Dixie Karas truly defines what it means to be a professional musician. She has performed in every kind of venue imaginable throughout greater Cincinnati, the United States, and internationally.
Dixie’s multi-decade career includes recording sessions, television appearances, festivals, radio spots, and near-constant gigs at small clubs and large. She is one of the most recognized and respected vocalists in Cincinnati.
She has recorded feature vocals and backup vocals for ad jingles, TV promos, video game soundtracks, and more for organizations as varied as Kroger, Skyline, Northgate Mall, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Kings Island, and JTM. Dixie has recorded nationally for Ford, all major cruise lines, and international theme parks in Japan and Germany.
Dixie performs regularly on the Cincinnati jazz and pop club scene and she frequently features with prominent local ensembles. She has recorded at dozens of local and national recording studios and includes instruction on microphone technique and recording protocols with many of her voice students.
Dixie has been teaching voice and jazz/pop singing styles for many years around Cincinnati, including with the School of Rock program for the last several years. She loves teaching and helping singers reach their personal and professional goals.
You can hear some of Dixie’s work on iTunes at the following link: Dixie Karas on Apple Music
Danny Groh has been playing drum set since he was a child. He played his first professional
gig at the age of 13. This led him to the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of
Cincinnati, where he was a student of noted drummer Art Gore. During his years at CCM, Danny also had the privilege of studying with legendary Cincinnati jazz drummer John Von Ohlen.
Danny left CCM early to pursue playing and teaching professionally. Since then he has
toured across the country as a drummer and bassist, and has worked extensively in the marching
band world. Danny was a member of the Bearcat Band while at the University of Cincinnati. He marched Drum Corps International with Colts Drum and Bugle Corps, and Winter Guard International with Connexus and Cap City.
He has coached percussion and drum lines for Triple Crown Indoor Percussion, Connexus, and Cincinnati Tradition Drum and Bugle Corps. He was the percussion director and battery arranger for Taylor High School and Reading High School for a number of years. He has taught, arranged, and been a clinician for numerous other Cincinnati-area high schools, including La Salle, Moeller, Oak Hills, Deer Park, Harrison, Perry Central, and Forest Hills Schools percussion programs.
Danny is also an avid guitar and bass player and producer. He has played jazz throughout the
city with the Jeannine Groh Trio and The Jazz Coasters. He is currently the drummer and
producer for country artist Jason Owens.
Danny is in his eleventh year teaching drum set, marching percussion, bass, and guitar at Western Hills Music.
Kole Pantuso is an advocate for the uplifting power of music, a multifaceted musician and educator who is comfortable in a number of different styles of music.
Raised in San Antonio, Texas, Kole holds a Masters in Trumpet performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he was awarded the Graduate Brass Quintet fellowship. There, his primary teachers were Michael Mergen and Phil Collins. His undergraduate degree is from the University of North Texas where he studied with Keith Johnson, John Holt, Jason Bergman, and Allen Vizzutti.
Kole has played with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony, Corpus Christi Symphony, Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Blue-Ash Montgomery Symphony and has served as the Principal Trumpet of Symphony VIVA in San Antonio. Currently, Kole is an artist in residence at Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral with the Rhineburg Brass Quintet.
A versatile trumpeter, Kole has played in Symphony Orchestras, Pit Orchestras, Wind Bands, Brass Bands, Brass Quintets, Big Bands, Jazz Combos, Rock, Funk, Salsa Bands, and is at home in a number of different musical environments. He teaches privately in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and his studio consists of middle and high school aged trumpet players who regularly place in their areas' district and region band competitions.
Kate Kilgus is passionate about sharing music with others through teaching, collaborating, and performing.
In the summer of 2016, Kate was invited to attend the Music Academy International in
Trento, Italy, where she performed in the pit orchestra for the production of Mozart’s Cosi fan
Tutti. She was a finalist in the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition in
2017 and was given a Graduate Incentive Award at CCM in 2018.
In Cincinnati, she’s performed with the CCM Wind Ensemble, Concert Orchestra, and Chamber Winds ensembles as well as the Queen City Orchestra and Mason Symphony Orchestra. In the spring of 2020, Kate co-founded OLEA, a chamber music group that aims to create music that is engaging and impactful for audiences. In the summer of 2022, OLEA completed residencies at the Avaloch Farm Music
Institute as well as the Decoda Chamber Music Festival.
