The music faculty at Monroe Street Arts Center consists of talented, professional musicians who are skilled and dedicated teachers. Each has chosen to teach at MSAC because they enjoy being part of this special community of colleagues, students, and families, all learning how to better express themselves through music. Scroll down for information about all of our fantastic music teachers.
Praise for Our Faculty
Here’s what parents are saying about MSAC’s music faculty:
“Our child’s experience at MSAC, learning to play the violin, has made a very positive impact on his life.”
“Thank you for the tremendous environment and instruction. Our son is all the better for your influence, and we appreciate that.”
Want to read more good stuff about our faculty? Check out our Testimonials page!
Chris Allen—Guitar Instructor, Classical Guitar
To schedule an introductory lesson with Chris Allen, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: 5 and up Experience: Teaching since 1998 Education: DMA in classical guitar performance, minor in jazz studies; University of Wisconsin-Madison
MA and BA in classical guitar performance; Southern Illinois University Carbondale Activities: SIUC Jazz Ensemble
SIUC jazz combos
with established musicians in Southern Illinois (electric and acoustic guitar)
Jeff Burns—Piano, Guitar
Publications: Pentatonic Scales for the Jazz-Rock Keyboardist, Hal-Leonard Publishing (in print since 1997); “Fantasy” (for solo guitar), Mel Bay Publications, recorded by Ron Rendik for World Library Publications; “Song” (for clarinet and cello), Dorn Publications.
Performing Experience: Performed jazz, rock, and classical music as a soloist and with such groups as the Moonlight Jazz Orchestra, Tazz Rikki, and J.P. & the Cats in six states and 71 cities. Also has worked extensively as a dance accompanist for UW-Madison, NIU, and the Madison School of Ballet.
Additional Study: Clarinet with Dr. Rosemary Engelstad, Dr. Laura McLaughlin, and Kimberly Fullerton; cello with Margaret Townsend, Andrea Schripsema, and James Eaton; additional music courses at NIU and UW-Madison; Berklee College of Music Correspondence Course.
Ages: 6 to adult Experience: Taught piano at the Madison School of Music for ten years and at Word-Brodt Music and Forbes-Meagher Music. Also has experience teaching public school music. Education: M.M. Music Theory from UW–Madison, B.A. Music from Northern Illinois University, A.A. (music) from Rock Valley College. Piano teachers include Dr. Sylvia Reynolds, Dr. Ray Tadlock, Dr. J.B. Floyd (jazz), Mike Alongi (jazz), and Barbara Burns (my mother). Activities: American Society of Authors, Composers, and Publishers (ASCAP), Wisconsin Alliance for Composers (WAC), and Carnaval (Madison music club). Email
Matt Dahm—Violin and Viola
I love to learn with my students and share the music I love. I hope to give each of my students an opportunity to discover the beauty of violin playing.
To schedule an introductory lesson with Matt Dahm, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: 4 to adult Experience: Teaching since 1998 Education: Bachelors of Musical Arts in Violin Performance, Indiana University-Bloomington Activities: Performance Ensembles: Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Savoyards Orchestra and Concertmaster of Madison Summer Choir Orchestra
Music is the only language that spans ages, and is learned by all. I have studied piano for over 20 years with professors from Berlin Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, and Central Conservatory of Music in China. I am also an active pianist, having performed with pianist Lang Lang, held different solo recitals, and have played over twenty different concerts in the past four years as an accompanist. No matter what my students’ abilities are, I am patient, encouraging, and knowledgeable. I respect my students’ goals, whether they be to become a professional musician or just to play as a hobby. As your instructor, I will incorporate modern songs, styles, music theory, and aural training, which includes: ear-training, sight-reading, and sight-singing in my teaching. The method books I use most often are “Piano Adventures by Nancy and Randall Faber” and “Piano by Alfred’s Book Piano Library.” If students want to work on functional music, I would choose the method book best suited for the situation, such as Merry Christmas by Jane Smisor Bastien.
