School of Performing Arts



30 weeks of private lessons and 26 weeks of group lessons
(15 private / 13 group in the Fall & 15 private / 13 group in the Spring)

  • Viola
  • Violin

Highly qualified Christian teachers give each student a weekly lesson that is either 30, 45, or 60 minutes long.

The SPA String Program teaches the Suzuki method and believes every child & adult can learn to play a string instrument! We work alongside our parents and/or guardians to guide them as they help their child succeed and excel in their instrument. During the year, students will receive the opportunity to perform in events such as solo recitals, Bellevue worship services, the Singing Christmas Tree, outreach opportunities, solo festivals, and annual String Graduation Concert.

The SPA is also a member of the West TN School Band & Orchestra Association (WTSBOA) which allows our students who do not attend a public or private school to participate through the SPA in their regional, state, and national events for Band and Orchestra (All West, All State, Solo and Ensemble, etc). For more information about our program, please review the Parent String Handbook and contact our String Coordinator, Cecily Britt at, should you have any questions. Private lessons are held one day a week for the designated lesson length. Students will perform in two recitals each year—one in the Fall and one in the Spring.


Cynthia Nowell

Cynthia Nowell is a Suzuki violin teacher at the Bellevue School of Performing Arts (SPA). She began violin at age five and continued her studies through college. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Memphis and is trained in Suzuki Violin through Book 3.

Cynthia has enjoyed teaching violin for 17 years and loves to see each student grow as a musician while learning skills that help them in all areas of life. She continues to increase her knowledge of Suzuki pedagogy through training and observations.

Cynthia loves the Lord Jesus and is grateful for the opportunity to use her skills to glorify and worship Him daily, and desires to encourage her students to develop their talents to glorify God as well.

Cynthia is married to Matt Nowell, and they have four children.

Cecily Britt

Cecily studied violin at the University of Memphis Suzuki program for 15 years primarily with Pak-Chung Cheng. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a B.A. in Communications. She has been an active member of the Bellevue Orchestra since 7th grade and has taught violin with Bellevue’s SPA since 1999. She has been a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has completed many courses through the SAA’s Teacher Training program.

Cecily served on the Bellevue Music staff as the Suzuki String Coordinator from August 2005 – September 2009. In September 2009 she assumed the title of Director, School of Performing Arts for the entire school where she worked until February 2012 when she resigned to become a stay at home mom. Cecily still teaches violin part time at the SPA. Cecily’s mission is to help students and their families use music to glorify the Lord, serve in the Body of Christ, develop characteristics of hard work and commitment, and to experience lifelong memories and friendships. Cecily and her husband Matt have three daughters named Lucy, Rose and Grace. In addition to teaching the two oldest how to play violin, she is also enjoying the adventure of homeschooling.

Martin Palacios

Martin Palacios holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Music from Pensacola Christian College as well as a second Masters in Music from the University of Memphis in Suzuki Pedagogy. Martin’s music career began in Pensacola during his senior year of college teaching private lessons for violin, viola, and cello students, and conducting the intermediate string orchestra at Pensacola Christian Academy. During his two years teaching at PCA, several of his students competed and won scholarships for the annual Pensacola Music Teachers Association Sonata Competition in Florida.

When Martin came to Memphis in December of 2013 to pursue his second masters, he became actively involved in the music ministry at Bellevue Baptist Church and began teaching violin and viola at the School of Performing Arts. His students at Bellevue are actively involved in competitions with All West, with many of them going all the way to All State. His students are involved in church ministries, including Bellevue's Church Orchestra, community engagements, and nursing home outreaches.

In addition to teaching violin and viola at Bellevue Baptist Church, Martin is also an active performer. Currently, he serves as a sectional violinist with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, subs for the Memphis Symphony, and holds the concertmaster position for Bellevue’s Orchestra. His performance career thus far has brought him in concert with prestigious Christian artists including Sandi Patty, Veritas, Michael W. Smith, and Natalie Grant.

Outside of music, Martin enjoys drawing, playing ultimate frisbee with friends, and spending lots of time with his wife Bonnie, who is also an avid music lover, and their daughter Raven.

Erin Mullen

Erin Mullen began playing violin at the age of five under Michelle Pettigrew and later under Ray Cheng through the University of Memphis Suzuki Program. During the most formative years, she played with groups such as the Memphis Youth String Orchestra, Victory Violins, and Bellevue’s Sanctuary Orchestra.

From 1999 to 2003, Erin attended Mississippi College in Clinton, MS and majored in Christian Studies. While there, she played in worship bands at church, the Baptist Student Union, along with other events. After graduating college in 2003, Erin returned home and begin teaching violin full time.

Erin is certified in the Suzuki Method Books 1 & 2 under Edmund Sprunger, Books 2 & 3 under Carrie Reuning-Hummel, and Books 4 & 5 under Teri Einfeldt. Erin continues to play with the Contemporary Worship Band at Bellevue, and events through the Women’s Ministry. Throughout events such as the Singing Christmas Tree to leading a Book 1 Group Class, Erin loves to teach students about violin and about Jesus.

Erin enjoys the beginning years of a student’s journey. She is a mom, dyslexic, a believer, a violinist, and a teacher at heart, no matter the subject. All of these things are what has made her the violin teacher she is today. Each of these aspects is expressed and shared with students tohelp them learn and grow as a person.

Erin uses the Suzuki Method for teaching violin which uses each song to teach a skill and builda base for the next song/skill. Building skills that progress a student to becoming a violinist is the priority. It is less about the number of songs one knows and more about the foundation being laid and the skills that will allow them to play anything placed before them one day.

Kristy Robinson

Kristy Robinson began taking violin lessons at Bellevue Baptist Church when she was six years old. While in high school, she also learned how to play the viola and received many opportunities to perform in college. While in college, Kristy studied Suzuki pedagogy with Libby Armour.She excelled in violin and graduated from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Violin Performance in December 2013. She has taught violin since 2009 and taugh tfor several years with the Annie Moses Band Summer Music Festival where she gained valuable experience and performed with them in ensembles and orchestras at Carnegie Hall and The Grand Ole Opry. Kristy is an active member of Bellevue Baptist Church and can often be seen performing in the orchestra and the Contemporary Worship Band. Kristy enjoys teaching violin and helping children excel as they learn to play music for the Glory of God. Kristy married her husband, Daniel, in 2017, and they have three precious children: Elizabeth, Emma, and Phillip.