RED WING ACADEMY STAFF BIOS
Eric Brubaker | Host
Eric has been playing violin since age 5, when he learned to play using the Suzuki method. He studied classical music through high school and college. All the while, he had a love for fiddle music and teachers who supported the passion by providing a wide variety of music, from bluegrass to ragtime. His fiddle forays included the formation of bluegrass bands in high school and college, where he practiced familiar fiddle tunes and tried his hand at gathering, arranging, and singing songs from a variety of American musical traditions.
In 2010, Eric joined his long time friends and musical partners, The Steel Wheels, as the Americana roots band hit the road. In 2013, after playing in bluegrass and folk music festivals across the country, the band co-founded Red Wing Roots Music Festival, which they host every year. The festival has been a way to connect with local organizations and build a community around traditional music. In an effort to bridge his classical roots with his love of old-time and bluegrass music, Eric reached out to his former Suzuki program, Shenandoah Valley Preparatory Music. They partnered to form a fiddle workshop, which has grown into Red Wing Academy.
Megan Tiller | Director
Megan is originally from southwest Virginia where she grew up as a Suzuki violin student beginning at the age of 4. She is now in her 13th year of teaching Suzuki violin classes in EMU’s Preparatory Music Program and in the Harrisonburg City Public Schools. In 2010, she started Tiller Strings, a local violin and specialty stringed instrument shop.
In addition to teaching private and group classes to students of all ages, Megan works closely with EMU and Harrisonburg administration to advocate for stringed instrument classes to be taught alongside traditional band programs in school. Megan also has particular interest in old-time fiddle music, often teaching and attending fiddle workshops throughout the year, and she has a passion for providing this outlet to students who come from all backgrounds. In 2015 she helped launch the first Red Wing Fiddle Workshop with The Steel Wheels and in 2017 became director of the expanded Red Wing Academy.
When she is not teaching, Megan is actively involved in the local music scene and enjoys working in a variety of musical environments across the country, on staff at Bonnaroo, Red Wing Roots, Pickathon and Green Mountain.
Kelly Wiedemann | Associate Director
Kelly Wiedemann, a native of the Shenandoah Valley, began her musical training with the Suzuki violin method in EMU’s Preparatory Music Program at age 4. Thanks to the program’s curriculum, she developed a love of both classical and fiddle music from an early age and sees these two worlds mixing beautifully in string playing. Kelly’s passion is multistyle strings; embracing many styles and genres on string instruments as a way to help her students strengthen their technique, better connect to their instrument, and improvise with confidence.
Kelly received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Washington Adventist University in Maryland where she played violin with the New England Symphonic Ensemble and percussion with the Columbia Concert Winds. In 2014, Kelly completed her Masters in Music Education from James Madison University, writing her thesis on the growing multistyle movement in string education, particularly fiddle, jazz, and rock. Kelly currently teaches in EMU’s Preparatory Music Program, the Harrisonburg City Public Schools Strings Program, and is the Orchestra and Strings Director at Shenandoah Valley Academy. Kelly is also currently working on a certification in therapeutic music to enable her to play music in healthcare facilities. When not teaching, she plays with the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, does freelance performances, and continues learning new instruments and genres.
Trent Wagler | Instructor
Trent Wagler is a touring musician with the Americana band, The Steel Wheels. Since 2010, the band has released six studio albums and toured internationally and across the US, building a community of fans and friends. In addition to being lead singer, and playing guitar and banjo for The Steel Wheels, Trent’s songwriting has earned The Steel Wheels numerous Independent Music Awards (IMAs) and top 40 radio play on the Folk/Americana charts. Trent’s songs have also been featured on American Songwriter, Billboard, Paste, and NPR music among others. In 2013, Trent helped start the Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Mt. Solon, VA to cultivate and celebrate music culture in the Shenandoah Valley.
Sharon Miller | Instructor, EMU Prep Music
Sharon began playing the violin in fifth grade in the public school strings program in her native Lititz, PA. While being grateful for the opportunity to learn the violin, even as a young student she felt there had to be a better way to learn music. She discovered that better way while observing public school Suzuki classes during her college years in Lynchburg, VA. As soon as she graduated from college, she began pursuing Suzuki training in a variety of settings throughout the United States.
Sharon developed a Suzuki string and orchestra program in a large private school in Baltimore, MD for eleven years before moving to the Shenandoah Valley to join the faculty of the EMU Preparatory Music Program. She enjoys teaching violin and viola to children and adults of all ages. As a Suzuki Teacher Trainer, she is passionate about mentoring young teachers.
Sharon has been inspired by the skills and creativity of the teachers of the Red Wing Academy. She is excited to continue collaborating with the Steel Wheels as they develop this new venture!