Kate holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Clarinet Performance as well as a Bachelor of
Arts degree in Mathematics from Lawrence University.
In 2020, she completed a Master of Music degree in Clarinet Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She is currently continuing her studies at CCM pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree and serves as the Graduate Assistant in Clarinet.
Her primary teachers include Pavel Vinnitsky, Joe Morris, Christopher Pell, David Bell, Andrew
Marriner, Amy McCann, and Meghan Cabral. She is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota National
Women’s Music Fraternity as well as Phi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.
Heidi Johnson has a passion for teaching music to students of all ages. Her two main instruments are
viola and piano, but she is equally comfortable teaching violin and cello. Heidi is a veteran music teacher,
having taught public school music (orchestra and general music) for 36 years in Kansas, Florida, and
Music was an important part of her childhood. She started playing the piano when she was just 4 years
old, with her mother as her first teacher. The viola came later when they introduced the string
instruments at school. She attended Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas for her undergraduate degree
in music education and earned a master’s degree in music education at the University of Cincinnati,
College-Conservatory of Music.
Heidi is currently the viola player in the La Chiesa String Quartet, which plays for weddings, receptions,
and other gatherings since 1994. She also played piano for the Family Worship Service at Good
Shepherd Lutheran in Kenwood for 25 years.
“It is important to me that the student is successful and feels a sense of achievement. If one approach is
not working, then look at it from a different perspective. This can involve everything from flashcards
and games to music theory to various types of music. My favorite part of teaching is the moment when
a student learns a new skill or new piece and realizes they can do this!”
Wade A. Goodwin was born in the late 1970’s in the small Midwest town of New Castle, Indiana. He wanted to play trombone ever since he was in sixth grade when the local high school band came to play for the elementary schools, showing off each instrument. It reminded him of old Warner Bros. Tasmanian devil cartoons, and the slide looked fun to use. Wade didn’t take lessons until his junior year of high school, when it opened his eyes to a wider world of music than marching band and pep band. He was hooked!
Dr. G (as he is known to students) is a graduate of Ball State University and studied with the accomplished pedagogue Dr. John Seidel for his bachelor’s degree. He also studied with the legendary Peter Norton at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for his master’s and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. He has also studied with other well-known professional trombonists such as Charlie Vernon, Phil Wilson, and M. Dee Stewart
Wade has performed with several orchestras in the Cincinnati area and traveled to four continents performing in big bands and other ensembles. Wade is also a professional arranger and editor. As an arranger Wade is focused on adding to the bass trombone/ tuba repertoires. He is also interested in expanding the solo and small brass ensemble genres for advanced high school/ early college level players.
His website is www.wadegoodwinmusic.com & his facebook is facebook.com/drbasstrombone
Madison Vonderahe is a highly accomplished musician and teacher with a passion for inspiring
students to pursue their musical goals. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College
Conservatory of Music, she holds a bachelor's degree in Commercial Music Production and has
been teaching private music lessons for over 5 years. She has studied guitar under Phil Willis
and Nick Fryer, as well as voice with Thomas Speckhard and Dr. Marcie Givens.
With expertise in voice, guitar, and piano, Madison has helped numerous students develop their
musical abilities. In addition to teaching private lessons, she also teaches Kindergarten through
8th grade music education at two local private elementary schools. Working with students in a
classroom setting has provided her the tools necessary to work with a variety of learning needs.
With over 12 years of experience playing popular music, and a deep knowledge of both music
theory and performance, Madison is committed to helping students of all ages and skill levels
discover the joy and satisfaction of creating music. She also has experience with songwriting,
recording, and producing and can take students step by step on how songs are created.
“I believe that anyone, regardless of their age, can achieve their music goals. I love to create
individualized lesson plans to meet students at their level and to work towards their interests.”
Owen Hopper is a local musician, composer, and teacher. He has been teaching others about music for over twelve years. His teaching philosophy places a strong emphasis on understanding “big picture” concepts in music, helping students understand the mechanics of music theory and how songs are crafted to reach their personal musical goals. He is also deeply passionate about building “the whole musician”, working with students to better understand ear training and critical listening skills as well as the body mechanics that go into playing your best.
