ISA Faculty

Renata Soares Cáceres

Instructor, Double Bass

Originally from Brazil, Renata Soares Cáceres has worked and studied in the US since 2013. 

Having started as an electric bassist at the age of 11, Renata is familiar with many different settings of music ensembles, in both classical and popular styles.

She holds a BM degree in Music Production from Universidade Federal do Parana (Brazil), a master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, an Artist Diploma Graduate Certificate from Texas Christian University, and is currently a DMA Candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she held a TA position for the past two years. Renata earned Level 1 and Level 2 Paul Rolland Pedagogy Certifications. She has studied double bass with Michael Cameron, Marcos Machado, Yuan Xiong Lu, Thibault Delor, and Maria Helena Salomão. 

Renata is regularly involved with summer festivals, like ISYM and Bass Works, and teaches masterclasses in Brazil periodically. With extensive experience in teaching double bass for all ages in the American school system, Renata has developed a passion for working with children and is currently focusing her DMA research on advancing the contemporary double bass pedagogy for young players. Renata is the Adjunct Instructor of Double Bass at Illinois Wesleyan University.


Chia-Ying Chan

Instructor, Chamber Music and Theory

Dr. Chia-Ying Chan, originally from Taiwan, brings passion, vibrancy, sensitivity and creativity to her interpretations of classical music. She is an active soloist and chamber pianist, who has given performances across Taiwan, America and Europe, including atthe Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Austurias (Spain); the Sala dei Notari (Italy); National Recital Hall (Taiwan); Carnegie Weill Hall (New York), and has been invited to perform at the Wiener Saal Mozarteum (Austria). 

Chan has won top prizes in competitions, such as the 2019 21stCentury Piano Commission Competition (Winner), the 2018 American Prize (Third Prize), the 2016 International Music Competition Salzburg Grand Prize (Frist Prize), the 2014 West Virginia University Keyboard competition (First Prize), and the 2014 American Protégé International Competition (First Place and Best Performance Award). 

Her recent noticeable appearance with orchestra includes performances with Sinfonia da Camera conducted by Ian Hobson, and with Kostroma Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pavel Gershtein in Russia. Her debut solo album on Centaur Record label was recently released, receiving praise from the Classical Music Sentinel: “… [Chan is] a highly sensitive artist… a musician to watch and follow….”

Chan is currently a member of Amosa Duo with clarinetist Dr. Gary June. Recent engagements include recitals at various universities within the United States, and prominent venues in Taiwan. In addition, Chan served as pianist for the Illinois Wind Symphony and the Illinois Modern Ensemble. 

Chan’s teaching appointments include positions at Community Center for the Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and the online-conservatory Discover Melody. She also serves as Vice Director for the Chambana Music Competition. She received both Artist Diploma and Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from UIUC, where she served as the piano teaching assistant. Her principal mentors include Timothy Ehlen, Paul Schenly, Kathryn Brown and Ching-Jen Wu.


Aaron Jacobs

Senior Coordinator and Lead Instructor, Violin/Viola and Chamber Music

For the past twenty years, Dr. Aaron Jacobs has taught at universities, academies, music schools, and summer camps throughout Ohio, Maine, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Currently, he mentors a full studio of 30+ violinists and violists, and a staff of 15+ graduate and post-doctoral instructors through the School of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he founded the Illinois String Academy as part of the School of Music’s public engagement offerings. At UIUC he is also Co-Director of The Paul Rolland String Pedagogy Workshop for professional musicians and teachers, and Director of "Young Strings on the Move!" – The Paul Rolland String Camp, for children ages 5-12. At Millikin University in Decatur Illinois, Aaron is a faculty member in applied violin and string pedagogy for university music majors. Prior to that he served as Clinical Assistant Professor of Violin at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. He also created a violin program for Danville, IL school district 118, which offered violin instruction to nearly 200 first and second grade students at two elementary schools in Danville, IL. Aaron’s private students consistently win top honors and receive numerous performance awards each year, including solo concerto performances with orchestras as well as admission and scholarship offers to prestigious collegiate music institutions. As a performer, Aaron is in high demand as a soloist and chamber and orchestra musician. He has performed as concertmaster or section leader for twelve different orchestras throughout Illinois. As an active chamber and solo recitalist, Aaron has performed throughout the United States and Europe. He has been the recipient of several honors and awards, and a prizewinner at international competitions. His education includes a BM degree in Music Education and Artist's Certificate in performance from Bowling Greeen State University in Ohio, a MM degree in String Performance and Pedagogy from Northwestern University, and a DMA degree in Violin Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 


