We offer violin, viola, cello, and bass lessons for Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, and beyond.
We offer violin, viola, cello, and bass lessons for Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, and beyond. What is unique about our Strings Department, more than any particular method, is our instructors. Though they come from vastly different schools of thought, they are equally committed to inspired students toward a lifelong love of music. Their students keep pushing through the many challenges that these instruments pose because their instructors have mentored and inspired them to do so. Any of their parents can attest to this.
Our method is based upon Suzuki school principles, especially for young beginners. Aside from classical violin instruction, we also offer lessons in Irish fiddling and jazz. Quite a few of our students have been accepted into one of Chicago's leading youth orchestras, the Elgin Youth Symphony.
VICTORIA JACOBSON, violin
Owner of Bellas Artes, Head of Strings Department
Victoria Kraiuhina Jacobson (University of Louisiana ’06) grew up in Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Mongolia, where she was trained in the Russian violin school. She received her B.A. in Music Education at the University of Louisiana with a concentration in Violin Performance. While there, she worked as the conductor for the Conservatory Preparatory Orchestra and founded her own violin studio. She served for two and a half years as the head of the strings department and orchestra director for a school in the Independent School District in Houston, and while there, brought close to 200 young students from no knowledge of the violin to a proficient beginner level. She has 17 years of teaching experience.
Given her cross-cultural background, Victoria brings to her studio a refreshing and insightful approach to the instrument and to music pedagogy. Certified in the Suzuki Method (though not bound strictly to it), she has learned how to tailor her teaching to each student's individual needs, while not neglecting the crucial role that parents can play in their child's musical education. She believes that every child can learn and succeed. Teaching children, youth, and adults alike, Victoria has built an encouraging and friendly rapport will all of her students.
Her experience as an orchestral conductor and also as a high school and middle school orchestra teacher has equipped her to easily switch between individual and large group ensemble instruction. Her lessons are always fun and interactive, involving games, songs, and exercises (which vary depending on the age of the student) to enhance the learning experience. Her goal is not to rush the student through a method book, but to ensure lasting results through patient and creative practice. She also incorporates technology in her studio, making it possible for students to have an accompanying soundtrack and recording software at home, to aid their practice.
CONSTANCE DETTMAN, violin and Irish fiddle
Constance Dettman grew up in New Jersey, Switzerland, Maine, and most recently Wheaton, IL. She has been playing violin since the age of 4. She studied for 7 years at The School for Strings in New York City, and while a student there had a chance to play at Carnegie Hall with her school. She was a member of the Vivaldi Strings Orchestra for two years and performed with them in Wheaton and the surrounding areas, as well as going on tour with them to New York City.
She is a graduate of the Wheaton College Conservatory, where she studied violin with Dr. Lee Joiner. Along with classical music, Constance enjoys Irish fiddling, playing at church and with a folk band on Washington Island during the summer. In the summer of 2012, she participated in an International Fiddling competition in Ireland. She has been teaching for several years now.
RACHAEL CLAIRE BOTZ, viola and violin
Rachael Claire Eid-Ries has been listening to music since she attended her first folk music festival in her mother's womb. At age 10, she picked up the viola and quickly started playing by ear. By 13, she was playing viola, fiddle, mandolin and singing in her Michigan-based travelin' family folk band, Kinsfolk. By age 15, she was writing songs and leading worship in her local youth group.
Rachael is a passionate and versatile violist, equally at home improvising in folk-roots or gospel ensembles, performing newly commissioned works, and interpreting traditional classical repertoire. Rachael graduated from Western Michigan University in April of 2012 in viola performance, studying under Kalamazoo Symphony Principal Violist Igor Fedotov. She received her Masters degree at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, studying under internationally known soloist and chamber musician Roger Chase in 2014.
As a participant in the 2013 Fresh Inc Festival, Rachael performed with members of Fifth House Ensemble at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, and at the Make Music Chicago Grand Finale at St. James Cathedral. Rachael is also an inspirational singer songwriter, having released her first album, Fragrance, in 2012. She returned to Fresh Inc in 2014 to launch The Invisible Change Project, a collaborative album project that features songs inspired by the stories of Chicago’s homeless, to be released in 2017.
Rachael has experience teaching privately and in the classroom. She is Suzuki trained and enjoys starting children out on beginning violin/viola. She believes in the power of music to aid in a child's emotional, physical, behavioral and spiritual development. She strongly encourages students to learn how to play by ear to develop intuition, expression and improvisation skills.
