Music Connection Teaching Staff


Wendy Frerichs



I began teaching in 2002! I have a Bachelor’s degree in Music (Trombone Performance) from the University of MN – Twin Cities and a Master’s degree in Music (Trombone Performance) from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. I also have extensive training with Baritone/Euphonium and Tuba. I currently play trombone with the Saints of Swing Band, Saint Paul Civic Symphony and various small brass groups.

I teach a wide range of students, beginners in 5th or 6th grade through high school and the occasional adult student coming back to refresh certain skills. With my students I work on making sure they have a solid foundation of basic music, good sound and technique. Once this is established we will continue to enhance these skills and begin tailoring to each individual student’s goals and interests! Whether you need to catch up in band, get better because you love playing, want to compete in competitions, play in college, we will accomplish your goals and have fun in the process! The following are some of the accomplishments my students have achieved.

Student Accomplishments and Achievements from

my Studio:

  • All National Band
  • MN All State Band
  • MN Youth Symphonies
  • Superior ratings in high school Solo/Ensemble
  • Playing solos with their high school bands
  • College Music Scholarships

I love watching my students accomplish their goals and have fun playing their instruments. It is a joy to work with them and learn from them as well!

Vince Hendren

Trumpet/French Horn


Hello, my name is Vince Hendren and I teach trumpet and French Horn. I have been teaching private lesson since 1991 and have been teaching at The Music Connection since 1999. My background is in Music Education and I have worked with students from elementary school through high school, college and adult students.

I have experience teaching and playing many styles of music including jazz, classical, school band and many more.

If you would like more info, please request a copy of my resume.


Randy Gildersleeve



Hello, my name is Randy Gildersleeve. I like music, and I like people. That pretty much sums up my life and career, and teaching is the crossroads of these primary interests. I play and teach a variety of fretted instruments, including acoustic and electric guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and dobro. I approach each student with the assumption that some spark provided the inspiration to play. Perhaps it was a recording, a favorite artist, family member, or some other life experience. My job is to fan that spark into a flame that will carry the enjoyment of music throughout your life. As quickly as possible, I get the student playing music they enjoy, and will want to practice. Building practice time into your life is the key to gaining the skills needed to fully enjoy music. Sure, we'll study scales, technique, chords, notation (including tablature), and as I get to know you, we'll incorporate whatever books, recordings, and other material needed to get where you want to go. In addition, all of my students have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience at my student concerts, or join my monthly bluegrass jam or weekly ukulele group.

Here's the thumbnail version of my story: I grew up on a farm in SW Wisconsin and was inspired to play by the Beatles and my mother's record collection. As a music major in college, I studied classical guitar and played in jazz ensembles. Outside of school, I played in rock bands and became very interested in recording music. My teaching career began, and over the decades I've coached many who have become professional musicians, and many others for whom music is a lasting interest. I've performed in all kinds of music events and ensembles and currently play with several groups. I own GilderSound recording studio and have the pleasure of helping musicians capture their vision.

So what about you? Sign up and let's play some music!

Martin Hinrichs



I began taking lessons when I was 19 and fell in love with playing music. I started with the bass and then expanded to the guitar and ukulele. I have been teaching for over 15 years. Additionally, I:

  • Earned an AAS in Guitar Performance from McNally Smith College of Music.
  • Have experience teaching all age levels and styles of music.
  • Specialize in the Rote Method for teaching young children, which provides a structured program.

If you choose to study with me you can expect:

  • A customized training plan to fit your goals.
  • To focus on the style(s) of music you prefer
  • To work hard and have fun.

Lisa Kane



Hi, my name is Lisa and I love teaching people how to play guitar. I’m especially fond of teaching beginners and children and believe it is my role to support their musical journey while being mindful of various learning styles-often times checking in with students and setting personal playing goals as we go.

I’ve been performing live for three decades and am currently working on my fifth full-length CD. This means I’m very familiar with the process of recording in fancy studios and creating, mixing, and mastering demos in GarageBand. GB and navigating it is something I’m extremely skilled at and I enjoy teaching home recording as well. Most music worlds today center around small scale, bedroom, direct input, digital recording--which is fantastic for those of us who love to layer sounds and create new projects.

I do extremely well with aspiring songwriters and guitarists who want to play around a campfire or write their first batch of instrumentals. I’m apt in theory and have a good ear for picking up chords and transcribing solos as well. A student can literally pull up a playlist and we can listen to their favorite song and I will figure out how to play it and get the student to play along.

