Music Center Faculty
James Alexander (cello) holds a Bachelors degree in Performance from Western Michigan University and is currently working on his Masters in Performance, also at WMU. When teaching, he considers the individual learning style of each student and adapts accordingly. He performs with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, but enjoys listening to all types of live music. And he also juggles!
Jodine has a Bachelor of Science in sacred music, piano and voice from North Central University, a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Miller College, and is pursuing a masters degree in education from Cornerstone University. A skilled accompanist, she also directs kids’ worship at First Wesleyan Church in Battle Creek. Jodine has been a vocalist for singing groups touring the US and Canada, and a children’s choir and musical productions director. She teaches general music at Climax-Scotts Elementary School.
Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts in music and is currently pursuing a masters degree in conducting, both from Western Michigan University. Laura directed the middle and high school bands for Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools for several years. She is adjunct faculty at Kellogg Community College and has performed as clarinetist with pit orchestras and bands throughout the area.
Melissa Baxter (piano) graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelors in Elementary Education and a minor in Music and is currently working on a Bachelors in Music Education. When teaching she stresses the fundamentals using method books, but often supplements with games and technology. She teaches classical music, but also explores other genres, teaching ear training and the use of lead sheets. She teaches at Purdy Elementary and plays with the Post Band.
Holly has studied with Nancy Erickson, Kathryn Mix, and Daniel Longhin, and received musical training from Kellogg Community College and Aquinas College. She has accompanied soloists and church choirs, is the accompanist for the Battle Creek Boychoir and Battle Creek Girls Chorus and been a member of Battle Creek Area Music Teachers Association. Holly is particularly skilled in working with young children.
trombone, euphonium, tuba
Bryan Borders (trombone, euphonium, tuba) holds a Bachelor of Arts from Olivet College and a Masters of Music Education from Western Michigan University and is currently a band director in the Battle Creek area. His teaching style is to praise and encourage, while always pushing toward the next thing. Bryan has two dogs and enjoys Role Playing Games. He also plays professionally in three bands - “The Edge, “Kalamazoo Ave Blues Band”, and “Every Other Thursday.”
voice, guitar, bucket drumming
Justin Budzynski (voice, guitar, bucket drumming, beginner piano) holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Western Michigan University, was a music program director at the YMCA for several years and toured internationally with three choirs. Justin’s teaching style is to approach each student as an individual and assess their specific needs, then building specific lesson plans for each student. He currently performs as a freelance musician and is the assistant director of the Battle Creek Boychoir and Battle Creek Girls Chorus, directing the Ready, Set, Sing! and Ragazzi ensembles.
Janet Channells (French horn) Graduated from Western Michigan University, has been with us since 1996. Previously was a travel agent for 20 years. Janet now plays for the Battle Creek Symphony, Kalamazoo Concert Band as well as teaching at The Music Center. When teaching she believes that each lesson should be stimulating and informational. She values practice, commitment and working hard to achieve a mutual respect between student and teacher. Janet has played with many famous artists including Glen Campbell, Rita, Moreno, Vanessa Williams and Tony Bennett. Sign up for lessons TODAY with this talented instructor!
Ronald Cung (piano) has a Bachelors in Physics from St. Olaf and a Masters in Music from Western Michigan University. His teaching style is focused, also fun and productive. He is currently the Music Director at Unity Kalamazoo and enjoys playing soccer and Pokemon Go in his spare time. Ronald speaks English, Burmese, and Chin (a Myanmar dialect.)
Dennis Downing has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Michigan State University. He is currently completing his Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Western Michigan University. He has been drumline instructor for Maple Valley High School in Vermontville and Lakewood High School in Lake Odessa. He has performed in over 30 pit orchestras for musical theatre productions in the community. His interests include computers and exploring how music can help in the world of medicine.
Jeff Hale (percussion) holds a Bachelor of Music in Contemporary Writing and Production from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Jeff is a professional drummer as well as composer and arranger. He specializes in private drum set instruction with and without written music; classical and rudimental etudes, ensemble performance, double bass drum techniques, correct technique to avoid injury, and overall focus on a rewarding experience with the drum set. Jeff works with musicians of any age, experience, and skill level.
