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Sarah McCown is often seen lugging numerous instrument cases around Shenandoah Conservatory, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate in Woodwind Doubling. Growing up, she watched VHS film adaptations of musicals with her grandparents. She had no idea they were musicals; she just thought there was a lot of singing in old movies! Sarah spends her summers playing flute, clarinet, saxophone, and bassoon for the Shenandoah Summer Music Theater. Before moving to Winchester, Sarah played for musicals throughout mid-Michigan and appeared as a soloist with the Vintage Parlor Orchestra and Saginaw Eddy Concert Band. She has since appeared as a soloist with the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra.
Sarah has a passion for teaching in both classical and jazz styles. Lessons are tailored to each student in content, pacing, and workload. Students learn to articulate fundamental concepts, strengthen listening skills, and explore resources, so they can become their own teachers.
Sarah received her Master’s in Music Performance as a Woodwind Specialist from Michigan State University in 2018 and her Bachelors in Music Performance from Tennessee Technological University in 2016.
Her free time is spent playing video games with her husband and taking their dog on hiking trips.
James Senson is a professional musician in the Northern Virginia area
specializing in organ, piano, voice and percussion. He received a Bachelor’s
of Music in Keyboard Performance from the University of Miami and has
extensive collaborative concert and recital experience accompanying
numerous music organizations such as the Governor’s School for the Arts
where he served on the faculty and as a student (Pianist and 3x All-State
Percussionist), Virginia Opera, Virginia Symphony Chorus, Virginia Chorale.
He currently serves as Director of Music at Saint Veronica Catholic Church in
Chantilly where the sacred music program is centered on Gregorian Chant,
Sacred Polyphony, Liturgical Catechesis and Youth Apprenticeship.
Mr. Senson also holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Secondary Education
(Mathematics Concentration) from Old Dominion University and is a licensed
math teacher. He has served in all school environments including public,
private and homeschooling education. His previous math teaching
experience includes the Fairfax County Public Schools, Paul VI High School, and Chelsea Academy.
Meghan Buckner is a children’s choral director and voice teacher at Mountain View Music. She has benefitted from years of private vocal study, working privately with 12 different vocal professionals before graduating high school in Rochester, Minnesota. She attended Christendom College, where she double-majored in Philosophy and Literature. During this time, she continued to study voice independently at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, and competed in state and regional level competitions. After graduation, Meghan continued to foster her love of singing by participating in local community choirs, teaching voice lessons, and has directed several musicals. In 2020, she founded the Shenandoah Valley Homeschool Choirs, which has since become a program of Mountain View Music Association, and in 2023 she received her accreditation with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Meghan is taking students age 12 and above. No private music experience is required.
Madeline Southall holds an undergraduate degree in Cello Performance from Liberty University. She has studied under both David Feldman of the Roanoke Symphony and Neil Cary of the Richmond Symphony and has sat as principal cellist for the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra, Liberty University Symphony Orchestra, and Randolph College Chamber Orchestra. She has recently completed her Master’s Degree in Cello Performance which she obtained by studying under renowned cellist and performer, Julian Schwarz, at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia.
An active freelance musician, Madeline regularly performs for weddings and events both as a soloist and with the Melodious String Quartet, with whom she has been a member since 2018. She has performed with a variety of ensembles in Virginia including the James Chamber Orchestra, Danville Symphony Orchestra, the Liberty University Scholarship String Quartet, and the Virginia Cello Ensembles, as well as theatre companies including the Lynchburg Academy Center of the Arts, Alluvion Stage Company, and the Charlottesville Ballet. Along with a passion for performing, Madeline has a love for encouraging students of all ages to develop their musical abilities, and has taught students ranging in ages from five to sixty-five. She brings with her the experience as Head Resident Advisor for the Heifetz International Summer Music Institute’s “Program for Exceptionally Gifted” string players in Staunton, Virginia, where she worked with internationally distinguished young artists as they honed their skills as musicians and performers. She also brings multiple years of experience as a private instructor at Roberson’s Music School in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She currently teaches a private cello studio at the Melodious Music Studio in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Robert Philbin teaches piano using the popular Suzuki method. Trained in piano and violin in both the classical and the Suzuki method, he was able to experience firsthand the benefits of the Suzuki approach for beginners and more advanced players. “I think anybody can learn much faster and with more success without having to read music at first. This way, they can focus entirely on the instrument and develop their listening skills at the same time.” Robert is currently a member of the Mountain View Music Chamber Ensemble and is working on completing more advanced Suzuki training. He is accepting students of all ages and is looking forward to teaching them.
Cecilia Philbin is teaching beginner violin students using the Suzuki approach. She grew up learning to play the violin and the piano using both the Suzuki and the classical style. “The Suzuki Method is a wonderful way to start beginners, because it allows the student to get comfortable with the new instrument and develop an ear for listening before learning how to read music, which is yet another new skill to master.”
At present, Cecilia is a member of the Mountain View Music Chamber Ensemble and is working on more advanced Suzuki training. She welcomes students of all ages.
