Instruments taught: Violin/Viola/Cello/Piano
Year at AMA: 2021
Education/Background: Northern Arizona University, Music Education with Instrumental Emphasis
Extended Biography: Amber Berry is a music educator and violinist native to Arizona. She began playing the violin at 7 years old, and continued to pursue her musical career through college. Amber graduated summa cum laude from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor's degree in Secondary Music Education, with an instrumental emphasis. While in Flagstaff, she performed as violinist in NAU’s Symphony and Chamber orchestras, Orchestra Northern Arizona, and as a guest for NAU Women's Choir. She was also a vocal member of the NAU Women’s Choir, and a member of the NAU Handbell Choir. While a student, Amber studied under Jeff Norman, Shelley Rich, Louise Scott, and Karin Hallberg. Amber teaches primarily through the Suzuki method for strings and piano, and focuses on a curriculum built around musicianship, performance, and music theory. In her free time, she plays handbells for the handbell choir at St. Matthew United Methodist Church.
Instruments taught: Vocal/Piano
Year at AMA: 2021
Education/Background: Northern Arizona University, Music Education and Choral Music
Extended Biography: Brooke Wochner has been involved in the music community in the East Valley for her whole life, taking voice and piano lessons while growing up to now teaching them. She has played piano for all of her music career and began in choir and voice lessons throughout her middle school and high school years. In her high school years she participated in the AMEA Regionals and All-State honor choirs while also continuing choir at school, as well as piano and voice lessons. She began teaching private lessons during college and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Choral Music and a minor in Psychology from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. As a performer, Brooke is currently the soprano staff singer in the Christ Church Anglican choir, has been a member of the Shrine of the Ages Choir that tours internationally, the NAU all-treble a cappella group “The Axecidentals”, the NAU Women’s Chorale, the Northern Voices vocal jazz ensemble, and on the piano has accompanied for private voice students as well as for select high school and middle school choirs.
Instruments taught: Piano/Synthesizer and Guitar
Years Experience: 24 years - Piano/15 years - Guitar
7 years teaching privately and in studio
Year at AMA: 2021
Education/Background: Music Education - Mesa Community College
14 years of piano instruction
Electrical Engineering - Arizona State University
Something no one knows about ME: Drew is an unpublished novelist thanks to quarantine
Extended Biography: Drew is a Mesa, AZ native. As an alumni of Dobson High School, Mesa Community College, & Arizona State University he’s made friends and planted roots all over the valley. Drew performed in the Choral Arizona Music Educators Association (AMEA) Regionals & All-State all four-years of high school and has a deep love for singing. A frequent performer, Drew is represented by Leighton Agency in Scottsdale and has done multiple educational tours with the Southwest Shakespeare Company. He’s performed musically and acted with theatres across the state, including Hale Centre Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre and the Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival. Drew’s national television debut was in the fall of 2018 on FOX’s Inside the Manson Cult: The Lost Tapes and has been seen on many local and regional commercials.
Instruments taught: Viola/Violin/Cello/Bass and Piano
Year at AMA: 2021
Education/Background: Northern Arizona University, Music Education and Instrumental Music
Extended Bio: Kevin Wilcox is a music educator and violist native to the East Valley. He has played violin and viola throughout his entire musical career and started teaching privately in his high school years. He earned his bachelor's degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Instrumental Music and graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. Kevin teaches both traditional and Suzuki formatted instruction for strings and piano, and focuses on a balanced curriculum of tactile instrument performance skills, music theory, aural training, and musicians’ wellness. As a performer, Kevin has served as the Principal Violist for the NAU Symphony, Chamber, and Lyric Theatre Opera Orchestras, as well as a violist/violinist for the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Northern Arizona, and the Scottsdale Philharmonic. He has studied under Jacquelyn Schwandt, Louise Scott, Karin Hallberg, and Michelle Wachter and has attended masterclasses by violists Margaret Miller and Hsiaopei Lee.
Outside of his professional obligations, Kevin is also a freelance composer and amateaur novice conductor.
Instruments taught: Vocal/Piano
Years Experience: 20+ years
Year at AMA: 2010
Education/Background: Ms. Safsten holds a Master of Music (Voice) and Performance Diploma in Professional Opera Studies from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Music Performance and Pedagogy (Voice) from Brigham Young University
Something no one knows about ME: I collect teacups and love to host tea parties for my young nieces.