Yuki Minagawa (piano) holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Musashino Music University of Japan and also studied at the International Keyboard Institute in New York. When teaching she emphasizes a moderate, practical, step-by-step approach. She often performs as a piano soloist, but also enjoys casual evenings spent singing with friends. She moved here from Japan a few years ago with her husband and her little chihuahua named Melody. Yuki speaks both Japanese and English.
Richard Neckermann (trumpet) holds a bachelor of music education from Western Michigan University and a master in trumpet performance from Boston University. His teaching philosophy is that the simple way is the best way and he leads by example. In the past he has performed with Mannheim Steamroller and the Phoenix Symphony and currently performs as principal trumpet with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. Sign up TODAY for lessons with this talented instructor!
Teri holds a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in elementary education from Western Michigan University. She is also certified as a Highly Qualified Early Childhood Specialist. She has taught at Arbor Academy and Riverside Elementary School. Teri was a member of the Bronco Marching Band while at WMU, and has coached at summer camps and for Girls on the Run.
Susan Owen (trumpet) received her Bachelor of Arts with a music concentration from Olivet College. When teaching she considers the individual abilities and learning styles of each student. She currently plays with several groups – St. Joe Brass Ensemble, Lew Boyd Band, Post Band, and Cereal City Concert Band. She is an avid animal lover and grooms pets for a living; she is also a 4th degree Black Belt in Okinawa Karate and an international champion competitor.
Cindy holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University and has done graduate work in linguistics at the University of Texas. She is church pianist at Cornerstone Community Church in Battle Creek, and has taught English in China. Cindy studied with Winnifred Sherburn in East Lansing and Dr. William Phemister at Wheaton College.
Flute, piccolo, piano
Kathy Garner Simpson (flute and piccolo, beginner and intermediate piano) holds a Bachelor of Music degree from The Boston Conservatory and a Master of Music degree from Boston University School of Music. Mrs. Simpson recently moved to Michigan from the Boston area, where she was an active professional flutist and teacher, performing with several orchestras, chamber groups, and theater groups and was adjunct faculty at Bowdoin College, Thayer Conservatory, and St. Paul’s School. She currently performs with the West Michigan Flute Orchestra and Great Lakes Flutes and is on their Board of Directors. She has taught beginners up through college level and beyond and specializes in preparation for competition and college entrance auditions.
Craig holds a Bachelor of Music in music education from Western Michigan University, and a Master of Music in clarinet performance from Michigan State University. He has been principal clarinetist of the Battle Creek Symphony since 1980. Craig has extensive chamber music and music theater orchestra experience, and has played saxophone in Phoenix Big Band.
guitar, bass guitar
Ed received musical training at Hannibal School of Music and studied with John Ruthere at State University of New York at New Paltz. He performed for ten years with Reflection, a band based in Syracuse, New York. Ed has performed in Kellogg Community College and Civic Theater productions, and currently performs with Sweet Geek, along with fellow Community Music School faculty, and Pirates and Wenches, a Renaissance band. He enjoys and performs a variety of music including rock, jazz, and blues.
voice and piano
Wendy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Saginaw Valley State University and a Master of Music in Education and Vocal Performance from Western Michigan University. She is a skilled performer in all genres, from classical to musical theater. Wendy has served a Director of Worship Music, Piano Lab instructor for Gilmore Educational Programming, and Music Director/Artistic Director for many Michigan theaters and schools. She has been a private voice teacher for more than two decades, and is able to teach beginning students as well as prepare students for competitions and undergraduate college auditions. She focuses on vocal technique; Italian, French, and German diction; song, oratorio, and opera literature.
Guitar and Ukulele
Allen Zobian (guitar and ukulele) received a professional certification in jazz guitar and a masters certification in guitar from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The goal of Allen’s teaching is to partner with the student to develop their musical knowledge, aural skills, and technical playing ability through individualized and graded study. As the student gains proficiency, more difficult repertoire and studies are introduced to ensure continuous growth. He strives to ensure each student is empowered to identify and achieve their own unique musical goals and artistic vision.