Meet the Faculty
To find out more about our faculty, please click on the arrow to view each short biography.
Leslie Beersclick on arrow to expand
Leslie Beers (Traditional and Suzuki Violin and Piano) is delighted to return to Centre Co., Pa., where she introduced Suzuki Piano in 1978 and was director of Suzuki strings and piano for many years. Later, she started her own studio, Suzuki Friends. Leslie received a Music Education degree from Susquehanna University and studied in the Masters program for Suzuki String Technique at University of Tennessee with William Starr. Author of the teaching manual, the Suzuki Violinist, Mr.Starr lived for years in Japan, studying with Suzuki. Leslie creates an intimate yet professional studio, encouraging friendships through ensembles, theory games and reading in group classes. She is certified in the Mark O’Connor American music method, adding fiddle tunes to her teaching. Leslie is also the Suzuki Program Coordinator.
Evelyn Bookhammer click on arrow to expand
Evelyn Bookhammer (Traditional and Suzuki Cello) loves teaching both Suzuki and traditional cello to any age of student. Evelyn studied at Mansfield University, Elmira College, and Penn State University. She has performed with Elmira Symphony, Juniata College Symphony, Celtic Classic, and Altoona Symphony. Ms. Bookhammer is certified through book 5 in Suzuki Repertoire, through book 7 overview American Suzuki Association. Evelyn has been teaching Suzuki cello in the State College Suzuki Program since 1989. She also teaches in Hollidaysburg, and at Juniata College. She has studied with Marco Branda, Irwin Borodkin, Leonard Feldman, and Kim Cook. Ms. Bookhammer believes all have inborne talent that can be developed in a positive environment, with the proper nurturing. Evelyn is blessed by teaching cello.
Tom Codyclick on arrow to expand
Tom Cody (Guitar and Bass Guitar) maintains a busy performing schedule working as a pit musician for shows (guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele), accompanist, freelance musician, and arranger. He also performs as part of horn/guitar duo with his wife, Sarah Schouten. Tom is on the music theory faculty at Penn State University teaching freshman and sophomore music theory and aural skills—a position he has held since 2001. Tom holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Guitar Performance and a Master of Music degree in Music Theory/Composition from Youngstown State University. He is currently completing the requirements for the Ph.D. in Music Theory from The Ohio State University.
Betha Christopher click on arrow to expand
Betha Christopher (Early Childhood Classes) is a fully licensed Musikgarten teacher, was a National Musikgarten Teacher Trainer and a Level I Certified ECMMA member. She earned a Bachelor of Music from DePauw University in Indiana, and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Boston University. "Because I can see the wonderful benefits of music in my own children, I am delighted to offer Musikgarten & Music Together programs to families at The Music Academy! I bring over 20 years of experience with young children, as a children's choir director, nanny, nursery director, preschool music teacher, and mother. I hope that your family will join me soon to sing, dance and experience music together." Betha is also the Early Childhood Coordinator.
Bonnie Cutsforth-Huberclick on arrow to expand
Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber (Voice and YogaSing) mezzo soprano, enjoys an active performing career in oratorio, cantata, and operatic circuits. As a concert artist, she has performed in prestigious venues across the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall in Istanbul, Turkey, Strasbourg Cathedral, and Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral. She is also in frequent demand as a recitalist and concert performer of new works. She has several world premieres to her credit, including song cycles and concert works by Robert S. Cohen, Martha Hill Duncan, and Timothy Melbinger. Ms. Cutsforth-Huber is also an active teacher; she has been the recipient of the Emerging Leaders Award from the National Association of Teachers of Singing and Penn State Altoona’s Athleen Steer Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentorship. She currently serves as associate professor of music at Penn State Altoona.
Brandy Davis click on arrow to expand
Brandy Davis (Clarinet, Saxophone) holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from the Pennsylvania State University. She has been teaching clarinet and saxophone lessons for 14 years. Brandy is also an active freelance musician with experience in performing a wide variety of music with various groups. Some of these groups include the Nittany Valley and Altoona Symphonies, FUSE Productions, Singing Onstage Studios, Penn State Centre Stage, Chicago the Musical tour, P & J Productions, Moshannon Valley YMCA Student Youth Theatre Program, Bavarian Stompers, and the State College Area Municipal Band.
