BlaiseBlaise Poth

Violinist **Blaise Poth** former Director of the Indianapolis Suzuki Academy is now running her own program in Louisville Kentucky, “Suzuki Stars Music Academy”.  A career performer with the Louisville Symphony Orchestra in Kentucky, Ms. Poth’s expertise in the Suzuki method of violin instruction has been honed through a dedicated course of study over the last eleven years at institutes certified by the Suzuki Association of the Americas such as the Colorado Suzuki String Institute, Chicago Suzuki String Institute, Intermountain Suzuki String Institute, Northern Arizona University Suzuki Institute, Virginia Suzuki Institute and University of Louisville Suzuki Institute.  Ms. Poth has built Suzuki programs at Wheeler and Farmer Elementary Schools in Louisville growing the programs to over 100 violin students. She also serves as the Director of the Summer Suzuki String Institute at the University of Louisville School of Music and will also be taking a more active role in directing the Summer  Suzuki Piano Institute at the University of Louisville. Her new addition to the University of Louisville is the Suzuki Steps Baby/Toddler Class that takes place at the Suzuki Stars Music Academy.  Summer of 2015 Ms. Poth acquired her certification in Music Mind Games and looks forward to sharing this exciting approach to developing music reading skills to her existing programs.   Ms. Poth began her study of the violin at age five as a Suzuki student at Brescia College in Owensboro, Kentucky, studying with Sister Mary Cecelia Payne, James Douglas White, and Almita and Roland Vamos.  She went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Louisville School of Music in Louisville, Kentucky, studying with Peter McHugh, Marcus Ratzenboeck, and Patrick Rafferty. She is a full time violinist with the Louisville Orchestra, and was a member of the Louisville Bach Society.  She is the proud mother of four, all of who were Suzuki students. She now looks forward to teaching her grandchildren in the Suzuki way and providing Suzuki education to all families in the Greater Louisville, Kentucky area.

JenniferJennifer Shackleton

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, has been a member of the Louisville Orchestra viola section since 1997.  She is a graduate of Oberlin College where she earned her Bachelors of Music Degree as a double major in Viola Performance and Music Education.  Ms. Shackleton’s teachers include Jeffrey Irvine, Lynne Ramsey, Karen Ritscher, Christine Rutledge, and Virginia Schneider.  She has performed in Master Classes instructed by Heidi Castleman, Michel Tree, Steven Ansell, and Karen Tuttle.  For several summers she studied at the renowned music festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood, and Waterloo.

Ms. Shackleton has enjoyed a varied career as a violist performing in a wide variety of ensembles and teaching.  She has collaborated in chamber settings with the Kentucky Chamber Players, Ceruti Chamber Players, Highland Chamber Players, Commonwealth String Quartet, University of Louisville Faculty String Trio, Bach Society, and Louisville Master Chorale.  She has held teaching positions at the Oberlin College Preparatory Music Department, Kentuckiana Music Institute, Louisville Academy of Music and as an interim viola instructor at the University of Louisville.

Ms. Shackleton has a private studio in Louisville teaching students of all ages in violin nd viola.  Her students are in all levels of the Louisville Youth Orchestra, participate in All-County and All-State Orchestras, receive superior ratings at contest, and past students have gone on to pursue music at the conservatory level.  In 2001, she received the “Studio Teacher of the Year” award from KY (ASTA) American String Teachers’ Association with (NSOA) National School Orchestra Association.  Ms. Shackleton is a registered Suzuki Teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and is currently completing long-term teacher training in Suzuki Violin books 1-10 with Dr. Timothy Durbin at the University of Louisville.  In 2012, she received scholarships from the SAA and ASI to complete Suzuki Teacher Training in Viola books 4 and 5 at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, WI.

Since 2005, Jennifer has developed a small greenhouse business blending her musical career with her passion for plants.  Her business, The Herb Shack, grows a wide variety of potted culinary and medicinal herb plants from around the world and creates herbal sundries that include soaps, salves, and salts.  During the summers, you can find her selling her herb plants and herbal sundries at the Douglass Loop Farmers Market.