Tim Lyles



Hello, I’m Tim Lyles, a guitarist, bassist, and instructor in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I’ve been teaching at the Music Connection for over 30 years and also full-time at McNally Smith College of Music for over a decade. I studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis in Music and Media. I recently completed my master’s degree in Guitar Performance from McNally Smith. My career has encompassed producing/arranging/engineering and performing in recording studio environments, work in television and film production, and a decade of touring the U.S. with a 14-piece horn band. I love a broad range of guitar styles— from roots music and rock to jazz and classical.

Learning to play the guitar should be fun and enjoyable, although sometimes it’s challenging and requires patience and diligence. I strive to provide balance in my lessons between fun and work— both are needed to make you a better guitarist. I structure my lessons around a Rhythm of five areas of guitar study: Chords, Scales, Repertoire, Improvisation and Note Literacy. My goal is to help you become a better guitarist in an enjoyable and enriching setting— to patiently help you understand and acquire the necessary skills. Few things in life are more fulfilling than experiencing a sense of accomplishment and improvement on the coolest of all musical instruments— the guitar! I hope you enjoy the same. Good Journeys!​

Karl Swartz



I've been a musician my entire life, have taught guitar for over thirty years at various music stores and music schools throughout the Twin Cities area. My emphasis in teaching is helping the student develop - good technique, their ability in reading music and guitar tablature, ear training and soloing. I also teach students how to compose their own songs, help them understand the music industry as a business (intermediate level students and higher) and the most important thing – to just enjoy playing the guitar!

My primary styles of guitar playing/teaching are in Rock, Blues, Acoustic and Classical with secondary styles in Jazz and Country. My formal training in music includes 4 years of classical guitar, 2 years private guitar lessons(rock, blues, jazz), music theory, music composition and music history studies at Century College, The University of MN and at The Professional Guitar School of Minneapolis(presently The McNally-Smith Institute of Music). Professionally, I've played for 38 years with many different bands, covering just about every style of music and have done national touring with the bands “Wild Eyes” and the show band “Dazzler”. I currently play with the bands - “Free Fallin”(Tom Petty tribute band) and "Already Gone"- A Tribute To The Music Of The Eagles"


Anthony Bloch



Anthony Bloch graduated from UW-River Falls with a Percussion Performance degree in 2006 where he studied under the direction of David Milne, Patti Cudd, Craig Hara, and J. Michael Roy. He has also studied drum set with Phil Hey (University of Minnesota), David Stanoch (McNally Smith), Steve Goold (Owl City and Sara Bareilles) and Peter O'Gorman (see below). Anthony has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Bob Mintzer, Sweden's Lars Jansson and opened up for saxophone legend Ernie Watts. Anthony was an active performer and educator throughout the Twin Cities and Wisconsin from 2004 - 2012. From 2012 - 2015, Anthony worked for Norwegian Cruise Line in Hawaii as a drummer, band leader and music director where he performed regularly with RCA recording artist Toby Beau, songwriter Steve Williams (writer of number 1 hits for George Strait and Craig Morgan), and legendary Hawaiian producer/arranger Kata Maduli (produced and arranged "Over The Rainbow" by IZ). Anthony has been teaching private studio lessons since 2004. He has been a faculty member at the renowned Shell Lake Arts Center since 2007. He is proficient in several styles of drumming including Rock, Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Blues, Funk, Bluegrass, etc. Anthony teaches trap set and orchestral percussion such as xylophone, marimba, and timpani. Anthony performs and teaches full time and resides in Minneapolis, MN.

Peter O'Gorman



My name is Peter OʼGorman and I teach drum set and percussion lessons at studios in Forest Lake and White Bear Lake.

I teach students at all stages of musical development. I work with each student to custom design a program that facilitates their learning style while addressing their musical needs and aspirations. My students learn good practice habits, how to approach challenging material, how to prepare for auditions, recitals and concerts, and how to develop their own creative voice. My overarching goal is for students to discover the joy of playing music while developing a high degree of musicianship.

I've been teaching for over 20 years. My students regularly become section leaders in their school band program, garner superior ratings at solo andensemble contests, earn positions in All-State Symphonic Band, All-State Orchestra, & All-State Jazz Band, and go on to receive Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees in music.