To schedule an introductory lesson with Jingwen Fan, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: 5 to Adults Experience: Teaching piano since 2008 with students ranging from kids to professional music students who were applying for music conservatories. With additional experience in teaching music theory, ear-training, sight-reading, and accompaniment. Education: BA in piano performance from Shenzhen University in China, MM in piano performance and piano collaborative from Northern Illinois University under professor William Goldenberg. Activities: Accompanist for Madison Youth Choir and a local church, performed with pianist Lang Lang in 2011 at the 26th International University Sports Federation in China, 2008 Winner of the “Youth Group” in Youngsters Asian Championship, and 2008 Winner of “Professional Group” and “Duo Piano Group” in “Irmler” German Piano Championship.
An education in music is crucial to success in school and success in life – regardless of the instrument you choose, it teaches you study skills, language skills, motor skills, and an awareness of other cultures. As a PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology, I am particularly interested in contextualizing music for my students, so that they not only understand what they are playing, but also why it was written a certain way and by whom. While my training is primarily classical, I am thrilled to work with students on any genre that is exciting to them.
I trained for over a decade with Virginia Hawley Buhn, a graduate of Colombia University and renowned piano teacher in the Pacific Northwest, completing all ten levels of the OMTA Syllabus program and giving two solo recitals by age 18. In college, I acted as an accompanist for students of voice and strings, and I continue to play for myself in a variety of genres, including classical, salsa, and musical theater. In addition, I have taught summer camps in World Music for children in the Austin, TX area and maintain an active performance life as a choral singer.
I believe that being able to play the piano lays the foundation for understanding music technically, historically, and culturally. Even at a young age, students are able to understand the basic theoretical concepts upon which the pieces that they play were written as well as their cultural context. Under my tutelage, we will learn not just how to play the piano, but also work towards understanding deeper themes related to music more broadly.
Ages: 5 and up Education: Master of Arts in Musicology from the University of Oregon, PhD in Ethnomusicology in progress at the University of Texas at Austin. Activities: I am new to the Madison area, so still looking for ways to be involved in the community music scene! For the moment, I’ll be singing with the chorus of the Madison Opera.
Music can be a release, a personal or shared meditation, an unending path to self-improvement through disciplined & honest self-critic… but, most importantly it’s a way to communicate with others in a deep, ancient language. I strive to help my students be aware in the moment as they express themselves, speaking through music. Students will chart their progress with a “practice journal” that we both may write in. In lessons, we’ll focus on healthy technique. One of my major responsibilities as a teacher is to help students discover the personal art of “how to practice”. We’ll break down difficult passages, learn how to create exercises and rhythm rudiments. My mantra for many years has been “Every Day”. I’ll assign small exercises, relevant to the techniques that we are exploring, which can be practiced for about 10 minutes a day. These every-day exercises can be used as the student’s warm up or as a separate mental workout dealing with rhythmic counting. Students will also be given weekly listening assignments, as well as “quick facts research” to learn the history of a piece, composer, & period. I’ve been a multi-instrumentalist since I first began learning music at the age of 10. In the process of learning over 10 instruments fluently, I’ve studied techniques from all over the world, in a plethora of genres. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what genre(s) of music you want to play – what matters is having healthy technique so you can have fun doing it. That’s what I’ll help you to achieve! In addition to teaching, I am active professionally as a composer, improviser, performer, sound designer, electronic musician, & multi-instrumentalist on cello, bass guitar, & Chinese String strings (古琴 guqin, 古筝 guzheng, 琵琶 pipa, 二胡 erhu, 高胡 gaohu, 大阮 daruan). I’m a frequent collaborator in Madison’s avant-garde music scene who is passionate about exploring music traditions from around the world. Over the last decade I have found a niche composing, performing, and recording scores for dance, theatre, & film. As a result, I’ve released over 20 albums in the last 3 years. My music-making process is inspired and directed by the endless designs, mechanisms, variations, adaptations, and cycles found in the Universe.
Visit GrimmusiK.com for more information.
To schedule an introductory lesson with Brian Grimm, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: 4-Adult Experience: From grade school through high school I learned the Suzuki Cello School, Volumes 1-7 with Janet Marshall. In 2005, I took over teaching the Suzuki repertoire to Mrs. Marshall’s cello studio for three summers. I then continued to teach cello at the Butler Community Arts School in Indianapolis from 2005-2009. Since 2010 I have been a freelance music tutor and guest lecturer. Education: BM with Honors in Music Composition, minor in Jazz Studies & Cello Performance from Butler University, Indianapolis, IN; Chinese Music Studies at Hong Kong Institute of Education, Tai Po, Hong Kong Activities: Brian composes, performs, and records solo music as BC Grimm (acoustic) and BRAIN GRIMMER (electronic), and with the ensembles: The Brothers Grimm, Watercourse Quartet, Lovely Socialite Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps, Stray Passage, Sisters Three, 5 Points Jazz Collective, Gastrique!, & others. Visit GrimmusiK.com for more information.
