2017 Presenters

Featured Guest:

Don Cook

Don Cook

Don Cook joined the organ faculty of Brigham Young University in 1991. In that capacity he serves as organ area coordinator, as university carillonneur, and oversees the group organ program. Formerly he held associate organist/choirmaster positions at Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and at First United Methodist Church, Lubbock, Texas. He toured Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia with the Lubbock choir, and accompanied the Parish Choir of Christ Church Cranbrook on a singing tour of England.

After earning Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in organ at Brigham Young University, he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Organ Performance from the University of Kansas. His principal organ teachers were J.J. Keeler at BYU and James Moeser at KU. For many years he served as head of the instrumental area for the BYU Workshop on Church Music, and currently directs the annual BYU Organ Workshop, founded in 2002. He appears frequently as a Guest Organist at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Cook studied carillon with Albert Gerken while pursuing doctoral studies in organ at the University of Kansas. He became a full member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America in 1984, and has performed actively throughout North America since that time. He has served on the Board of Directors and as chair of the Music Publications Committee for the Guild. Carillon performances include a concert tour of Holland in 1990, and a recital tour of east-coast carillons in the summer of 1992. In 1994 he hosted the annual Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America at Brigham Young University.

He has developed and published the first multimedia organ tutorial for pianists, Organ Tutor Organ 101 in several versions. The tutorial is used for private and group instruction, BYU Independent Study courses, and by individuals in at least nine countries.

Additional Presenters

Nancy Bair | Ann Christensen | Sharla Dance
Julie Higgins | Joseph Hoffman | Laurey Lee
Eric McKirdy | Kymberly Payne | Deanna Peabody
Dr. David Thomas | Annette Upton

Nancy Bair

(XYZ Through Music – Power of Music with Seniors)
Nancy Bair, MT-BC, is a board certified music therapist with a passion for helping others through music. She currently works with Upbeat Music Therapy Services and has worked for over 15 years with seniors in a variety of settings. Although she is a classically trained violinist and plays with the Portland Choir and Orchestra, you will often find her at work using a variety of instruments during her sessions to help meet the client’s goals as well as allow for maximum interaction, participation, and FUN! Nancy and her husband, Jason, live in Camas, WA, and have four children. Besides music and being a mom, Nancy enjoys the outdoors, water sports, gardening, reading, eating good chocolate, and relaxing with family and friends.

Ann Christensen

Ann Christensen(The Healing Power of Music)
Violinist Ann Christensen has appeared nationally and internationally as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician including over 60 solo recitals in China, Nepal, Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan and New Zealand with duo partner pianist Lisa Bergman as US State Department Artistic Ambassadors. Ann has recorded for the Hanssler Classic Executive Series as a member of the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra and for KOCH International Classics as concertmaster for the Oregon Repertory Singers’ orchestra. Her performances have also been heard via live and recorded broadcasts on KING FM (Seattle), KBPX (Spokane), KOPB and KBPS (Portland), and on NPR’s Performance Today, performing with members of the Philadelphia String Quartet. She has performed in orchestral and chamber music festivals across the United States and Europe including the Grand Teton, Oregon Bach, Graz, Peter Britt and Olympic Music festivals. Ann has been privileged to serve as an ordinance worker in the Portland Oregon Temple for over 14 years.

Sharla Dance

Sharla Dance(Primary Music)
Sharla Dance has long been a favorite instructor at our workshops. She loves to teach children’s music. She published the book, “To Teach a Child a Song,” keeps a Primary blog, teachingprimarymusic.com, and is about to publish a book to help people read the bass clef easily called “Using the Black Forest: Learning to read the Bass Clef”.

Her Bachelor of Music Education degree at BYU was a good start for post graduate studies in How the Child’s Brain Learns Music. Sharla is Kodaly and Orff Level trained, and she is currently studying how to teach children through improvisation at the piano with Forest Kinney. She combines brain research, teaching research an good plain fun as a way to teach teachers in her workshops. Her favorite workshops are those that combine gospel truths with the power of music to help each of us learn. Sharla has 5 children and an incredibly supportive husband. They live in the Seattle area.