In addition to teaching private lessons, I am also an American Composers Forum Certified Teaching Artist. As a McKnight Composer Fellow, I have lead percussion and composition workshops throughout Minnesota and beyond.

I am also the author of two drum set method books that have received critical praise from Modern Drummer Magazine, Percussive Notes magazine and numerous top pros.

As a professional musician, I have performed at theaters and concert halls throughout the U.S. and abroad. In the Twin Cities, I have performed at the Guthrie Theater, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the Walker Art Center, OʼShaughnessy Auditorium, Ted Mann Concert Hall, Northrop Auditorium, the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, as well as numerous colleges, churches, and other venues.


Cindy Nelson



My name is Cindy Nelson and I have been teaching piano for over 20 years. I have been with Schmitt music since 2002 and also teach in my home studio in White Bear Lake. I specialize in early childhood piano (ages 4-6), but enjoy working with all ages, children and adults. I use a variety of music games with young students through elementary school to introduce and reinforce concepts.

I am classically trained, and most recently studied for 5 years with Master Teacher Marianne Bryan of St. Paul, with whom I spent a large portion of my time discussing piano pedagogy. I also have an Associate of Arts degree with an emphasis in music (piano) and psychology. I am a certified instructor with NGPT (The National Guild of Piano Teachers), and I’m working toward my certification through NMTA (The National Music Teachers Association). In addition, I regularly attend master classes and piano teacher workshops throughout the Twin Cities area, and have been an avid reader of piano pedagogy texts and articles and on-line piano teacher chat groups during my teaching career.

Many students have been declared winners in the annual MMTA State Piano Contest and have performed at the Convention Center in the Honors Concert. Students also consistently earn superior marks in the NFMC (National Federation of Music Clubs) and Piano Guild events as well.

Recitals include a Halloween Costume recital, the MMTA MOA Playathon (for which students collect pledges for disadvantaged children and perform at MOA), an awards recital, and piano parties at which students perform for one another, play music games, learn about composers, and earn prizes during the elementary stages. Group goals and content change as students advance.

I look forward to helping you or your child reach your goals through piano!

Judith Krech



Judith Is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance. While attending St. Thomas she studied with Dr. Cornett-Murtada. She has had many performance opportunities including the University of St. Thomas Festival Orchestra Honors Concert. She is a Classical pianist and has experience as a soloist and in collaborative piano. She has taught piano lessons in Bloomington Elementary schools, The Alley Church School of the Arts and private lessons.

Judith adopts her teaching style to meet the student’s individual needs and way of learning. Her goal for her students is that they enjoy making music, grow in their musical and technical ability, and to support and encourage creativity.

Signe Reistad



Signe Reistad has trained intensively in music for most of her life. She began her musical training in elementary school with piano lessons, and then began studying trumpet and voice privately at Valley City State University throughout junior high and high school. While in high school, she won several awards for voice, trumpet and piano competitions.

Signe went on to study voice at St. Olaf College and graduated with a B.M. in Vocal Performance. During her college career, she took trumpet, voice and piano lessons. She was in 2 choirs and the Norseman Band. She took part in several Lyric Opera productions at St. Olaf as well.

Signe has run SVR studios(her private music studio) for 4 years and has experience teaching students of all ages. On top of teaching, she is a freelance singer. She currently sings with an a cappella group based out of the twin cities called De Cantus. In her free time, Signe enjoys volunteering at Northwoods animal shelter and spending time with her horses, cats and husband.

Marti Steek



Marti began studying the piano at the age of 7. She took part in many National Piano Competitions at local and state level and was invited to perform in the Young Peoples Fine Arts Concert at the Rochester Mayo Civic Auditorium. In ninth grade, she became the pianist for the adult choir in her church. In college, as a music major, she was pianist for two choral groups that involved many concert appearances and extensive traveling. She began teaching piano in 1980, in the Eagan - Apple Valley area. Since moving to the Stacy area in 1995, she has taught piano at Music Connection. She enjoys teaching students of all ages.

Through the years, she was pianist and director for her church choirs in Apple Valley and Chisago City. Since 2003, she has been involved with the Masquers Community Theatre in Forest Lake and serves on the board of directors. Marti can occasionally be found in ‘the pit’. Currently at church, she works with the Minnesota district girls program for statewide events, directs the drama group and is on the Women’s Ministry Team. Basically, Marti enjoys anything that stirs and utilizes her creativity. She also loves spending time with her family… husband, 2 sons and daughter, their spouses and 5 grandchildren


Jesse Nummelin



Jesse Nummelin is a 27 year old native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He started Suzuki cello at age three with the Aber Suzuki Center for the Arts and performed with the Suzuki Chamber Ensemble under Mr. David Becker from 2004-2008. Jesse later went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in cello performance at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point and then a Masters of Music at Arizona State where he taught cello lessons at the collegiate level to music majors through his teaching assistantship.