His commissions & collaborations include: Fingerlakes Chamber Music Festival | City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong | Radio & Television Hong Kong (RTHK) | Wu Ji Ensemble (Hong Kong) | American Pianist Association Classical Fellowship Awards | Lyre Power | Jerrilee Lucas Yoga | Tinker Films | Indiana Repertory Theatre | PaperStrangers Dance and Theater Co. | Indy Fringe Theater | American Blues Theater | Ephemeral Dance | Strollers Theatre | NoExit Performance | Mine All Mine Records | Signal Dreams Records | Color Field Festival for Contemporary Music |
Jaime Guiscafre—Guitar, Classical, Latin Jazz, World Music
To schedule an introductory lesson with Jaime Guiscafre, please call 608.232.1510.
Emmy award winning guitarist/ composer Jaime Gusicafré is highly acclaimed for his talent in Classical, Latin Jazz and World Music. Gusicafré won his Emmy in 1988 for his performance, composing, and direction in the soundtrack for the PBS documentary, “Hispanic Mosaic.”He has performed as a soloist and with ensembles throughout North and South America, Spain and Italy. As a member of the celebrated Latin American group Sotavento, he made nine recording on Redwood Records and DiscosPueblo.
A champion of the music of modern Latin composers, Gusicafré released a solo recording in 1999 entitled “Seven Latin American Composers,” that is still distributed by the theorchard.com and peoplesound.com in Europe. Mr. Guiscafre was an Artist in Residence at the Universidad Autónoma Nacional de México in México City during August 2000.
In March 2001 Mr. Guiscafre traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the premiere of his composition”Villancico” a work for mixed choir and guitar. 2003 marked the release of the critically acclaimed CD “New Music for Guitar” featuring Roscoe Mitchell “on NEXTAGEM Records, a collection of Jaime Gusicafré’s original guitar music and that of other Latin composers. Reviewer Tom Laaskin called the CD “a humane, intellectually satisfying album…” During his eleven year collaboration with Roscoe Mitchell, Gusicafré played on string instruments ranging from the classical guitar to the Puerto Rican cuatro to the Japanese Biwa. Mr. Gusicafré is a member of the music faculty at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, and resides in Madison, Wisconsin.
To schedule an introductory lesson with Jaime Guiscafre, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: Children and Adults Education: Masters of Music in Applied Guitar, University of Miami
Masters of Music in Ethnomusicology, UW-Madison Activities: Local and regional performer Email
Many people learn the harmonica by ear, making it an excellent instrument for those who lack formal music training and experience. As instruction continues, elements of basic music can be gently introduced in a non-intimidating way. I use handouts and exercises of my own design, using a numbered tablature system as well as tapes and CDs. Players begin by learning the basics of harmonica: simple songs, getting single notes, hand effects, note bending. They advance to learning blues, how to improvise, working with recordings, jamming with others, and performing.
To schedule an introductory lesson with DeWayne Keyes, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: 4 and up Education: BA in History; University of Wisconsin-Madison Activities: The Harmonica Hour;
"Pure Ballet," Overture Center, Madison, Wisconsin (May, 2008);
Over 1,000 gigs since 1976;
"Art Fair on the Square," Madison, Wisconsin (every year since 1984)
Lisa is active as both an instructor and an accompanist. She believes that all children have musical ability and that it is the ultimate job as an instructor to nuture that ability in an environment that instills, first and foremost, a love of playing music. Lisa uses a more “traditional” method with her students, but also includes many elements from the Suzuki method. She has held music classes for toddlers and pre-school age children and has taught piano in both group and private settings to children age 5 through adults.
To schedule an introductory lesson with Lisa, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: Ages 5 and Up Education: Bachelor of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Master of Music in piano pedagogy from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia
Charlie Painter is a Madison-based, self-studied, self-producing guitarist, teacher, composer, and band leader. Charlie has played nearly a thousand shows at over 50 venues in Madison since his 2009 inception.
