Faculty

Jan Coleman — Violin

Jan Coleman is director of the Coleman Violin Studio, where she she specializes in teaching form, release of tension, body balance, movement and expression to students of all levels from all over Puget Sound. Other Coleman Studio teachers include Simon James and Elisa Barston. Coleman Studio students have won top awards, including in the Seattle Music Teachers Association Simon-Fiset String Competition, have gone on to study at prestigious conservatories, and have performed as soloists with numerous orchestras, including the Houston Symphony, the Bellevue Symphony, and Philharmonia Northwest.


Kathleen Spring — Violin & Teacher Training

Kathleen Spring, a 1974 graduate of Walla Walla University, has also studied at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna with Eduard Melkus and with Alan Bodman at Washington State University. She received a M.Mus. in Violin performance with James Maurer from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.

Honors include the ASTA Outstanding Studio Teacher Award for Washington State, 1996. Con Brio, her Jr. High string ensemble performed at the Washington MENC convention, 1998. Her violin studio performance group, Spring Strings, performs regularly in the Denver metro area and has participated studio exchange tours with both Swiss and Belgian Suzuki students in Switzerland.

A registered Teacher Trainer, Kathleen teaches workshops the US, has guest taught in both Europe and Asia. She teaches Suzuki Violin Pedagogy in the long-term Suzuki Pedagogy Program at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music and maintains an active studio in the Denver metro area.


Julia Gish-Salerno — Violin & Viola

Julia Gish-Salerno serves as Professor of Violin and Viola at Eastern Washington University. Her accomplishments include winning first prize and the festival medal in the 2000 Seattle Young Artists Music Festival; national finalist for the String division of the 2001 MTNA collegiate competition; and being the String division Young Artist Winner of Musicfest Northwest in 2004.

Gish-Salerno has also served as concertmaster of many orchestras, including three years at the University of Michigan. During their 2004 season, the UM orchestra made the Grammy Award-winning recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. Julia was concertmaster and a violin soloist in that recording.

Gish-Salerno has been featured as a soloist with several orchestras, including the Walla Walla University Orchestra, Andrews University Orchestra, Northwest Philharmonia, Spokane Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony, Southern Adventist University Symphony and, on three occasions, the Walla Walla Symphony. Julia also appeared with the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra in Prague and presented a recital for their International Diplomat Series.

While in Los Angeles, Julia enjoyed many other aspects of being a musician, including a small appearance in the 2009 movie The Soloist, the 2009 Academy Awards Governors Ball Orchestra, a PBS Documentary honoring Ella Fitzgerald, and performances with musicians like Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole. She also participated in chamber performances with principal musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic and performed in the popular Classical Underground chamber music series with her USC piano trio.

Julia started her musical training at age two. Her teachers have included Kathleen Spring, Margaret Pressley, Stephen Shipps, Lyndon Johnston-Taylor, and Martin Chalifour. Julia has been a scholarship student at several summer festivals including the Encore School for Strings, Indiana University String Academy, and four years at the Meadowmount School of Music.

Julia was awarded major scholarships for music study at the University of Michigan where she received her B.M. in violin performance, and University of Southern California, where she received her M.M. and D. M. A., respectively, in violin performance summa cum laude.


holly blackwelder-carpenter — VIOLIN

Holly Blackwelder-Carpenter received her Bachelor of Music from Walla Walla University in 2000. She grew up as a Suzuki violin student in Walla Walla, Washington, under the tutelage of Kathleen Spring. Holly began her teaching career at Walla Walla University in the String Preparatory Program, taking a year out of college to start a string program at Universidad Peruana Union in Lima, Peru. She currently maintains a private violin studio in Seattle.


Barbara Riley — Violin

Barbara Riley grew up in Minnesota, and studied violin at the New England Conservatory in Boston. She received a Master of Music degree in Viola Performance from Western Washington University. On a visit to Japan in 1980, she met Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and returned to Bellingham, Washington, to begin teaching the Suzuki Method. In 1988, she spent two months in Matsumoto studying with Dr. Suzuki.

For over 20 years she led a busy life in Seattle, teaching violin and viola and playing in musical theater. Since moving to Ellensburg, Washington in 2005, Barbara continues to teach private lessons in her home studio as well as classes at Central Washington University through the Preparatory Strings Department. She also teaches music and movement classes to mixed groups of preschoolers, parents and seniors.

