String Academy

String Academy

Faculty & Instructors

Mimi Zweig

String Academy Program Director

Violin Faculty


Mimi Zweig is currently a professor of violin and director of the Indiana University String Academy. Since 1972 she has developed pre-college string programs across the United States. She has given master classes and pedagogy workshops in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Israel, Japan and Europe. She has recently produced, an innovative web-based teaching tool. In the spring of 2006, American Public Television released the documentary, "Circling Around-The Violin Virtuosi" which features String Academy students. The String Academy and Mimi Zweig are recent recipients of a Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation grant which supports the teaching of gifted violinists. Her students have won numerous competitions, and teach and perform worldwide.

e-mail Mimi Zweig:
tel. 812.855.8334

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Brenda Brenner is Associate Professor of Music Education in the IU Jacobs School of Music, Co-Director of the IU String Academy, and President-Elect of ASTA (American String Teachers Association). She specializes in the area of string music education, teaching applied violin and courses in violin and string pedagogy. Her String Academy students have been featured in concerts in major venues throughout the United States and Europe. Prior to her arrival at IU, Dr. Brenner was Assistant Professor of Music at Carleton College. Active as a performer, she received her Doctorate in Musical Arts in Violin Performance from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Sylvia Rosenberg, Donald Weilerstein, and the Cleveland Quartet. A member of the award-winning Augustine Quartet, she was a finalist or prize winner in several competitions, including the Banff International Quartet Competition, Concert Artists Guild, Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and Cleveland Competition, and has worked with the Cleveland, Toyko, Juilliard, American and Emerson Quartets. 

e-mail Brenda Brenner:
tel. 812.855.0989

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Christina Hightower has earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Utah, where she studied with Leonard Braus, served as concertmaster of the University Philharmonic and was a member of the Honors Quartet. She received the Master of Music degree from Indiana University while a student of Mimi Zweig. She has served as the violin coordinator of the Indianapolis String Academy. Currently, in addition to teaching violin, Christina is the Administrative Assistant for the IU String Academy.

e-mail Christina Hightower:
tel. 812.345.9331

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Gwen Chan holds a Master of Music from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she studied with Mimi Zweig, and a Bachelor's degree from the Eastman School of Music. Her performing experience includes work both as soloist and orchestral musician, and she is active as a chamber musician. She has extensive experience as a teacher both at the college and pre-college levels, and also serves as violin and viola faculty at Anderson University. Her students have included prizewinners in both local and state competitions.

e-mail Gwen Chan:
tel. 812.334.3642

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Emily Nehus is completing graduate studies in violin and music education at IU, where she has studied violin with Brenda Brenner, Mimi Zweig, Ik-Hwan Bae and Stephen Boe, and Baroque violin with Stanley Ritchie. Since earning her BA in English from Grinnell College in 1991, Emily has taught violin for pre-college programs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory and Columbus Pro Musica in Columbus, IN. Recent performances include solo and chamber recitals in Indiana and Missouri, and orchestral performances with Fort Wayne, Columbus and Evansville Philharmonics, and the IU Philharmonic, Concert and Baroque Orchestras.

e-mail Emily Nehus:
tel. 812.322.7153

María José Romero Ramos started her musical training in El Sistema program in Valencia, Venezuela. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Music in Violin at Indiana University studying with Kevork Mardirossian, where she also earned her Masters as a recipient of a Jacobs Fellowship. While at IU Ms. Romero has extensively studied violin pedagogy with Mimi Zweig and baroque violin with Stanley Ritchie. She holds a Bachelor's degree and a Graduate Artist Certificate from the University of North Texas, where she studied with Julia Bushkova and baroque violin with Cynthia Roberts. Ms. Romero is winner of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra Concerto Competition and prizewinner at the National Society for Arts and Letters Instrumental Competition - Bloomington Chapter. She has performed in venues such as the Isaac Stern Hall in Carnegie Hall with the Sphinx Virtuosi. As Program Director of the MusAid nonprofit organization, Ms. Romero has traveled to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Belize, and Guatemala helping music schools with volunteer teaching programs and donated instruments.

