Learn about our strings instructors below.
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Lael, a graduate of the University of South Carolina, is an accomplished cellist and pianist. She served as the accompanist for the Grosse Point Conservatory for many years. She has studied cello with Mario De Fury and Julia Tanner and improvisation with John Pell. She can be seen in an Alan Jackson video with her cello, and has played at the Ryman and the Grand Ole Opry.
Lessons Offered: Cello and Piano
Violist Sarah Cote has been a member of the faculties at Middle Tennessee State University and Belmont University since 2003. She was a member of the San Antonio Symphony for sixteen years. In San Antonio, she was a frequent chamber music performer and was on the steering committee for the Music Advancement Program, a music program for inner-city middle school students.
Ms. Cote has served on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival since 1995, spending two of those summers as Acting Assistant Principal of the Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra. She performs as a member of the Eastern Chamber Players. She has performed at the Garth Newell, Fontana, and Blowing Rock chamber festivals, and with the Tippecanoe Chamber Music Society.
Ms. Cote holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Indiana University where she studied with Yuval Yaron and Mimi Zweig. She spent a sabbatical year at Oberlin Conservatory, where she worked with Jeffrey Irvine and Lynne Ramsay-Irvine. She has had coaching with Patricia McCarty and Burton Kaplan. Ms. Cote studied Baroque violin and viola with Marilyn MacDonald and Simon Standage. She also has done extensive pedagogy training with Mimi Zweig and Carol Dallinger.
Currently, Sarah Cote performs with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony, The Alabama Symphony, the Bowling Green Chamber Orchestra, the Stones River Chamber Players and the Belmont Camerata.
Lessons Offered: Viola
Lessons Offered: Violin
Elisabeth Small is Assistant Professor of Violin and Coordinator of Strings at the Belmont University School Music. She serves as Artistic Director of Belmont Camerata, the resident faculty ensemble. Ms. Small teaches at Belmont’s summer String Crossings Camp for high school students that include classical, jazz, rock and bluegrass styles. She received Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School where her principal teacher was Dorothy DeLay. Other teachers and mentors include Samuel Applebaum, Felix Galimir, and Nathan Milstein.
Ms. Small has served on the faculties of Interlochen Arts Camp, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, Tennessee Technological University, and Tennessee State University. Her clinics and workshops for American String Teachers Association National Conference, Tennessee American String Teachers Association and the Tennessee Music Education Association have focused on developing methodology to manage musculoskeletal injury through tension-free playing. She has led many master classes, including the Dresden Hochschule fur Musik and the Tianjin Conservatory, China.
Ms. Small served as Associate Concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for two years. She has appeared as soloist with many orchestras including the National, Atlanta and Nashville Symphony Orchestras. As a recitalist she has performed in major cities in the United States, Canada and Germany. She has collaborated in chamber music performances at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, the Symphony Space in New York City, for the Lincoln Center Institute and at the Aspen, Teton and Banff festivals. Most recently she performed with Belmont Camerata at the 2012 Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Charleston, S.C. Ms. Small’s recording of duo works by Loewe and Rontgen with pianist Alan Mandel can be heard on the Premiere Records label and her performances on public radio have been broadcast throughout the United States. She also records commercially with the Nashville String Machine.
Ms Small served as past president of Tennessee ASTA. Her former students are members of professional orchestras and string quartets and hold teaching positions at institutions from elementary through university level. They have achieved distinction in the commercial music industry and demonstrate stylistic versatility on stages worldwide.
Lessons Offered: Violin
Nikki Wilson has been immersed in her two favorite things for the past 15 years – performing and teaching the violin. Her passion for children’s education has led her to teach group strings lessons, group theory lessons, and group and private violin lessons. She has completed Every Child Can, the foundational class of the Suzuki Method, and combines the Suzuki Method with traditional teachings in her lessons. She has performed nationally at the Hot Springs Music Festival in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and abroad at the Bayerische Musikacademie in Marktoberdorf, Germany. She currently performs regularly with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra in Jackson, TN and the Paducah Symphony Orchestra in Paducah, KY.
Lessons Offered: Violin