She plays fiddle in her trio, Prairie Spring, and viola with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Barbara has taught violin, viola, music reading and chamber music at many workshops and Suzuki Institutes in Seattle, Kennewick, Pullman and Walla Walla as well as Alaska, Idaho, and Oregon. She lives on a small hay farm near Ellensburg with her husband, John, their dog, Nico, and three horses.


Glenn Spring — Violin

Violinist/composer Glenn Spring spent most of his professional career in Washington State, before moving to Colorado in 2001. He maintains a studio in Aurora, where he composes and teaches violin, viola, and theory/composition. Together with his wife, Kathleen, he co-directs the student performance group, Spring Strings. 

Professor Emeritus at Walla Walla University, Dr. Spring is the principal author of the textbook Musical Form and Analysis, re-released in an updated version by Waveland Press in 2013. His music — for choir, orchestra, strings, keyboard, and chamber groups — is performed regularly throughout N. America, and in Europe and Asia.

Spring holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from La Sierra and Texas Christian Universities, and a DMA in composition from the University of Washington.


Ruth Marie Ballance — Violin

Ruth Marie Ballance grew up as a Suzuki violin and piano student, later earning two degrees in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

She has been on preparatory and university faculties in Cleveland, Rochester (New York), and Birmingham (Alabama) where she has enjoyed performing extensively as a chamber musician and working with young beginners and their parents all the way up through very advanced students.

She has taught at a number of summer workshops including several summers at Credo Chamber Music in Oberlin, Ohio, where she and some friends launched a project dear to her heart. It was called the Alaska Quartet, and they performed several summers in outreach settings, including most of the prisons in Alaska.

For the last four years, she and her cellist- and Dalcroze-teacher-husband have been building up their own Suzuki program, Ballance Talent Education, in the Seattle-Tacoma area. She currently sees thirty students every week plus group classes in Covington and on Fox Island. The rest of her time is spent playing with her two small children, reading, and being outdoors.


Benjamin Gish — Cello & Bass

Benjamin Gish is the director of the Walla Walla Valley Academy String Orchestra and has a large studio of cellists and bassists ranging in age from 4 through 20-something. He is also an adjunct faculty in the music department at Walla Walla University. Several of his students have won top awards in state, regional, national competitions and major scholarships to colleges and universities.

Mr. Gish is also assistant principal cellist of the Walla Walla Symphony. He holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Music and a Master’s degree in Cello Performance and Conducting. Mr. Gish is frequently asked to be a clinician for orchestra festivals and guest cellist artist/teacher on various campuses. He also adjudicates for state and local chapters of MTNA and MENC.

For the past 25 years he has attended summer music camps across the nation in the role of student, parent, faculty and guest artist. Mr. Gish is also the director of the Walla Walla Suzuki Institute. He is married to Connie Camp Gish who teaches junior high math and science at Rogers Adventist School. They have two children, daughter Julia Gish-Salerno (violinist on faculty at Eastern Washington University, married to Tres Salerno), and son Jamie, a sophomore at Walla Walla University and a cellist in their orchestra. Ben and Connie are loving their newest role in life as the grandparents of Luci & Dru Salerno.


Priscilla Jones — Cello & Teacher Training

Priscilla Jones lives on Bainbridge Island where she maintains a private Suzuki Cello Studio for students ages four to adult. Since moving to the island in 1993, she has helped found the Bainbridge Island Youth Orchestra, and has organized a multi-age group of cellists who call themselves, “Cello Island Mania.”

Priscilla has also enjoyed playing in local concert series including Music Millennium, Soundscapes, Kitsap Opera, and Chamber Music at Bainbridge Performing Arts. She is a registered Suzuki Teacher Trainer and the Past President and Chamber Music Coordinator of the Washington State Suzuki Association.

As a cellist, Priscilla Jones has enjoyed 40 years of freelance work — symphony, chamber music and recitals including solo performances with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, South Texas Symphony, and the Oberurseler Kammer Orchester near Frankfurt, Germany, where she and her husband lived for six years.

A native of New Mexico, Priscilla graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Music Education (emphasis on cello and theory/composition). She received an MM in Cello Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Teachers include Joanna deKeyser, Wolfgang Laufer, and Karl Fruh. When not with her cello, Priscilla likes to hike, bike and travel.