Rose Sciaroni has been teaching the violin for over ten years. In addition to teaching with the String Academy, she also enjoys teaching for the Fairview Violin Project. Before moving to Bloomington in 2012, she lived in Austin, Texas where she played as a freelance orchestral musician, taught violin at the Armstrong Community Music School, and gave private lessons in three of the local schools. She also worked with the Austin Chamber Music Center as a chamber music coach and Adult Division Coordinator for the Summer Festival Workshop, and as a coach with their In-school Chamber Music Program during the school year. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oregon and a Master of Music degree from the University of Nevada-Reno She is currently working toward a Doctorate of Music Education at the Jacobs School of Music.

Violinist Zoë Martin-Doike, from Honolulu, Hawaii is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Pamela Frank. Prior to entering Curtis, Zoë studied with renowned pedagogue, Mimi Zweig at the Indiana University Summer String Academy for six summers, and year-round in the String Academy for two years. She is very excited to be back in Bloomington to begin her Master's of Music degree this fall.

Zoë has been featured on the NPR shows “From the Top,” “A Prairie Home Companion,” and “What Makes It Great,” and has performed as a soloist with the Honolulu Symphony, Richardson Symphony, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, to name a few.  She won first place in the Lennox International Young Artists Competition and the Music Teachers’ National Association Senior Strings competition, and she has attended the Sarasota Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the Keshet Eilon Music Festival in Israel.  Passionate about chamber music, Zoë was a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, quartet-in-residence at the Curtis Institute of Music from 2014-16, and recent prize winner at the 2015 Wigmore London International String Quartet Competition.  She has also collaborated with renowned artists such as Atar Arad, Roberto Diaz, and Jonathan Biss.  Zoë enjoys studying Eastern religion and philosophy, and has had the distinct pleasure of performing for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Flora Nevarez is currently pursuing a PhD in Music Education and violin at IU, studying violin and pedagogy with Brenda Brenner and Mimi Zweig. She holds a Master of Music in Strings Performance, String Pedagogy concentration from the University of Louisville, where she was teaching assistant to Brittany MacWilliams and Sidney King in Applied Violin and Music Education and taught secondary viola; and a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from Western Washington University. She taught at the University of Louisville’s Suzuki program and Suzuki in the public schools, was Program Coordinator for the Louisville String Academy, and taught in public and private schools in the greater Louisville area. She performs regularly with Paducah Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Kentucky Bowling Green, and the Louisville Orchestra.

Sarah Cranor is an Associate Instructor at the Historical Performance Institute at the Jacobs School of Music, where she is pursuing her Doctor of Music degree with Stanley Ritchie, with emphases in music education with Mimi Zweig and Brenda Brenner, and modern violin with Grigory Kalinovsky. Sarah performs regularly with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, the Bloomington Bach Cantata Series, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, and the IU Baroque and Classical Orchestra. Recent collaborations include commissioning a new work for solo baroque violin “Partita for Sarah” by Jake Gunnar Wash, performing at the Berwick Academy at the Oregon Bach Festival and the Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble and the Weimarer Bachkantaten-Akademie under the batons of Helmuth Rilling and Hans-Christoph Rademann. She presented a guest Convocation lecture and Guest Artist Recital at Western State Colorado University, and performed at the new music and entrepreneurial festival “fresh inc”, the Amherst Early Music Festival and the Hot Springs Music Festival. She produced and performed “Strings for Kinshasa”, a benefit concert for the Kinshasa Symphony in the Congo, which raised funds to purchase a complete set of violin, viola and cello strings for every member of the adult and youth symphonies. She is passionate about teaching and performing early music and historical performance practice, incorporating stylistic specifics at all levels of violin pedagogy, as well as music of living composers, and the related freedom and sonic possibilities in music from these opposite time periods. She also teaches with the Fairview Violin Project and teaches courses in baroque improvisation to middle school instrumentalists.  

