Erin Livingston - Flute, Voice

Erin Livingston

Erin Livingston is a Twin Cities based Jazz, Blues and Country singer and Cabaret Artist. She received her Associates Degree in Classical Flute Performance and has been a professional musician for 30 years. She studied jazz with Berkeley Fudge, Marla Artis and John Harmon. She is an active performer in the Twin Cities music scene. Erin has a passion for teaching and sharing her love of music with professionals and novices alike and uses a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and developing her students skills and believes that learning should be fun.

Laurie Knutson - Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Sax, Piano, Voice

Laurie Knutson

Laurie Knutson is an established teacher, performer, vocalist, and board-certified Music Therapist with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Sioux Falls College. She currently teaches saxophone, clarinet, voice, and piano with students ranging in age from 5 to 94.

Laurie performs on baritone, alto, and soprano saxophones, clarinet, alto clarinet, flute, Native American flutes, and piano. She performs regularly with her band One Hit Wonders, the Other Country Ensemble, the vocal group After Five, and Steve Clarke and the Working Stiffs.

Laurie has been employed at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a Music Therapist since 2007. She is a member of both the American Music Therapy Association and the Music Therapy Association of Minnesota, and has worked with children and adults in a multitude of settings clinically as well as in the community.

Steve Clarke - Saxophone, Flute

Steve Clarke

Steve Clarke is an award winning musician and bandleader, accomplished on tenor, soprano, alto, baritone sax, flute, alto flute and bass flute. He is the winner of 11 Minnesota Music Awards (MMA) including 6 Minnesota Music Awards for “Horn Player of the Year.” He has appeared on over 75 recordings, commercials and jingles. He was formerly a member of Lamont Cranston and the Strawdogs; he is a founding member and principal soloist of Louis&Clarke (21st century jazz) and Other Country Ensemble (world music) His band The Working Stiffs is an award winning, highly energetic and rhythmic Jump / Swing / Jazz ensemble. Steve was inducted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame in October 2010. Steve is endorsed by Antigua Winds.

Rose Lewis - Brass and Woodwinds

Rose Lewis

As a magna cum laude graduate of Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music, Rose Brzezinski Lewis can help you or your student enjoy learning to play with ease any brass or woodwind instrument.

For over 30 years, Rose has been studying, developing, and implementing performance success principles in her own career as a successful freelance musician as a performer, award-winning composer/arranger, and educator. As a trombonist, she has shared the stage with Bobby McFerrin, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, and Diane Reeves, and has performed with many elite organizations like The Guthrie Theater Company, The Children’s Theater Company, and the Mankato Symphony, ensembles like the Wolverine’s Classic Jazz Orchestra, the Cedar Avenue Big Band, the Jerry O’Hagan Big Band, and Latin Sounds, and local personalities like Bruce A. Henry, Debbie Duncan, and George Faber in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area and internationally. She has developed her own two level band method with music theory content, duet sight-reading method, and auditory jazz improvisation method. Rose has trained hundreds of instrumental music and math students, enabling them to achieve their dreams of higher grades, win auditions into elite/honors performing groups like GTCYS, MYS, and all-state ensembles, admission into college music, math, and engineering programs, and receipt of partial to full ride college scholarships.

As a sought after performer, composer/arranger, and clinician, Rose’s workshops and coaching programs help students break through fears and limitations to achieve greater results than they have ever known before.

If you are looking to gain clarity, confidence, and achieve your next level of success, while enjoying the highest levels of fulfillment in instrumental performance, Rose can help you get there.

Greg Lewis - Brass

Greg Lewis

Greg Lewis has been a full-time professional player, clinician, and private teacher since 1971. Past affiliations include the Minnesota Orchestra, Chanhassen Dinner Teatres, Guthrie Theater, Children's Theare Company and The Cedar Avenue Big Band.  He has shared the stage with many of the biggest names in jazz and popular music, including Doc Severinsen, Tony Bennett and The Jimmy Dorsey Big Band. Greg teaches all brass instruments and all musical styles to students at any level of development, tailoring lessons and materials to each student's individual needs. To quote Greg: "Empowering students in their development is on of my greatest joys in life."

Craig Hill - Percussion

Craig Hill

Craig is a performer, educator, and composer specializing in percussion. Past tours include the Broadway musical Swing! and the premieres of the BBC Planet Earth Live films. He was the featured soloist in 2013-14’s Tokyo production of Kitchen Beat. Through the GRAMMY Experience, the Billboard Media group, and a number of corporate Grand World Voyages, Craig has performed internationally and across the U.S.

