Music Academy Faculty
Margaret McDonald, Piano/Academy Director
Margaret McDonald has a Bachelor of Music Education from Greensboro College and a Masters of Music Education from UNCG. She was a music educator in Guilford County for 34 years and was twice named "Teacher of the Year". In 2001 the High Point Arts Council chose Margaret to receive the Mayor's Award for Outstanding Arts Educator of the year. As director of Children and Youth Music at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Margaret took the choirs to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1995 and in 1999. In 2001 she founded St. Mary's Music Academy to offer private piano lessons to students in the Triad. Margaret is a Music Teachers National Association Certified Teacher of Music in Piano. Her piano students have consistently earned high ratings in the district and state piano contests. In 2006 she received a High Point Community Foundation Award and she has also been awarded grants from the High Point Arts Council for the Academy. Margaret is an active member of the North Carolina Music Teacher's Association as well as the High Point Piano Teachers Association.
Annah Hyojin Oh, Piano
Annah Hyojin Oh, a native of South Korea, began her piano studies at the age of five and has been teaching the piano over ten years. She has her piano studios in Winston Salem and in High Point, North Carolina. Mrs. Oh is also an active performer as a collaborative pianist at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She has worked as a studio accompanist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Mrs. Oh completed her Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Her summer study includes the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado and the International Summer Academy at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Her principal teachers have been Allison Gagnon, Andrew Willis, and Mayron Tsong. She has also worked with Anne Epperson, Eric Larsen, Jura Margulis, and Inara Zandmane. Mrs. Oh has experience with other keyboard instruments including organ, fortepiano, harpsichord, celesta, clavichord, and synthesizer. She is active in church choir and band.
Yulia Roubtsova, Piano/Music Theory
A native of Saint-Petersburg, Russia, Yulia Roubtsova moved to the USA in 2009 and continues to build her distinctive career in music performance and education. She received a Masters degree in Musicology from Saint-Petersburg State Conservatory and has been teaching and performing professionally for over ten years. In addition to piano, she studied organ and harpsichord, and specializes in early music, music theory, solfege, harmony, and music literature.
Yulia has been a faculty member at Saint-Petersburg Music Lyceum - one of the most prestigious professional music schools in the city. There she taught piano, solfege, music theory and literature. She also has had an experience working with pre-kindergarten, early musical development groups including the Saint-Petersburg Center for Childhood Development where she taught the Carl Orff method.
In 2009-2011, Yulia worked in Richmond, VA, where she was on faculty at the Music Education Center and the Greater Richmond School of Music, where she was among the founding faculty and the first chair of the piano program.
Currently, Yulia Roubtsova is the music director at the First Presbyterian Church of Thomasville and licensed Kindermusik instructor there. Her love of early music is matched only by her love of jazz, and she enjoys teaching piano at all levels and in all styles.
Daniel Seyfried, Piano
Daniel Seyfried is very excited to be on the faculty at the St. Mary’s Music Academy. Daniel began teaching privately in high school and was hired in 2009 GTR studios in Moscow, Idaho to teach students ranging from young beginners to more advanced high school students. While at Fredonia Daniel taught MUS 104, a program designed to give non-piano majors one-on-one piano lessons. In 2010 he completed his bachelors degree from University of Idaho and in Spring 2012 he completed his masters degree at SUNY Fredonia. At U of I Daniel was awarded the Joyce A. Chaffer Piano Scholarship for excellence in performance. Throughout his time at SUNY Fredonia Daniel held a graduate accompanying assistantship. He will begin his Doctorate in piano performance at UNCG in the Fall of 2013. Daniel is a dedicated and passionate performer of solo, chamber, and orchestral music. He currently works for UNCG as a large ensemble pianist and as a freelance accompanist in the Greensboro area.
Naiara Sánchez, Violin
Naiara Sánchez started her violin studies at the age of eight in Spain. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree at the Royal Conservatory of Granada and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn. She started teaching violin in Granada where she also developed her career as a chamber music and orchestra musician. As the concertmaster of Granada University Orchestra, she had the opportunity to perform across Europe and Morocco. She also had the chance to work with main conductors as Daniel Barenboim. She recorded several CD’s with the Granada Baroque Orchestra and the Oniria Ensemble. In 2011 Ms. Sánchez moved to the USA where she received a graduate assistantship and earned her Master’s Degree in Violin Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. During this time she worked as a teaching assistant for the UNCG Music Department, coaching chamber music in addition to teaching violin and music history classes.