Shelly Stockton has enjoyed performing and teaching music since 1990. Her background is in piano and voice performance, music composition, and worship music. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education at Emporia University. Mrs. Stockton teaches private piano and voice lessons for all ages and offers recorder classes for children ages 8-14.
David Michael Bilowus holds a Master’s degree in piano performance and Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees in voice and piano from the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he also taught piano. He studied piano and pedagogy with Livingston Gearhart and Carlo Pinto. He has also studied at the Eastman School of Music, the Chautauqua Music Institute, the University of Southern California, and at the University of North Texas. While in California, he studied the Russian technique of piano playing with Surajeet Chatterji.
Mr. Bilowus has performed in many locations around the world including Ukraine, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Mexico, Canada, and many locations in the United States. Bilowus has served on the music faculty at universities where he taught piano, voice, and directed choirs, stage band, and orchestra. He has also served as the music director of churches in Virginia and North Carolina. Additionally, he was selected by the Texas Commission on the Arts to serve as a distinguished artist-in-residence at several schools in Texas, where he taught students how to compose their own music. He was also selected by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Mid-America Arts Alliance to perform throughout Texas and Mid-America.
David is a prolific composer and arranger, and continues to release numerous recordings that are often featured on his website, DavidMichaelbilowus.com
Larissa grew up performing with her family, The Fedoryka Family Ensemble, bringing her to venues such as the Kennedy Center and the Wolf Trap Family Festival. She received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in 2017 from the University of California Santa Barbara. While in California, she freelanced as a cellist, playing with local orchestras, recording as a session cellist and touring with Latin pop icon Marco Antonio Solis and Gloria Trevi. She most recently toured with Celtic-Americana band Scythian, holding down the back-line as cellist and electric bass guitarist. Trained in both the Kodály and Suzuki methods, Larissa also teaches Music Theory and the History of Music at Christendom College in her home town of Front Royal, Virginia while establishing her house concert series “Painting with Music.”
Eli’s musical journey began at the age of six in his hometown of San Diego, California. His ever-growing passion for music took him to the East Coast where he completed both his bachelors and masters degrees in violin performance at Shenandoah Conservatory, studying under renowned violinist Akemi Takayama. His studies have taken him across the country and internationally to countries such as Spain and Argentina. In Jamaica, he studied pedagogy with master teacher Steven Woodham, a pupil of Zakhar Bron, Europe’s leading violin teacher. While in school he served as concertmaster of the conservatory’s orchestra, and participated in numerous chamber music ensembles. He was invited to attend the Castleton Festival, an intensive opera and orchestra program directed by Lorin Maazel, the former conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He performs frequently in local orchestras including the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and the National String Symphonia, where he has served as Assistant Concertmaster. As a soloist, he has performed numerous recitals in the Mid-Atlantic region. He was a featured soloist with the Charles Washington Symphony Orchestra, performing the virtuosic showpiece Zigeunerweisen. In 2014, he was a prizewinner in the Virginia Music Teachers Association concerto competition, and winner of the Bach-Handel competition at Shenandoah Conservatory.
Although his training is primarily classical, Eli has played in numerous genres ranging from Bluegrass and Celtic to jazz and classic rock. In college, he was a member of the Bluefire Jazz String Quartet, which performed both jazz classics and original material. The quartet had the honor to work with Wynton Marsalis, one of the greatest jazz musicians living today. He was also involved in the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra’s world premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ Blues Symphony. Eli’s love for folk music comes from his family heritage. His great- grandfather was a fiddler from the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and some of his earliest memories are of listening to his father’s recordings of Cape Breton Celtic music. He was honored to join Celtic Woman and the Irish Tenors as a member of the orchestra for their concerts in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. In the classic rock genre, Eli has performed with a popular local band, including a sold out show dedicated to the music of the Beatles.
As a teacher, Eli has worked with students of all ages, from preschoolers to adults. He is the co-founder and director of the Charles Washington Youth Orchestra and the Lighthouse Baptist Church Children’s Choir. His passion lies in the opportunity to affect a student’s life in a positive way. He loves proving that they are capable of far more than they might imagine, teaching them how to learn, and enabling them to see farther down the road of learning. Through music, he shows them to always be curious, helping every student unleash their own creative spark and open the door to discovery. He believes that a teacher has an important responsibility that requires constant dedication, hard work, and self-evaluation to ensure every student gets the very best they deserve.
Eli has clocked up countless hours as a professional violinist, playing everything from a sold out all Beatles show to appearing on stage with Celtic Women, the Irish Tenors and Wynton Marsalis.
Under the banner of Nova Strings, Eli collaborates with the area’s premier musicians to perform as a String Quartet, String Trio or String Duo or Solo Violin. All musicians Eli works with are full-time professional classical musicians, mostly all with a master’s degree or higher.
Taking great pride in his work, Eli loves every detail of preparing for a wedding or special event, from hand curating song selections to create the perfect ambiance, to promptly responding to communications and handling all logistical details. Every event is guaranteed by a written contract to ensure your peace of mind. Eli Thomas may also be reached through his personal website.