Julie Higgins

(Piano Accompanying Skills)
Julie Higgins has a BA from BYU. She started piano lessons at age 8 and studied piano at BYU with Richard Anderson. She has also studied music at Clark College and PSU and was a finalist in the LDS church-wide composition competition. She has had extensive experience accompanying soloists and choirs, including the Portland Ensign Choir & Orchestra and the Life of Christ regional choir in Vancouver, WA where she teaches piano and organ. She served a mission to Quebec and teaches French for Clark College community education. She is currently a ward and stake organist and temple ordinance worker.

Joseph Hoffman

(The Secret Antidote to the “I Hate Practicing Piano” Syndrome)
While continuing his studies at BYU, Joseph conducted the 300-voice University Chorale and taught courses for music majors in music theory, conducting and sightsinging. As a piano teacher, Joseph wanted his students to love music and piano playing as much as he did, but he struggled to find a piano method that provided a rigorous, well-rounded musical training, while still being fun and engaging. After years of study, exploration, and experimentation, the “Hoffman Method” of teaching piano was born. Hoffman Academy of Music has experienced rapid growth, and now serves over 300 students with a faculty of 11 teachers.

Laurey Lee

(Choral Reading)
Laurey Lee learned to sing harmony while riding on a bus to girls’ camp. She was mesmerized and her singing partner became her new best friend. She has been a music teacher at a local preschool and she has served as Primary chorister, ward music chair, and ward choir director, the latter for 25+ years. She is a mother of six and grandmother of 15 and lives with her husband in Keizer, Oregon. Laurey says she has been inspired by the music workshop for many years and is excited to be able to share some wonderful music with everyone again this year.

Eric McKirdy

Eric McKirdy(Music Chair Boot Camp: Music Matters!)
Eric McKirdy began playing the organ at an early age, and pursued it as a major in college, studying at the University of Oregon with Dr. Barbara Baird. Since that time, he has been honored to perform throughout the United States and Europe, both as a soloist and as organist for several choirs. He has written a number of arrangements for choir and organ, and for the last four years has taught extensively at the Portland Regional LDS Music Workshop. Eric serves on his chapter’s board of directors of the American Guild of Organists. He and his family live in Albany, where he recently completed his twentieth year as ward organist.

Kymberly (Stone) Payne

Kymberly Payne(Organ Classes for Youth)
Kymberly (Stone) Payne is a young organist who is passionate about sharing her love of the organ, and the power we have as organists to bless others and change lives. Kymberly completed her Masters of Music with an emphasis in Organ Performance at Brigham Young University in 2016. While at BYU, Kymberly taught and performed extensively, both on the organ and carillon. As part of her graduate assistantship, Kymberly taught group organ classes, sightsinging and dictation classes, as well as private carillon and organ lessons. In January of 2016, she began working as Organ Department Executive Assistant, and continued her work for BYU after graduation. Kymberly currently serves as Ward Organist in San Leandro, CA, and is working on starting her private organ studio in her new home. Her newest organ service opportunity is her lifetime appointment as Guest Organist at the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

Deanna Peabody

Deanna Peabody(Basic Conducting)
Deanna Peabody and her husband Rick have lived in Beaverton for 25 years where they have raised three children. She has been a piano teacher in the area for 20 years and enjoys singing in the Portland Choir and Orchestra. She has been a ward choir director three times and is currently serving as the Stake Music coordinator and Stake choir director.

David M. Thomas

(Choir Rehearsal Technique, Conducting Master Class)
Dr. David Thomas has served as the Artistic Director of Portland Choir & Orchestra since 2007. He attributes much of his success as a teacher and conductor to his years of study and performance with Dr. Ronald Staheli. Dr. Thomas received his DMA from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire in St. Petersburg, Russia, and holds additional degrees in Russian language and vocal performance. Dr. Thomas has previously served as Artistic Director of Portland Choirs and Co-Director of Hoffman Academy of Music. He and his wife Emily enjoy performing together and operating Studio Thomas: Music Performance Instruction, as well as loving the wonders of life with their three girls and two boys.

Annette Upton

Annette Upton(Power Practice Skills)
Annette Upton was born and raised on the farm in Gooding, Idaho, picking rocks and feeding sheep. She began studying the piano at age eight, and began experimenting with the organ in college. Nearly ten years later, she was finally able to study the organ seriously and has been the organist in her various congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints most of the time since. Annette got her BS and MS degrees in computer science from Brigham Young University and her Ph.D., also in computer science, from the University of Utah. She lives in Hillsboro with her husband, Joe, works for Intel Corporation as a computer engineer, and teaches piano and organ lessons in her spare time.