School Director, Flute
Nastassja Riley (School Director, Flute) Ms. Riley relocated back to the northwest Arkansas area in 2010. She has a B.M. and M.M. in flute performance from the University of Arkansas and a M.M. in music theory from Florida State University. Before leaving Fayetteville in 2008, she taught at the Suzuki Music School of Arkansas for 5 years. Her primary teachers have included Dr. Ronda Mains, Dr. Kristin Delia Hayes, Jessica Sherer, and Elizabeth Shuhan. She has performed in masterclasses with Katherine Hoover, Jim Walker, Clare Southworth, Michel Debost, Kathleen Chastain, Ruth Ann McClain, and Rhonda Larson in Casperia, Italy.
She is certified in the Suzuki Flute School Books 1 through 4. Her Suzuki teacher trainers were David Gerry and Kenichi Ueda; she has also performed in a masterclass with Toshio Takahashi, founder of the Suzuki Flute School. At Florida State she became enthusiastic about body awareness in her playing and teaching through her lessons with Jessica Sherer and a Feldenkrais Method class with Prof. Eva Amsler. Recently she has started taking Alexander Technique lessons with Kate Frank at the University of Arkansas. Nastassja has completed the TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar with Theresa McKeon, and has her primary certification in TAGteach. She is committed to teaching using positive reinforcement, and is working toward her level 1 certification.
Miranda Baker (Violin) Miranda Baker started Suzuki violin at the age of five at the Suzuki Music School of Arkansas. She is currently pursuing a degree in violin performance at the University of Arkansas, where she studies with Dr. Er-Gene Kahng. She has studied with Holly Smardo, Chun-Yu Chen, and Miho Sakon. Miranda is a member of the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra and the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. She has been teaching violin for six years and is very excited to join the Suzuki Music School of Arkansas!
Cello, Double Bass
John Finch (Cello, Double Bass) Mr. Finch received a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance and a Master of Music Degree in Cello Performance from Louisiana State University where he was a student of Thadeaus Brys. He has completed most of his Doctoral work at North Texas State University where he was a student of Adolfo Odnoposoff Mr. Finch has taught in both private and public schools. He has been teaching cello for over 25 years, performs with the Arkansas Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, and has taught lower strings at the University of Arkansas. John is SAA certified in Cello Books 1-6 and has studied with Rick Mooney, Jean Dexter, Nancy Hair, and Pam Davenport. In addition to teaching cello private lessons and group classes at SMSA, John frequently offers programs featuring cello demonstrations to regional children through area libraries, and public and private schools.
Catalina Ortega (Flute) A native of Colombia, Catalina Ortega earned a degree in Flute Music Performance from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia. She holds a master of Music and a Professional Certificate in Advance Performance from the University of Arkansas. She has performed in some of the main auditoriums in Colombia as a soloist and touring with chamber ensembles. She was assistant principal flute in the Medellin Philarmonic Orchestra (Colombia) and 2nd Flute/Piccolo for the North Arkansas Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2009. Also, she formerly taught at the University of Antioquia (Colombia) for five years before she came to the United States.
Currently, Catalina teaches at the University of Arkansas as Flute Instructor. She also teaches Flute lessons at the Suzuki Music School of Arkansas and at the University of Arkansas Community Music School as Flute private Instructor.
William Reyes (Guitar) Mr. Reyes holds a Bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance and a Master’s degree in music composition from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He is SAA certified, and has been teaching at the Suzuki Music School of Arkansas since 2001. He also teaches at the Academy of the Arts in Ft. Smith and heads the guitar department at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith and Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Miho Oda-Sakon (Violin) Ms. Sakon is Artist in Residence at the Suzuki Music School of Arkansas (SMSA) and Principal Second Violin with the Symphony of North Arkansas (SoNA). She grew up in Japan and moved to the United States in 2008. She holds both a Bachelors degree and a Master of Arts degree in Violin Performance from the Tokyo College of Music. She was taught the violin by Yoko Kubo, recipient of the 2nd prize in the Paganini Competition and the 1st prize in the A. Curci International Violin Competition, and Takaya Urakawa who was a concert master in the Bamberg Symphony, Germany. Ms. Sakon pursued additional study at Indiana University under with Yuval Yaron. She has won numerous awards for performance and has extensive performing and recording experience as a soloist, chamber musician,and orchestral player.
Ms. Sakon performed in the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra. As a soloist, she performed J.S. Bach’sBrandenburg Concerto No.5 with the Ensemble Endless in Tokyo, and Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic. She has also performed in over 500 educational outreach concerts. Through her own initiative, she plans and executes numerous recitals, concerts for children, and benefit performances in Japan and the United States. These performances are always well received. The Halloween Concert – the annual benefit for SMSA scholarship fund—is her creation. Another innovative annual benefit performance is Miho’s Music Restaurant, a charity concert for children of the earthquake and tsunami disaster that struck Japan in 2011. To her credit, many students who have musically matured in her violin studio have received music scholarships to universities. She specializes in teaching by example how to create impressive performances, how to perfect colorful tones, and how to master various violin techniques.