Diane Gold Toulsenclick on arrow to expand
Diane Gold Toulsen (Recorder, Flute, Piano) has been on the faculty of the Music Academy since near its inception. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Columbia University, she is principal flute of the York (PA), Nittany Valley, and Altoona Symphony Orchestras. A member of the Huntingdon Trio and Easterly Chamber Players, she has performed extensively in the United States and Europe. Ms. Gold Toulson taught for many years at Bucknell University, and Juniata and York Colleges.
Paul Kimclick on arrow to expand
Paul Kim (Traditional and Suzuki Cello) will be available for online remote lessons. Paul picked up the cello at four years of age after watching his older siblings taking lessons on the piano and violin. He began with Suzuki instruction, working his way through Book Four before eventually enrolling at the Peabody Institute's Preparatory Division in Baltimore. Transitioning to traditional solo studies under Paula Skolnick-Childress, he also undertook chamber studies with the Peabody Trio and orchestral studies with Rebecca Henry and Gene Young. As a member of the Peabody Sinfonia, he had the opportunity to tour Germany, The Netherlands, and Belgium. While earning his BM in Music Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Paul's solo cello studies continued under Eugene Friesen, branching out beyond classical music into jazz, blues, and folk traditions. Ensemble and orchestral work with Friesen, Mimi Rabson, and Mitch Haupers, as well as studio session work, allowed him to explore contemporary styles and free improvisation. Suzuki-certified for cello through Book 5, Paul hopes to inspire a passion for the instrument in his students, and to have them see possibilities within and without the classical realm.
Mark Minnichclick on arrow to expand
Mark Minnich (Suzuki Violin) holds a B.M. in Violin Performance from Bowling Green State University, as well as an M.M. in Violin Performance and an M.A. in Music Theory and History from Penn State. Mark has performed in the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Poland, China, Greece, and Tanzania, and has played as soloist with the Toledo Youth Orchestra, the Toledo International Youth Orchestra, the Firelands Symphony, and the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra. An enthusiast of diverse musical styles, he has participated in jazz combos, Latin rock bands, new music ensembles, string quartets, and fiddle camps, as well as with the Mannheim Steamroller orchestra, the world tour of Chicago: The Musical, and Grammy award winning pianist Billy Childs. Mark performs as concertmaster with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra and with his wife in the innovative violin duo Revamped. He holds positions teaching violin, viola, chamber ensembles, and group classes at the State College Suzuki Program and the Grier School.
Sally Williams Minnichclick on arrow to expand
Sally Williams Minnich (Suzuki Violin) is an avid freelance performer, music educator, arranger, and composer. She has appeared as a soloist at the Electronic Music Midwest Festival, the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra, the Altoona Symphony, The Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and The Williamsport Symphony Orchestra. She is a founding member of the internationally-known violin duo, Revamped, and has invented extended techniques for the violin. Williams Minnich is also the first violinist and founding member of the Allegria String Quartet which most notably performed with Grammy Award-winning artist Billy Childs. Williams Minnich studied as a preparatory student at the Cleveland Institute of Music and holds bachelor's degrees in violin performance/music composition and a master’s degree in violin performance from Bowling Green State University. She also holds a master's degree in music education from Pennsylvania State University. She has had the privilege of studying with violin pedagogues David Russell, Vasile Beluska, and James Lyon.
Rene' Oakmanclick on arrow to expand
Rene' Oakman (Early Childhood) has been a Music Together instructor for 14 years and a professional musician since 1985. She has performed locally as a solo singer/songwriter and has been in numerous band ensembles ranging from duets to a touring 9-piece R&B review. She has performed at various venues across the east coast including Philadelphia Riverfront Blues Festival, Atlanta, GA, Chapel Hill, NC, and more. Rene' has four years of formal voice instruction and music theory. Rene' has a love for children and children's music and she has a creative spirit just perfect for the Music Together® program.
Victoria Petroskyclick on arrow to expand
Victoria Petrosky (Piano, Music theory, Solfege, Accompaniment) was trained as a child at The Moscow Children's Music School #36, with her beloved piano teacher who was a student of Vladimir Sofronitsky. Victoria is a graduate of the College of Music of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory , with a B.A. in music theory, and of Gnessin's Russian Academy of Music in Moscow, where she obtained a Master 's degree in music theory and piano pedagogy. At the Gnessin Academy Victoria studied piano performance with Galina Turkina (of the Turkiny piano duo). Victoria has been teaching for over twenty years, first at the Moscow Children's Music School and later at the Main Line Music Academy near Philadelphia. She has been active as an accompanist, including the Bolshoi Theater Choreography College in Moscow, church and concert choirs in State College, musical theater productions in State College. Victoria teaches piano to students of all ages, beginner through advanced levels. She is an active member of the Central Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association, where she serves as a co-chair for the Phyllis Triolo Music Competition.