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Susan Moses is Co-Director of the String Academy and leads the cello branch. Susan was deeply impressed by the work of Mimi Zweig when she was a Visiting Professor at the School of Music in 1994-95; so much so that she decided to join with Mimi Zweig in 1996 and develop a cello school combining Zweig's methods and philosophy with those of the great cello masters Popper, Matz, Dotzauer and Lee.

Susan earned her degrees with the highest honors at Indiana and Yale Universities before completing her studies at the renowned Jascha-Heifetz-Gregor Piatigorsky Master Classes at the University of Southern California. She was awarded a Ford Foundation Prize and has performed throughout the world in recital, with orchestra and as the solo violoncellist of the celebrated I SOLISTI VENETI. While living in Europe she taught for Boston University, in the Conservatoires Regionales de France and founded the Chicago String Trio that was awarded a special Prize by the University of Milan for outstanding contributions in chamber music. She records for ERATO and CONCERTO and was nominated for a Grand Prix du Disque. Susan also was recognized by the University of Padua for her outstanding research on the school of Giuseppe Tartini in the 1700's and created for Trinity College a special music program for their Italian Elderhostel where she is principal lecturer and performer.
She presently heads the cello department of the String Academy at Indiana University, has been on the faculty of Oberlin College and represents the United States in International cello competitions.

e-mail Susan Moses:

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Helen Shively Ford, cello and chamber music. Previously, Helen was on the faculty of the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, where she also served as string department chair and chamber music coordinator. She earned her BM and MM degrees at the University of Minnesota, studying with Tanya Remenikova and Robert Jamieson. Helen was a member of the Minneapolis-based Sartory String Quartet and performed with the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, and other regional ensembles. She was active in the contemporary music scene in Austin, Texas, as a member of the group Audio Inversions and as a frequent guest with the University of Texas New Music Ensemble. Currently, Helen performs as a member of the Bloomington chamber music collective, Studio in Bloom.

e mail Helen Ford:

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Clara Vázquez was born in La Coruña Spain and started playing the violin when she was four years old. She finished her undergraduate studies in 2011 in Madrid, Spain, with the highest honors. Her last year, Clara studied with Romanian violinist Mariana Sirbu in Leipzig, Germany. While in Spain, she was a member of the Youth National Spanish Orchestra (Jonde) and the Academy Orchestra of the Royal Theater in Madrid (Orquesta Escuela del Teatro Real de Madrid).  

In 2011, Clara began her graduate studies at the Jacobs School of Music with Professor Kevork Mardirossian. She has received fellowships from the Fundacion Especial Caja Madrid and the Caixa d'Estalvis i Pensions de Barcelona for her studies. Clara has taught violin for MusAid, Habitat for Music, The Fairview Violin Project, and the Indiana University String Academy. Clara is currently pursuing her Doctoral studies at the JSoM. 

Cellist Kelly Knox is a versatile performer with a passion to form connections through music. Kelly has been featured as a soloist on 98.7 WFMT - Chicago’s Classical Radio Station, at the Chautauqua Institution’s renowned Amphitheater, and as the cellist for Haydn's Cello Concerto in D Major with the St. Philip Neri Chamber Players. She has performed in chamber recitals in Italy, Ecuador, New York, Chicago, and across the Midwest and East Coast. In the summer of 2017, Kelly's desire to share her love of music lead her to be a founding member of MúsicaOcupa, an annual international chamber music festival in Quito, Ecuador that brings free classical music concerts to communities and people who normally would not have the chance to experience them due to geographic, social, or financial reasons. 

As an orchestral player, Kelly is contracted with the Evansville Philharmonic, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Peoria Symphony Orchestra, and Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra. She is also experienced in the world of historical performance, having played with the Early Music Ensemble while studying at the Jacobs School of Music. Kelly is a passionate teacher, and has maintained a private studio of cello students for over ten years. She has studied pedagogy with Mimi Zweig, Susan Moses, and Helen Ford at Indiana University’s String Academy. Kelly recently received her Performance Diploma under the instruction of Peter Stumpf at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and holds a Masters Degree from the same institution. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts from where her previous teachers include Karen Basrak, Patrick Jee, and Richard Hirschl.