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Meet the Staff

Yolanda Becker - Violin

Yolanda is a violinist and resident of Salem, New Hampshire. She has her bachelor�s degree in music education from the University of New Hampshire and has been teaching violin for more than 8 years, as well as viola and guitar. After graduating from college, she received training in the first two books of the Suzuki method. Since then, she has been an advocate of the Suzuki philosophy, and would like to continue her education in this field. Although Yolanda is not currently part of an orchestra or ensemble, she enjoys performing with Resonance, a group of professional musicians. She is also one of the managers and violinists in Strings for All Occasions, a string quartet that performs for weddings and special events.

Rick Bieniek - Violin

Rick is a 1976 graduate of the University of New Hampshire and has taught music and drama in public and private schools. He has been Director of the String Instrument Program in Manchester, New Hampshire and taught History of Musical Theatre at UNH Durham. As a violinist, Rick performs extensively as a �strolling violinist� and is a member of the Windsor String Quartet and the New World Quintet. He has also written several original musicals. He lives in Durham, New Hampshire with his wife Meg and their dog Haley.

Valerie Callahan - Violin

Valerie began her formal music education at age 5 on the piano with Marie Nelson of Middleborough, MA. She started the violin in the 4th grade in her local school and went on to study with Geda Khatutskaya of the New England Conservatory. She discovered her love for the viola in high school and studied viola and violin with Anne Black at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. She graduated with her degree in Music Education after completing her student teaching in the Concord-Carlisle school district. In 2005 she earned her MM in Music Performance from the Boston Conservatory as a student of BSO violist Patricia McCarty. Valerie is the co-owner of Bridges and Bows and a member of Larcom Strings, a Westford-based educational string quartet.

Nancy Eberiel - Piano

Nancy holds both a MS in Biology (Boston University, 1968) and a MS in Music (University of Lowell, 1982.) In 1984, she and Carole Todaro founded the Westford Suzuki School. Suzuki training has taken her to Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, Pasadena, CA, Berkeley, CA, Kingston, Ontario, and Chautauqua, NY. She maintains the central studio for WSS at 4 Depot Street in Westford, Massachusetts. Nancy also has several years teaching biology at the college level, as well as 30 years as a church organist and choir director. She also plays cello in the Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Society.

Ann Greenwood - Administrator

Ann has been a part of the Westford Suzuki School family since its beginning. As a parent, she attended lessons and served on the executive board. She has been a volunteer in local charity organizations and enjoys gardening, quilting, yoga, and her grandchildren. Ann is the fifth parent to serve as administrator for WSS.

Lisa Kempskie

Lisa Kempskie has a degree in violin performance from UMass Lowell and has done graduate work in music education at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. She freelances on violin and viola throughout the greater Boston area and is currently principal viola of the Lexington Symphony. Lisa directed the elementary and middle school string program in the Winchester Public Schools for 7 years and has since maintained a private studio. She also has studied bow-making, repair, and rehair at the Violin Craftsmanship Institute in New Hampshire, and works as a rehair and repair person for regional string companies as well as many local players. Lisa is a certified music practitioner through the Music for Healing and Transition Program which trains musicians to play individually-tailored live therapeutic music at the bedside of the sick or dying. She is also on the faculties of the Lexington Chamber Music Center.

Rae Nickel - Cello

Rae has a BSc degree from Waterloo University and is a graduate of the Suzuki teacher training course at School for Strings in New York. She has been teaching since 1984. She is a chamber music enthusiast and participates regularly in workshops given by string quartets including the Manhattan, Portland, Daedalus, Miro, and Borromeo.

Carole Todaro - Faculty Emerita at WSS

Carole Todaro graduated from Wellesley College. A mother of 5 children, she continued her musical studies at UMass Lowell, studied with BSO violinist Joseph McGauley, and taught violin privately and in string instrumental programs in public schools. Having become interested in the Suzuki approach, she attended a conference at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst when Dr. Suzuki visited from Japan. Subsequently, she has pursued Suzuki training at Ithaca, Hartt, and Stanford Institutes. Carole is founder and director of the Sandy Island Suzuki Camp.

Susan Turcotte-Gavriel - Violin

Susan earned her degree in Music Education from the University of Lowell. She received her Masters Degree from Southern Illinois University while serving as a graduate teaching assistant to Professor John Kendall, a pioneer of Suzuki education in the United States and one of the first American teachers to travel to Japan. In 1982 Susan also traveled to Japan where she had the privilege of studying with Dr. Suzuki. She has taught in numerous public school systems throughout Massachusetts, as well as at private music schools, summer institutes, and workshops from Maine to California. As one of the founding members of the UMass Lowell String Project, she served as its Master Teacher and supervisor to the many assisting university students. As a member of the Music Education Department she was responsible for string pedagogy instruction. Currently a music specialist with the Lowell Public Schools, Susan directs the Lowell Summer Strings Program. She performs regularly with The Orchestra of Indian Hill as well as with the Adagio Big Band. She resides in Lowell with her husband John and sons Peter and Christopher. Susan very much enjoys working with the wonderful students and families of the Westford Suzuki School!