Owen earned his Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2020 and holds a Bachelor’s degree in music from Otterbein University where he studied guitar performance and composition. He has studied with prominent classical guitarist Karl Wohlwend and participated in masterclasses with the likes of Russ Barenberg and Jason Vieaux. Besides his wonderful studio of students at Western Hills Music, Owen is on the faculty at CCM as well as visiting faculty at Miami University.
To learn more about Owen, check out the following links:
Christian currently plays around 200 plus engagements annually and has performed in 28 different countries across 4 continents. Christian attended Berklee College of Music with classmates John Mayer and Norah Jones.
During his travels, Christian has performed with many bands/members: The Eagles, P-funk, Journey, Santana, James Brown's Band, Toto, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Boston, CeeLo Green, Los Lobos, The Romantics, Jewel, Tommy Tutone, John Cafferty, Earth Wind and Fire, Al Green's Band, David Bowie's Band and Elton John's Band.
In addition to performing, Christian maintains a guitar studio at Western Hills Music . He teaches all guitar styles, bass and ukulele, to students 7 years old and up.
Muning earned her Bachelor's Degree at Renmin University of Cincinnati and her Master's Degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Muning is now a doctoral candidate at CCM. In addition to her high level of education, Muning has taught Violin, Viola, and Piano at a range of local institutions.
When asked what she enjoys most about teaching, she said sharing her love and passion for music with others. She remarked that she always gives one hundred percent to her students.
She says of the importance of practice; "We have a saying that 'one day no practice, you will know; two days no practice, your family will know; three days no practice, the whole world will know". She advises her students to just take things one step at a time, never putting too much pressure on themselves.
Marissa Dike is a musician, composer, author, and teacher. She has fifteen years of teaching experience both in private student lessons and in classroom settings.
While piano is her first love - she received her bachelor's degree in classical piano performance from the University of South Florida - she also teaches voice, guitar, bass, and ukulele lessons. She earned her Doctorate in Composition from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2018.
Marissa is the author of two novels, Liam's Town and The Sky Looked the Same, both available from online booksellers. She is a versatile and engaging artist, and her students love her enthusiasm and obvious care for their growth and development.
She has taught a wide variety of students of all ages, abilities, and skill -levels, and those with special needs.
Dan Wilson is a graduate of Mount St. Joseph University where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Music with a concentration in Guitar. Dan has played with various Jazz and Rock groups as well as several pit orchestras. Most recently he’s enjoyed collaborating remotely with friends via YouTube. Dan has over 14 years of teaching experience, with much of his tenure held at Western Hills Music.
When asked what he likes most about teaching he had this to say: “I love seeing my students’ faces when they accomplish new things, especially those things they find difficult or impossible. I instill in my students the importance of practicing. I teach my students theory, technique, and critical thinking around music and practicing, but I can only supply the tools. It takes hard work and dedication to learn to use them.”
Click here to see one of Dan's Remote Collaborations!
Click Here to See Dan Wilson Performing Bach!
Jeannine Groh is a seasoned musical professional with decades of experience honing her craft.
She studied Piano Pedagogy at Mount St. Joseph University as well as receiving additional training from Phil DeGreg; she also completed Pop Piano Stylings with Frank Wolfe. Jeannine also spent time as the director of the Yamaha Music Education System at Willis Music. Her professional playing experience comes from countless combo bands, and most notably her eponymous Trio, Quartet, and Quintet. Notable performances include appearances on television with her all female rock band, as well as a three-year residency with the Horseshoe Casino’s exclusive venues.
Jeannine’s teaching experience is extensive. She has taught with numerous local music progams, and at the collegiate level with Mount St. Joseph University's Music Academy and their Community Music Program.
Jeannine says, “I take a personal interest in my students; I truly want them to succeed! I encourage my students to distribute their practice throughout the week, this is key to success. I love to see my students learn to read music and play well. Piano lessons in particular provide many benefits to children and adults. We begin with classical music training to develop technique, theory and reading skills, and from there we can add any other genre.”
Jeanine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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