Christa Hoover | Instructor, Camp Liaison
Christa is a native of Greencastle, PA and began playing violin in the Suzuki method (age 5-11). She earned a BA in Music and a BA in English Literature from Wheaton College in IL, moving to Harrisonburg in 2012. She plays with the Waynesboro Symphony and at her church, and teaches Suzuki violin through EMU’s Preparatory Music program and after-school group classes for the Harrisonburg City Schools.
Christa is Red Wing Academy’s Camp Liaison; contact her for help with translating, transportation, or other needs. (Christa es la Coordinadora de Enlaces; consulte con ella por ayuda en traducción, transporte, o otras necesidades.)
Randy Wiedemann | Instructor
Randy Wiedemann, from Luray, Virginia, grew up as a Suzuki trained violinist and violist in EMU’s Preparatory Music Program. He started on the violin at age 9 and added the viola at age 13. The Shenandoah Valley Youth Orchestra developed his love of the viola and he served as principal violist for five years.
Randy attended Southern Adventist University in Tennessee and received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education with an instrumental emphasis in viola. He was principal violist with Southern’s Symphony Orchestra for four years. Randy has played in multiple ensembles and chamber groups where he enjoys classical, fiddle, and everything in between. He has taught at summer Suzuki camps and at the Red Wing Fiddle camp since 2015. Randy currently teaches middle school in Olney, Maryland. When not busy with the viola, Randy enjoys sports, reading, history, and listening to all types of music.
Sean Ellsworth-Hoffman | Instructor
Sean Ellsworth-Hoffman has been teaching and playing fiddle for many years. He grew up in a musical family in Indiana and studied Irish music with New York-based fiddler Brian Conway. He plays with many bands in his home state, most notably The Goat’s Beards and Soltre. He is also fascinated by the relationship between Irish music and old-time dance music, those not so distant cousins separated by an ocean and re-imagined in the hills and hollers of the New World.
Sean teaches English as a New Language at Fairfield Elementary School in Fort Wayne, IN and also runs his own Fairfield Falcon Fiddle Club for 4th and 5th grade students who have performed at the annual FAME festivals and on the WBOI 89.1 NPR radio show Meet the Music with host Julia Meek.
Zachary Windsor | Instructor
In 2011, Zachary was accepted into the Shenandoah Conservatory as a performance major. After studying there for four years, he then completed his bachelor’s degree in music performance. At the Shenandoah Conservatory, he studied many different genres, eras, and cultures of music. As a violinist, he increased his solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire. He has even had opportunities to perform in the pit orchestra of a few operas and musicals. His outstanding violin educator, Akemi Takayama, has greatly improved his knowledge of what it means to perform as a violinist and a musician. Recently, he has been studying with a 1stviolinist of the National Symphony Orchestra, Linda Schroeder. Zachary is also a certified teacher of Suzuki books 1 and 2. He currently teaches and performs in gigs all over the Harrisonburg and Shenandoah area. He believes that music is a gift to be learned and then shared with others for the improvement of society.
Derek Kratzer | Instructor
Derek lives in Durham, NC where he has been a strings teacher for the past five years at Emerson Waldorf School. In this job, he starts the students on violin, viola, and cello in fourth grade and takes them all the way through high school as their orchestra director. He loves being able to see the students develop throughout their musical journey.
An Ohio native, Derek studied music at Eastern Mennonite University and then completed his Masters in Music Education from Indiana University. Derek has performed and recorded as a bassist with bluegrass, jazz, folk, and classical ensembles and currently is working on a recording project with Trent Wagler of the Steel Wheels.
Peter Oswald | Instructor
Peter is a native of Richmond, Virginia where he begin his musical exploration merging a traditional classical cello approach with a variety of other musical styles. He attended Shenandoah Conservatory and Eastman School of Music studying the cello and music education. His most influential teaching have been Cylde Thomas Shaw and Eugene Friesen.
As a string teacher, he has taught at Philips Academy Andover, Foundation Academy and KIPP West Philadelphia where he is currently collaborating with the Philadelphia Orchestra to bring strings education to West Philadelphia. Peter moved to the Philadelphia region in 2012 and has performed and recorded with a broad range of music artists including Snagwing, My Son Bison, Cameron DeWhitt, Kevin Manning, Sonic Liberation, and Bruno Burke. In addition to music Peter enjoys biking, kayaking and generally being outdoors.
Michael Bowman | Instructor
Michael Bowman is a freelance musician and guitar teacher. After picking up the guitar at age 11 and playing in various rock and roll outfits through high school, he went on to complete a music degree at James Madison University, focusing on the classical guitar. After college, he taught a studio of 25-30 guitar students weekly at Randy’s Music in Broadway, VA and performed on drums and mandolin with Harrisonburg’s own The Dish Dogs.
