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Teacher Bios

Piano

Will Johnston began playing piano at the age of 6.  He attended the Hartt School of Music at the age of 10 and later began studying classical piano with Edith Petersen who was a Julliard performance graduate.  In 1971, he attended the St. Louis Institute of Music on a full scholarship.  In 1972, he attended B3 organ and piano performance classes at Berklee College of Music in Boston Mass and later graduated from the North Bennett St. Industrial school for piano technology.  After completing college, he traveled with many blues and rock bands all over the US and parts of Europe.

Will began teaching piano in the 90s and has been teaching at Hoggtowne Music since it's opening in 2006.  Three of his students have received full music scholarships to universities in the state but his passion is teaching music and piano to young students.

Hsiao-Wei Chen holds a master’s degree in music from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Miami. She has performed with the University of Florida Symphony Orchestra, the UF Women’s Chorale, the Brazilian ensemble, Jacare Brazil, and the Frost Symphony Orchestra based in Miami, Florida. Hsiao-Wei is currently enrolled in the Music Therapy Equivalency Distance program of the St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana and is studying to become a board-certified music therapist.

Hsiao-Wei is experienced in teaching both one-on-one and classroom settings. Hsiao-Wei taught general music, chorus, keyboard, and musical theater in the Columbia County School System and she has been teaching private flute and piano lessons in the Gainesville and North Central Florida area since 2010. Hsiao-Wei has experience in teaching flute and piano to students with all level of abilities, ages ranging from 4 to 78. Many of her flute students have succeeded in competitions and auditions such as Solo and Ensemble, All-County and All-State Band auditions, the Alachua County Youth Orchestra auditions, and college auditions.

Sue Amkraut has been playing piano since the age of 4.  She has a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education and has been teaching piano privately for over 30 years in New York and Orlando.  Sue is a member of the Federation of Music Clubs and the National Piano Guild, which allows students to play and show-off their accomplishments at all levels.  She is also an active adjudicator at these events.  Sue enjoys teaching all levels and all ages from 4-104!  She looks forward to sharing her love of music with all students to develop their musical abilities. 


Guitar/Bass/Ukulele

Richard Simmons is a teacher based in Gainesville, FL and has been playing guitar for over forty years. He has been teaching guitar through Hoggtowne Music for nearly a decade. Aside from teaching acoustic and electric guitar, Richard also teaches ukulele and bass guitar. Richard enjoys playing and teaching all types of music and his students are from all different age groups and skill levels.

Richard has performed with multiple local bands in the Alachua County area including, V6 and The Atypicals, along with several others. Along with playing guitar Richard’s other hobbies include off-roading in his Jeep and carpentry.

Garrett Alvar is a banjo player from Melbourne Beach, Florida. He's been playing banjo for 14 years and has performed at a variety of venues and folk festivals throughout the state of Florida. Garrett specializes in Scruggs and melodic style banjo, but he loves to take the banjo's unique sound and put it into a variety of different genres. Outside of banjo, Garrett is an online ESL teacher for students in China and he spends his free time hiking and surfing.


Strings

Brandon Caroon is a cellist from Spokane Valley, Washington. He has been playing the cello for 11 years, and he is currently attending school at the University of Florida. He performs venues ranging from weddings and church services to orchestra concerts and personal recitals. He currently performs with the University of Florida Symphonic Orchestra and spends most Sundays playing with the Greenhouse church band. He enjoys playing pop music and improvising melodic lines, but he also enjoys an occasional challenge with classical and romantic music. Outside of music, Brandon likes watching and playing sports, spending time with friends, and enjoying the outdoors with fun activities.

Mari Dickerson began playing violin at the age of 7 and viola at the age of 14. She is currently pursuing a dual degree in Music and Geography at the University of Florida. She performs with the University of Florida Symphony Orchestra and in the UF Chamber Music program as well as the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. Her teachers include Dr. Lauren Hodges, Sheila Browne, Stephen Fine, and Adelaide Federici. Mari has performed in master classes with Rudolf Haken and Hsiaopei Lee. Outside of music, Mari enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and reading.


Woodwinds

Karisa McKinney is an active teacher and performer in Gainesville, FL. She has performed as a local musician around Gainesville, as well as all around the state of Florida. She recently graduated with her Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance and Music Theory from the University of Florida. Her previous teachers include Dr. Kristen Stoner, Amy Clark, and Dr. Paul Richards. 
While at UF, Karisa performed as Co-principal of the UF Wind Symphony, section member of the UF Orchestra, and as a chamber musician in various ensembles. For the past four years, she performed within the Flute studio at the Florida Flute Association Convention. In January of 2015 and 2016, she was a member of the FMEA Intercollegiate Band and performed at the Florida Music Educators Association Convention. 
As a connoisseur of new music, Ms. McKinney has premiered several new works by locally and nationally-known composers. In fall of 2015, she premiered a micro-opera at the Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference. 
While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Karisa was an active member of Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity for Women. Through SAI, she frequently provided community service all throughout Gainesville. In spring of 2016, Karisa was the recipient of the Penland Prize, a performance competition hosted by the Gainesville Sigma Alpha Iota Alumnae Chapter. Ms. McKinney is also a member of the National Flute Association, the Florida Flute Association, and the College Music Society.  Karisa teaches flutes to students of all levels.

Hsiao-Wei Chen holds a master’s degree in music from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Miami. She has performed with the University of Florida Symphony Orchestra, the UF Women’s Chorale, the Brazilian ensemble, Jacare Brazil, and the Frost Symphony Orchestra based in Miami, Florida. Hsiao-Wei is currently enrolled in the Music Therapy Equivalency Distance program of the St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana and is studying to become a board-certified music therapist.