A few of the artists that he has performed with include Wayne Newton, Melissa Manchester, Nestor Torres, Judy Carmichael, Sugar Blue, Roddie Romero, Joel Mason, Paul Baker, Ian Finkel, Jeff Trachta, and Lovena Fox. Currently residing in the Twin Cities, the “Craig Hill Presents:” concert series features local musicians and interdisciplinary artists with a focus on improvisation. A solo performance-art video series has been released focusing on characters and first-take improvisations. Through private and group instruction, Craig has been teaching early childhood ed., found/body percussion, university audition prep., and jazz/improvisation.

As an assistant band director and percussion specialist, Craig taught at John Horn High School, Berry Middle School, and Terry Middle School in Dallas, Texas. In addition to managing all aspects of percussion instruction, Craig also team-taught in the orchestral, wind, jazz, marching, choral, and new music departments.

Craig Hill received the Master of Music degree in Percussion Performance from Youngstown State University in 2005 while working as a graduate assistant. Completing the Bachelor of Music in Education from Youngstown State University in 2003, he is licensed to teach in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Joe Buscher - Percussion

Joe Buscher

Joe Buscher is a veteran of the Twin Cities' music scene as a performer and teacher having taught at Groth Music since 1997. A graduate of McNally-Smith College of Music, he has played in many bands of a wide variety of genres, including pop, rock, funk, blues, jazz, and country as well as sacred and secular church music. His background also includes having performed in marching band, pep band, and concert band in college, and he is experienced teaching students of all ages and musical interests.

James Plattes - Violin, Fiddle, Harmonica, Mandolin

Jim Plattes

Jim is an accomplished jazz and classical violinist. He studied violin under Richard Adams, assistant concertmaster of the MN Orchestra. Jim is a multi-instrumentalist, and a winner of the West Bank School of Music “Jazz Composer Series” competition. He performs with and directs 2 ensembles: Etage, a jazz combo and the Larkspur String Quartet. Jim studied fiddle under Vassar Clements and Kevin Burke, and jazz performance with Eddie Berger. He has performed at the Guthrie Theatre, The Children’s Theatre Company, the Ordway Theatre and the Old Log Theatre, toured with Olivia Newton-John and was a member of RCA recording group The Daisy Dillman Band. Currently, Jim teaches violin, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin & ukulele. He is CEO of, a romantic musical telegram service based in Minneapolis.

Jim has released four albums: “The Gypsy Fiddle Player/Amorica” (1980) "First Ray of Sunlight" (1997) "In the Moment" (2005) and “French Musettes & Love Songs” (2012).

Winner, Intermedia Arts Sound Images showcase competition (Amazonian Dreamscapes) 1990. Minnesota Music Academy Award recipient 1988.

Cierra Hill - Violin, Viola, Cello, Mandolin, Piano

Cierra Hill

Cierra is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and educator, currently residing in the Twin Cities. She began learning music on the piano at the age of 2 and began violin and fiddle lessons at the age of 9. Cello lessons were soon to follow at the age of 12 and since then, she has also learned to play viola, mandolin, mountain dulcimer, and guitar.

As a teacher, Cierra strives to challenge and engage her students, while keeping the lessons fun and exciting. She teaches all genres and styles and encourages her students to choose some of their own material, while integrating technique and fundamentals into the music. Cierra believes that having fun while learning an instrument is a great way to help a student grow their love of the instrument.

Cierra has performed with many local musicians in the Twin Cities, including Mick Sterling, Shalo Lee, Scottie Miller, Wayne Anthony, and also Kat Perkins and Chris Kroeze from NBC's The Voice. Beyond the local scene, Cierra has performed in arenas with touring acts from around the world including Michael Bublé, Disturbed, Brian Setzer, Kygo, Celtic Woman, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and for the Minnesota Vikings pre-kickoff introductions. She is also the electric violinist for the video game band, Do a Barrel Roll! With the band, she has performed at conventions across the US and recorded several albums.

Cierra graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in Strings Performance from McNally Smith College of Music in 2012 and has been teaching privately since 2006. She teaches both acoustic and electric violin, viola, cello, piano and mandolin. Visit to learn more about Cierra and her upcoming projects and events!