LAUREN LAI, violin
Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, violinist Lauren Lai has lived in Chicago for five years. She enjoys a diverse performance career and appears frequently with many professional ensembles in and around Chicago including the Northwest Indiana Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
Lauren began her violin studies at the age of 6 under the instruction of Mrs. Julia Nuqul and she entered the National Music Conservatory of Jordan at age 9. She received her Bachelors of Music in Violin Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she studied with Milan Vitek. In 2012 she received the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Arts Award, which enabled her to complete her Masters of Music in Violin Performance at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music where she studied with Mrs. Almita Vamos. In addition to solo and orchestral repertoire, Lauren loves to play chamber music and has competed in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; in 2011 her quartet was a recipient of the Parker String Quartet Competition Grand Prize. She has participated in masterclasses with many renowned performers and pedagogues including Sylvia Rosenberg, Stephen Clapp, Mauricio Fuks, and members of the Pacifica, Hagen, and Parker quartets.
Lauren firmly believes that music is capable of non-verbally communicating to any person, and that it has the power to create dialogue and community, stirring the innate desires for beauty and a just existence that can be found in all people regardless of race, ethnicity, or nationality. Lauren's passion for music education and social and political justice have led her around the world; she co-founded Music Heals Us with her husband violist Danny Lai, and has conducted two tours to Jordan and the West Bank where she used the healing power of music to help Palestinian and Syrian refugees express themselves and their emotions in positive ways.
Lauren has been teaching private violin lessons since 2006, and she seeks to give all her students the technical and creative tools they will need to become avid lovers of music throughout their entire lives. She also enjoys coaching chamber music, and is currently a chamber music coach at the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO). She values the individuality of each student and strives to help each one to reach their full potential not only as violinists and musicians but also as passionate communicators and contributing members of society. She believes that every child can and should be able to know the joy that comes from experiencing music first hand, and is committed to caring for all aspects of each student's life and development.
RACHEL STREACKER, piano/violin
Rachel Cirvencic began taking piano and violin lessons at the age of 5. Homeschooled and growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, she studied piano with Gerardo Teissonnière in the Preparatory Department and studied violin in the Sato Center for Suzuki Studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She was a member of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra throughout her high school career as a violinist and during her junior year, she began taking viola lessons with Lisa Boyko of the Cleveland Orchestra and joined the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra for her senior year. Rachel also thoroughly enjoys chamber music as a pianist and attended the Credo Chamber Music Festival in Oberlin, Ohio, for the summer sessions of '11, '12, '13, and '15. She graduated from Wheaton College in May, 2016 with a B.M. in piano performance.
Rachel absolutely loves playing music with others and is passionate about accompanying vocalists, instrumentalists, and choirs, collaborating with other musicians, and sharing the joy of music with others. She also enjoys working with children of all ages through mentoring and teaching music. Rachel firmly believes in cultivating relationships with children and teens that are encouraging and mature. She achieves this through meaningful conversations and sharing the beauty of music.
Along with music, Rachel loves exploring the outdoors, baking, going on adventures with her fiancé, drinking coffee, writing letters, exercising, and musical theatre.
ANNA COLE, violin
Anna Cole grew up in the mountains of Colorado, where she developed a deep love for both music and the outdoors. With a pianist mother and three younger siblings who also played instruments, she often had to fight for practice space, but she's thankful that violins are easily transported and can be practiced in unorthodox spaces like the garage.
Growing up in a musical household, Anna learned that the ability to create music is a gift that should be used to bless others. She is the co-founder and executive director of Strings for Swaziland, a non-profit organization that seeks to raise awareness of Swaziland's HIV/AIDS crisis and give student musicians opportunities to use their talents for a purpose greater than themselves. Anna has had the privilege of introducing children and adults to the violin in several international contexts, including Swaziland, Turkey, Spain, and Romania.
Anna believes that music studies develop skills applicable in all areas of life and that lessons should be tailored to a student's individual needs. She is currently working towards a B.A. in Music and International Relations and continues advanced violin studies with Dr. Lee Joiner, Chair of String Studies at Wheaton College. In Colorado, she studied under James Maurer, Professor Emeritus of the University of Denver and a leader in American Suzuki education. She has also taken pedagogy lessons with Margaret Pressley, Founding and Artistic Director of Violin Studies at the Seattle Conservatory of Music, who emphasizes the importance of well-rounded musical training. Having taught for several years now, her teaching style is based around the Suzuki method, with supplementation from other sources depending on the student. Although she is primarily a classical musician, she also enjoys Irish folk music and improvisation to worship music. Prior to moving to Wheaton, she was the first violinist of the Woodrose String Quartet and held leading positions in the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, one of the top youth orchestras in the nation.
