About students

Piano students at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music come in almost infinite varieties, but they have several things in common. They are eager, willing to learn, and serious about discovering more about music and the role it may play in their lives. They may study piano performance, major in music education, or choose a degree program with a specific emphasis within music or with elective studies outside of music. Whatever they choose, they will grow and be stretched while being at Wheaton. They also have a way of finding remarkably individual paths once they graduate.

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Here is a representative list from Daniel Paul Horn’s studio:


Shun-Lin Chou (BA in music, class of 1988):  MM in piano performance and pedagogy with Louis Nagel, University of Michigan;  D.M.A.  in piano performance with Nelita True, Eastman.  Currently Director of Keyboard Studies, California State University, Long Beach. Website >>

Sonja Olson Grimes (BM in piano performance, 1988):  MM in accompanying, chamber music and piano pedagogy with Lambert Orkis and Maria del Pico Taylor, Temple University, 1990.  Master Certified piano teacher with Minnesota Music Teachers Association;  teaches 30 private students,  both at home at at Northwestern College in Saint Paul.  Teaches Musikgarten classes.  Staff accompanist at Northwestern College, free-lance accompanist in Twin Cities area.

Deanna Witkowski (BM in piano performance, class of 1993):    noted jazz pianist, composer and recording artist with a strong interest in sacred jazz. Website >>

Beth Bauer (BA in music, class of 1994):  MM in piano performance and pedagogy with William  Koehler, Northern Illinois University;  DME in music and special education, Indiana University.  Is currently on the faculty of the Community School of the Arts at Wheaton College, and is guest lecturer in music education for the Wheaton Conservatory.  Is nationally recognized for her work with special needs students. Website >>

Bryce Bell (BA in music, class of 1996):  Nashville-based Christian contemporary performer, who has toured with Rebecca St. James and Petra. Website >>

Betty Chang (BME in piano, class of 1997):  Received MME from University of Southern California, with Music Education Department award, and honors from Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Kappa Lambda.  Has been teaching middle- and high-school band and choral music in international schools, including Taipei American School in Taiwan, International School of Bangkok in Thailand, American School of Warsaw in Poland, Jakarta International School in Indonesia, International Community School, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;  currently choral director at American International School, Dhaka, Bangladesh.    

Ivan Chung (BM in piano performance, class of 1997):  received MDiv. from Trinity International University;  currently working towards a Ph.D in intercultural education at Biola University, where he formerly served as Director of International Student Services and Adjunct Professor in Intercultural Studies. Website >>

Paul Bessenbacher (BM in piano performance, class of 1998):  successful composer of music for commercials, network television and film. Website >>

Richard Tostenson (BM in piano performance, class of 1998): MM in piano performance, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, as a student of Luba Edlina Dubinsky.  Currently on faculty at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, MN where in addition to private lessons he coordinates the Advanced Piano camp. Active soloist, adjudicator and clinician. Students and have won numerous competitions and have received highest scores in MN for Carnegie Hall-The Achievement Program exams. Students have been accepted to Oberlin, Eastman, University of Michigan, Northwestern (IL) and numerous other schools.

Lynn Riihimaki Kane (BM in piano performance, class of 1999):  MM in collaborative piano and Ph.D. inmusicology from University of Oregon.  Served as adjunct music history faculty at Wheaton College, and collaborative pianist at Trinity International University.  

Susan Toman (BM in piano performance, class of 2000):  award-winning Canadian harpsichordist;  completed MM in keyboard instruments at the University of Michigan, studying harspichord with Edward Parmentier, fortepiano with Penelope Crawford, and modern piano with Louis Nagel.  Received DMA in harpsichord at McGill University.  Her CD recording of Rameau’s Nouvelles suites de clavecin is on the Centaur label.  Co-director of Compagnie Baroque Mont-Royal, Montreal, Quebec.  Website >>

Ruth Farrell (BA in Music and English Literature, class of 2001):  Completed an M.Div in 2006 at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Formerly senior pastor, Grace United Church of Christ, Lancaster, Ohio;  currently on staff for the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii.

Kate Harveson Hubbell (BA Music; class 2001) Suzuki piano faculty at Wheaton College Community School of the Arts 2001-2004; completed a nursing degree at Rush University 2006;  has worked as a labor and delivery nurse, and Kindermusik instructor;  currently enjoys being a full-time mama.

Laura Kennedy (BM in piano performance, class of 2002):  completed of Ph.D. in Musicology at the University of Michigan, 2009.  Dissertation is a pioneering study of Dmitri Shostakovich’s compositional process, based on examination of sketches and other archival material seldom seen by Westerners, during a Fulbright-sponsored year in Russia.  Taught undergraduate and graduate courses in music history at Bowling Green State, 2009-2010;  taught musicology at the University of North Texas, 2010-2012;  is currently assistant professor at Furman University in South Carolina. Website >>

Aaron Stampfl (BM in piano performance, class of 2002):  graduate work with Shigeo Neriki at Indiana University; completed a DM in piano performance with Alan Chow at Northwestern University, 2011.  Taught class piano at DePaul University, and applied piano at Benedictine University.  Joined the piano faculty of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music as a part-time instructor, fall 2014., and is music assistant at First Presbyterian Church, Wilmette.  As Doc Stampfl, was keyboardist for the indie rock band Ultra Sonic Edukators >>.  He currently plays as a member of the Chicago-based indie band Z.  

