Areas of Study

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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 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 Jaques-Dalcroze approach to music education, in which he has earned a Certificate Jaques-Dalcroze and has numerous hours of continued education.

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.

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.

Yihua (Eva) Cao is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Southern Methodist University under the instruction of Dr. Carol Leone and Dr. Catharine Lysinger. She is originally from Tianjin, China and started playing the piano at the age of five. She began her professional music education at the Middle School Affiliated to the Tianjin Conservatory of Music under the guidance of Ms. Yibo Wang. In 2007, She came to the U.S. and continued her musical education at the Interlochen Arts Academy where she studied with Dr. Thomas Lymenstull. She has recently completed her Bachelor Degree of Music in Piano Performance from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor under the tutelage of Dr. Logan Skelton.

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.

Rachel Menscher is from Wentzville, Missouri and is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Southern Methodist University. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Music degree in May 2014. While at Vanderbilt, she studied piano and pedagogy with Karen Ann Krieger, and previously studied with Annette Burkhart at Washington University in St. Louis. Rachel has recently taught at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, W.O. Smith Community Music School, and Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music where she student taught throughout her undergraduate years. She has also served as the Blair Collegiate Chapter President of MTNA, and is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. Rachel is excited to be sharing her love for both performing and teaching with the students in SMU’s Preparatory Department.

Astrid Morales is a 22 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 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.

Daniel Salisbury began his collegiate studies at Lone Star College in North Houston, where he studied with Diane Delk and with Dr. Roger Keele. While at LSC, he was selected as the student soloist for a recital christening the schools newly constructed concert hall and piano. He went on to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Stephen F. Austin State University where he studied piano with Dr. Andrew Parr and pedagogy with Dr. Mario Ajero. He also maintained a piano studio as a student teacher in the universities Music Preparatory Division. In the summer of 2013, Daniel attended the 2013 Vienna International Piano Academy where he studied with Krassimira Jordan. He remains active as a collaborator and soloist as well as teacher. At Meadows, he studies piano with Dr. Cathy Lysinger.

Jessie Welsh holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Central Florida in both Piano Performance and Music Education. Post graduation, Jessie studied privately with acclaimed pianist and pedagogue, Rebecca Penneys. Currently, she is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Southern Methodist University. She studies piano with Dr. Carole Leone. Prior to moving to Dallas, Jessie operated an active home studio and served on the faculty of a local music studio in Orlando. Additionally, she has served as an accompanist for churches, choruses, and a ballet studio.

Sarah Welch is currently pursuing an Undergraduate Degree in Piano Performance at Southern Methodist University, studying with Dr. Catharine Lysinger. She has taught piano as part of the Oklahoma Christian University preparatory program, and has been a coach for the SMU Summer Institute for Young Pianists. Sarah has a love of chamber music and accompaniment. She has participated in several chamber music festivals and piano summer programs, and has also worked as an accompanist for schools and string studios. Currently, she is working as an accompanist for a volunteer choral group in the Dallas area that performs for the elderly at nursing homes and independent living centers around Dallas.

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