JOY MARTIN, violin/piano
Joy Martin has been teaching music in a variety of capacities for over 10 years. She received her Bachelors of Music at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL, where she held the position of concertmaster and toured as soloist both locally and abroad with the Moody Symphonic Band.
Joy's expertise is in playing in local gigs and coaching and performing in small ensembles, but her heart beats for teaching children to grow in their knowledge and skill on their instrument as well as in character. She works hard to encourage the students' healthy growth in all areas of their life while instilling in them a love for music.
Along with violin, Joy enjoys playing other various instruments, such as the guitar and mandolin, spending time with her family, and acting and performing in musicals and choral ensembles.
HUDSON BROWN, violin/viola
Steeped in music from birth, HudsonTaylor Brown grew up in northern New York, then at age 9, moved to southeast Wisconsin. Singing around the house was a normal family affair. During high school, he was a member of the Midwest Young Artist’s Symphony Orchestra, I’Solisti Chamber Orchestra, MYAC chamber ensembles and placed in the Kenosha Symphony and the Racine Symphony Young Artists competitions. He is currently completing a degree in music education at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. Hudson began private viola study at age 12 under Nancy Nosal and Stanley Nosal. Most recently, he has studied under violist Rose Armbrust Griffin. He has also
studied voice, ballet, hand drum, bodhrán, and Scottish fiddling with Tim Macdonald.
As a musician and teacher, Hudson is at home with classical violin and viola music as
well as improvisation and folk music. He especially loves playing and singing with others
in small ensembles whether string quartet, worship band, or jam session. He is currently
active in various genres of music at his church.
Hudson also enjoys dancing, culinary arts, crafting costumes, studying folk and fiddle
music from around the world, and a good conversation over a warm beverage.
KELSEY STONER, cello
Kelsey Stoner has been playing and studying the cello for 18 years. As a child and teen, she studied at the Community School of the Arts through Wheaton College. She has performed in a variety of settings throughout the Chicago area, including at recitals, concerts, weddings, nursing homes, and as a member of several pit orchestras.
Kelsey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Taylor University, where she specifically studied the intersection between music and psychology, and researched the different ways that music can be used to help people achieve greater emotional health. While at Taylor, Kelsey studied cello under Kyung-Nam Oh and performed with the Taylor University Symphony Orchestra.
Kelsey believes that music holds an incredible amount of power, and should be accessible to all people who have a desire to experience it. She has several years of teaching experience, and sees teaching as a partnership between herself, her students, and their parents. She works hard to instill confidence in each one of her students and customizes her curriculum to help meet this need, as well as to help every student develop a personal connection to music.
JOHN SIMS, jazz and upright bass, electric bass, jazz guitar
John Sims is originally from Phoenix, Arizona, but is happy to call Chicago his home since 2013. He began playing bass professionally at 15 backing local Phoenician musicians while in High School, and during college where he finished his Bachelor degrees in Jazz Performance and Economics in December of 2012. While in school, John started his own jazz combo program with a group of heavily inspired students and the help of ASU. This led him to be hired as a faculty member at Scottsdale Community College teaching jazz combos, theory, and improvisation while still finishing his degrees. John’s students have gone on to consistently perform at the top of their field and specialization, with many attending very highly acclaimed musical institutions.
As a performer, John has played in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and France, as well as all over the midwest and southwestern United States. Since moving to Chicago, John has quickly risen through the ranks to become a top call bass player, and he performs regularly in Chicago’s best jazz clubs, which include Andy’s, the Green Mill, the Jazz Showcase, and Constellation. Since moving to Chicago, John has also been afforded teaching opportunities in Naperville, Illinois at the School of Performing Arts, where he taught jazz combos and classical/jazz upright bass, as well as with Chicago Jazz Philharmonic where he teaches classroom guitar. He is beyond thrilled to be a part of Bellas Artes and their new Jazz Program.
John is also an active member of his Streeterville-based home church, Church of the Beloved, where he has led small groups and is currently one of the worship leaders. He believes that music in any capacity is a gift from God, and strives to be a blessing in any way that he can.