Gaeun Kim

Instructor, Violin

Gaeun Kim holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from the University of Kansas as a Capps-Rogers Scholarship recipient, and a Master of Music degree in violin performance from Northwestern University where she studied with Almita and Roland Vamos. As a passionate solo violin player, she was the winner of KU concerto competition and performed with the KU Symphony Orchestra at Lied Center. She received scholarship recognition from the Kansas Music Club and Sigma Alpha Iota, and was awarded the first prize in Nafzger Young Artists Audition. She has also played in many prestigious music festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival as a full-scholarship recipient, Summit Music Festival in New York, Great Mountain Music Festival in Korea, and Chautauqua Music Festival where she served a concertmaster for the orchestra. As an active chamber and orchestral musician, she was broadcasted on NPR classical radio as a member of the Crimson String Quartet, and served as a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, working with renowned conductors such as Cliff Colnot, Semyon Bychkov, Sir Andrew Davis, and Nicholas Kraemer. As an educator, she is devoted to teaching students of all ages and levels. Her past teaching experience includes students from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Northwestern String Academy as well as private studios in Evanston, Chicago, and Glenview. Now in her first year of doctoral studies at the University of Illinois, Ms. Kim studies with Nelson Lee of the Jupiter String Quartet.


Min Jung Kim

Instructor, Violin

An enthusiastic music educator, violinist Min Jung Kim has taught students in many different settings for more than a decade. In Korea, Min Jung
obtained the Music Teacher’s Certificate for Secondary Schools and worked as an instructor and mentor for orchestras in public schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She also worked as an Instructional Assistant in the Paul Rolland String Camp in 2018 and participated as a string mentor in the “Make More Music!” program at Urbana Middle School in 2017. She has taught students of all ages privately for 13 years.

Min Jung received awards and scholarships for academic excellence while pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree from Dankook University. After graduating at the top of her class, she stayed on at Dankook to earn a Master of Music Education degree. She then earned a second Master of Music degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois as a recipient of the graduate Music Tuition Waiver. In 2016, she won the graduate division of the Paul Rolland Memorial Violin Competition, and as the recipient of the Paul Rolland Memorial Graduate Violin Award, she then received the School of Music Annual Music Award in 2017. 

Min Jung is currently a DMA candidate in violin performance and literature and recipient of the Cooke School of Music Fellowship at the University of Illinois School of Music, studying under Violin Professor Megan Freivogel. 


Grace Lamb

Instructor, Violin

Grace Lamb received her bachelors from the University of Nebraska, Glenn Korff School of Music, where she studied violin performance under Prof. David Neely, and chamber music with the Chiara String Quartet. While in Nebraska, Grace actively performed as a substitute for the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra. With her string quartet, Amore, she performed throughout the state and also won the state division of the MTNA chamber competition in 2017. Additionally, she has participated in masterclasses with the Shanghai String Quartet, Miles Hoffman, Norman Fischer, Rachel Barton Pine, and Anton Miller. During her senior year, she received a full tuition scholarship from the Glenn Korff School of Music, and served as concertmaster of the University of Nebraska Symphony Orchestra. Grace is currently studying with Megan Freivogel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Grace also has a passion for body awareness as it relates to the physical requirements of playing of the violin and has practiced the Alexander Technique for the last 6 years, starting at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in high school continuing to the Barstow Institute in Nebraska. She believes that when a student becomes aware of their physical body while playing the violin it helps with performance anxiety, tension, and technical aspects of playing the violin.

Grace is currently working on finishing her Suzuki violin training. She received her book 1 training in the summer of 2018 under Ronda Cole at the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute. She combines her Suzuki training with the influence of Paul Rolland pedagogy in her teaching at the Illinois String Academy.


Zhanna Lehmann

Instructor, Music Theory and Ear-Training

Dr. Zhanna Lehmann is an Instructor of theory and ear-training at the Illinois String Academy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has taught various musical disciplines such as conducting, theory, aural skills, ear training, voice, piano, and has directed choirs for over twenty years and received international recognition certificates and awards for her work with choirs. 

Dr. Lehmann started her musical career after graduation from the Kazan Conservatory in Russia. Upon completion of her education at the Conservatory, she was an Instructor and Assistant Principal for School of Music in Dimitrovgrad, Russia. As an active singer, she has performed in chamber choirs throughout Europe and the United States, and she is the founder and director of the Illinois Orthodox Choir, a community choral ensemble in Champaign-Urbana. 