In 2012, Michael moved to Athens, Georgia and played in various bands including north Georgia’s The Little Country Giants and as a singer-songwriter under his own name.
Now, living once again in Harrisonburg, VA, Michael performs with various groups including his own band The Good Saloon, hosts a weekly open-mic in downtown Harrisonburg, and teaches private lessons out of his home.
Eric Hochstetler | Instructor
Eric Hochstetler grew up learning mainly classical music in school and church, then discovered bluegrass while at Goshen College. Since then, he spends most of his free time figuring out how to play all kinds of music, and getting others interested in it as well. He lives in Durham, NC with his wife, three kids, and a feisty cat named Lucy.
Adam Carter | Instructor
Hailing from Bellefontaine, Ohio, Adam sings, plucks and strums a variety of instruments including Guitar/Banjo/Fiddle as well as dabbling in anything else he can get his hands on such as baritone uke, tenor guitar, harmonium, pump organ. He has played with several old-timey and/or celtic-ish groups over the years such as Goldmine Pickers, Soltre, The Murphy Bedheads and The Goat’s Beards.
Mariana Bowling | Instructor
Mariana grew up in Richmond, where she studied violin from the age of seven and continued to study privately and play with various youth orchestras through high school. While the JMU music program is what brought Mariana to Harrisonburg, once there she was pulled toward other interests and obtained a degree in Integrated Social Studies and Environmental Studies. However, Mariana found her way back to the violin when she met her husband Chris Howdyshell, as co-owners of the Little Grill Collective, and they formed a band called The Red River Rollercoaster in 2004. While this band dissolved when Mariana and Chris had their first child, music remains a big part of their family. Mariana, Chris, Oliver, and Melody are working toward their dream of the family band.
Currently, Mariana has just finished her fifth year as a lead Montessori teacher at Woodland Montessori School, following five years of being an assistant and Montessori art teacher. Mariana loves guiding children of all ages and being witness to moments of joy as they discover new things within themselves and the world around them. There is no greater honor than being part of and witness to the process of discovery, especially self-discovery.
Maggie Hagy | Instructor
Maggie Hagy is a Virginia native with singing in her roots. She grew up writing songs and collaborating with musicians since she was in middle school and her love of music led her to receive a Bachelor of Music Education in Voice from James Madison University. During college, she was in a touring female duo, Maggie & Jordan where she was actively writing and performing across the state. After college, Maggie continued to sing with professional choirs such as the VOCE singers in Northern VA and the Valley 7 in Harrisonburg, VA as well as begin her teaching career in the public schools.
Maggie currently teaches Pre-K- 5 elementary music at Keister Elementary School as well as teaches and conducts with the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir in Harrisonburg, VA. Previously, she was the high school choir director of John Champe High School in Loudoun County. Maggie Hagy was the recipient of the 2017 Young Music Educator Award from JMU, and while at James Madison University, was awarded the Joy Holler Costello and Carole Jackson Music Education Scholarships.
Outside of the classroom, Maggie continues to create and perform music around Virginia with her soul band, Julep. She has been on staff with the Red Wing Roots Music Festival and is excited to join the Red Wing Academy this summer!
Monica Carlson | Instructor
Jess Herr | Camp Coordinator
PEGGY BRUBAKER | Associate Coordinator
Peggy’s family have been involved with Red Wing Academy since the first year. Her daughters, Norah & Lydia, have attended RWA each year and she is married to Eric Brubaker. Peggy has worked as a volunteer coordinator for various organizations and, most recently, worked in an elementary school developing after school and summer programs. Peggy is currently enrolled at James Madison University in the Master of Arts in Teaching program with a focus on Teaching English as a Second Language. Peggy has enjoyed watching RWA grow and seeing the students’ love and excitement that comes from the music and the community it creates. Peggy looks forward to supporting the staff and students in various ways throughout the week of camp.
Ben Bowman | Associate Coordinator
Sukainah Abid-Kons | Admin Assistant
Sukainah is a Red Wing Academy graduate, now in her 3rd year at Agnes Scott College, majoring in English. She has played cello since the 6th grade and participated in school orchestra, the Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony, and student teaching in the Harrisonburg City Schools strings program. She is currently continuing cello study in her college orchestra.
Lara Ressler Horst | Photographer
Caleb Schlabach | Videographer
Caleb is a part time freelance Videographer residing in Harrisonburg, VA. Originally from Millersburg, OH he graduated from EMU in 2016 with degrees in Digital Media and Photography. When not with a camera, Caleb enjoys movies, golfing, and being outdoors
More staff to be announced!