Nickolai Kolarov - Cello, Violin, Viola, Double Bass

Nickolai Kolarov

Nickolai is one of the most distinguished cellists in the Twin Cities with more than 20 years’ experience of teaching the strings—cello, violin, viola and double bass. He has taught at the University of St Thomas, St Paul, several private music schools in the Twin Cities and he maintains his own private studio. Some of Kolarov’s students have won awards and were principal cellists on the Youth Symphony Orchestras at the Twin Cities. He has graduated from the Bulgarian State Academy of Music, Sofia and holds master’s degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas City and doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota. Kolarov is a prizewinner in the Bulgarian National Competition at Provadia. His performing career started in Bulgaria at the Bulgarian National Palace of Culture, the biggest concert hall in Bulgaria. In the United States he performs with distinguished musicians both classical and contemporary repertoire in different parts of the country. He also organized and performed the concert series of Balkan contemporary chamber music Balkanicus, the only one of its kind in the United States ( Music written especially for him by Vassil Kazandjiev, the doyen of the Bulgarian composers, Bulgarian jazz composer Lubo Denev, Albanian Aleksander Peci, Romanian Sorin Lerescu, Greek Aris Carastathis, Turkish David Ezra Okonsar and Croatian Ivan Bozicevic was featured at Balkanicus. He was featured by radio and TV stations in Bulgaria, Missouri and Minnesota, including MPR. Kolarov delivers lectures and masterclasses on Balkan folk and contemporary art music in colleges and schools throughout Minnesota and the United States, such as Julliard School, University of Minnesota, Augsburg University, Hamline University etc. Nickolai is also the host of a weekly radio show for Balkan folk music:

Nickolai believes that music is a gift from God. His lessons are orientated to the individual needs and interests of the students. The main focus of each lesson is to enjoy music, combined with the good practice necessary to accomplish musical goals.

Joe Vogel - Beginning Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Composition and Music Theory

Joe Vogel

Joe has a Master of Arts degree in music composition and has been teaching for over 10 years. Joe is a member of the American Composers Forum and a member of ASCAP. Joe will teach students of all ages in electric and upright bass, as well as music theory and composition. He also teaches guitar to children.

Aaron Bjerke - Guitar, Piano, Ukulele, Theory, Composition, Ableton Live

Aaron Bjerke

Aaron Bjerke is a Rapid City, SD native that moved to Minneapolis in 2003 after attending the University of Denver in 2002 and has been teaching in the Twin Cities area for over 13 years. In 2005, he enrolled at McNally-Smith College of Music (St. Paul, MN) and received his Bachelor's of Music in Guitar Performance in 2007. He has since intricately studied Ableton Live - a popular computer program used for Music Production, Mixing, Sound Design, Synthesis, & Engineering and Mastering. He has been a professional musician since the age of 15 (17+ years), and currently produces and performs his original electronic music nationwide under the alias "Loom In Essence.”

Aaron began teaching private guitar lessons from home in 2003 and has since held positions at various music stores throughout the metro, including his own store - Rootnote Music (now closed). He teaches a vast array of guitar styles from Classical to Jazz/Prog, Folk to Heavy Metal, Afro-Latin to many other eclectic styles, as well as Theory Composition on any instrument (through Master level), Music Production in Ableton Live, Intermediate Level Piano instruction (with advanced theory and composition), and welcomes students of all ages and skill levels.

Tim Lyles - Guitar and Bass

Tim Lyles

Tim Lyles came of age in the 1970s Memphis music scene and studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, the University of Memphis, and McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, where he also taught for 14 years. He has taught privately for over 35 years and is well-versed in many styles of guitar and bass: from roots music and rock to jazz and classical. His career has encompassed producing, arranging, engineering, and performing in recording studio environments, work in television and film production, and a decade of touring the U.S. with a 14-piece horn band, as well as a variety of live performances. Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in Music and Media and a master’s degree in Guitar Performance. Tim’s teaching philosophy balances fun with tangible progress on the instrument and his goal is to simply help you become a better guitarist or bassist in an enjoyable and enriching setting: to patiently help you understand and acquire the necessary skills.

Paul Krueger - Guitar, Bass, and Ukulele

Paul Krueger

Paul has been teaching and playing professionally since the 1970's. He teaches acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele and electric bass guitar. He believes lessons should be fun and tailored to the individual student while at the same time providing a foundation in music fundamentals. Paul has taught private lessons, group lessons, and Suzuki type lessons for younger students with students’ ages ranging from 6 to 84 years. He has taught college level guitar classes in theory, sight-reading, pedagogy, technique and ensemble performance.

Paul has a B.M. in music performance from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. He taught at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul MN, from 1999 through 2017, when the college closed. He worked mainly in the guitar department where he also served as the interim guitar department head for two years. Paul taught at Schmitt Music in Brooklyn Center for 15 years and taught at the Schmitt Music in Edina, starting there in 2015. He has performed in a wide variety of bands and musical theatre including the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre and the Old Log Dinner Theatre on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, classical guitar, banjo, mandolin, electric bass, ukulele and vocals. Paul is an inductee into the Minnesota Rock & Country Hall of Fame..