Dr. Lehmann is an active clinician and teaches conducting and choral methods at the Sacred Music Institute of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America in Bolivar, Pennsylvania. Her research interest focuses on Alfred Schnittke’s compositional techniques including his polystylistic and polytonal methods, serial and twelve tone techniques, as well as his unique symbiotic approach to a music thematic and motivic material. In addition to her educational and research activities, Dr. Lehmann devotes herself to chanting in Byzantine style notation. 


Gabriel Pellino

Instructor, Cello

Cellist Gabriel A. Pellino earned a Bachelor’s degree in the Science of Music Education from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. There, he studied with Dr. David Bebe and Mr. Jonathan Brin. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree with Daniel McDonough of the Jupiter String Quartet at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his undergraduate degree, Gabriel was selected as a winner of the Patricia Brady-Danzig concerto competition, where he performed the first movement of Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor. During that time he was also able to hone his passion for teaching, and most recently served on the faculty of the Music School at Sound Crossing in Windsor, Connecticut.

His other principal teachers include Mihai Tetel, with whom Gabriel has worked along side as a counselor at the ARIA International Academy during the summers of 2015 and 2019. There he observed daily student activities, and was also a full-time participant, having lessons with faculty members such as Stephen Balderston, Alan Rafferty, and Melissa Kraut.


Mary Sanderson

Instructor, Violin/Viola

Mary Sanderson received her Bachelor of Music at the University of Wyoming. She began studying violin at the Indiana University String Academy. As a member of the String Academy’s Violin Virtuosi, she toured around the country. She has been a soloist on radio shows such as Alaska Early Morning Classical Show, and Stars of Brown County. Mary was a Finalist in the Dorothy Jacoby competition, and Winner of the Paul Rolland Memorial Competition. Mary has studied violin with Brenda Brenner, John Fadial, Sherry Sinift and is currently studying with Stefan Milenkovich. Mary began volunteering as a violin teacher for the Fairview Project at age 12, and continued to help in the program for the next seven years. In high school she also coached for the Musical Arts Youth Orchestra and collaborated with the SOUNDS Program, as well as substitute teaching for the Boys and Girls Club Violin Program and assistant teaching at the Indiana University Summer String Academy. During her undergrad, Mary taught a full violin studio with the University of Wyoming String Project and the String Academy of Wyoming. 


Tatiana Shustova

Instructor, Chamber Music and Theory

Dr. Tatiana Shustova is originally from Saint Petersburg, Russia, where she studied at the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory with Yaroslav Pugach. After coming to the United States in 2005, Tatiana completed the Artist’s Certificate Program and a Master’s degree in piano performance at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. There she studied with Maxim Mogilevsky and Dr. Robert Satterlee and won first prize in the 40th annual Concerto Competition. In 2008 she was awarded a fellowship to enter the doctoral program in piano performance at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in the studio of Dr. Ian Hobson, and received her DMA in spring 2013. 

Tatiana has appeared at several festivals in the United States and in Europe such as the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, Illinois Summer Youth Music, Bowling Green Music Institute, Toradze Piano Institute in Indiana, Ionian Summer Music Academy in Greece, Les Orres International summer academy in France; Suomussalmi Music Festival in Finland, Musica Atri and Scuola Italia in Italy, and has received numerous awards in solo and chamber music competitions. As a collaborative pianist, she has worked at Mussorgsky State College in St. Petersburg, Russia, at Bowling Green State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Bradley University. 

Tatiana is currently an adjunct faculty member at Millikin University School of Music, and teaches piano, chamber music, theory and musicianship for the Illinois String Academy and Piano Laboratory Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition, she mentors an independent piano studio in Urbana, Illinois where she resides with her husband and two sons, and is Artistist Director of the Chambana Music Competition, which recently received Urbana Arts Grant. 


Leah Sweeney

Assistant Coordinator and Instructor, Cello and Chamber Music

Leah Sweeney holds a Bachelor of Music in cello performance from the University of Illinois where she studied with Brandon Vamos.  Her principal chamber music teachers include Ani Aznavoorian, Sibbi Bernhardsson and Simin Ganatra.  While at the Univeristy of Illinois, Leah was awarded the Thomas J. Smith Scholarship.  

Leah is an active chamber and orchestral musician and has performed concerts in the United States and Europe.  Her orchestral experience includes performing with local orchestras including the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Prairie Ensemble and Danville Symphony.  