LauraLaura De St. Croix

New to the Louisville area, violist Laura De St. Croix is excited to add to the already wonderful music community here. She comes to Louisville from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Laura will start accepting students at Suzuki Stars Music Academy in August 2015.

An accomplished performer and teacher, Laura has performed with the Lubbock Symphony, Duluth‐Superior Symphony, Quad City Symphony, Mankato Symphony, and Paducah Symphony Orchestras, and with great artists such as Sharon Isbin, Jennifer Koh, Christopher O’Reilly, Roberto Diaz, Itzhak Perlman, and The Joffrey Ballet. Locally, she has appeared with the Louisville Ballet and Stevie Wonder. She also plays with the Highland Chamber Players and Louisville Master Chorale. She has attended the illustrious Castleman Quartet Program for four summers, and was Assistant Dean in the summer of 2014. Other festivals include Lyricafest, North American Viola Institute, Bravo!, Madeline Island Music Camp, Chamber Music Midwest, and Northern Lights Chamber Music Festival.

Laura began her musical endeavors at age 10 on the viola.  She holds a Bachelor of Music in viola performance from Texas Tech University and a Master of Music in viola performance from the University of Minnesota. She is nearing the completion of a Doctorate of Musical Arts also from University of Minnesota. Her most influential teachers and mentors include violists Alice Preves, Renee Skerik, Korey Konkol; violinist Laura Bossert; and cellist Terry King. She has performed in masterclasses for Samuel Rhodes, Christiane Edinger, Jutta Puchhammer‐Sédillot, and members of the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Concord, Emerson, Pacifica, and Tackás String Quartets.

Laura has been teaching viola and violin privately since 2006. Teaching appointments include Junior Faculty at Stringwood Music Festival, in Lanesboro, MN and the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities as a Teaching Assistant. She has helped coach the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, and as a mentor and rehearsal assistant. Laura has completed teaching training with Mark Bjork through Suzuki Books 1‐4.  She caters her teaching to each individual student focusing on musicality and tone while teaching technique through repertoire, helping each student discover their own voice on his/her instrument.


Elisa Spalding

Elisa Spalding has a violin performance degree from the University of Louisville and has been a member of the second violin section of the Louisville Orchestra since 1976. She has been teaching violin students from age 4 all the way up to adults for over 25 years. She is also a member of the Commonwealth String Quartet.



Angela Ellliot

Angela Elliott earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance in Viola from the College of Wooster in Ohio in 2001.  She started out as a viola Suzuki student in Los Gatos, California under Diane Egli.  Angela is a registered Suzuki Teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas.  She recently completed teacher training with Dr. Timothy Durbin at the University of Louisville for Violin Books 1-4 and Viola Books 1-3.  Angela enjoys teaching beginner and intermediate students of all ages.   Outside of teaching music, Angela stays busy with her children’s PTA, her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, and gardening at her Old Louisville home.



CeceliaDr. Cecilia Huerta-­Lauf

As an instructor, Dr. Cecilia Huerta-­Lauf brings support and dedication to her pupils, having taught at the university and preparatory levels for programs such as the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Frost String Academy, and Superior Music Academy. A former Suzuki cello student herself, Cecilia is delighted to be the cello instructor for Suzuki Stars Music Academy, offering private, group and introductory classes for cello in addition to the Improvisation for Strings course and co­teaching Suzuki Steps. In Louisville, Cecilia also provides sectionals for programs such as Louisville Youth Orchestra, Meyzeek Middle School, and Youth Performing Arts School.

Described as “an assured soloist” with “fearless technique,” Cecilia brings passion and heart to her performances as an accomplished cellist. A native of Dickson, Tennessee, she began playing the cello at age 4. She made her solo debut with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra at age 16. Her musical education began with the Suzuki and pre­college program at Vanderbilt University. This extended to her undergraduate degree at DePaul University studying under Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellists Steve Balderston and Brant Taylor, and continued with her master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music as a student of Paul Katz. Recently, Cecilia completed her doctorate and teaching assistantship studying with  Ross Harbaugh at the Frost School of Music at University of Miami, Florida as well as a Henry Mancini Institute Fellow.

