2020 Clinicians

We are honored to announce our clinicians for the 2022 Mardi Gras Workshop:

Susan Kempter, Violin

Susan Kempter of Albuquerque is a Senior Lecturer in String Pedagogy, a registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, a specialist in interdisciplinary applications to music teaching and learning, and Founder of the UNM Lab School at the University of New Mexico.

Susan created Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in String Pedagogy at the University of New Mexico. She also has been President of the New Mexico Chapter of The American String Teachers Association and served as Private Teacher’s Forum Editor, Consulting Editor, and Chair of the National Certificate Committee, for The American String Teacher. She also served on the board of the New Mexico Chapter of ASTA for over 17 years, and was editor of the state newsletter for two terms.

In 1998, she was awarded the Citation for Exceptional Leadership and Merit by the American String Teachers Association and was awarded Private Studio Teacher of the Year by the New Mexico Chapter of ASTA in 2006. In 2009, Susan was awarded the prestigious Bravos Award for Excellence in Music by the Albuquerque Arts Alliance.

In addition to her work at the University of New Mexico, Susan founded the Albuquerque Suzuki School, as well as the Suzuki violin program at the College of Santa Fe. She ran student retreats at Hummingbird Music Camp for many years, began a series of student performances at the Rio Grande Zoo and founded the student touring group – Mad About Music, which has performed in Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, California, Florida, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Virginia, Washington DC, Arizona and Texas. Many of her students have won the opportunity to solo with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony. She has also had several younger students solo with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. Her former students are teaching and playing professionally throughout the country.

She has two published books: Between Parent and Teacher: A Teacher’s Guide to Parent Education [SHAR]and How Muscles Learn: Teaching the Violin with the Body in Mind [Alfred]. A third book, Folk Melodies of New Mexico and the Southwest will be published in the near future, and she is beginning a fourth book about human cognition and music teaching and learning.

Susan has presented sessions at many national conferences, including The American String Teachers Association, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, The Music Teachers National Association, National Association of Physical Therapists in 2003, and the Research Symposia at Northern Arizona University, The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts and SAA Talent Education Research sessions in Minneapolis.

Susan’s education has been eclectic, and has included fields as diverse as nursing, zoology, 17th century literature, cognition, kinesthetics, as well as violin performance and pedagogy. She studied at DePaul University, the University of Utah and the University of New Mexico. She has Bachelors and Masters degrees from UNM. Her violin teachers have included Harold Wolf, Victor Aitay, Sally Peck [violin and viola], and Leonard Felberg. She studied pedagogy with John Kendall and interdisciplinary work with William Seymour.

James Hutchins, Violin

James Hutchins lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wonderful and gorgeous wife and his fabulous and entertaining son. He grew up in the Suzuki Method, has been a Suzuki teacher for over 25 years and is a proud Suzuki dad. James is a registered teacher trainer who has taught at workshops, institutes and classes around the world, including South Korea, Iceland, Peru, Lithuania, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Bermuda, the Bahamas and throughout the States. In 2018, James was a guest Clinician at the 67th Suzuki Method Summer School in Matsumoto, Japan. His studio has performed for former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House, at the National Zoo, the U.S. Capitol,the Maryland State Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Aquarium and on the Millennium Stage and with the National Symphony at The Kennedy Center. They have also played the National Anthem for the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Wizards and Nationals. James also had the honor of performing for Dr. and Mrs. Suzuki at their home in Japan.

Kathy Almquist, Viola

Kathy Almquist received a Bachelors Degree from the Hartt school and a Masters degree at the Yale School of Music. Her viola teachers include: Patricia McCarty, Harold Coletta, Lawrence Dutton, Rosemary Glyde, Jesse Levine and Scott Nickrenz.

After completing studies at Yale, she went on to Long Term Suzuki Teacher Training in viola as well as violin with Teri and David Einfeldt at the Hartt School of Music. Suzuki training continued with Carol Smith, Carrie Reuning Hummel and Elizabeth Stuen-Walker. She has been a faculty member of The Hartt Suzuki Program, The Suzuki School of Newton and was Upper Strings Coordinator and viola faculty for Intensive Community Program of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras. Kathy is a frequent guest clinician at Suzuki Workshops and Summer Institutes.

A former member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, she often performs with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and has been a substitute player at the National Opera of Finland.

In addition to principal players at the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, her students include a featured violist on Public Radioʼs From the Top, a 2011 Virtu Foundation Scholarship recipient, the winner of the 2010 Rosemary Glyde Scholarship from the New York Viola Society, the 2009 winner of the A-muse the World Competition, as well as a semi-finalist in the 2008 New England String Ensemble Concerto Competition.

Current and former students have continued their studies at such places as Harvard University, Amherst College, Oberlin College, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Bates College, University of Michigan, the Walnut Hill School, Meadowmount and the Tuscia Opera Festival in Rome, Italy.