Hsiao-Wei is experienced in teaching both one-on-one and classroom settings. Hsiao-Wei taught general music, chorus, keyboard, and musical theater in the Columbia County School System and she has been teaching private flute and piano lessons in the Gainesville and North Central Florida area since 2010. Hsiao-Wei has experience in teaching flute and piano to students with all level of abilities, ages ranging from 4 to 78. Many of her flute students have succeeded in competitions and auditions such as Solo and Ensemble, All-County and All-State Band auditions, the Alachua County Youth Orchestra auditions, and college auditions.

 

Haley Larsen teaches clarinet and piano and is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Clarinet Performance and a Masters of Science and Management at the University of Florida. Aside from teaching at our studio, Haley serves as the Woodwind tech for Newberry High School and as the University of Florida Band Librarian.

Along with teaching, Haley also performs around the state of Florida. Currently she performs with the University of Florida Clarinet Quintet. In the past, she has performed various pit orchestras for Into the Woods, Hello, Dolly!, Mary Poppins, Footloose, and The Wizard of Oz.

In Ms. Larsen’s spare time, she likes to travel, spend time with her friends and family, and also volunteer with various organizations including Tau Beta Sigma, and Sigma Alpha Iota.

Hannah Bearham is a freelance oboe player from Miami, Florida.  She has been playing the oboe for 9 years and is currently studying under Dr. Leslie Odom at the University of Florida.  Since attending UF, Hannah has played in several Gainesville productions, including the University’s performances of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.  She is a member of the University of Florida Wind Symphony, appearing on their 2017 CD Masks and Machines.  She has also performed with the University Orchestra and Gainesville Symphony Orchestra.  Since her high school years, Hannah has served as an oboe instructor for variety of students, ranging from elementary to college level.  She first discovered her love of teaching through her work as oboe section leader for the Coral Reef Senior High School Wind Ensemble.  Since coming to Gainesville, Hannah has served as a peer mentor to the University of Florida oboe studio, organizing and overseeing practice sectionals for its members.  She has also taken on several private students, offering individualized lessons plans designed to address issues unique to each player.  Whenever she’s not playing or making reeds, Hannah tutors chemistry and biology at Santa Fe College.  She also enjoys knitting and jewelry-making in her free time.


Brass

Doug Meyers has played trumpet since age 5, and played professionally since 12. Featured soloist with the Utica NY Symphony at 16. Special student at Eastman School of Music 16-18. Boston Conservatory Principal trumpet performance major. Studied under Principal Trumpets of the Rochester, Toronto and Boston Symphonies and personal instruction from principal trumpet players with the Chicago and New York symphonies.

He currently plays lead with Salsumba d’G’ville Salsa Band, Studio trumpet work with Koqui Acosta Latin composer/performer, lead trumpet with “Uncle Morty’s Rhythm Cream” , an 11 piece R&B show band, and with Little Jake and the Soul Searchers.  In his spare time Doug is co-lead trumpet with the University of Florida sight-reading Big Band. The boy can hit high notes that only Maynard Ferguson could hear.

Marco Thomas is from Ellenwood, GA which a suburb of Atlanta. He is a bass trombone player that studied music education at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL. His principal teacher there was Brian Brink. He earned his Bachelors of Music Education in 1999. Mr. Thomas began teaching middle school band in Hardee County in January of 2000. He entered the University of Florida in the summer of 2002 where he earned his Masters of Music Performance in trombone. His principal teacher there was Arthur Jennings. After graduation, he took a position at Hawthorne Middle/High School as Director of Bands. He was at Hawthorne from 2004-2007. He began his current position as the music teacher at Williams Elementary in Gainesville during the 2007-2008 school year.  

He has been a presenter at the International Arts and Humanities Conference in Hawaii and has published an article in the Instrumentalist magazine in the fall of 2008. He has also presented at the Florida Music Educators Association conference in January 2014. He has been the director of the Gainesville Big Band since 2007. In addition, he is an active performer with various groups in the Gainesville area, ranging from classical to jazz.


Drums/Percussion

Masatoshi Enomoto started playing at the age of 15, where he spent most of his time learning about rudimental and orchestral percussion.  While at the University of Miami studying to be a band director, he played in many ensembles and began to teach privately and in schools.  In 1998, he was part of the Crossmen Drum & Bugle Corps front ensemble.  After finishing school, he briefly taught middle school band and orchestra and worked as a percussion instructor/arranger at many award-winning middle and high school band programs throughout the state of Florida including Glades MS, Howard Bishop MS, Miami Killian HS, Flanagan HS, and Santa Fe HS.  He has also taught private percussion lessons at the College of Central Florida (Ocala) and Santa Fe College (Gainesville).  Masa has played with various world music groups including, Trio de Janeiro (Miami), Klezmiamians, and Opia Gua Ciboney.  He has played with local rock and pop groups and also played with the Central Florida Philharmonic, Southwest Florida Symphony, Florida Grand Opera, and the Miami City Ballet.  Currently, he is Principal Percussion/Tympani with the Gainesville Orchestra, section percussion with the Ocala Symphony, and drum set with Swing Theory and the Gainesville Big Band.  Masa teaches percussion including- snare drum (rudimental/concert), drum set, mallets, auxiliary percussion, rhythm reading to students from beginning to late intermediate and beginning hand drums. 

 

 

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