Director, Founder, Instructor
Preschool music, Acadamiacs, Brain Builders, Pre Reading, Piano & Violin summer camps
Virginia Anne Dill is the director of the Virginia Beach School of the Arts. An honor graduate of the Conservatory at Shenandoah University, she majored in classical and jazz piano pedagogy studying with Dr. Elizabeth Temple, Dr. James Laster and Dr. Elizabeth Caluda. Virginia specializes in preschool music and loves her students! She is the author of the world's largest online library of academic songs, Musicmindsonline.com, creator of Connections: The Brain Development Seminar and lectures on the University level about music, learning and the brain. A master teacher with over 25 years of experience, Virginia is the creator of Preschool for the Arts, the premier arts and academics preschool. Passionate about learning academics through singing, Virginia makes learning FUN for all of her students ages 3 months - adult. Read more about her courses, Music Mommy & Me, Baby School, Acadamiacs, Music Readiness, keyboard class and exciting summer violin and piano camps.
Piano and voice
Jennifer has a Bachelor of Music from James Madison University and a Master of Music in voice from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has recently served as an adjunct professor of voice and accompanist in musical theater at Christopher Newport University, and currently enjoys singing as a professional core member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Since 2008, Jennifer has held the position of music director, accompanist and choir director for both the Church of the Resurrection in Portsmouth and St. Mary Catholic Church in Chesapeake. She has been teaching private voice and piano for 16 years, and has been an instructor with the Virginia Beach School of the Arts since 2012.
Violin and viola
Angelina Weber graduated from McGill University in 2014 with a Master of Music degree, having studied with Mark Fewer and Alexander Read. Previously, Ms. Weber attended the Eastman School of Music graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree with distinction in Violin Performance. She has participated in numerous summer music festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Meadowmount School of Music, The Castleman Quartet Program, Classical Music Festival in Austria, as well as summer studies at Indiana University. She has played in masterclasses for Rachel Barton Pine, Irvine Arditti, Charles Castleman, Sally Thomas, Cynthia Roberts, and members of the Chiara, Ying, and Takacs String Quartets. As an avid orchestral musician, Angelina has played with the Virginia Symphony, National Academy Orchestra of Canada, Indiana University Festival Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute Festival Orchestra, McGill University Symphony Orchestra, and Eastman Philharmonia. Ms. Weber has performed as guest soloist with the Concordia Symphony Orchestra in Edmonton, and is an Alberta Provincial Music Festival award recipient in the category of Strings, Voice, and Creative Music. Passionate about outreach, she enjoys performing at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and numerous community functions.
After earning a Bachelor of Music in clarinet performance, from the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington Indiana, Trish traveled to Rome, Italy to study clarinet with with Michele Incenzo, Principal Clarinetist for l'Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia . After completing her studies there, she earned a Master of Music in clarinet performance from the Ithaca CollegeSchool of Music. After graduation, she spent 10 years playing with the Air Force bands, mostly in Europe, where she played concerts in over 20 countries all over the Continent. She was frequently a featured soloist with the band, and since returning, has appeared as a guest soloist for the Tidewater Winds, and also the Evansville Symphonic Band.
Now settled in Virginia Beach, she divides her time between playing and singing classical and jazz music, and teaching. She has taught private lessons, and served as a chamber music coach and music development teacher both privately and for the Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk, and the Academy of Music, also in Norfolk. She has worked with students of all ages, from birth to 75, but is happiest surrounded by the youngest ones, who always make her smile!
Trish is happily married to her husband John Fritz, who is also a musician and music teacher, and they have a daughter, Rosina. Their home is filled with music and laughter, and you never know when a spontaneous dance party will break out!
Violin, Viola, Cello Suzuki Strings
"Ms. Emily Thomas began playing the violin at the age of three, and has enjoyed the stage ever since. Her experience includes solo performances in Italy, with the VCU Symphony and VCU Opera Orchestra, as well as performing at dozens of weddings, fundraising galas, and parties. Ms. Thomas served as the concertmaster for VCU's Symphony Orchestra from the fall of 2013 through the end the fall 2014 semester. Classically trained, she has played Christmas music for Clay Aiken on his Holiday tour, klezmer music with Karamazov on an RVA public broadcast, as well as the Beatles, Dave Mathews, and Stevie Wonder for wedding ceremonies. Although Ms. Thomas loves to perform, her true passion lies in education. She has taught private string instrument lessons using the Suzuki Method for ten years. In the spring of 2014, Ms. Thomas accepted a position as the Elementary General Music Teacher at the Academy of Academic Excellence. Also in the spring of 2014, she was awarded the Jessica McCain Scholarship for my promise in the field of Music Education. Wanting to promulgate her passion for string education, Ms. Thomas founded the American String Teachers Association VCU Collegiate Chapter, and served as president. She was awarded the VCU Department of Music Student Research Grant to travel to the 2015 National ASTA Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ms. Thomas graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree and is excited to have been selected as the new Cox Orchestra Director. She is now in her second year at Cox and also teaches 5th grade orchestra at Shelton Park Elementary and Kempsville Meadows Elementary. Most recently, Ms. Thomas was nominated for the Virginia Symphony Outstanding Music Educator award, as a first year teacher. Now in her second year, Emily looks forward to many more years of public school and private string education!"