Bruce Walker — Cello

St. Louis, Missouri native, Bruce Walker, currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington. Duties include teaching courses in Western Music History, second year Music Theory, Advance Aural Skills, and Director of the Columbia Basin College Orchestra. He is also Music Director for the Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra, Cover Conductor for the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor and Conductor of Preparatory Orchestras for the Oregon East Symphony. He has previously served as Director of Orchestral Activities for the Sunnyside School District in Sunnyside, Washington, Conductor for the Kittitas Valley Youth Orchestra, Co-conductor of the Ellensburg Campus-Community Orchestra, Director of the Central Washington University Music Preparatory Strings Program, and cello/conducting intern for the Marrowstone Music Festival.

Mr. Walker has participated in some of the finest conducting workshops and music festivals across the United States such as the Marrowstone Music Festival, Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestral Musicians, various workshops sponsored by the Conductor’s Guild, Astoria Music Festival, Rose City International Conductor’s Workshop, and the University of Oregon Orchestral Conducting Institute. During the summer months since 2010, Mr. Walker works as a faculty member with the Youth Excellence on Stage/YES Academy in collaboration with American Voices, a US non-government, non-profit, cultural exchange organization. Through this organization, he has conducted, traveled, and taught in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.

As an instrumentalist, Mr. Walker remains very active as a solo performer, educator, adjudicator, and orchestral cellist. He has appeared as soloist with the Marrowstone Music Festival Orchestra and the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also held principal cello positions with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Orchestra, Marrowstone Music Festival Orchestra, Central Washington University Symphony, Wenatchee Valley Symphony, and the Pierre Monteux School Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Mr. Walker won numerous competitions with Trio Giocoso and the DeKalb and Byron String Quartets. Currently, he is principal cellist to the Oregon East Symphony (Pendelton, Oregon), section cellist with the Walla Walla Symphony (Walla Walla, Washington), and is an on-call musician for the to the Mid-Columbia Symphony (Richland, Washington) and Yakima Symphony (Yakima, Washington).

Mr. Walker holds baccalaureate degrees in Music Education and Cello Performance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and master degrees in Performance studying Orchestral Conducting and Cello Performance from Central Washington University. His primary teachers have been Kangho Lee and John Michel (cello) and Dr. Jeffery Meyer, Michael Jinbo, Dr. Nikolas Caoile, Kenneth Woods, and Lawrence Golan (conducting). When not on the podium, he can be found enjoying time outside around his BBQ pit and smoker and having people sample his new creations


Monica Camp — Cello

Monica Camp is the Director of Excel's String Orchestra Program in Kent, Washington. She earned her Master's Degree in Orchestral Conducting from Central Washington University (CWU), after pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Cello Performance at Gonzaga University (GU). She has studied cello with Dr. Kevin Hekmatpanah, Benjamin Gish, and Alicia Randisi-Hooker. Monica received her Suzuki training from the Japan-Seattle Suzuki institute, and from the Intermountain Suzuki Strings Institute. She has studied the teaching of Amy Barston, Gilda Barston, Barbara Wampner, Carey Cheney, David Evenchick, and Akira Nakajima. 

Mrs. Camp's experiences as the Director of the Kittitas Valley Youth Orchestra, and the Program Director of the Preparatory Strings Program in Ellensburg, Washington gave her a passion for strings education program development. She was a graduate conducting assistant with the CWU Symphony Orchestra, the assistant strings teacher at Gonzaga Preparatory High School, and has also assisted in the strings programs in Mercer Island School District (grades 5-12), Kennewick High School, and Pacific Cascade Middle School. Her private studio has included cello, violin, piano, and music theory students from age three to adults. An active performer, Mrs. Camp was the Principal Cellist of the GU Symphony Orchestra, and has also performed with the GU Chamber Choir, and the CWU Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. She has soloed with the GU Symphony Orchestra, and has presented multiple solo cello recitals. Mrs. Camp currently plays with the Cascade Symphony Orchestra.


Valdine Ritchie Mishkin — Cello

Cellist Valdine Ritchie Mishkin is a diverse musician, recognized both as a gifted cello teacher of all ages and an avid solo, chamber, and orchestral musician. Equally dedicated to teaching the youngest students in early education as well as training advanced cellists, Dr. Mishkin serves as adjunct faculty at Willamette University and teaches at her home studio in West Linn. She coaches chamber music and orchestral repertoire with the Portland Youth Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Youth Symphonies, judges competitions for regional and national organizations, and is a clinician for Chamber Music Camp of Portland.