Jesse is an avid chamber musician and teacher. He has taught cello to people of all ages and backgrounds through various programs and private studios. He has played with the CWSO scholarship quartet, premiered several compositions with string quartet at the Museum of Musical Instruments in Phoenix, AZ and performed on the UWSP radio broadcast “Acoustic Revival.” He also made a series of jazz recordings in New York which can be found on YouTube under the name of Ondine Foulger Jazz. Jesse has played with orchestras including the Phoenix Symphony, Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, Scottsdale Arts Orchestra, Musica Nova, Tucson Pops and the Tucson Symphony.

Jesse has performed with notable artists including Lang Lang, Andrea Bocelli, Pinchas Zukerman, Anne Akiko Meyers, Amit Peled, Andre Watts, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Curtis Stigers, the Juilliard String Quartet and John Williams. He has played in masterclasses with Marc Johnson, Zuill Bailey and Joel Krosnick. Jesse’s teachers include Thomas Landschoot, Dr. Lawrence Leviton, Dr. Tim Mutschlecner, John Greiner, Susan Bender and Allison Eldredge. We welcome Jesse to our Music Connection teaching staff where he will be instructing cello students from beginners to advanced.

Chris Chelgren



Chris Chelgren has been teaching viola, violin, and piano since 1999 and before that was a sales consultant for the Music Connection. When he’s not teaching he does recording work and freelances around the Twin Cities and beyond. He graduated from St. Olaf College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition and is currently principal viola of the Roseville String Ensemble, for which he also serves on the board of directors. He’s also a member of the St. Andrew’s Orchestra in Mahtomedi and the Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company orchestra in Minneapolis. He’s also recently played with the Mississippi Valley Orchestra and in the past with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. When not doing any of those things he finds time to go for long bike rides, backpack in the woods, or sit down with a good board game. He currently resides in Hugo with his wife Karen and 3 rambunctious cats.

Laura Harada



My name is Laura Harada and I teach violin in Forest Lake as well as Minneapolis. I have been playing the violin for most of my life and enjoy teaching students of all levels, from age 5 on up. As a young student I was fortunate to have excellent teachers who guided me well and who emphasized solid technique and musicality. I played in youth symphonies and string quartets from the age of 9 through high school, after which I attended Oberlin Conservatory. I have played professionally since the age of 15.

While most of my formal education is in classical music, I have since broadened my education and scope of interest to include world music of many kinds, most especially the music of the Middle East and Brazil and jazz. I have special training in classical Arabic music. I like to share my interests with my students and feel it is important to expose students to traditions around the world while also ensuring a solid base of technique and proficiency. I emphasize creative thinking in problem solving and enjoy the dialogue that evolves between teacher and student. I currently perform locally with the Modern Spark Trio, Amwaaj, and Music Mundial. As a free lance musician, I have most recently performed for the Black Label Movement dance company’s production of Wreck at the Guthrie. My resume is available upon request.

Don Mitchell



I enjoy working with motivated students of all ages. I use a blend of traditional string training (scales, etudes, method books, etc.) along with learning by ear. My goal is to help the player become skillful and flexible enough to enjoy music in any genre. Background strengths are in orchestral music (Stanford Symphony Orchestra, East Metro Symphony Orchestra), church music (30 years at Christ Lutheran Church, Marine on St. Croix), solo fiddling (18 years at Aamodt's Apple Farm in Stillwater) and Bluegrass (various square dance bands, including the Sidewinders, Snoose Caboose, and Northwest Passage).

Poji Schreiber

Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass


Hello! My name is Poji Schreiber. I have been the Elementary and Junior High Orchestra Director and Pops Orchestra Director in the Forest Lake Area School District for over 13 years. My passion is to teach music and share my love of music with others. I believe in empowering each and every student and that everyone can achieve their goals. I have studied from numerous violin teachers such as Aaron Janse (Minnesota Orchestra), Elsa Nilsson (St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) and Andrea Een (Minnesota Opera). I have a Bachelor of Music in Education from St. Olaf College and a Masters in Education from St. Catherine University. I am a MYS alum and was a first violinist in the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. I have three children and love going on fun adventures with my family. For fun I love to curl up with a good mystery book.

