See rates below for your specific fees. All lessons are taught on campus at Bellevue Baptist Church.
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 solo recitals, Bellevue worship services, 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).
One of the best features of the SPA string program is our Ministry String Ensembles. They rehearse once a week and participate in major music events here at the church. They also minister and perform regularly in the community.
Auditions for these ensembles will be held in early August. Email Cynthia Nowell to set up an audition time.
Tuition and Fees
Tuition (per semester):
15 Weeks of Private Lessons and 13 Weeks of Group Lessons
30 Minute Lessons and 1 hour group | $474
45 Minute Lessons and 1 hour group | $669
60 Minute Lessons and 1 hour group | $874
Registration Fee Per Academic Year | $25
Interested in a payment plan or a multi-lesson discount plan?
Suzuki Group Only
(Must be taking lessons at another studio to register) – $165
Students who take private lessons may attend group classes at no additional charge, however students who do not take private lessons at the SPA may participate in the group classes with the condition that they take Suzuki private lessons somewhere else. Prices are below.
private lessons offered
C E L L O
D O U B L E B A S S
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V I O L I N
Cecily Britt – Violin
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 Sanctuary 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.
Lori Gilbert – Violin
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Lori completed both a Bachelors in Violin Performance and Masters of Music Performance from the University of Memphis. She began her musical studies at the age of eight with Suzuki teacher Lisa Love at the Bellevue School of Performing Arts. Her recent teachers include Andrew Wilson, Beverly Shin, Liza Zurlinden, Michael Gilbert, Yoko Takebe, and Dr. Soh-Hyun Altino. She has performed in concerts and recitals in the U.S., Central America, and Europe and has participated in the MasterWorks Music Festival in Winona Lake, Indiana and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, Vermont.
She enjoys making music with her husband, violinist Daniel Gilbert. In addition to performing opportunities, she enjoys teaching her private violin studio as well as a Suzuki group class. She began teaching at Bellevue in the fall of 2000 and has completed Suzuki Pedagogy long-term training with Kimberly Meier-Sims and Libby Armour, and short-term training with Ed Kreitman and Nancy Jackson.
Lori and her husband have three children.
Esther Humphries – Violin
Esther Humphries has been taking music lessons since age 5. She attended Calvin College, where she graduated with a B.A. in music and history in 2009. She received her Masters’ degree and Artist Diploma in Violin Performance from the University of Memphis in 2011 and 2013, studying under Dr. Soh-Hyun Altino. Esther has performed solo recitals in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Tennessee, and she has performed concertos with the Youngstown Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Calvin College Orchestra, the Union University Orchestra, and the Jakarta Symphony Orchestra, in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is currently an active performer and teacher in the Memphis area, playing often in the Memphis Symphony.
Esther is passionate about teaching students to play with technical excellence and personal artistic expression. Esther has taught at Bellevue Baptist Church, Union University, and the Midtown Suzuki Cooperative. She has received Suzuki training from Libby Armour, Ed Kreitman, Ronda Cole, and David Strom.
Cynthia Nowell – Violin
Cynthia Nowell holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis in Family & Consumer Science. She has studied the violin since age 5, beginning under Nathan Lanier. She continued her studies through the Bellevue SPA under Ami Ellis McVay, Judy Bragg, and Leah Thomas Hendrick, through the University of Memphis Community School under Margaret Soper Gutierrez and Erin Hamilton, Robert Sivy and Janice McNair at Bryan College and at University of Chattanooga’s Cadek Conservatory of Music. Cynthia has enjoyed playing, performing, and ministering through the Bellevue Orchestra, Ensembles, Choirs, the Bellevue Victory Marching Band, the Memphis Youth String Orchestra, her high school and college ensembles and orchestra, as well as individual and family/groups leading worship.
Cynthia is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and is continually works to complete training for all of the Suzuki Levels. She is currently trained through Suzuki Violin Book 3. Cynthia enjoys working with children and learners of all ages, sharing her love of music to the glory of God.
Cynthia currently works in the School of Performing Arts as String Coordinator. She is married to Matt Nowell and they have two daughters, Lillian and June.
Kristy Robinson – Violin/Viola
Kristy Robinson began violin at the age of 6 at the Bellevue SPA and is an active member and participant in the many opportunities offered there. Kristy continued violin study with Joy Brown Wiener in middle and high school, and studied with Timothy Shiu and Ara Sarkissian in college. In December of 2013, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, violin performance. Kristy studied viola with Lenny Schranze at the UofM for three years. In January of 2012, Kristy sat as principal violist in a concert with the Annie Moses Band at Carnegie Hall, and as assistant principal violist in the Nashville Praise Symphony in 2013.
Kristy has taught violin for 7 years and has Suzuki training in Books 1-3 with Libby Armour. She has taught fiddling, chamber, and private lessons for the past 4 years at the Fine Arts Summer Academy with the Annie Moses Band. Kristy enjoys fiddling and improvising in several settings from folk music to church music. She performs often in local community orchestras. Kristy believes that music is a gift from God to be used to glorify Him and draw others to Him.
Julie Schmidt – Violin
Julie Schmidt studied violin at the University of Memphis for 14 years with Michelle Pettigrew and Pak-Chung Cheng. She graduated from Thomas Edison State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a focus in Violin Pedagogy and Early Childhood Education. She has received her Suzuki training through Book Seven and Practicum from various trainers around the country including Carrie Reuning-Hummel, Pat D’Ercole, Ann Montzka-Smelser, Ed Kreitman, Allen Leib, Lorraine Fink, Michelle George, Cathy Lee, and Christie Felsing. Her love is for children and guiding them down the road of learning music. She believes that loving a child is the greatest gift you can give, while requiring excellence produces great musicians. Julie is married to Jonathan and they have 3 children – Emerson, Chloe, and Oliver.
Jamie Weaver – Violin
Dr. Jamie Weaver graduated from the University of Memphis with a Doctorate of Musical Arts in 2015. Her dissertation focused on teaching young violin students to practice well. Jamie grew up in Waco, Texas, where Baylor University is located. She earned a Bachelors and Masters of Music from Baylor, then, after taking a year off to teach violin full time, Jamie moved to Memphis in 2011 to pursue her doctorate. Her studies with Dr. Soh-Hyun Altino in Memphis greatly influenced her teaching. Jamie has also taken Suzuki teacher training in violin books 1-4, during which her interactions with Edward Kreitman influenced the writing of her dissertation and thoughts on setting students up well.
Daniel Gilbert – Violin
Daniel Gilbert is a free-lance violinist in Memphis, Tennessee. He is a proud member of the Eroica Ensemble orchestra and PRIZM Ensemble chamber group. Daniel’s primary musical training has come from the many musicians in the Gilbert family. He also has studied the violin with Joy Wiener, retired Concertmaster of the Memphis Symphony, and with Soh-Hyun Altino, Professor of Violin at the University of Memphis.
Daniel has participated in several professional training programs, most notably the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the National Orchestral Institute, Music Masters Course Japan and the Masterworks Festival in Winona Lake, Indiana. Daniel enjoys teaching and has received Suzuki Teacher training from Kimberly Meier-Sims, Michelle George, and Margaret Gutierrez.
Jordan Musgrave – Violin
Jordan grew up in the Bellevue School of Performing Arts. After going through the Suzuki books, he studied with Joy Wiener through high school. He attended Baylor University, studied with Dr. Bruce Berg, graduated with a BM degree in performance, and later received an Artist Diploma in violin from the University of Memphis. He plays with several orchestras, including Memphis Symphony, and Huntsville Symphony. He has played in master classes for Midori, Elena Urioste, Janet Sung, and others.
He is a freelance musician in the Memphis area and enjoys playing in various venues in our city. Jordan has taken and continues to take Suzuki teacher training, as well as other forms of training, such as attending the Starling-Delay Symposium at Juilliard.
Martin Palacios – Violin
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. Several of his students have competed and won positions in the All-West Orchestra with one student making it to All-State. Martin also conducts a church string ensemble at Bellevue Baptist Church which performs in nursing homes regularly as part of the Bellevue Loves Memphis ministry.
In addition to teaching violin and viola at Bellevue Baptist Church, Martin is also an active performer. Currently, he serves as Principle Second Violinist with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, subs for the Memphis Symphony, and holds the concertmaster position for Bellevue’s Church 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 teaching and performing, Martin enjoys freelancing around Memphis, writing and arranging music, drawing, playing ultimate frisbee with friends, and spending lots of time with his fiancé. This coming summer, Martin looks forward to marrying the love of his life, Bonnie Smith, who is also an avid music lover like he.
Hannah Schmidt – Cello
Hannah grew up studying in the Suzuki program at Bellevue’s School of Performing Arts. She was involved in various ensembles through the program and really believes that the love she has for music is a direct result of the ministry the school has had. Hannah received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in cello performance from the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis. She has studied cello primarily with Leonardo Altino and has completed Suzuki training with Pamela Devenport, Tanya Carey, Carey Beth Hockett, Barbara Wampner, Susan Gagnon, and Grace Field.
Hannah is a member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and enjoys playing chamber music whenever her schedule allows. Before joining the Memphis Symphony, she performed regularly with the Eroica Ensemble and Arkansas Symphony. Hannah has been teaching with the School of Performing Arts since 2004 and has loved seeing the cello program grow! While expecting hard work, she wants her students to have a great time and learn to love music as they grow into young musicians. She believes that the pursuit of music in child’s life can give them the confidence and discipline to be successful in any area of life. Hannah is married to Kevin Schmidt and they have two children: Asher and Hadassah.
Brenton’s passion for music began at the age of 7 when he started playing the cello. Born and raised in Fresno, California, he studied using the Suzuki Method from teachers Shirley Douty, Walter Haman, and Dieter Wulfhorst. Brenton received his bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance from Point Loma Nazarene University, studying with Glen Campbell. While in San Diego, Brenton enjoyed playing in multiple ensembles including the University Symphony Orchestra, Point Loma Opera, and multiple chamber ensembles.
In 2012 he received his master’s degree in Cello Performance from the University of Arizona, studying with Mark Votapek. During his time in Tucson, Brenton also enjoyed playing with the Arizona Symphony Orchestra and working as the worship minister for the youth and college groups at Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene. Brenton was a cello instructor at the Tucson Music and Dance Academy and has also worked as an instructor for California Music Studios in San Diego. Brenton recently relocated to Memphis with his wife, Heather, and is fully enjoying the opportunities to play and teach in the community. Brenton frequently plays with the Memphis Symphony, the Memphis Repertory Orchestra, and the Germantown Symphony for concerts and enjoys freelancing for other music opportunities in and around Memphis.
He is excited to join the SPA staff and share the wonderful gift of music with his students. Brenton hopes that each student finds joy in music and uses it as an avenue to grow into a more thoughtful, inspired, and disciplined member of the body of Christ.
Joel Schnackel not only serves as Suzuki double bass teacher at Bellevue SPA but also the instructor of double bass at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ar., Joel is principal bass of the Conway Symphony and performs as bassist in Jackson, North Mississippi, and Tuscaloosa Symphonies, as well as the Savannah Philharmonic. Joel holds a M.M. degree in double bass performance from the University of Memphis, and B.A. degree in music composition and technology from the University of Montana, and is currently ABD at the University of Memphis, working on his Ph.D. dissertation in historical musicology.