Jacob Bancks (BM in composition, class of 2003):  MM in composition, Eastman;  Ph.D in composition at the University of Chicago (2012) as a student of Shulamit Ran.  Was parish music director at St. Johnb Berchmans Church, Chicago;  joined the faculty of Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, fall 2011.  Recent commissions include works for the South Dakota Symphony, the New York Youth Symphony >>, Annapolis Symphony, eighth blackbird >>, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra >>, and the Tanglewood Festival.   in 2011 Daniel Paul Horn commissioned him to write a major work for piano solo, with funding provided through a Wheaton College senior faculty achievement award, and gave the first performance of Antiphonale I:  The Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel at Wheaton in October 2011.  Website >>

Amy Cleaveland Bates (BME in piano, class of 2003):  MME, Ithaca College.  Currently on the faculty of the Community School of the Arts at Wheaton College, and has been choral accompanist in the Hinsdale schools.

Calvin Coleman (BM in piano performance, class of 2005):   teaches piano privately and at the Wheaton Yamaha Music School;  has been a piano teaching assistant at the Interlochen Arts Camp.   

Jessica Dean Modaff (BM in piano performance, class of 2005):  MM in collaborative piano with Sheila Kibbe at Boston University;  currently working towards a DMA in collaborative piano at the same institution.  Joined full-time faculty at Gordon College in 2011, teaching music theory, aural skills, and piano. Also working at Gordon as principal vocal coach, and in the metro Boston area as freelance collaborative pianist and coach.

Sommer Robles Derickson (BA in music, class of 2005):  received M.Ed from Bemidji State University;  teaches K-3 music at Breckenridge Elementary School, and continues to write and perform her own music.  

Clara Campbell Christian (BM in piano performance, class of 2006):  MM in piano performance with Ellen Mack at the Peabody Conservatory;  DM in piano performance and pedagogy at Northwestern University (2014), studying with Alan Chow.  Appointed Assistant Professor of Piano at College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Missouri, fall 2014.

Matthew Gemmill (BM in piano performance, class of 2006):  MM in collaborative piano with Martin Katz at the University of Michigan.  Currently working as a part-time faculty member at the Wheaton Conservatory, part-time coach-accompanist at Roosevelt University, and as a free-lance coach and accompanist in the Chicago area.  Also on faculty of Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, and Up North Vocal Institute, Boyne City, Michigan.  Choral rehearsal accompanist for conductors Donald Nally and John Nelson in preparation for Maestro Nelson’s Chicago Bach Project performance of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passionhas been a fellow in collaborative piano at the Tanglewood Festival in 2011 and 2012.

Tiffany O’Niell Reed (BA in Christian Education and Spanish, with seven semesters of piano, class of 2006):  MA in Professional Counseling at Psychological Studies Institute, 2008;  formerly teacher of Spanish at Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, Georgia, while actively involved in the music department.

Mary Vanhoozer-Rodriguez (BM in piano performance, class of 2008):  Completed an MM in piano performance with Douglas Humpherys at the Eastman School of Music in 2010;  DMA in piano performance, Cleaveland Institute of Music as a student of Daniel Shapiro.  Currently director of music (with husband, Josh Rodriguez) at New City Church (PCA), DEtroit, Michigan.

Jessica Bryan Myers (BM in piano performance, class of 2008):  Studied nursing at Old Dominion University in Virginia, while studying piano with Harold Protsman.  Was selected to perform the first movement of the Grieg Concerto with the ODU orchestra in March 2009, and won second prize in the Harold Protsman Classical Period Piano Competition.

Lucy Church (BM in piano performance, class of 2009):  completed a Master’s degree in musicology at Florida State University, 2011;  currently ABD, working towards a Ph.D in musicology at FSU, and has been teaching Music History 1 to music majors, and is active in the music ministry of St. Peter's Anglican Church, Tallahassee.

Jonathan King (BM in piano performance, class of 2010):  MM in Collaborative at the University of Michigan in 2012, studying with Louis Nagel;  MM in Choral Conducting as a student of Jerry Blackstone.  Currently working as a free-lance musician in the Chicago area.

Alison Thompson (BM  in piano performance and piano pedagogy, class of 2010):  received an assistantship from Florida State University, where she completed an MM in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, studying with Heidi Louise Williams.

Matthew Peterson (BM in piano performance and music composition, class of 2011):  MM in Jazz Studies at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, as a piano student of Luke Gillespie.

Natasha Subadya (BM with Piano Pedagogy Emphasis, class of 2011):  taught piano and early childhood music in Kunming, China;  currently working at San Gabriel Christian School and San Marino Music Center in California.

Rachel Papillon (BM in piano performance and pedagogy, class of 2012):  taught piano at the Hebron School in Nilgiris, South India, 2012-2014.

Laura Peterson (BM in composition and piano performance, class of 2012):  MM in composition at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music;  currently working towards a DMA in composition and teaching piano privately.



Updated 21 August 2014

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