As an educator, he started teaching at the Goodman Center and the Boys and Girls Club for the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium’s after school programs back in 2014. Charlie’s student-centered approach now includes instruction on electric bass and ukulele. In addition to his performance-based approach, Charlie also utilizes the Hal Leonard Method books, 1-3. This will help the student achieve a musical literacy that applies to both the informal “jam,” and to the live stage.”
Ages: 5 and up
To be a singer is to be a story teller. Singers not only use the music that is given to them, but also the words. Whether in an opera, a musical, or just a song on the radio, the music and the words are meant to complement each other. This is a special gift that vocalists get to utilize.
I have been performing as a singer in one way or another since I was a young child. Every teacher I have studied under has emphasized the importance of creating a moment, and that is a sentiment I pass onto my students. Even if the intent of learning to sing is to impress yourself in the car, you might as well tell yourself a story. As a classically trained vocalist, I love to teach the dramatics of opera, as well as the full sound and quality of Bel-Canto singing. I mix the full sound of classical training with the character and color in musical theater.
With a Bachelor of the Arts in Vocal Music and minor in linguistics, I take great care in analyzing the text in front of me. I encourage my students, when ready, to take on pieces in other languages so we can dive into beautiful phrasing that other languages create that simply doesn’t translate into English as eloquently.
Ages: 12 and up Experience: Musical Theater Music Intern at Shell Lake Arts Center Musical Theater Camp in Shell Lake, WI. Performing Intern in Opera at St. Mark’s in Florence, Italy.
Professional Musician since 2012 and teaching voice since 2013. Education: BA in Vocal Music with a minor in linguistics from Luther College in Decorah, IA.
Ken Stancer—Piano, Suzuki Piano
Ken Stancer has been teaching private piano since 1984; turning to the use of the Suzuki method literature in 1986. He has also taught private organ since 1997. Ken received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with certification to teach Choral and General music in Grades K-12. In 2002 he received a Master of Music Education degree from UW-Madison.
Ken holds the position of K-5 general music instructor at Lindbergh Elementary in the Madison Metropolitan Schools and is Music Director and Organist at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Madison. Ken is also active as a recorder player and celtic harpist. He has been actively pursuing training in the Suzuki Method in recent years.
When not involved in musical endeavors, Ken enjoys swimming, biking and gardening. He is a strong advocate for environmental protection and eco-centered living.
To schedule an introductory lesson with Ken Stancer, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: 5 and up Experience: Teaching since 1984, Ken holds the position of K-5 general music instructor at Lindbergh Elementary in the Madison Metropolitan Schools and is Music Director and Organist at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Madison. Ken is also active as a recorder player and celtic harpist. He has been actively pursuing training in the Suzuki Method in recent years. Education: Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, certification to teach Choral and General music in Grades K-12, Master of Music Education degree from UW-Madison
Anastasia Tomanek is a recent graduate of Millikin University in Central Illinois, where she conferred a BM in Vocal Music Education with a certification teaching K-12. Anastasia was highly involved in organizations such as National Association for Music Educators and American Choral Directors Association holding executive positions for both at the collegiate level.
“My goal as a music educator is to make music accessible to as many students as I can by stimulating them educationally and creatively so they may receive the richest musical experience they can. Every student can achieve greatness through hard work and passion. My hope is to assist them in making that passion into a success each week so they can reach their full potential. My students will build their skills in both ear training and music theory so they can correlate what their fingers play to what they can both see and hear”.
Ages: 5 and up
Reem Totonchi—Private Music Manager, Piano, Registered Music Together Teacher & Group Music Teacher
Music is art, music is language, music is an outlet, music is feeling – music can be anything and everything. I have had music in my life since I was an infant, and that has helped instill in me my love of music, as well as my desire to pass on that love through teaching piano lessons and group classes. I hope to pass on that love to every person I work with!
Ages: 4 1/2 to adult Experience: Teaching since 2002 Education: BA in Music with Elementary Teaching Certification, Beloit College;
MM in Music Education, Concentration in Diversity Studies, U-W Madison Activities: I enjoy playing weddings, arranging rock/pop songs for solo piano, and just playing piano for fun. And I love to sing!