Nowadays she is an active performer being a founding member of the Railyard String Quartet based in Greensboro. She plays in several orchestras across North Carolina as Winston-Salem Symphony, Greensboro Symphony, Western Piedmont Symphony and Fayetteville Symphony.
Ms. Sanchez is a faculty member at St. Mary’s Music Academy in High Point and Lawndale Baptist Church Music and Fine Arts Academy in Greensboro.
Laura Blankenship, Violin/Viola
Laura is originally from Kernersville, North Carolina, and she earned her bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the University of North Carolina Greensboro studying with Dr. Fabián López. She received her master’s degree in violin performance from the University of Wyoming where she studied with Dr. John Fadial. Laura loves teaching and is excited to join the faculty of St. Mary’s Music Academy. She was a private violin and viola instructor for University of Wyoming String Project as well as her own private studio in Laramie, Wyoming.
As an orchestral musician, Laura has performed with the Fayetteville, Cheyenne, and Wyoming Symphonies, and she recently won the principal second violin position in the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra. She also enjoys playing chamber music, and she performed in several student and faculty chamber concerts while in Laramie. In addition to teaching and performing Laura also works as an orchestra librarian for the Eastern Music Festival in the summers.
Gayle Masarie, Cello
Gayle Masarie is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music and received her Masters of Music from Bowling Green State University in cello performance. A Suzuki specialist, Gayle trained eleven summers at the Interlochen Music Camp, as well as three summers at the Aspen Music Festival. Gayle taught for eighteen summers at The Brevard Music Center. She was principal cello for nineteen years with the Greensboro Symphony and prior to that, principal cello with the Toledo Symphony. Gayle currently serves as associate principal cello for the Winston-Salem Orchestra. An experienced teacher, Gayle has taught students from the beginning level through college.
Ranara Rahimova, Piano/Voice
A native of Azerbaijan, Ranara holds a Masters in Piano Pedagogy and a Masters in Vocal Performance. She is a passionate and motivated teacher who has over 19 years of teaching experience with all ages and skill levels. She is a soloist at St. John's Lutheran Church, Winston-Salem, and at Temple Emanuel in Greensboro. Ranara has sung with the Greensboro Opera Company and taught piano and voice at the B'nai Shalom Day School in Greensboro.
Ranara will offer voice lessons to adults of all ages and to boys and girls beginning at age 8. She welcomes piano students, adults and youth, and is focused on using dynamic and creative ways to connect with students.
Shihhan Seyfried, Clarinet
A native of Taiwan, Shihhan began her clarinet and piano studies at the age of 10. She earned a Bachelor of Applied Music in Performance from Aletheia University in Taipei, Taiwan and a Master of Music in Clarinet Performance from UNCG in 2015. Shihhan teaches pre-school music at the Arts and Basics School for Children in Greensboro. She also teaches private clarinet and piano lessons from her home. Shihhan is a clarinetist with the Piedmont Wind Symphony in Winston-Salem, NC. Students of all ages are invited to begin or continue clarinet lessons with Shihhan.
Mike Connors, Guitar/Harp
Guitarist/harper Mike Connors is a resident of High Point North Carolina and the founder and director of the classical guitar and harp programs at Penn-Griffin School for the Arts, a grade 6-12 public school arts magnet. He earned master of music degree in classical guitar from the University of South Carolina in 1992 and a bachelor of music degree from Southern Illinois University in 1987. He studied guitar in Spain, and currently studies Scottish harp with William Jackson and Irish harp with Grainne Hambly.
Before moving to North Carolina in 2002, Mike spent 15 years in Columbia South Carolina as a classical guitar performer, teacher, and owner of The Classical Guitar Studio. He started guitar programs at Hammond Academy, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, and taught guitar and kindermusik at the Montessori Early Learning Center. He administrated the Summer Guitar Camps at Hammond and Heathwood, and organized and presented the South Carolina Guitar Competitions.
In 2002, he moved to Greensboro and transferred to Penn-Griffin in 2003. His students are active performers and have won competitions, have been featured in numerous venues, continued studies and earned degrees at universities and conservatories.
Mike Connors discovered the harp in 2005, and has rapidly made a name for himself in the Celtic harp world. He attended the Somerset Folk Harp Festival in New Jersey and took his first classes with Billy Jackson and Grainne Hambly. In 2011 he received 2nd prize at the master level in the US National Scottish Harp Championship.