2022 MIDDLE SCHOOL FACULTY

 

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​ALISON MAYES
CAMP DIRECTOR

 

Alison Mayes discovered her passion for string teaching through a high school internship program that she co-founded with her orchestra director and mentor, Amber Campbell, in Grand Junction, Colorado. She taught in Colorado schools for 15 years, having held positions in Boulder Valley, Cherry Creek, and Douglas County. Alison currently teaches 5th through 12th grade strings in Blue Valley School District, located in Overland Park, Kansas.

 

Alison has been on the staff of Camp Con Brio, String Camp of the Rockies, since 2001; and became Camp Director in 2015. She has also been part of the teaching faculty at summer programs in New Mexico (Hummingbird Music Camp) and Michigan (Interlochen Arts Camp). Alison served as Chair for the Colorado High School All State Orchestra, String Ensemble Director for the Longmont Youth Symphony, and Co-Music Director of the Northern Colorado Youth Symphony. She earned the degree Master of Music Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Alison is Past-President of Colorado ASTA, and serves as Webmaster and Newsletter Editor for Kansas ASTA.

 

Alison is known for growing and nurturing string programs, having as much as tripled the enrollment during her tenure. She prides herself on building positive relationships with students and fostering a classroom culture of mutual respect and inclusivity. Under her baton in 2015, the Grandview High School Orchestra auditioned and was invited to perform at the American String Teachers Association’s National Orchestra Festival. Alison received the 2015 Outstanding String Teacher of the Year award from Colorado ASTA, and was named the 2020 recipient of the Elizabeth A.H. Green School Educator Award from National ASTA.

 

As a performer, Alison’s most memorable opportunities include being a member of the Ghost Orchestra in 2016 (alongside violinist Tom Hagerman of Devotchka) at Red Rocks Amphitheater for the Grammy-nominated South African-American singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov. Additionally, she performed in New York City under the direction of Marin Alsop at Times Square, during the 2017 Carnegie Hall Music Educators Summer Workshop.

 

Alison is a frequent guest clinician, adjudicator, and conductor for honor ensembles and performance festivals. Aside from school teaching and performing, Alison enjoys teaching private lessons, cooking, crafting, going to concerts, traveling and watching horror movies with her husband Jason, and playing with their six beloved dogs.

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PATTIE NELSON
ORCHESTRA DIRECTOR

 

Pattie Nelson is recently retired from Jefferson County Schools in Colorado. During her 30 plus year teaching career she taught all levels of orchestra spending most of her tenure as an elementary string specialist. Her most influential time was in the Arvada West and Ralston Valley area of Jefferson County where her beginning groups were 150 kids, and the retention rate was 85 percent. Her sixth-grade orchestras were highly praised and performed for many audiences including twice at the Colorado Music Educators Conference.  She successfully ran a summer music camp for 5th thru 12th grade students in the Arvada West Area for over 20 years and has guest conducted the University of Colorado Middle School Summer Music Academy. She has adjudicated, consulted, and given several clinics statewide and loves listening to and enhancing string students’ experiences and music making.

She began her own music studies on violin and added trombone skills when she started high school. She attended the University of Colorado for her bachelor and master’s degree in Music Education. She has returned to the CU this last Fall as a guest professor for undergraduate music educators, teaching the string methods class. Her expertise in orchestra and her experience with band formed the broad base for her successful teaching career. She continues to follow her music teaching passion by directing the Jeffco Community Band since 1984 and establishing an adult orchestra, the Jeffco Summer Orchestra in 2012. During the pandemic she has learned how to engage the adult members virtually and socially distanced so her groups could continue to enjoy playing their instruments. She is an active member of the American string Teachers Association and believes in the strength of learning a string instrument as a lifelong skill that contributes to the beauty in the individual and the world. She is honored to be the guest conductor and engage young people in an in-person camp experience at Camp Con Brio 2022!

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SHERI CAIN
VIOLIN INSTRUCTOR

 

Sheri Cain has been a public school educator since in 1996. She also serves as a clinician and adjudicator across the Midwest for middle school level honor orchestras and festivals. In the summers, Sheri plays violin with the Lenexa Community Orchestra.

 

Sheri currently teaches in the Blue Valley School District in Kansas. Her ensembles actively participate in district level and city wide events. Her students are frequently found performing with all-district orchestras, local honor orchestras, and community events. 

 

Sheri received the honor of being the Elementary Educator of the Year from the Missouri Chapter of the American String Teacher Association in 2018. Sheri was also Blue Valley Teacher of the year in 2021 for Prairie Star Middle School. 

 

Sheri is on the Artistic Staff of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City, serving as Director of the Debut Orchestra.   

 

Sheri and her husband, Michael, have two daughters. Maddie is a Music Education major at University of Kansas. Becca is an Environmental Science major at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. They live in Olathe, Kansas with their three cats!