In my one-on-one piano lessons, I focus on individualized curricula for each student based on their interests, needs, age, and ability. I have worked with a very large range of students who follow many different paths and play in various genres. Lessons are always fun, yet focused. I encourage performances in several types of venues including recitals, competitions, and in a volunteer setting. My goal is to make people love music first, and learn to play piano while on that journey!
While teaching my early childhood group music classes, I work with kids ages 0-6 and their parents/adults to help instill the basics of music, as well as share the joy of music through singing, dancing, and instrument play. With kids this young, I make sure to include a good amount of structure, as well as plenty of free time for open exploration of expression within music and movement.
I feel extremely lucky to have a career that combines my two passions: teaching and music!
Reem’s studio is full at this time. She is not taking new students. Please call 608.232.1510 to discuss other options for piano instruction.
Mark Wurzelbacher—Piano, Group Music Teacher
In my lessons, I like to focus on building facility in what I view as some of the core tenets of successful and enjoyable musicianship: sight-reading, ear training, and understanding of theory. I was classically trained, so I have knowledge and ability in classical style and technique, but I work professionally in popular music styles (musicals, pop/rock, jazz) and like to offer a mix to the student. I know I had difficulties at times when I was taking lessons staying focused enough to practice the “boring” stuff (drills and technique-building exercises), so I strive to make sure the student understands the importance of technique while striving to make the process as engaging and relevant as possible. One of my top goals is to get my students excited to come back for their next lesson!
To schedule an introductory lesson with Mark, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: 5 and up Experience: Teaching in various capacities (private lessons, group theory/ear training, youth and adult theatre) since 2006 Education: Bachelor of Arts in Organ Performance and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame; Master of Arts in Music Theory from UW–Madison Activities: : I am active in the music theatre community around Madison as a pianist and music director. I previously acted as the Resident Music Director for Windy City Music Theatre, a theatre company in Chicago that produces shows for youth, adult, and all-ages casts.
Music has always been part of my life and I have been playing the piano since I was eight years old. From what I understand, music is not only about mimicking nature, but also about revealing the inwardness of nature. Music has different meanings for different musicians: some of them think music is about emotions, and others understand music as pure logic. There might not be a true answer of what music really is, but people acknowledge that: everybody can approach music and enjoy music. It shapes individuals’ lives and value in a positive way.
Learning an instrument is always useful for students to better understand music. My piano lesson involves basic keyboard technique teaching, ear training, and theory learning.
Ages: 5 - Adult. Education: Bachelor of Science degree in both Music Composition and Philosophy from UW-Madison.
Karen Zethmayr—Suzuki Violin, Fiddle Class
Pleased to teach Suzuki violin to ages 3 years through high school at our lively arts center on Monroe Street. Adult students also welcome.
Two big influences on my performing and teaching are Dalcroze Eurhythmics and experience as a professional storyteller. Dalcroze brings fun, phrasing, and energy to music. The power of story helps in teaching the “how to” of technique, and brings out the drama in music. The common thread I find in both singing and playing is that strong, free sound comes not from pressure and force but from balance and free-flowing energy.
After graduating from Lawrence University, I studied violin further with Scott Willits (Chicago), Giorgio Silzer (Berlin) and Anastasia Jempelis (Eastman School of Music, specifically Suzuki pedagogy). Many summers of National String Workshop here in Madison have afforded the opportunity to study cello and bass. I’ve studied singing with Mari Taniguchi (Lawrence University, Appleton), Blanch Yuenger (Chicago), Olga Ryss and Florette Blank (New York), Elsa Verna (Berlin), Anna Kaskas (Eastman School of Music), and Bettina Bjorksten (Madison).
To schedule an introductory lesson with Karen Zethmayr, please call 608.232.1510.
Ages: 3 to adult Experience: Teaching since 1971 Education: BMus, Major in Violin, Minor in Voice, Lawrence University;
Suzuki Violin Pedagogy, Eastman School of Music;
Certified to teach instrumental music pre-K-12, general music pre-K-8 Activities: UW-Madison Opera orchestra;
Madison Savoyards pit orchestra;
MSFAC String Quartet;
Suzuki Association of Wisconsin;
Independant String Teachers' Association of Madison;
Madison Storytellers' Guild;
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators