The string program at the School of Performing Arts offers private lessons in violin, viola, and cello. Also included in the price of tuition is a weekly group lesson which takes place Wednesday afternoon (see below for more information on group classes).
Each semester consists of 15 weeks of private lessons, and 13 weeks of group classes. The 2018 Fall Semester begins August 6 and ends November 30. 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! Follow the link at the bottom of this page for more info regarding Suzuki Education. We work alongside our parents and/or guardians to guide them as they help their child succeed and excel in their instrument. During the Fall and Spring semesters, 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.
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 on August 1 and 8. Email email@example.com to set up an audition time.
Tuition and Fees
Tuition (per semester):
15 Weeks of Private Lessons & 13 Weeks of Group.
30 Minute Lessons and 1 hour Group | $424
45 Minute Lessons and 1 hour Group | $614
60 Minute Lessons and 1 hour Group | $814
Suzuki Group Only (Must be taking lessons at another studio to register) – $125
Activities Fee (per semester): $40, includes: one theory book, Fall recital fees, String Graduation & Solo Festival, String Graduation Concert, Graduation Awards, and a SPA T-shirt
- Students who participate in other lesson types in the SPA will need to pay their tuition & fees in the SPA office to receive activities fee discounts
*INSTALLMENT PLAN: Students have the option of a 4 part installment plan, with the first installment due at registration, and the following three due on the first Monday of the subsequent months.
A service charge of $3.50 will be added for each installment payment.
**FAMILY PLAN: Any family with more than one student registering, or one student registering for multiple lessons, will receive a 10% discount on tuition starting on their second occurrence (excludes activities and registration fees).
The SPA offers Suzuki Group classes for all levels included in its tuition! Students in the Suzuki Books 1-3 will focus on improving their foundational skills they are learning in their private lessons. They will learn the importance of playing with a group, repertoire review, theory skills, sight-reading intro, etc. Students in Book 4 & up will begin incorporating quartet, chamber, and advanced repertoire into their groups on top of their foundational skills.
All Suzuki Groups meet on Wednesday nights. Classes meet August 15-November 28, with no class on October 10. Contact your private instructor or the SPA office for specific group times.Group classes are open to all violin/viola/cello students familiar with the Suzuki repertoire.
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 two daughters named Lucy and Rose.
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, Kyung Sun Lee, 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 training with Kimberly Meier-Sims and Libby Armour.
During the year she plays with the Delta Symphony, Corinth Symphony, the Jackson Symphony, and the Eroica Ensemble, directed by Michael Gilbert. She and her husband, Daniel Gilbert, have one child, Isai.
Esther Humphries – Violin
Esther Humphries began studying the violin when she was 7 years old and grew up practicing alongside her four sisters, who also studied the violin and piano. In the past few years, Esther has completed her Artist Diploma and Masters’ degree from the University of Memphis, where she studied with Dr. Soh-Hyun Altino. Esther graduated from Calvin College in 2009, with a double major in music and history. An active performer in the Memphis area, Esther regularly plays in local professional ensembles, including the Eroica Ensemble and the Memphis Symphony.
She has participated in several summer festivals, including the Masterworks Festival, Opera in the Ozarks, and the National Orchestral Institute. Esther has been teaching violin and piano lessons since high school and has received training in ECC and Suzuki Books I-IV with Libby Armour and Ronda Cole. She also serves as an adjunct professor in violin at Union University in Jackson, TN, where she teaches violin lessons and coaches the Union orchestra. Esther hopes to help her students find joy in communicating through music.
Cynthia Nowell, String Coordinator
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
Jamie is a graduate of Baylor University with a Master of Music degree and a recent graduate of the University of Memphis with a Doctorate of Musical Arts. Her dissertation focuses on teaching young violin students to practice well. Jamie grew up in Waco, Texas, where Baylor University is located. Her musical connections there led to a Bachelors and then a Masters from Baylor. After taking a year off to teach violin full time, Jamie moved to Memphis in 2011 to pursue a doctorate in violin. Her studies with Dr. Soh-Hyun Altino greatly influenced her teaching. Jamie has also taken Suzuki teacher training in violin books 1-3.
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 Musgrave 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, and graduated with a BM degree in performance. He is currently pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree at University of Memphis. He has played with various orchestras and symphonies since high school in Texas and Tennessee.
He is a freelance musician in the Memphis area and enjoys playing in various locations in our city. He also plays with our Bellevue Orchestra for special events and outreach ministries. Jordan has received his teacher training in Suzuki Books 1 and 2 through the University of Memphis.
Martin Palacios – Violin
Martin Palacios graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Music from Pensacola Christian College. While at PCC, he performed with the college’s string quartet in residence and performed on national television with Rejoice in the Lord telecast. He competed and won several competitions involving the undergraduate and graduate concerto divisions, solo strings, and original music composition. Martin’s music career began in Pensacola during his senior year of college teaching private lessons at Pensacola Christian Academy for violin, viola, and cello students, and conducting the intermediate string orchestra. Several of his students won scholarships in the annual Pensacola Music Teachers Association Sonata Competition in Florida. In the summer of 2012, Martin was asked to teach at the Curacao Summer Music Camp in the Netherland Antilles where he performed in chamber groups and solos, conducted the advance string orchestra, and taught private lessons.
Currently, Martin is pursuing a Masters of Music in Performance at the University of Memphis. In addition to being a graduate student, Martin finds joy freelancing around Memphis, performing with the Jackson Symphony of Jackson Tennessee, and playing with the Bellevue Faculty String Quartet as a means to be an inspiring educator for his students and to glorify his Savior Jesus Christ. One of Martin’s favorite Bible verses is found in Isaiah 38:20 which states, “The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord.”
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.