Carol Stokes, Director, Violin & Viola
A passionate lifelong educator, Carol Stokes founded the Suzuki Talent Education Program of Atlanta in 1981. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance and a Master of Music with specialization in the Suzuki Method from the University of Tennessee, where she studied with William Starr, a founder of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She studied with Shinichi Suzuki in Matsumoto, Japan, the birthplace of the Suzuki Method. Carol has performed in a wide variety of ensembles, from symphony orchestras to bluegrass bands. She released a bluegrass album, Carol’s Fiddling Favorites, and performed in a Public Television Special, Just Fiddling Around, which was nominated for a local Emmy Award. It is inspiring to watch Carol relate to her young students. She teaches in a style all her own, while drawing from the inspiration of Suzuki and Starr.
Carol’s classes are structured but very fun, and it isn’t uncommon to see children spinning around or lying on the floor while playing the violin. Carol’s effectiveness as a violin teacher is evident in the speed at which her students progress and the joy with which they do so. Carol’s former students include professional symphony members, violin teachers with their own studios, and current Suzuki parents. Carol is the mother of four children, Heather, Brittany, McNeill, and Tinsley, all of whom were Suzuki students. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three dogs.
Courtney Anderson, Violin
Courtney Anderson began studying violin at the age of five. She graduated summa cum laude from Mercer University with a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in French. Courtney’s teachers include Jo Nardolillo, David Arenz, David Dillard, and Jay Christy. She has performed in masterclasses for Maggie Snyder and Robert McDuffie, and has received chamber music coaching from William Pu, Paul Murphy, Brian Hodges, and David Johnson. All of Courtney’s siblings are musicians, and she has performed extensively with her twin sister Molly Orr, also a violinist, and her brother William Anderson, a violist. She has also appeared in recital with her brother Bryan Anderson, a concert organist and pianist. One of Courtney’s particular interests is sacred music, and she has played for services and concerts at many churches in Georgia and other states. She appeared alongside members of the National Symphony at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to accompany the 11th YouthCue Choral Festival. She performed multiple times in 2012 at Spivey Hall as a soloist in concert with the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir and Spivey Hall Young Artists. Courtney’s playing has been featured in an award-winning Civil War documentary, “Warriors of Honor,” and also on the 2009 recording “Blessed” by Christian artist Judy Rogers. Courtney has been teaching for 10+ years. Her students have placed into the All-State orchestra sponsored by GMEA, and have consistently received the highest festival rating at the biennial J.S. Bach Competition sponsored by NDMTA. Because music has the power to heal, uplift, and inspire, service is an important part of Courtney’s life, and she regularly plays for nursing homes, hospice patients, and the homebound, both on her own and with her students. When she is not teaching or playing, Courtney enjoys walking her Australian Shepherd, translating French, and cooking.
Mary Horst, cello
Mary Horst has been playing cello since the fifth grade, and studying music in some way since the age of three. An Atlanta native, she studied cello performance at Indiana University in Bloomington and graduated with honors from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Mary’s truest love is chamber music, and she has performed in ensembles from duet to octet and everything in between. She is a founding member of Clairemont Strings, a performing string trio in the Atlanta area, and coaches high school ensembles for Franklin Pond Chamber Music alongside members of the Atlanta Symphony. She performs with several regional symphony orchestras, including those of Albany, Augusta, Macon, Valdosta. Mary has also enjoyed venturing into the worlds of musical theatre and opera, and has performed at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, Atlanta Lyric Theatre, and Capital City Opera Company. She has toured in China with the Hollywood Concert Orchestra, performing music from film and television. Mary teaches music lessons to students aged 3 to 103. She loves to travel and recently spent a month teaching English and Math in Jaipur, India. After she finishes teaching for the day, you might find her taking yoga or ballet class or practicing while her dog, Dolly, sleeps under the chair.
Grace Johnston, violin
Miss Johnston is currently studying to receive her B. A. in Violin Performance at the Kennesaw State University School of Music. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and member of the Dean’s List (University and School of Music). During high school, she participated in the Georgia All State Orchestra (2011 and 2012) and the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra (2011-2012 season). She has had the privilege of studying with Angele Lawless, Jay Christy, and Helen Kim. Her experience includes performances at the Woodruff Arts Center Symphony Hall in Atlanta, the Cobb Energy Center, the Gwinnett Arena, and the Bailey Performance Center. She has also performed in masterclasses for Robert Spano, David Coucheron, Dr. John Iberra, Manuel Diaz, and Midori Goto. Her experience also includes studying orchestral repertoire under Robert Spano, Jere Flint, Dr. Michael Alexander, Donald Runnicles, Jung Ho Pak and Dr. Nathaniel Parker. Using her orchestral experience, Miss Johnston has been a rotating principle second violinist as well as rotating concertmaster in the Kennesaw State University Orchestra.
Miss Johnston was born in Pulaski, Virginia, but has spent most of her life in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. As a child, she had many musical influences in her life including her aunts (both pianists), her father who plays piano and organ, and a church music program that trained her to conduct the church bell choirs. A teacher at heart, she has been teaching private music lessons for the past 5+ years. She plans to attend a graduate program to attain her M. A. in Violin Performance. When not studying, practicing, or teaching, she enjoys sleeping, hiking, pencil art, and puzzles— in that order.