Martha and Santa  Martha 12.21.2010

Some of our favorite photos of the Suzuki School founder, Martha Holvik

News from our alumni:

Here are some of our former students and faculty. We encourage former UNI Suzuki School students and faculty to submit information about where they are and what they are doing. 

You can send info and jpg photos to

Wesley Pakala send us this info:

Right now I cowboy for a 20,000 acre ranch in the Sandhills region of western Nebraska. My main job is to care for the cows and calves last spring I called almost 600 calves by myself then as the calves grow I will ride through the herd on my horse and if I see a sick calf or cow I'll  rope them and either give them medical treatment or whatever else they need. 

Man with his dog


Tara Lynn Ramsey

Tara Lynn Ramsey recently moved to Chicago with her husband, pianist Andrew Rosenblum, where she’ll be playing with the Civic Orchestra and teaching violin and viola at Triton College.  She completed her master's degree in violin performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2013, after which she was a member of the Suzuki faculty at the Cleveland Music Settlement and performed throughout the northeast US with various new music ensembles. (received July, 2015)


RECENT ALUMNI - Their areas of interest after graduation follows their names.

Class of 2019 graduates -

  • Jacob Olthoff
  • Amy Webb
  • Mallory Welsch
  • Oliver Yoder


Class of 2018 graduate -

  • Meron Abebe - music
  • Alex Escalada - music
  • Arlo Hettle - political science
  • Mahnoor Ghumman - neuroscience
  • David Phetmanysay - music
  • Mee-Hwa Roche - music
  • Vering - English and psychology

Class of 2017 graduates --

  • Alex Dou - pre-med
  • Grace Malloy - Japanese language and culture
  • Nicasio Martin-Ask - biology
  • Kailey Stiers - music
  • Angelle Waltz - music

Class of 2016 graduates --

  • Bekah Brainard -
  • Claire Chenoweth - sociology, media studies or acting
  • Ben Christiason - political science and English
  • Anjah Droe - biological sciences
  • Sarah Gao -sociology, pre-med
  • Carson Quigley - biology
  • Allaire Taiber -


Class of 2015 graduates  —


•Charlotte Brandenburg -- engineering


•Taylor Odekirk -- journalism, mass communications


•Kelly Olsen -- journalism, secondary English


•Rachel Pakala -- psychology, Spanish, music



Class of 2014 graduates


•Hanna Gibson -- UNI


•Sammie Kruger -- music


•Megan Tomson -- UNI



Class of 2013 graduates


•Hanno Fenech -- political science and music


•Mackenzie Johnston -- food science


•Lydia Pakala -- music


•Clarissa Sutton -- writing


•Katie Yang -- biomedical engineering



Class of 2012 graduates


•Ian Abbott -- computer engineering and music:saxophone


•Andrea' Anderson -- art


•Gwen Farber -- psychology major, music minor


•Erik Olsen --  mechanical engineering


•Sigrid Walter -- biology


•Christopher Walton  -- general studies



Class of 2011 graduates


•Jyothi Dhanwada -- international studies and biology with a minor in French


•Joni Griffith -- vocal performance with a minor in design or theatre


•Betrenna Jacobs --


•Hannah Howland -- violin performance


•Dan Harter -- engineering


•Emily Hurban -- food service major


•Raquel Williams -- music, theatre, literature, French, physical therapy

ALUMNI (teacher and student) Entries:

Mary Bellone former violin teacher until spring 2020. 

Holly Young

Holly Young; former violin and viola faculty

Holly is a graduate of the UNI Suzuki School, where she studied with Therese Fetter and Ute Brandenburg.  She has taken Suzuki teacher training courses with Martha Shackford and also with Michelle Higa George at the Chicago Suzuki Institute.  Holly also enjoys interior design, collecting antique books, and reading.  She left the school to attend to her duties as a new mother in the spring of 2017.

 Therese Fetter

Therese Fetter

Therese Fetter, a native of Dublin, Ireland, began her violin studies at the Irish College of Music. She received a Master of Music degree in Violin Performance from the University of Northern Iowa.  Her Suzuki training has included work with Doris Preucil, Martha Holvik, Barbara Barber, Almita Vamos, Yuko Honda and Bill Starr.  She has had an extensive career as an orchestral performer in the US and abroad, most recently as concertmaster of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Fetter joined the faculty of the UNI Suzuki School in 1978, served as Director from 1986-2000, and was named Artistic Advisor in 2010 and retired from teaching in 2016. Through her association with that school, she has touched the lives of hundreds of families in the Cedar Valley.  Under her leadership the UNI Suzuki School initiated two youth orchestras, created an outreach and performance group of advanced violinists (called "Fiddlesticks"), introduced a comprehensive theory curriculum, and added flute and clarinet programs.  In 1997, in collaboration with Center City Arts, she helped establish "Music Works," a program in Waterloo that provides subsidized violin lessons for inner-city children.  Ms. Fetter has served as a role model and mentor for numerous student string teachers who now teach throughout the United States.  Her former students have gone on to study and play the violin at such schools as Harvard, the Cleveland Institute, Northwestern, Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music, St. Olaf College and at virtually every college and university in Iowa. Therese retired in the spring of 2016.