Extended biography: Kaarin Safsten has taught voice lessons for 20+ years. She currently is teaching music courses and voice lessons at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in addition to teaching at Arizona Music Academy and maintains a private studio in Mesa. Ms. Safsten has sung several operatic roles, including Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte), Marie (Wozzeck) and Electra (Idomeneo). She has also sung, recorded, and toured the United States as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She is an active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and served as secretary in the local Valley of the Sun NATS Chapter for two years (2008-2010).
Instruments Taught: Bass Clarinet/Clarinet/Saxophone/Flute/Piano
Year at AMA: 2018
Background/Education: Kimberly is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Clarinet Performance at Arizona State University. Previously, she received her Bachelor’s in Clarinet Performance at Idaho State University and her Master’s in Clarinet Performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to the clarinet, Kimberly also specializes in teaching and playing both the saxophone and flute. Throughout her studies, Kimberly has maintained a private teaching studio and seeks to offer lessons to anyone who wants to learn, no matter their background or experience. Kimberly has a passion for teaching and seeks to tailor each lesson to the individual student.
Instruments taught: Piano
Years Experience: 12+
Year at AMA: 2016
Matthew began playing the piano at age 7 and had a few different teachers into middle school. In 6th grade while living in Pensacola, FL, he began receiving instruction from a college music professor, Bob Sherwood, and studied under him partway into his college years. During these years with Mr. Sherwood, he competed in yearly Sonata contests, Concerto contests, and Theory/Performance competitions. One of his highlights from this time was winning a competition to perform the Warsaw Concerto with the PJC/UWF Wind Ensemble. While in high school, he also received training in sacred music and has been involved in church music in various capacities for many years. He started teaching piano in the mid-nineties in North Carolina. More recently he taught in the Phoenix West Valley from 2009 – 2015, during which time he gave private lessons to more than 30 students.
Instruments Taught: Piano/Voice
Years Experience: 10+ years
Employed at AMA: 2018
Education/Background: Molly Bass holds degrees in Piano Performance and Pedagogy and Vocal Music Education from Bemidji State University and is currently licensed in K-12 Vocal and Classroom Music from Minnesota.
Something no one knows about ME: I love old books and can spend hours perusing in libraries or bookstores.
Extended Biography: Molly Bass has extensive experience working with students of all ages, having begun teaching music lessons while in high school and accompanying high school choirs. She has taught piano and voice lessons, played at several churches, and accompanied numerous soloists and large groups over the past ten years. She has also been a volunteer camp counselor and teacher at Bemidji Musicamp in Bemidji, MN since 2014. Along with these, Molly has experience substitute teaching in public schools back in Minnesota. Molly has performed the roles of Pamina, The Magic Flute, and Peep-Bo, The Mikado, while at Bemidji State University and was a soloist in several Opera Night Galas. She continues to push her own education by participating in programs like L’Opportunita, vocal intensive training program in MN 2018, observing master teachers such as David Jones, vocal teacher training seminar in MN 2017, and working as a vocal coach with the Summer Vocal Institute for high school students, in MN 2018. She loves teaching students of all ages and backgrounds and finds great joy when they experience success in whatever they do.
Instruments Taught: Trumpet/Trombone/Baritone/Tuba
AMA Employed: 2016
Years of Experience: 11
Education/Background: Robert graduated with a B.M. in Music Performance from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has several years of performance experience with the trombone . He also studied other instruments including euphonium, tuba, trumpet, piano, and even vocals. He began teaching lessons privately in 2013.
Extended Biography: Robert has performed a wide range of genres including classical, jazz, concert band, musicals, and many more. In his ensemble experiences he has performed in several honor band clinics and ensembles, including:
Instruments taught: Guitar/Bass/Ukulele/Mandolin/Drums
Years Experience: 35 years
Year at AMA: 2008
Education/Background: Professional tour experience
Something no one knows about ME: My name is Scott
Extended Biography: Skully Lawrence is a native of Sierra Vista, AZ and moved to Norwich, England at age 21 to play with an American childhood friend and 3 British lads in a band named “Allied Forces”. After much touring and efforts to launch the band he returned to Phoenix, AZ. Within a couple of years he joined up with Lurch Killz (original bass player for Sacred Reich). As a follow up stint he released several epics with Alowicious Toole together with The Flotsam & Jetsam guitar player, Mark Simpson and another local metal outfit called Blind Rage. Skully has played bass for the AK Corral, with Eric A.K., and Ed Carlson, from Flotsam & Jetsam, Scott Goodwine of S.I.L., Tory Edwards, a local fiddle phenom, and Rob Kippart of the Rush tribute band Freewill.