For more than a decade, Leah has maintained a studio of 40 cello and piano students.  She is professionally trained in the Suzuki Method and has experience teaching students of all ages and levels.


Trevor Thompson

Assistant Coordinator and Instructor, Violin/Viola and Chamber Music

An avid orchestral and chamber musician, violinist Trevor Thompson has performed a wide range of repertoire in concert halls throughout the midwest. Trevor has performed regularly with the Ohio Valley Symphony, Heartland Festival Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, and has premiered several new compositions as a member of the Illinois Modern Ensemble. A passionate chamber musician, Trevor has studied at the Montecito International Chamber Music Festival, the Bowdoin International Chamber Music Festival, as a Fellow at the Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival, and has performed in concert alongside Berlin Philharmonic violist Matthew Hunter in a performance of Mozart’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in Eflat major. Throughout his studies, Trevor has had the opportunity to perform in masterclasses with Laurie Smukler, Yuan-Qing Yu, Soovin Kim, Mariciuo Fuks, and Robert DeMaine. As an educator, Trevor has a passion and experience working with a wide variety of students and levels. Trevor has served as a violin instructor with the Athens Community Music School in Athens, Ohio, as a guest instructor with Danville area middle and high school orchestras, and is currently a Teaching Assistant at the University of Illinois. Trevor received his Bachelors degree from Vanderbilt University and is currently pursuing a Masters degree at the University of Illinois as a graduate Teaching Assistant. Trevor’s primary teachers have included Stephen Miahky, Stefan Milenkovich, Meg Frievogel, and members of the Jupiter String Quartet.


Nai-Chien Yo

Instructor, Cello

Nai-Chien Yo holds a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance and Literature from Louisiana State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from National Kaohsiung Normal University in Taiwan. Her primary mentors during her studies were Dennis Parker, Lee-Wen Dai, and Ya-Wen Hsueh.

As a soloist, Nai-Chien has been selected as a student for master classes with Gustav Rivinius and Tsuyoshi Ysutsumi. As a cellist with an enormous passion for chamber music, Nai-Chien has been selected to give Piano Trio, String Quartet, Piano Quartet, and String Sextet performances in music festivals such as the Kirishima International Music Festival in Japan and the Sweden Aurora Chamber Music Festival (ACM) in Sweden. As an orchestral musician, Nai-Chien has traveled with the Formosa Philharmonic, and performed two concerts with the ensemble during a festival in France upon the invitation of Les rencontres musicales de Charon. 

Nai-Chien has an obsession for teaching and promoting music in various ways. Since 2013, she has been a private instructor of cello and piano in Taiwan and the USA, and attended a Teachers Education Program during college. She designed a difficult curriculum for herself and has been very successful in combining performance-based and teacher education courses to fulfill degree requirements. During a practicum within her Methods Course, she designed an innovative musical board game for a music class in National Feng-Shan Senior High School, which received overwhelming responses from students. 

Currently, Nai-Chien is pursuing her Artist Diploma at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with Daniel McDonough of the Jupiter String Quartet.


Pei-Shan Yu

Instructor, Violin

Pei-Shan Yu holds a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance and Literature from Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from National Taiwan Normal University. Her primary instructors during her studies were Bin Huang, Qing Li, and Heng-Chen Chao.

As a soloist, Pei-Shan has won top prizes in competitions including the Eastern Strings Festivals, Rong-Shing Taiwan International Violin Competition, and New York Cup International Music Competition. Pei-Shan’s achievements include appearances in music festivals such as Schlern International Music Festival in Italy, Neuburg Music Festival in Germany, Weyer/Grossraming Music Festival in Vienna, and Eastern Strings Festival in Shenzhen, China. Among various festivals, she has participated in master classes with Alexandre Brussilovsky, Ingolf Turban, Ladimir Landsman, and Ning Feng.  

As an orchestral musician, she is interested in playing all kinds of repertoire. She played in symphony orchestras in Eastman, Peabody, Zurich youth, modern ensembles, and conducting orchestras working with conductors including Marin Alsop, Neil Varon, Joseph Young, Cho-Liang Lin, and Apo Ching-Hsin Hsu. As an educator, Pei-Shan not only took the educational program for Secondary School Teachers in music, having training in Taipei Municipal Jin Hua Junior High School but also coached string ensembles in elementary schools as well as private students. She has been awarded scholarships for academic excellence including Xiong-Zheng Lin Award, Excellent Student Award (National Taiwan Normal University), and Longshan Temple Award.  

Currently, Pei-Shan is pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with celebrated violinist, Stefan Milenkovich.