Therese Ohotnicky is a graduate of Christendom College in Front Royal, VA studying Classical and Early Christian Studies and Music. Therese has served as the primary organist at Immaculate Conception Parish in Colorado Springs, CO, assistant organist at the Minor Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, TN, and is currently serving as primary organist at Christ the King Chapel at Christendom College. She has many years of experience with teaching and leading youth through camps, swim and music lessons, and tutoring. Therese has been teaching at MVM for 2 years, and will soon be beginning the studio’s early childhood classes, “Music Together”.
Nadia Acosta is a former missionary kid from Ukraine who has played piano for over three quarters of her life. While in Ukraine, she studied in the Children’s Music School No. 1 under Natalia Alexandrovna Velikaya, and graduated from there at age 16 with highest honors. Throughout her time at the music school, she performed in many school-wide, city-wide, and region-wide competitions, placing well not just for piano but for music theory and music literature. In college, she continued studying music while majoring in psychology and performed several times a semester. She graduated in 2020 with a bachelors in psychology, which has proven invaluable both in trying to interpret various composers’ music and in helping build rapport with younger students. She has accompanied both pedagogues and students of other musical instruments and feels most at home on a stage. She brings to her teaching extreme conflict resolution and a desire to help music bring peace and healing.
*We are sorry to announce that Nadia is currently fully booked.
A native of Melbourne, Australia, Oscar is forging his own path as a 21st century artist.
An avid chamber musician, he is a founding member of the highly acclaimed Maverick Brass Quintet, Prize winners at the Jeju International Brass and Winds Festival Competition 2019 and dual Norfolk Chamber Music Festival Fellows. Oscar has given both solo and collaborative recitals whilst residing in the US, and has also appeared as a guest soloist with the American Baroque Orchestra.
As comfortable in a symphonic setting as any, he performs as a guest artist with the Florida Grand Opera, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and the Melbourne Baroque Orchestra. Oscar’s variety of performance knows no limit, having shared the stage with Australian music legends John Farnham and Jimmy Barnes. He can also be found performing the Australian National Anthem with Dami Im at the 2016 Melbourne Cup, in front of an audience of 100,000 people.
Oscar holds a Bachelor of Music (Honors) from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (2016), a Master of Music degree from Yale School of Music (2019) and is currently a DMA Candidate at Shenandoah University.
Oscar is available to teach trumpet, trombone, french horn and tuba at Mountain View Music.
Sheila DuMont is a native of Williamsport, Pennsylvania now living in Winchester, Virginia while studying for her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Shenandoah Conservatory with internationally known flutist, Jonathan Snowden.
An active performer, she currently serves as principal flutist of the Northern Appalachian Wind Symphony (PA), performs with the award-winning Penn Central Wind Band (PA), and is a founding member of the Great Lakes Wind Symphony (NY). Sheila may be heard as principal flutist on recordings with the Grammy-nominated Mansfield University Wind Ensemble. She has served as principal of the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, co-principal of the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra, Penn State Chamber Orchestra, and Penn State Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
In February of 2020, Sheila made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Penn State Symphonic Wind Ensemble as featured piccolo soloist in Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy. More recently, she performed as featured flute soloist in Shenandoah Conservatory’s April 2021 performance of Samuel Barber’s Capricorn Concerto.
As a teacher, Sheila brings with her 20 years of experience in creating a well-rounded musical education and a holistic, pro-student environment. She is a proponent of community and lifelong music; in her hometown, she founded, organized, and served as musical director (2013-2016) of the Williamsport Flute Choir, a performance ensemble that is still active today. Her students have ranged in age from elementary to adult, and have gone on to win district, state, and regional competitions, successfully audition to university music programs, and most importantly, achieve their own personal musicianship goals.
Sheila holds a bachelor’s degree in flute performance from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, as well as master’s degrees in both flute performance and musicology from Penn State University. Musicological interests include historical performance practice and introducing compositions by women and other underrepresented composers into the Western Music canon. She is currently a doctoral student in flute performance at Shenandoah Conservatory, studying with Jonathan Snowden, former principal flutist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.
When not playing music, Sheila enjoys spending time with her husband Frank, playing with her chihuahua mix, Marzipan and newly adopted Siamese kitten, Jesk, travelling, thrifting, and beating her own time on The New York Times crossword puzzles.
Sheila is available to teach flute, oboe, saxophone, piccolo, and English horn at Mountain View Music
Mountain View Music Founder/Owner Karena B. Tapsak holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern California in International Public Administration. She has a varied background in public/private/non-profit administration, property management, writing, marketing, special events, and teaching. She has held board positions in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and in Front Royal, Virginia. Affiliations include St. Anthony Civic Orchestra (Minnesota), Susquehanna Valley Chorale (Pennsylvania), Jubilate Choir (Pennsylvania), Bloomsburg Preparatory School of Music (Pennsylvania), Danville Community Band (Pennsylvania) and Bloomsburg University Chamber Orchestra (Pennsylvania). She has been teaching for more than 15 years, including as an adjunct professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Her greatest passion is for the piano, which she has been teaching exclusively for six years. Karena is a member of the Piano Teachers Guild of the American College of Musicians, the National Association for Music Education, and the Virginia Music Teachers’ Association.