Instruments taught: Band/Strings/Piano
Years Experience: 20+ years
Year at AMA: 2021
Education/Background: Associates in fine arts and Bachelors in Music Performance with an emphasis in Flute from Colorado State University
Something no one knows about ME: Stephanie LOVES video games! When She isn’t playing music she is playing video games and streaming to Twitch
Stephanie started playing piano when she was 4 years old. When she got to middle school, she chose to do Flute in band and Violin in Orchestra. After a year, she switched to string bass and continued with Flute in band. Stephanie was fascinated by the complexity and differences between all the instruments in both band and orchestra so she started learning them all. From then on, whenever she came across an instrument she didn’t know, she strived to learn it. Stephanie is currently part of 3 performing ensembles. She plays flute in a flute/guitar duo where they play at private business events and weddings. She plays Bagpipes in Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band where she performs at highland games and competes across the midwestern states and occasionally in Scotland. Stephanie also plays in a Celtic punk/folk/rock band where she plays Bagpipes, Flute, Piccolo, Violin, Bass Guitar, Concertina, Harmonica and spoons.
Instruments Taught: Guitar/Bass/Ukulele/Drums
Year at AMA: 2019
Years Experience: 40 years performance
10 years music instruction
Education/Background: Studied marketing, attended art school and film school and obtained certifications in accounting and computer operations/IT systems
Something no one knows about ME: I love chocolate, horror films and movie musicals.
Extended Bio: My love of music began as a child listening to my dad and his brothers play in rock bands together, while my moms family would meet after church on Sunday and play bluegrass music on the porch. I began playing snare drum at age 8 and guitar at age 12. I began performing in musical theater at age 11. I have continued to play guitar and bass and sing in many different blues, jazz and rock bands for over 30 years. I currently play bass in a performing rock band called Flat Earth Riot. I have a regular solo gig playing jazz and blues guitar on Wednesday and Friday nights at Gold Canyon Golf Resort.
I am currently homeschooling my 9 year old son and teaching him six different musical instruments.
Instruments Taught: Guitar/Bass/Drums
Year at AMA: 2021
Education: B.S. degree in Music with a minor in Modern Worship.
Bio: Tim is an Arizona native who has attended Mesa Community College and recently graduated from Arizona Christian University. He is currently the Music Director at Via Church where he leads the worship teams through rehearsals and services every weekend. He is mainly a guitar player but also plays piano, bass, and drums.
Instruments taught: Guitar/Bass/Drums
Strings - Violin,Viola,Cello
Years Experience: Lots
Years at AMA: 2010
Education/Background: Phoenix colleges
Something no one knows about ME: Tory is a Disney Freak! He celebrates his birthday with Disneyland every July 17th!
Extended Biography: Tory plays a wide variety of music from jazz to rock to country, has recorded with various artists, and has appeared in concert locally and thought the United States. He frequently plays in venues in Arizona, California, and Nevada. He played the House of Blues in Hollywood and Las Vegas. Additionally Tory has played in concert and recorded with 80's rock band Flotsam and Jetsam, played with various country western groups; AK Corral, the Danny Griego Band, Surefire and a Rush tribute band. He has worked with Tanya Tucker, opened for musicians George Straight, Chris Ladoux,, and Michael Schenker.
Tory is a versatile musician who is a classically trained violinist and is also accomplished on the viola, guitar, bass, mandolin, piano, and drums.
Instruments taught: Violin/Viola/Cello/Bass
Employed at AMA: 2017
Years experience: 15 - 20 years
Education Background: Central Michigan University, Bachelor of Science in History and Music, 2016. Arizona State University, Master of Arts and Musicology, 2019.
Extended Bio: Victoria is experienced in teaching beginner, intermediate and advanced students in string instruments and piano along with French Horn. She has been a member of many Symphony Orchestras in Michigan and Illinois. She is ready to share her vast music knowledge with her students.
Victoria is currently the Strings and Music Teacher at Basis Mesa School.