Grace Ablang Hare
Grace Ablang-Hare, a graduate of Old Dominion University, holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance. A student of Harold Protsman, Grace has performed throughout the Hampton Roads area. She began her teaching career in 2000 at the Virginia Beach School of the Arts and has also been teaching piano at Cape Henry Collegiate School since 2007. Many of her students have continued their careers in the music industry. Grace lives in Chesapeake with her husband, Mark, and their two boys. She enjoys the beach and traveling. Grace loves teaching and watching her students grow as pianists.
Preschool For the Arts, Music
Heather Becker is a dedicated Mother and loves educating young children in the Arts! She received her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Pfeiffer University in 2007, her Certificate in Entertainment from Disney University in 2007, and Masters of Business Administration in 2013. While there, she participated in the Music Mission tour to England and Armenia, where the motto was “Music: The Universal Language”. Then she had the opportunity of performing in Italy in 2009 in various basilicas, especially the renowned Saint Peters Basilica. Over the past years she has performed with the Tidewater Winds, Symphonicity, and most recently the Virginia Beach Chorale. Mrs. Becker has been teaching children, ages 6 weeks to 12 years, for over 15 years; and has maintained certifications throughcontinuing education with Early Childhood classes.
Piano & Voice
Mrs. Boatright is a native of Hampton Roads, a graduate of Kempsville High School, and has her bachelors of music education from Southeastern FWB College in Wendell, NC.
Mrs. Boatright has taught over 300 students privately and over 1,000 students in the classroom. Inspiring students to love music, she has taught a wide variety of students ranging in age from 3 to 87. Lauri has been with The Virginia Beach School of the Arts for over 13 years and also teaches at a private local Christian school as a piano instructor, elementary music teacher, and middle/secondary school choir director. Lauri has been happily married for over 15 years and has one son. She is also highly involved in her church, Great Bridge Free Will Baptist Church in Chesapeake where she is the adult choir director.
Preschool for the Arts Spanish and Music
Ms. Acosta holds a Masters in Opera Performance from Mannes College of Music and the Hartt School of Music. She has developed a music program at Headstart programs and has training in the Dalcroze method. While living and performing in New York City, her Broadway and Off Broadway credits include The Secret Garden, Cyrano the Musical, Candide and In The Heights, collaboration with Hamilton's Lin Mauel Miranda and Fun Home's Jeanine Tesora.
Elizabeth is an active voice over artist and performer, along with having taught at the Diller Quail and the Bloomingdale Schools of Music in NYC.
She is thrilled to be joining the Virginia Beach School of the Arts!!!
Piano & Voice Lessons, Margaret McLewin Margaret McLewin is an experienced teacher and musician. She attended Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and Byran College. She completed a double major in piano and voice Magna Cum Laude. Post graduate studies include instruction with the David McClosky and Barbara Henneberger from Boston Conservatory and piano pedagogy with master teacher, Christa Hamilton. Margaret has extensive solo and ensemble performance experience and 30 years of teaching experience. She performed with the Virginia Symphony Chorus and Virginia Opera Chorus for seven seasons and taught solfege for Virginia Children’s chorus for three years. Some of her students have gone on to professional music careers in music theater, composition, church music and teaching. Mrs. McLewin enjoys watching students become confident, expressive musicians. Lessons take a sequential, correlated approach, building skills in theory and technique. Margaret's students engage visual, auditory and tactile experiences creating great learning moments! Students will explore various musical styles and repertoire. She is married to Dr. Peter McLewin, pastor of Ingleside Church in Norfolk, Va. They have five married children and six grandchildren. Her other interests include gardening, swimming, reading, sailing and international travel.
