Areas of Study

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Dr. Catharine Lysinger, Artistic Director

Dr. Catharine Lysinger is the Artistic Director of the Piano Preparatory Department and a lecturer in piano pedagogy in the Meadows School of the Arts. After her arrival at SMU in 2004, Dr. Lysinger quickly gained enthusiastic praise for her energetic leadership of SMU's celebrated piano preparatory department and for her expert guidance of the graduate teaching assistants who provide a significant portion of the instruction for the preparatory students.

She has developed an award-winning studio of pre-college students. Dr. Lysinger was formerly the founding Director of the University of Houston's Moores School of Music Preparatory and Continuing Studies Department, currently serving over 300 students of all ages.

Dr. Lysinger has been a prizewinner in national and international piano competitions, earning top prizes in the Music Teacher National Association National Young Artist Competition, the Shreveport Symphony Wideman Competition, and the Corpus Christi International Young Artist Competition. 

Matthew Kline, NCTM
Senior Lecturer of Piano Pedagogy,
Executive Director of Piano Preparatory Department

Matthew Kline has lectured and taught in Texas and Michigan and is beginning his 13th year teaching at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. In his time at SMU, Kline has developed an award-winning pre-college studio while engaging with the local community as a leader in the Dallas Music Teachers Association.

Kline’s research and study interests include early childhood education, music learning theory and the Emile Jacques-Dalcroze approach to music education, in which he has numerous hours of continued education. Health and wellness are also of great interest to him and he is actively involved in a team of researchers studying ergonomically scaled keyboards and their potential impact on pianists.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in music and psychology from Hope College where he studied with Joan Conway, and a master’s in piano performance and piano pedagogy from Meadows, where he studied under Alfred Mouledous and Sam Holland. Additionally, Kline holds a Master of Social Work from Western Michigan University.

When he is not teaching, practicing or preparing lessons, Kline enjoys walking his greyhound Clover, flying his kite and training for multi-sport endurance races.

Kevin Gunter, Senior Faculty

Kevin Gunter is a native of Birmingham, Alabama. He received his B.M. in Piano Performance from Samford University and his M.M. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University. Mr. Gunter teaches at SMU, where he is the Class Piano Coordinator for the Division of Music, as well as the Theory/Musicianship Coordinator for the Piano Prep Dept.  During the summers, Mr. Gunter also teaches piano camps at Samford and SMU. In May 2005, Mr. Gunter received the Roy and Sue Johnson Award from the SMU Division of Music for excellence in teaching.

Edmundo Gonzalez, Teaching Fellow

Edmundo Gonzalez started his steps toward his music career at an early age in his hometown, Mexico City; a few years later he enrolled in the Conservatory of Music of Mexico where he graduated with top honors. He continued his studies in Dallas at SMU Meadows School of the Arts where he obtained his Master´s degree in Piano Performance under the guidance of Mr. Alessio Bax.  He recently made his debut with Mexico’s National Orchestra and Mr. Jose Guadalupe Flores at the “Angelica Morales” National Piano Competition in Mexico City, where he won the second prize and the special prize for the mandatory work.  He has performed in the most important halls in Mexico City including the Manuel M. Ponce Hall in Bellas Artes, Carlos Chavez Hall and the National Museum of Art. He is recipient of the Alejo Peralta Foundation scholarship and also he has been granted with a scholarship from the National Fund for Culture and Arts (FONCA), one of the most important funds in Mexico.  He has been selected to take masterclasses with Jörg Demus, Jorge Federico Osorio, Einar Steen-Nokleberg and Lilya Zilberstein. During the past summers he has attended to the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and the International Summer Academy of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.  Edmundo Gonzalez is currently student of Mr. Joaquín Achúcarro pursuing the Performer´s diploma in SMU.

Ryan Greene, Teaching Fellow

Ryan Greene grew up in Dayton, Ohio and is currently pursuing a M.M. degree in piano performance and pedagogy at Southern Methodist University. He earned his B.M. degree in piano performance from Butler University where he studied with Kate Boyd, Anna Briscoe, and pedagogy with Karen Thickstun. Ryan spends his summers in northern Michigan where he serves as piano teaching assistant at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. Before moving to Dallas, Ryan performed extensively in the Indianapolis area including serving as pianist at Heartland Unitarian Universalist Church. While in Indianapolis, Ryan also spent three years as a teaching fellow at the Butler Community Arts School, Butler Summer Piano Camps, and Christel House Academy. He is an alumni of PianoSummer at SUNY New Paltz, Oberlin College Piano Festival, and has served as a pianist for La Musica Lirica, a five-week intensive opera festival held in Novafeltria, Italy.