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MIKE SCHAEFER
VIOLIN INSTRUCTOR

 

Michael Schaefer is a Colorado native and a 1969 graduate of Poudre High School in Fort Collins. He studied undergraduate and graduate conducting with Wilfred Schwartz and earned a Bachelor’s in Music Education in 1974 and a Master’s in Instruction in 1984 from Colorado State University. Michael retired after teaching for thirty-five years, twenty years as director of orchestras and assistant director of bands at Webber Junior High. During this time he has supervised six student teachers five having stellar careers. Three of Michael’s orchestras have appeared at the Colorado Music Educators Association (CMEA) clinic/conference in Colorado Springs. He is currently team teaching orchestra at Blevins and Walt Clark middle schools. In 2009, Michael received the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michael has been an adjudicator at state and local festivals in Colorado and Wyoming. He has presented his music education sessions, “Large Group Tuning Procedure” and “Teaching Technique Through Performing Literature” (Life after method books), at Clinic/Conferences for Colorado Summer ASTA, CMEA, WMEA, NMMEA, the 2014 National ASTA in Louisville Kentucky and various colleges and universities in Colorado and Wyoming.

 

His arrangement of the Rossini String Sonata No. 3 was performed by the string orchestra at the 1992 Colorado All State Orchestra concert conducted by James McNeal. Concluding the 2011 performance series at the “Rocky Ridge Music Center” in Estes Park, Michael conducted the premier performance of his arrangement of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen for “String Orchestra and Tenor”. He is currently Board President of “Chamberre of the Rockies” (a summer music camp for adults) at RRMC. Michael’s conducting responsibilities includes the classroom challenge as a substitute, guest conductor at junior and senior high honor groups, all state high school clinics, student and adult music camps, and an occasional university rehearsal. Last summer was his eleventh year as a member of the Colorado-ASTA String Camp faculty.

He spent 13 seasons as music director and conductor of the Loveland Chamber Orchestra (1981-1994). He was the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra (FCSO) assistant conductor for 13 years and conducted the summer series for several seasons as well as many special events such as the “Mozart on the Roof” and “Opera Galleria” concerts.

As a violinist, Michael played with the FCSO for thirty-five consecutive seasons, eight years as assistant concertmaster. He is the founder and co-principal violin with the Quartet Con Brio performing since 1980 and has just recently retired from that position. He also performs with many of the orchestras and chamber music groups along the Front Range including the “Health and Wellness Orchestra” conducted by Leslie Stuart of the CSU music faculty.

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XARENY POLANCO
VIOLA INSTRUCTOR
 

Xareny Polanco, a professional violist, is the Orchestra Director at Timberline PK-8 in Longmont. At Timberline, she was also recently hired as the Choir Director in addition to Orchestra, and she co-teaches their Mariachi program.

Xareny performs with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra and as a freelance musician. She also maintains a studio of private violin and viola students. Xareny earned a Bachelors in Music Education with an Instrumental Focus from Colorado State University in 2021. Aside from teaching and music, Xareny enjoys art, nature, and cooking!

This is Xareny's second year on staff at Camp Con Brio.

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JONATHAN WEST
CELLO INSTRUCTOR

Jonathan West is a Colorado-based music educator. While growing up in Colorado Springs, Jonathan began playing the cello with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association, and the horn in his public school band program. While at Pine Creek High School, Jonathan participated in Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, pit orchestra, chamber music ensembles, and was Drum Major for the Pine Creek Eagle Marching Band during his senior year. 

 

While studying for a Bachelor of Music Education degree at The University of Northern Colorado, Jonathan studied cello with Gal Faganel. As a member of the University Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Russel Guyver, the ensemble collaborated with internationally renown soloists such as Rachel Barton Pine, Peter Stumpf, and Robert deMaine. Jonathan also regularly performed in chamber recitals and joined the Campus String Orchestra on viola. 

 

At the outset of his teaching career, Jonathan served as a teaching assistant during the inaugural years of the UNC String Project, a weekly after-school program for beginning string students in the fourth and fifth grades. This program helped solidify Jonathan’s love for teaching. He ran a small private lesson studio with cellists and violists. As a young conductor, Jonathan was one of five students selected for the Colorado Music Educator Association's 2019 Conducting Clinic and participated in a master class with Larry Livingston. Jonathan has also served as a guest teacher and conductor for the Parker Performing Arts School Orchestra Program and for the Youth Orchestra with Avanti Music Academy. 

 

Jonathan is currently teaching 5th through 8th grade orchestra at Creighton Middle School in the Jeffco School District, along with beginning string classes in five Lakewood area elementary schools.

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LINDA TASHMA
STRING BASS INSTRUCTOR

 

Linda has been educating and playing music for over 50 years....  and ALWAYS studying. Her father described her as the “perennial student.” Music and History comprised Linda's studies during her college days and have held her heart ever since.  Music intermingles every aspect of life!

 

Having lived for many decades, Linda has been involved in a lot of activities. Notable gigs include: mentoring string bass students, playing in pit orchestras and Littleton Symphony, stitching weighted blankets for the Autism Community Store, seeing her students in honor orchestras and summer music camps, wonderful husband, nifty daughter, countless hours of joy playing bass and piano (inspired by her mom).  

 

In addition to music and teaching… Linda's overall well-being requires that she bake cookies frequently, ride her bicycle often, walk, read, garden, play cards and board games, attend worship, and watch professional football!