Piano, James Gardner
James Gardner is a Hampton Roads native who has been playing piano and composing since childhood. In 2006, he graduated from Nyack College School of Music in New York, with a Bachelor of Music in Composition, with additional studies in Piano and Organ Performance, Philosophy, and Communications. While at Nyack, James was Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, The Forum. He also holds a Master of Music degree from East Carolina University School of Music and a Certificate of Film Studies from the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. While living in Los Angeles, James worked in the music department at 20th Century Fox Studios.
As a performer, James has played in hundreds of venues. He is the winner of the Mary K. Whitener Award for Excellence in Piano Performance (2002). James’ original musicals and operas have been performed live in Norfolk, New York, and Los Angeles. He has also served as a Producer and Director of over a dozen live stage productions, as well as Technical Director of Light & Sound for over a hundred live performances and plays. As a composer, James is a multi-year winner of the composition contest of the North Carolina Music Teacher’s Association and the Nyack College School of Music composition contest.
James is the Director of Music at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Virginia Beach and previously served as Director of Music & Liturgy at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Raleigh, NC. He resides in Virginia Beach with his wife, Amy, and their two children.
Meredith Hazelwood McKee
Mrs. McKee completed a degree in primary and secondary Art Education from Virginia Wesleyan College. She began her teaching career at the Virginia Beach School of the Arts in 2003 and has since been dedicated to building their art education and enrichment program. Meredith specializes in art classes and programs designed for young artists ages 2-15. She enjoys working with her 2 and 3 year old Mommy and Me students and introducing them to the world of art and especially enjoys watching them grow up through her art program. Meredith has designed a stair stepping art program that allows children to grow over the years into art classes that are appropriate for their age and motor skill level. Students may begin in Mommy and Me art classes or join Meredith in Preschool for the Arts. They, then get to advance to classes such as Crafts, Beginning Drawing, Painting, Mixed Media, and Open Studio. She has also created a Handwriting program for preschoolers and kindergarten age students to help alleviate the tears and struggle at home. With Hampton Roads large Home School community, Meredith has designed an appropriate grade level ART curriculum for home school students at the Virginia Beach School of the Arts. She also runs an awesome summer camp program every year with camp options ranging from the ever famous Jewelry Camp to Clay Camp, Canvas Painting Camp, Sewing Camp, Artist Camp, Mosaic Tile Camp, Culinary Arts Camp, and Paper Mache Camp. Meredith’s art students have also teamed up with Virginia Beaches local Old Beach Farmers Market to design their market t-shirt for the past 5 years and just recently their 12 month calendar. In return, Old Beach displays the student’s art work every spring and summer at their markets. Meredith is married to Chef Andrew McKee owner of McKee’s Custom Cuisine and sous chef at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club. Together they love to travel, have three rescue dogs, and are expecting their first child in the summer of 2015.
Kindergarten for the Arts
Mrs. Hansen graduated from the University of West Florida with dual Bachelors in Elementary Education and Exceptional Student Education, along with endorsements in Reading and ESOL. In Florida, she taught Pre-school for 4 years while attending UWF. Nicoke has also taught 3rd and 5th grades but her heart is with K and 1! Nicole states, "I am beyond excited to have found The Virginia Beach School of the Arts! It is a great learning environment for your children with a staff that really cares. This is a school that wants your child to love learning! I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to teach your little ones. I cannot wait to meet all of my new students and their families!" Nicole resides in Norfolk with her husband and two year old son.
Preschool for the Arts, Academics
I grew up on a farm outside of Annapolis, Maryland, in the '60's and '70's and loved every bit of it! I went to Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and graduated in 1985 with a BA in Journalism. (Yes, I'm "that" old and, yes, I color my hair!) Young love brought me to Virginia Beach right after graduation and I've been here ever since.
I am married with 2 teenagers - a 16 year old daughter, Emily, and a 14 year old son, Will. Both of my children attended PFTA and they are successful young people branching out and discovering the world around them.
Cooking and gardening are two of my favorite things to do. A little unknown fact - I actually tried out for the first season of 'Next Food Network Star' but didn't make the cut. They called me back for season 2, but, after seeing the first season I knew I'd break down and cry on TV and I didn't want to do that! The call-back was the unknown fact - I cry easily is what everyone already knows about me!
Working with the preschoolers is such a joy for me! Their sweet faces make everything seem right in the world. I love to see them light up with joy and wonderment when they try something new and succeed with whatever we are doing. I have a philosophy in my classroom - there is no 'I can't'! I hug them, I love them, I comfort when down - I'm a mother at heart and that's how I treat the students, as I would want my children treated.
Thanks for sharing your little loves with me!