She has enjoyed tenures with groups such as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Discovery Ensemble, the Florida Grand Opera, and the HMI String Quartet. Cecilia was also the founding administrative director and principal cellist of the Boston Latin­American Orchestra. Cecilia was a nominee for the Chicago Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Young Artists in 2011, and a semi­finalist in the Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition. She has participated in music festivals across the United States, Canada, France, and Italy, most recently at the Banff Centre and Carteret Cello Festival.  In the chamber music world, she has received training from artists such as Borromeo String Quartet, Vivian Weilerstein, Rami Solomonow, and Ilya Kaler. She has performed at numerous chamber music summer festivals such as Miami Bach Society and Dayton Chamber Music Society. She has recorded albums with George Benson at the Hit Factory and Weezer, while accompanying popular and Jazz artists in PBS specials and live shows such as Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Terence Blanchard, Dave Grusin, David Mendoza, Michael Feinstein, Shelly Berg, Andrea Bocelli, Kenny Loggins, Gloria Estefan, and Stevie Wonder.

Cecilia enjoys expanding her repertoire outside of the traditional classical scene with forays into Latin-American music, Jazz, Bluegrass, improvisation, rock, theater, and Broadway. Broadway shows include “Lion King,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Phantom of the Opera.” Recently, Cecilia has received bluegrass training with Mark O’Connor and performed “Limerock” duo with him at the “Fiddles on Fire” concert during Festival Miami ‘13. She is also a certified teacher in the O’Connor String Method. Her other improvisation trainers have included Warren Senders and Vincent L. Maggio as well as masterclasses with Christian Howes and Jeremy Cohen. In addition, Cecilia also uses outreach as a means to connect future musicians and audience members with their life­long passions and music. Her outreach training includes MusiCorps, NEC Community Performances and Partnerships, and HMI Outbound Program.

In the Kentucky area, Cecilia has enjoyed freelancing and performing with organizations such as Assistant Principal Cellist of Paducah Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Ballet Orchestra, Crescent Hill Radio’s “Classical Hour,” Highland Chamber Players, and Electria. Additionally, Cecilia serves as a member of the Chamber Music Society of Louisville Board and Executive Committee as secretary.

Felix Borges

Felix Borges holds a Master degree in Cello Performance from the University of Louisville where he studied with Paul York. During his time at UofL he was also a member of the graduate string quartet coaching students in Louisville.

While at the University of Louisville he won the Concerto competition later performing the Variations on a Rococo Theme by P. I. Tchaikovsky with the UofL Symphony Orchestra.

He has performed with several orchestras in the Louisville area, including the Lexington Philharmonic, Orchestra Kentucky and Evansville Philharmonic.

In 2011, 2013 and 2014 Felix performed as a guest soloist for the Recife Symphony Orchestra in Brazil playing the Variations on a Rococo Theme by P. I. Tchaikovsky, Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor and the Haydn Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major, under the baton of renowned Brazilian composer Marlos Nobre. In 2014 Felix also performed with the production of, The Last Five Years, at Actors Theatre in Louisville. Recently he has played with the Louisville Ballet and the Kentucky Opera.

He is a member of the Peccatte String Quartet and the A/tonal ensemble. While he greatly enjoys performing, Felix has a special passion for teaching, always searching for new ways to improve his student’s technique, musicality and love for music. He teaches at the University of Louisville String Academy, Oldham County Schools Arts Center and at the Seminary School of the Arts. Felix lives in Louisville with his wife Celia and daughter Stella.

Tony WatsonTony Watson

has more than thirty years studio flute teaching experience. His students have earned top honors, winning concerto competitions and seats in youth orchestras, All-State Bands, and university orchestras. He is currently Adjunct Instructor of Music at Elizabethtown Community College where he teaches Introduction to Music both in the classroom and online. He is also a member of the music faculty at the Louisville Collegiate School, where he teaches general music to Kindergarten and Junior Kindergarten classes and at the Montessori School of Louisville, where he teaches general music to toddlers and elementary classes through age 9.