Nicolette Solomon, Violin

Nicolette Solomon, Director Emeritus of the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas, was born in Laingsburg, South Africa. She began her violin training with Neil McKay in Port Elizabeth, continuing her studies with Pierre de Groote at the College of Music in Cape Town, and completing her University studies under the tutelage of Alan Solomon. She obtained a Bachelor of Music (Honors) and Higher Education Diploma (Post Graduate) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In 1975 she played at the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Scotland and later toured Europe and Israel. She has played in the International Festival Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, London and performed in Israel, Taiwan and Hong Kong with Harmonia Juventia. She studied Chamber Music from 1974–1981 with Betty Pack and Alan Solomon. She has also been both an Adjudicator and Examiner for music competitions and examinations in South Africa and the USA. After her introduction to the Suzuki method, she became a fervent proponent and pioneer of the method in South Africa, founding and directing the Solomon Suzuki School in Johannesburg in 1980. She expanded her training with Christophe Bossuat in Lyon, France, and in 1992 she studied with Dr. Suzuki himself at the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, Japan. While in Japan, she taught at a private studio in Nagano City, Japan and at Shinshu University. In 1994, she attended the International Strings workshop in France, playing in the Eduard Melckus Baroque Ensemble. She has led violin and viola workshops and master classes internationally, and trained and conducted String Orchestras in South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand and throughout the USA and Central America. In 2000 she emigrated to the United States, where she served as string specialist and then Director of the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas. She is married to Carl van Wyk, has 2 adult children and two grandchildren, and divides her time between their home in Dallas, their retreat in Dripping Springs and her teaching commitments internationally. 

Donna Davis, Cello

Donna Davis has been teaching the Suzuki method for over 27 years. After taking her first Suzuki workshop while still an undergraduate, she began her teaching career in Connecticut working with Diana Tillson, one of the pioneers of the Suzuki method in America. The founding cello teacher of the Bethwood Suzuki School in Woodbridge, CT, she taught for 3 years before moving to Erie, PA. Teaching at Mercyhurst College, Donna established the cello program and an extensive early childhood music program. Donna has been a certified Music Together teacher for over 10 years. A Texan for the last 15 years, she maintained a private studio in San Antonio before moving to Plano 5 years ago. Conducting and working with youth orchestras is one of her passions. She has conducted for the Young Artists Philharmonic, CT, Greater Erie Youth Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio. Donna continues to freelance and play chamber music throughout the United States. Donna is the creator of the Kodomo Music program for infants and toddlers and directs the Kodmo program at SMID She is also the Director of the DFWWOW Summer Institute. She is married to Jolyon, a cellist and has a 17year old cellist son, Alexander.

Rolando Freitag, Violin

Rolando Freitag is a registered Violin Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA). He currently serves on the SAA’s Board of Directors as the 2019-2021 Chair-Elect, and as director for the Florida Music Institute. He has extensive experience working with students of all ages and ability levels, and has taught lessons, workshops and teacher training courses throughout the Americas. Save & Exit

Mr. Freitag earned his M.M. in Violin Performance from Penn State University, and his B.M. in Violin Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory. In addition, he holds the Certificate of Achievement from  the Suzuki Association of the Americas, an award given to teachers who demonstrate outstanding commitment to excellence in their teaching.

At the Orlando Suzuki Music School he offers Suzuki Teacher Training courses as well as individual and group lessons

Molly Goforth, Cello

Molly Goforth is a cellist and teacher based in the Lafayette area. She is principal cellist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and also plays with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra. She teaches applied cello lessons at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and at McNeese State University. As a performer, she gives regular chamber music and solo performances throughout Louisiana.

Molly received her Master’s degree in cello performance from DePaul University in Chicago and her Bachelor’s degree from University of Louisville. Her teachers have included Stephen Balderston, Alan Harris, Craig Hultgren, Alice Ann O’Neill and Paul York.

Mrs. Grazzia Rode-Sagastume, viola

Mrs. Grazzia Rode-Sagastume is a Honduran-American Suzuki violist, violinist and early childhood educator. She began her musical education on the viola at age 13 at the “Escuela de Música Victoriano López” in her home city, San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

She received her Bachelor in Arts degree from Western Illinois University where she studied viola under Dr. Istvan Szabo and played with the President’s International String Quartet. In 2015, Ms. Grazzia, graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque with a Master in Music in Viola Performance and a Master in Music in String Pedagogy. She studied viola and violin with Susan Kempter, Kimberly Fredenburgh and Carmelo de los Santos.

In her capacity as graduate assistant, she maintained a studio of violin and viola students, taught at the UNM Suzuki Lab School and Young Musician’s Initiative (El Sistema Albuquerque), and performing professionally with the New Mexico Philharmonic, Santa Fe Symphony, Performance Santa Fe Symphony, and San Juan Symphony in Durango, CO. She completed long term training in Suzuki violin books 1-10 with nationally renowned pedagogue, Susan Kempter.

Mrs. Grazzia is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the American String Teachers Association, and the Omaha Musician’s Union. Since moving to Omaha in 2015, she has held a full studio of violin and viola students, teaches over 150 students in the String Sprouts outreach program at the Omaha Conservatory of Music, co-teaches the first Suzuki Early Childhood Class “Tuneful Tots” in Nebraska, and in November 2021 was promoted to Interim Director for the Omaha Conservatory of Music Suzuki Institute and SoundWaves summer music program.

She performs regularly with her string quartet—Cass Quartet and enjoys performing with Omaha Symphony, Mannheim Steamroller, Voices of Omaha, Orchestra Omaha, and with the Omaha Performing Arts’ Broadway tour shows.

In the summer of 2017, Mrs. Grazzia attended the Retreat for Violin and Viola teachers seminar at Indiana University. She was fortunate to have learned under amazing pedagogues such as Mimi Zweig, Rebecca Henry, Brenda Brenner, Sherry Sinift, James Przygocki, and Elizabeth Zempel.

In 2018-2019 she received the Nebraska American String Teacher Association “Outstanding Private Teacher Award”.

During the pandemic she has taken advantage of the Suzuki online courses and has taken multiple enrichment and a supplementary courses under: Sharon Jones, Edward Kreitman, Ann Montzka Smelser, Wan Tsai Chen, Christine Goodner, Danielle Kravitz and Marguerite Jayasimha.

In her spare time, Mrs Grazzia enjoys learning, baking, crafts, savoring delicious espresso, and time with her husband Ian!