Kristen Landrum, Teaching Fellow

Kristen Landrum is originally from the Dallas area and grew up involved with the DMTA (she has many memories of Theory Exams and Ensembles at state convention). In the Fall of 2011 she completed her undergraduate degree in General Music: Piano Emphasis at John Brown University. Kristen has spent the last five years teaching piano. This past year she was active in the home school community, working for two area co-ops. She is passionate about engaging students in ways that help them learn effectively and love music fully. In her spare time, Kristen enjoys cooking, doing puzzles with her husband, and taking walks with her dog, Momoko.

Astrid Morales, Teaching Fellow

Astrid Morales is a  21 years old Mexican pianist graduated from National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City, where she studied with Mr. Hector Rojas. She is pursuing her Master in Piano Performance in Southern Methodist University with Mr.  Joaquin Achucarro.  As soloist, she has performed with the most important symphony and philharmonic orchestras in Mexico like: State of Mexico Symphony (Enrique Batiz, conductor), Queretaro Philharmonic (Jose Flores, conductor), Mexico City Philharmonic (Jose Arean, conductor), among many others.  She has won first, second and special prizes in Young Piano Competitions in Mexico and was the unique Latin American Pianist selected to participate at the 2005 Virginia Waring International Piano Competition in Palm Desert, California. She has performed in Canada, United States and in the most important places in Mexico

Zach Polson, Teaching Fellow

Zach Polson is a native of Overland Park, Kansas, where he began studying music at the age of 4 with his parents. He was inspired to explore the genres of classical and jazz music through both public school and private lessons. He earned his Bachelor of Music from Vanderbilt University, where he studied with Karen Ann Krieger. As a student of pedagogy he has participated in independent studies and internships with pedagogues Marianne Ploger, Carol Boeing, and Karen Ann Krieger. Zach recently taught class piano at Crieve Hall Elementary School and co-founded the MTNA Collegiate Chapter at the Blair School of Music, serving on the executive board. He is currently attending Southern Methodist University pursuing a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy.

Anna Song, Teaching Fellow

Anna Song, a native of South Korea, is an active collaborative artist and chamber musician as well as a soloist. The Colburn School of Performing Arts alumni, Ms Song has her Bachelor Degree in Art/Piano performance from California State University, Fullerton. She studied Piano with Dr. Robert Watson, Eduardo Delgado, and Piano Pedagogy with Dr. Martha Baker-Jordan. Ms. Song has performed as a solo and collaborative pianist in California, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, and throughout New York City. Recently performed in a joint recital at the Juilliard School.  Ms Song performed in master classes given by Dr.Scott McBride Smith, Dr.Greg Knowles, Alvin Chow, Elisabeth Pridonoff, Jerome Lowenthal, Nelita True, and Ursula Oppens. She started teaching piano in 2002 and she places a high emphasis on encouraging students’ creativity and enjoys developing curriculum and materials that allow her students to experience music in a variety of different ways. In the past year, she studied with Dr. Pamela Mia Paul, is both a brilliant performer and a deeply dedicated teacher at University of North Texas. Currently, Ms. Song resides in Keller with her little pug, Harvey and pursuing her M.M. degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at SMU. Ms. Song continues performing solo and chamber music concerts throughout the United States and Europe.

Faron Vassen, Teaching Fellow

Faron Vassen is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Southern Methodist University under the instruction of Dr. Sam Holland and Dr. Carol Leone. In 2011 he received his Bachelor of Music from Florida Gulf Coast University, where he received thorough pedagogical instruction under the mentorship of Joanne Smith. Equally at home as a teacher, a recitalist and chamber musician, Faron uses acquired knowledge and experience to cultivate the unique and individual qualities found within each student. Maintaining a private studio since 2008, Faron has experience teaching students of all ages, whether it be young beginners or adults seeking an outlet.

Lizhen Wu, Teaching Fellow

Pianist Lizhen Wu was born in 1988 in the town of Yue Yang in the People's Republic of China. He began studying the piano at the age of 5. Because of his promising musical gifts, he was accepted into the Wuhan Conservatory, which necessitated moving away from home. He studied at the Conservatory with Wang Xian, who remained his teacher until he came to the United States in 2006.  Mr. Wu - known to his American friends as Rick - won First Prize in the Hazimen Piano Competition in China and was invited to the United States to perform at four universities, including the University of North Texas. He auditioned for the Bachelor of Performing Arts degree at the UNT College of Music, and was accepted as a freshman performance major in the fall of 2006 on a scholarship, and studying with Dr. Pamela Mia Paul. In 2012, Mr Wu was accepted as a graduate student at SMU with full scholarship. He is currently studing with Joaquin Achucarro

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