As a member of various orchestras and chamber ensembles, Tony Watson has performed throughout the United States and in Japan. In 2000-01, he was featured as flute soloist with the Atlanta Boy Choir on their tours of the Canadian Maritime Provinces and throughout Italy including performances at the Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, St Mark’s Basilica in Venice and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Tony Watson earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Flute Performance with a minor in Music Education from the University of Georgia, the Master of Music degree in Flute Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Valdosta State University. His dissertation The Flute Pedagogy of Toshio Takahashi surveys the teaching technique of the Suzuki Flute School author. In addition, Dr. Watson completed extensive teacher training at the East Tennessee Suzuki Flute Institute and the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan where he studied with Toshio Takahashi. His teachers have included Angeleita Floyd, Geoffrey Gilbert, Carl Hall, Angela Jones-Reus, Peter Lloyd and Toshio Takahashi.


Ciyadh Wells PicCiyadh Wells

A native of Murfreesboro, TN, Ciyadh is excited to be joining the faculty at the Suzuki Stars Music Academy. She is accepting students for private  guitar, piano, and voice lessons.  Prior to moving to Louisville, Ciyadh attended the University of Memphis in Memphis,TN,  where she graduated with her Bachelors Degree in Music Education with a concentration in Choral Music Education. Ciyadh now attends the University of Louisville where she will graduate in 2017 with a Masters of Music Performance Degree with a concentration is Applied String Pedagogy.

Ciyadh has had the opportunity to study with many world-renowned pedagogues including Dr. Stephen Mattingly and Dr. Lily Afshar. She has performed in masterclasses with Oscar Ghaglia and Carlos Perez. Her studies have led her to play in various concerts and recitals throughout the Southeast. She regularly plays events in and around the Louisville area as well. Most recently, she was awarded the John W. Work III scholarship from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for her excellence in music. In 2014, she was awarded the 3rd place prize in the Beethoven Clubs Young Artist Competition.  She is one of the newest members of the University of Louisville Guitar Quartet and Guitar Ensemble. While studying in Memphis, she was a member of the University of Memphis Guitar Ensemble and University Singers, and  the Memphis Symphony Chorus.

A licensed educator in Tennessee and Kentucky, Ciyadh’s classroom experiences greatly shape the way she approaches teaching private music lessons. While in Memphis, she was a private music instructor at the Hope Music Academy.  Ciyadh has experience teaching all styles and genres of music, but specializes primarily in classical music. She accepts students who are ages 3 and older.

Timothy Blunk Pic 2

Timothy Blunk

Guitarist Timothy Blunk has been a student of music for over 15 years. A Louisville native, Timothy began his education at the J Graham Brown School and went on to receive degrees from the University of Louisville. He has enjoyed a teaching and performing career with highlights such as director of guitar ensembles at the Youth Performing Arts School and leading classes at the Little Flock Academy of Arts. He plays a wide range of musical styles, including rock, jazz, and classical music and specializes in teaching beginning and intermediate guitar as well as music theory.

Karen Griffin Pic

Karen Griffin

Karen Griffin holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toledo and a Master of Music degree from the University of Louisville, where she studied with Artist-in-Residence, Lee Luvisi.

Mrs. Griffin currently teaches collegiate piano and class piano at the University of Louisville, as well as Suzuki and traditional piano in the U. of L. Community Music Program.

Mrs. Griffin was the chairman of the Louisville Piano Guild for 25 years, from 1982 until 2007. She continues to remain active as a Guild Judge. Guild tours have included Evansville, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; as well as Ashland, Lexington and Radcliff, Kentucky. Other judging engagements have included KMTA, GLMTA, K.E.Y.S., and the Louisville Area Federation of Music Clubs in Bardstown, Kentucky.

Karen has a deep interest in and dedication to Early Music. She has performed as a singer, on recorder and on harpsichord with the U. of L. Early Music Ensemble. She has studied the harpsichord with Dr. Doris Lora, Dr. George Lucktenburg, and Dr. Jack Ashworth.