Ken Schuster

Violin and Viola


Ken currently serves as the full time orchestra teacher at the Headwaters Campus of LILA. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He has been a private instructor of violin and viola in Duluth, Minneapolis, and Forest Lake. While studying at the University, he traveled to Cuba and Panama with the UMD Chamber Strings Ensemble. Along with teaching, Ken also plays as a performing musician with the Wayzata Symphony Orchestra, and maintains a string trio that travels in the midwest.

Kelby Strobel

Violin and Viola


Kelby has been playing violin for 17 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota, where she studied with professors Mark Bjork and Sally O'Reilly. Kelby has also studied violin with some of the best violinists in the Midwest, including Minnesota Orchestra members Cecelia Belcher, Aaron Janse and Helen-Chang-Haertzen.

Kelby performs regularly in solo and chamber recitals, and in several Twin Cities orchestras. Her recent solo performances have included Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata, Brahms’ “Regenlied” Sonata, and Bach's solo "Sonata No. 1 in G Minor." She was recently named Principal 2nd Violin of the Mississippi Valley Orchestra, where she performs with Minnesota Orchestra musicians and community members alike.

Kelby is a member of the American String Teachers Association, teaches at Kramer's School of Music in Eden Prairie, and also runs her own teaching studio from her home in Minneapolis. She joined the Music Connection teaching faculty in the spring of 2016. She accepts students of all ages and ability levels, and adapts her teaching to fit each individual’s learning style. She strives to create a positive learning environment, and believes music should be both challenging and inspiring.

Matthew Tessier

Upright Bass/Bass Guitar


Matthew Tessier is a bassist and composer with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Matthew’s performing experiences span across many styles of music including instrumental and vocal jazz, classical, old-time music, indie-rock, and acoustic singer/songwriter.

He has performed with Ernie Watts, Jeff Coffin, Heather Barringer and Alexandra Hecker, Emily Haavik and the 35’s, Big Time Jazz Orchestra, Clover Street Cronies, Chase Down Blue, the Aly Aleigha Band, the Gavin St Clair Trio, the Sam Chandler Trio, as well as UMD’s Jazz Combo 1, Jazz Ensemble 1, and Symphony Orchestra.

He is featured on the Aly Aleigha Band’s The Labyrinth and the Sam Chandler Trio’s First Steps .


Heidi Leeson



I've been a voice teacher for over twenty years, both here at the Music Connection, and before that, at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. I have degrees in classical voice performance from The University of Illinois (B.M.), Ohio University (M.M.) and The University of Texas at Austin (Doctor of Musical Arts), but I love and appreciate a wide variety of music and singing styles. My passion is vocal technique. After years of working with hundred of students, both male and female, experienced and inexperienced, I've developed a system of teaching technique that combines exploration with a specific set of vocal skills. The physical and mental tricks we practice and perfect together can be applied to whatever kind of music the student enjoys singing. Half of each lesson is devoted to technical work, and the other half to songs. My students have ranged in age from 9 to 70. Very young singers (ages 5-8) are advised to take piano lessons before they study voice, but I'm happy to do a few lessons to offer feedback and guidance. I love to work with anyone who loves to sing. Where there's a will, there's a way!


Milinda Nitti



Milinda began teaching in 2006, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Flute Performance from the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Immanuel Davis. She also studied in Vienna, Austria for 6 months with Barbara Gisler-Haase and Marie-Celine Labbe. She currently performs with the Linden Hills Chamber Orchestra in Minneapolis, MN.

Milinda creates lessons around individual student’s interests, needs, and personal goals. She incorporates music history, music listening, music theory, and overall wellness into lessons. She works with students on producing great tone, learning scales, and intonation. Sight-reading and ensemble work is also incorporated (flute duets and trios). She strives to foster a life-long passion for music, community, and learning with each student.

Nathan Hanson



I've been teaching saxophone and clarinet for most of my life! My bachelors and masters degrees are in Music Education. I've taught beginners and advanced students from elementary school to retirement age. If you want to get a head start on school band, or any other reason you want to play, I can help. I've been a performing artist for as long as I've been teaching, and I've got lots of personal experience with jazz, rock, classical and other kinds of music. Ask for my resume if you're interested in details.