl Wilson and Mr. Scott Mason.

Her professional experience includes studying and performing classical music, jazz, musical theater and choral singing as well as playing gigs in Chicago, New Orleans, and Minneapolis. Lisa also has experience teaching group classes, writing curriculum and managing a music studio. Most recently, she instructed a vocal jazz ensemble for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra's Youth Program.
These joyful opportunities in music have continued over the last ten years and counting. During lessons with Lisa you will work on developing a healthy technique through exercise and anatomical awareness. Students can expect to challenge themselves in a supportive environment that will build performance-ready confidence. You are encouraged to learn your favorite songs, unfamiliar music, and how to read and write using the musical language (digging into concepts like melody, chord changes and rhythm). Come sing the blues, jazz, pop, choral works, musical theater, or anything else that inspires a passionate idea about music in you."

Kindermusik

TINA EGLI
Kindermusik, Pre-Piano Class

Tina Egli was first introduced to Kindermusik in the mid 90’s while living in Newport, RI.
She taught for three years with her dear friend Maria Anthon who owns Kindermusik of Aquidneck Island. She loved teaching and sharing the love of music with children and their families. After moving back to the Midwest, Tina was able to experience Kindermusik once again as a mother with both of her sons through the Kindermusik of the Valley program. Now that they have graduated from Kindermusik, she enjoys teaching again in Minnesota for her dear friend Helen Peterson. She loves sharing music with children and their families, encouraging self confidence and growth and adding joy to other people’s lives through this incredible program.
Tina currently lives in Elko, MN with her husband Nate and sons Zachary (14) and Kyle (10) She loves watching her children continue their own journey’s with music.

ROBIN LAMOREAUX
Kindermusik

Robin joined the Kindermusik of the Valley staff in 2003 after directing Kindermusik With Robin for 8 years. Robin holds a BS degree in Home Economics Education and studied piano for 14 years. Along with Kindermusik, Robin also teaches piano. At church she is active as a worship pianist, preschool children’s choir director and AWANA commander along with her husband. Robin and her husband, Wayne, live in Rosemount. She has two grown children (Aaron, Stephanie with husband Tony and Jason) and Collin (17) A Quote From Robin “I love Kindermusik! I decided to teach Kindermusik when my daughter was 3 because I was so impressed with what she was learning when she went to class with Helen. It is a privilege for me to work with so many great kids and parents each week and share the joy of music with them. Their enthusiasm, laughter, hugs and smiles make my day complete”.

MERRY SAWDAY
Kindermusik

Merry Obrecht Sawdey has loved and participated in music in one form or another almost all of her life. She has played piano since she was in second grade and was a percussionist in her high school band. “When in doubt, burst into song” is her motto. She is a storyteller and writer, a spiritual director, and a mom. Her family has been involved in Kindermusik since her son was 3 months old – and he’s now a 13-year- old pursuing his own musical dreams. It was their family’s experience of learning, support, and fun in Kindermusik that made her want to share this joy with others. She became a licensed Kindermusik educator in July 2009. She has also worked on projects revising and refining curriculum with Kindermusik International. She lives with her husband Aaron, her son Ian, and their 3 dogs in Cannon Falls, MN.

SUMMER JOTHEN
Kindermusik

Summer Jothen, has recently joined us as a teacher, but she has been a member of the Kindermusik of the Valley family since her son James (now 9) was just a baby! Not only is she a gifted educator for our team but Summer also brings us the unique viewpoint of a parent who is currently participating in Kindermusik with her daughter Charlotte! We always check with her to make sure we are “on-target” when creating offerings for todays young and busy families. Summer has participated in several Ultimate Hikes raising funds on behalf of Cure Search for Children’s Cancer. Contributing and hiking in honor and memory of their son Aaron. Summer lives in Farmington with her husband Mike, son James, (9) and daughter Charlotte (2).

HELEN PETERSON, Director
Group piano - Simply music, Pre-Piano Class and Kindermusik

Helen Peterson, Director of River School of Music. She also is excited to introduce a unique piano method called SIMPLY MUSIC®. This is a piano class that allows students to learn and play lots of songs fast! Simply Music® is a great fit for adult beginners, and young students who will need motivation through the learning to read process. Pre-Piano Class is our introduction to piano class. It is a joyful, creative start to this big and complicated instrument.
Helen is also a Kindermusik Educator and has been honored many times for running on of the largest and best programs world wide, Kindermusik of the Valley was voted best music class in the Twin Cities by Parents Picks and Helen was chosen as Kindermusik’s Inspirational Educator of the Year for her work on curriculum development, educator training and outreach work in her community.