  Tara Payne

Tara Payne

Tara Payne joined the UNI Suzuki School faculty in 2004 and left after the spring semester in 2011.  Tara is a native of Cedar Falls, and was a student in the UNI Suzuki School, where she performed with the Northern Iowa Youth Orchestra and "Fiddlesticks."  She was a violin student of Therese Fetter.  Tara received a bachelor's degree in Christian Education with a music emphasis from Embassy University and has studied Suzuki teaching at the Western Spring School of Talent Education, Chicago, Toronto and Stevens Point Suzuki Institutes with Ed Kreitman, Nancy Jackson, Joanne Melvin, Karen Kimmett and Alice Joy Lewis.  Tara has also pursued studies in linguistics, and enjoys cooking, biking traveling world-wide. 

 Saylar family

Saylar Craig

Former Violin Faculty Saylar Craig (son of Cathy) now resides in Singapore with his wife Tracy (trumpet), daughter Kalia (cello), and son Harrison (violin).  But at one time, he was an eager young pre-Twinkle violinist in the UNI Suzuki School like many reading this page.  Eventually, he earned math education and music degrees while teaching violin and viola at the UNI Suzuki School, playing violin in the WCFSO, and electric violin in rock bands.  Now, he and wife Tracy are teaching for the Singapore American School; Tracy teaches middle school band and Saylar teaches high school math.  Previously they were located in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia where they taught at the school for Aramco.  There they both enjoyed playing in the Bahrain Concert Sinfonia as well as other community musical opportunities in their area.  During some of their annual stateside visits, the entire family attended a summer Suzuki institute and resumed lessons with UNI Suzuki faculty. They are pictured here wearing their Suzuki Institute shirts and playing each other's instruments.  A recording of Saylar appears here:

  Jennifer Wagaman 

Jennifer Wagaman; former Flute Faculty

Jennifer Wagaman received her Master of Music degree at the University of Northern Iowa in flute music performance. She completed her BA at Luther College, majoring in flute performance and music management.  Jennifer teaches flute at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City and for the Cedar Rapids Symphony School. She directs a Flute Camp yearly in August for interested flute students, including beginners through intermediate. Jennifer taught for the UNI Suzuki School until summer, 2012.

Cara Keidel Schmidt; Former violin faculty & student

Cara Keidel Schmidt, a Cedar Falls native, began playing the violin with the UNI Suzuki School at the age of 3. She played in both NIJO and NIYO and was also a member of the advanced violin group Fiddlesticks. At the University of Northern Iowa, she studied with Frederick Halgedahl. Cara has taught with the Suzuki program 2008-2012 and continues to further her Suzuki education by attending Suzuki Teacher Training institutes every summer. She has taken Teacher Training courses with Ed Kreitman and Ed Springer. She is also a member of the Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony and enjoys playing for weddings and other events with her string quartet. Her other hobbies include cooking, baking, cross-stitching, yard work/gardening, and spending time with her son Joshua.

UNI Suzuki School celebrates 40 years!  Click here to read more about the events held in 2016. 

UNI Suzuki School celebrates 35 years!


If you missed our events during our 35th anniversary year, here are the highlights.  A lovely luncheon, a tour of the newly renovated Russell Hall and a play-in were attended by a number of current & former teachers, parents and students in December, 2010.  A great time was had by all.  Several alumni joined us for the spring concert in the May. 


•special guests:  Martha Holvik, William and Doris Preucil and Karen Holvik 


•parents: Patty Achey-Cutts, Bruce & Marcie Baillie, Margit Coltvet, Mary Grey, Stephany Harvey, Carolyn Hildebrandt, Kent & Paula Hansen, Sue Jacobs, Pam Johnson, Bobbi Kazenelson, Tom & Diane Manifold, Tom & Helena Mullen, Gerald & Vivian Ramsey, and Donna Schmeidel


•former teachers: Stephen Baillie, Margit Coltvet, Mia Craig, Saylar Craig, Mary Grey, Pam Johnson, Tanya Payne, Jackie Venter Ridder, Kathleen Sihler


•former students:  '90-Beth Behn, '91 Saylar Craig, '94 Tosha Payne, '96 Tanya Payne, '97 Stephen Baillie, '98 Mia Craig, Sarah Hansen, Tara Payne; '00 Emily Hansen, '03 Amy Schmeidel, '05 Sara Harken, Tara Lynn Ramsey; '06 Robert Espe, Michaela Gansen, Caitlyn Hurban, Carrie Manifold, Bryn Sumner; '07 Molly Arns, Katie Brandt, Sarah Pakala; '08 Jordan Bancroft Smithe, Sarah Larsen; '09 Jennifer Hurban, Heidi Klett, Nori Payne; and Jacob Kazenelson, Linnea Sumner, Steve Ramsey.