Mrs. Lori Beason, Director of the Elementary and Youth Choirs, Recorder Class, and the Northern Lights Marching Band Banner Carriers, is the mom of 2 homeschool graduated children and alumni of WMHFA. She holds a BA degree in Vocal Music from Cornerstone University, and a BS degree in Music Education from Calvin College. Lori has taught music & directed choirs in schools, churches and private piano, voice, and clarinet lessons for 35 years. This is her 15th year with WMHFA. She credits her high school music teacher, Mr. Robert Stiles, for inspiring her to pursue music and teaching as a career.
Mrs. Karin Loberg Code, Kalamazoo Orchestra Instructor, has been teaching strings for over twenty years. She teaches privately and is on the faculty at Kalamazoo College and Hillsdale College. Karin is a violist with the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Symphonies and performs solo Norwegian folk violin around the country on her Hardanger fiddle. In 2010 Karin was awarded the PRISM Award for Excellence in Music Education from the Kalamazoo Chapter of SAI at WMU.
Mr. Nick DeBone, Director of Advanced Band and Big Band 2, is a home school dad of 4 children. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Central Michigan University. He has over 12 years experience teaching K-12 music, directing Middle School/High School bands, and Jazz Bands. Nick has also been actively involved as a worship team member playing various instruments for nearly 20 years.
Mr. Chase Garrett, drumline instructor, has played percussion and drum-set for over twenty years in a variety of contexts including orchestral, marching, pep-band, pit orchestra for plays, jazz ensemble, percussion ensemble, worship bands and live recording to name a few. He has performed with notable groups such as the Indianapolis Philharmonic, the Marion Philharmonic and the Kalamazoo Children's Choir. He holds a B.A. from Indiana Wesleyan University in Percussion Performance. While at Indiana Wesleyan, Garrett was first chair percussion and during his senior year performed the Life of King David: Concerto for Marimba and Band while on tour with the university's wind ensemble. Garrett has also written and performed his own works for marimba.
Dr. Albert Harrison, Director of Concert Band, Elementary Big Band, and Brass Ensemble in Grand Rapids, received his music education degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University BMED, and the University of Illinois MS and ED.D. He recently retired from Taylor University in Indiana where he served as the Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble Director and Chair of the Music, Theatre and Dance Department. Under his leadership the Concert Band participated in numerous tours in the Midwest, East Coast and Southeastern U.S. The Jazz Ensemble participated in the Aquinas Jazz Festival and made 10 appearances at the Elmhurst Jazz Festival. Dr. Harrison currently plays trombone in the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band, The Jubal Brass, Sam’s Swing Band and the Rush Creek Worship Team.
Mrs. Wendy March, Founder of WMHFA and instructor of the Beginning and Intermediate Bands in Grand Rapids, and Assistant Director of Northern Lights Marching Band, is a homeschool mom of 6 children with a BA degree in Secondary Music Education. She has been teaching and performing for over 30 years in choirs, orchestra, bands, private instruction, and consulting. In 1996 she started WMHFA with the desire to provide homeschool students the opportunity to learn how to play musical instruments.
Mrs. Kristen Shoup, Director of Advanced Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra, earned a BA in Music Education from WMU and a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. She has been a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra since 1992. Kristen has been the Orchestra Director of Grand Rapids Christian Schools, Calvin Christian Schools, and is the Assistant Director of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony’s Classical Orchestra.
Mr. Joel Snyder, Senior Choir and Chorale Instructor, is highly trained in vocal and choral music, having received his Bachelor of Music from Bob Jones University, Masters of Voice Performance from Eastern University, and a Masters of Choral Conducting in progress at Western University.
Mrs. Elisabeth Sooy, Director of Beginning Orchestra, Jr. Girls Choir, Intermediate Orchestra, and Fiddle Class in Grand Rapids, has been playing violin and piano since the age of three. She played in Youth Orchestras, the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, the Firelands Symphony in Ohio, and various pit operas and musicals. She has been an Orchestra and Choir director and accompanist for over 30 years. Elisabeth was the Director of the Metropolitan Choir of Praise, Director and Vocal coach at Grace Bible College, and has led many local church choirs and other small ensembles. She directs the Pit Orchestra for HPA in Kalamazoo, and is certified with the Suzuki Association. Her greatest desire is to honor God and bring out the best in all those she works with, to His glory.
Mrs. Christina VanDam, Colorguard Instructor, has been involved with colorguard for over 15 years. She marched in high school and college and has taught numerous groups around the state for the past ten years. She is also a colorguard judge for the Scholastic Marching Band Organization and a General Effect judge for the Michigan Color Guard Circuit. When not doing things related to colorguard, she enjoys spending time with her family, backpacking, and hiking. She is thrilled to be part of the WMHFA family!
Mr. Nate VanderWerf, Director of Big Band 3, received a Bachelor's Degree in Trumpet Performance from Western Michigan University and a Master's Degree in Trumpet Performance from Indiana University. He has performed as a freelancing trumpeter with a wide array of ensembles, venues, and artists around the West Michigan area. Nate is well versed in teaching all styles of trumpet: including classical, jazz, solo, chamber, and lead trumpet; and all skill levels of trumpet from beginner to advanced.
Mr. Rick Wiltse, Handbell Director, earned a BM from Alma College and a Masters from Western Michigan University. He taught public school general and instrumental music for 15 years and is currently Director of Programming at Allegro School of Music in Grand Rapids. He has been involved with handbell choirs beginning in 1984 and is also an avid vocalist, trombonist, and electric bass player, having performed with numerous concert bands, big bands, praise bands, orchestras, and choirs.
Dr. David Yandl, Director of the Woodwind Ensemble, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from DePaul University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Michigan State University. He completed additional studies at Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio in Madrid, Spain. David is currently Head of Winds, Brass, and Percussion at Hope College, and teaches clarinet and woodwind pedagogy at Alma College. Past appointments include faculty positions at DePaul University, Michigan State University, and Cornerstone University.
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