Lisa Raymondclick on arrow to expand
Lisa Raymond (Traditional violin and viola) has violin performance degrees from The Juilliard School and Yale University. She has performed with many orchestras in the United States, among them are The Albany Symphony, The Syracuse Symphony, The Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra, The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, The Nittany Valley Symphony, The Penns Woods Festival, and The Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra. She has been guest concertmaster with The Nittany Valley Symphony and The Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra as well as principal 2nd violin with The Nittany Valley Symphony. She has given many recitals and has been a member of numerous chamber ensembles, and was a founding member of The Ithaca Trio. Lisa has been a violin and viola teacher for over 35 years, and tailors her instruction to each student and their unique needs. The emphasis is on building technique, while at the same time fostering a love of music and the desire to be the best musician that each student can be.
Cathy Scafidiclick on arrow to expand
Cathy Scafidi (Piano) holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She has been teaching individual piano lessons for over thirty years to students that are beginner through advanced levels. Ms. Scafidi has been teaching at The Music Academy since 2000 and also teaches at Juniata College.
Sarah Schoutenclick on arrow to expand
Sarah Schouten (French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, and Tuba) Dr. Sarah Schouten maintains an active career as an educator and performer. She enjoys teaching students of all ages and ability levels and her students have successfully auditioned into everything from Jr. High Symphonic Band to Graduate School Programs. Sarah currently serves as Instructor of Horn in the D'Angelo Department of Music at Mercyhurst University and as an adjunct faculty member at Penn State. Previously, Sarah served as Visiting Professor of Horn at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2019-2020), Lecturer of Horn at The Pennsylvania State University (Sabbatical Replacement for 2017-2018), at Edinboro University, and Marywood University. In addition to her endeavors as an educator, Sarah performs regularly with the Altoona Symphony Orchestra and the Music at Penns Woods Festival and freelances frequently with other orchestras in Northwest and Central Pennsylvania. As a chamber artist, she is a member of Just Two, a horn/guitar duo with Tom Cody and the ChambersSchouten Horn Duo. Sarah earned her DM from Florida State University, her MM from The Pennsylvania State University, and BA in history, Spanish, and music, from the University of Dayton.
Kevin Simsclick on arrow to expand
Kevin Sims (Percussion, Piano) has been teaching piano and percussion to students of all ages since 2005. While studying classical percussion at Manhattan School of Music in New York City, he began to focus on contemporary and experimental music, working closely with composers and helping to form Red Light New Music. While studying at the Musikhochschule Freiburg in southwestern Germany, he had the opportunity to travel to music festivals in Switzerland, Korea, Russia and Ukraine. Kevin's experiences with new and experimental work, improvisation, and various approaches to composition, are big influences on his teaching. He is currently an active performer as a soloist, with the duo Moth Bucket, and in the Open Music Ensemble (which he also directs), as well as other occasional projects in the area.
Brooke Greybushclick on arrow to expand
Brooke Greybush (Piano) is delighted to teach piano at The Music Academy. She welcomes students of all ages to take individual piano lessons or group piano lessons. Brooke holds dual B.A. degrees in Music and Psychology from Susquehanna University and her Masters in Music in Piano Pedagogy from Temple University. Teaching positions include Susquehanna University’s preparatory program, Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, and The Marcia P. Hoffman School of the Arts in Clearwater, Florida. Since 2010, Brooke has enjoyed teaching individual piano lessons, group piano and early childhood music classes at the Music Academy. Brooke has an interactive teaching method and adapts to each student’s learning style. She encourages families to be involved with their child’s musical journey. Piano lessons focus on technique, sound, theory, analysis, memorization and creativity. Brooke looks forward to exploring the world of music with her students while enhancing their everyday lives with creativity, discipline, and joy.
In fond memory of our friend and colleague
who passed away on February 27, 2020
Arthur Goldstein (Piano, Composition, Jazz Studies) holds an MFA in composition from Pennsylvania State University with emphasis in piano and has studied at the Eastman School of Music and the Berklee College of Music. Mr. Goldstein teaches jazz history and music appreciation at Penn State University and is active as a solo recitalist, accompanist, and leader of his own jazz quartet. Mr. Goldstein has two solo recordings, "Piano Solos" and "Intersections", devoted to twentieth century piano literature.