Suzuki Clinicians

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Dr. Alice Ann O’Neil

Dr. Alice Ann M. O’Neill, professional cellist and teacher, attended Boston University to study cello performance, and subsequently obtained a master’s degree in cello performance and Suzuki pedagogy from Western Illinois University, and a doctorate from The Ohio State University, in cello performance and string pedagogy. She has performed in professional orchestras and chamber ensembles, and as a solo cellist throughout Europe, Canada, and the U.S.
Dr. O’Neill has extensive teaching experience and specializes in the Suzuki method as a cello teacher trainer. She has taught many clinics and workshops concerning many aspects of pedagogy and presented at state and international education conferences. Her research articles have been published in The Journal of Research in Music Education, the American Suzuki Journal, and the Vincentian Heritage Journal. Her cello students have appeared on NPR’s “From the Top,” and won top prizes at the St. Paul’s String Quartet and Fischoff chamber music competitions. Several cello students of Dr. O’Neill have continued their studies at schools such as Rice University-Shepherd School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Catholic University of America, Aspen Music Festival, Meadowmount School of Music, Indiana University, Harvard University, and the Juilliard School in New York City.
Currently, Dr. O’Neill is professor of cello, teaches chamber music and string pedagogy, and supervises new teachers at Mount St. Joseph University and directs the Mount St. Joseph Talent Education program in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a Catholic nun and member of the Sisters of Charity.

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Marilyn Kesler

Marilyn Kesler is a graduate of Benton Harbor High School, Benton Harbor, Michigan, where she began her music training as a cellist in the public school. She earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University studying cello with Janos Starker and Leopold Terraspulsky.


Her teaching career began in the Alton, Illinois Public Schools. While in Alton, she continued her education by earning a Masters Degree in Music Education at Southern Illinois University specializing in the adaptation of the Suzuki Violin Method for the cello with the advice of world renowned educator,
John Kendall. She continued for many years to develop the Suzuki Cello Books in collaboration with The Suzuki Association of the Americas Cello Committee and the support of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. She has been the Chair of the Board for the Suzuki Association of the Americas and is currently on the Teacher Development Advisory Committee of the Suzuki Association.

Marilyn Kesler has retired after forty-three years as a teacher in the Okemos  Schools. Her teaching responsibilities included teaching 7 th Grade Strings and 8 th Grade Strings in Kinawa Middle School, and directing three high school orchestras. She continues to be the director of the Community Education Suzuki Program where she teaches Suzuki cello lessons. Miss Kesler has been the recipient of the American String Teachers Association’s National School Educator Award which is presented to the outstanding public school string education teacher in the United States. Other
honors include, MSBOA, MASTA, and Indiana University Alumni “Teacher of the Year”.

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Alicia Gregorian-Sawyers

Alicia Gregorian Sawyers lives in Grand Rapids, MI and performs with several orchestras throughout the area and around the state. She is the Principal cellist for the West Michigan Symphony, with whom she has soloed several times. A passionate chamber musician, she has had the opportunity to work with renowned musicians such as Paul Katz, Roger Tapping and members of the Borromeo and Juilliard String Quartets. She has been invited to perform at the Saugatuck (MI), White Lake (MI) and Four Seasons (NC) Festivals on several occasions. Mrs. Sawyers is now the Artisitic Director of the Grand Rapids Chamber Music Program which focuses on getting chamber music in the hands of students. A dedicated teacher, Mrs. Sawyers maintains a private studio. She has been on Faculty at New England Music Camp (ME), Blue Lake Suzuki Family Camp (MI) and Western Reserve Chamber Music Festival (OH). She serves as a guest artist and clinician at the bi-annual Michigan Cello Festival. A diverse musician, Mrs. Sawyers has performed with famous artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Mathis, Kanye West, Amy Grant and The Who. Mrs. Sawyers was featured in the pilot music videos for the fiddling group Barrage 8. She has appeared in concert at Jordan Hall, Sanders Theater, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall for the Mostly Mozart Festival. Mrs. Sawyers has spent her summers at various music festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, The Meadowmount School of Music and The Perlman Music Program. She received her Masters Degree from New England Conservatory studying with Natasha Brofsky and her BM from Michigan State University, where she studied with Suren Bagratuni.

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Luke Cook

Luke Cook is an instructor of cello at the Crescendo Academy of Music in Kalamazoo and at The Citadel Dance & Music Program in Benton Harbor where he maintains a large private studio. Additionally, he is an adjunct instructor of cello at Lake Michigan College. Luke’s students are members of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony, the Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra, the Battle Creek Youth Orchestra, the Andrews University Symphony Orchestra, and the St. Cecilia Philharmonic. His students consistently receive top scores in state solo and ensemble festivals and many have participated in the Michigan All-State honors orchestra in addition to the Michigan Youth Arts Festival.

Luke also serves as Artist in Residence with the St Joseph Public Schools Orchestra Program, and regularly coaches groups from the Kalamazoo Public School, the Portage Public Schools, South Haven Public Schools, and Wayland Public Schools. Luke performs with the chamber ensemble Arioso and substitutes with area symphony orchestras. He is also a member of the Crescendo Faculty Trio with Sarah Hedlund (violin) and Mark Portolese (piano).

Luke Cook received his BM & BA from Western Michigan University in music and sociology, respectively, where he studied cello with Bruce Uchimura with additional studies in cello at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Michigan. Luke resides in Kalamazoo with his wife, Carrie a music teacher in the Kalamazoo Public Schools and his daughters Eleanor, Lucienne, and Jocelyn.