Dr. Mishkin has explored a wide range of musical genres and disciplines, from period baroque to large orchestra, from live radio performances to studio recording, and from contemporary music premiers to rock/pop concerts with Josh Groban and Rod Stewart. A seasoned performer of both ensemble and solo repertoire, Valdine champions contemporary and lesser- known chamber music, most recently performing live on All-Classical FM Portland for Club Mod and March Modern. She was also heard on that station’s live radio program Thursdays at Three with David Hattner and Janet Guggenheim. Valdine serves as substitute cello with the Oregon Symphony, and previously performed with Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, and on period instruments with the Mercury Ensemble. Debuting at age 10 as a soloist with the Winnipeg Symphony, Valdine performed the Schumann Concerto with the Chehalem Symphony, and has been a featured soloist with the Mercury Ensemble, the Aurora Chorus, and Portland Boy Choir.

Valdine holds a Doctorate and Masters in Music from Rice University as a student of Lynn Harrell and Norman Fischer, a Bachelor of Music from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) as a student of Antonio Lysy, and holds both performance diplomas (A.R.C.T.) and teaching certificates in cello and piano from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto as a student of Julie Banton and Ann Lugsdin (Winnipeg). Performing across Canada, U.S.A. and Europe, Valdine’s development was shaped by such festivals as Tanglewood, Orford, Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada’s National Music Competition Festival (3rd prize winner), and Schleswig-Holstein Orchestra Academy; by masterclasses with Janos Starker, Aldo Parisot, Zara Nelsova, David Finckel, the Juilliard Quartet, and Arnold Steinhardt; and under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Larry Rachleff and Timothy Vernon. 


Liz Trupp — Piano

Growing up in Southern California, Liz Trupp earned a music degree from La Sierra University where she studied piano with Chicago Conservatory of Music graduate Anita Nørskov Olsen. She also earned a degree in nursing from Loma Linda University. After working part time as a nurse and part time teaching piano, she was introduced to the Suzuki method in 1989 and, quitting nursing, went on to complete teacher training for all seven books after extensive studies with Peggy Swingle and Mary Craig Powell. Ms. Trupp is passionate about helping children learn to play music beautifully and yet have fun while doing it. She maintains a private studio in Battle Ground, WA where students have group class every week in addition to their lesson. She is dedicated to providing her students with performance opportunities that include chamber music on the Spring Recital.

Over the years, Ms. Trupp has taught numerous students with various learning difficulties. This led to studying how brains process information differently and what can be done to maximize learning. After studying Bal-A-Vis-X with Bill Hubert, she has incorporated these fun brain-strengthening exercises at the beginning of every piano lesson and into the more advanced group class. Students are able to be more focused, have increased visual tracking and are better able to access information from both hemispheres of their brains. The best part is all the benefit gained while the student is begging 'Can we do it again?' 

When not teaching, Ms. Trupp enjoys hiking, gardening and spending time with her three grown wonderful children.


Joy Muth Fackenthall — Piano

Joy Muth Fackenthall is a life-long musician. Her love for piano began at an early age, and during high school she studied piano from Dr. Robert Bowman of Chico State University.

She received her Bachelor of Music from Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, Washington - 2001) while studying with Dr. Jane Harty, and subsequently obtained her Master of Music in Piano Performance from Western Washington University (Bellingham, Washington - 2005) under the direction of Jeffrey Gilliam.

Joy also loves foreign languages and completed her Master of Arts in Spanish from Sonoma State University in 2015. In addition to teaching Spanish at PUC Prep and PUC Elementary in Angwin, California, she continues to perform and accompany, particularly for choral and strings ensembles.

In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband, Peter, her two daughters, Isabella and Gabrielle, trail-running with friends, and travelling abroad.


Noel Jabagat — Steel Drums

Noel Jabagat teaches orchestra and private lessons in College Place, Washington. He has been playing the violin for 20 years and the steel drums for 15 years.

Jabagat is originally from Avon Park, Florida. He moved to Walla Walla valley to attend Walla Walla University after hearing their steel band play on their Spring Tour of Florida in 2006. He plays the violin with the Walla Walla Symphony as well as a handful of other string and wind instruments for various local performing ensembles.