Pineland Suzuki Faculty

Ellen Gawler

Co-founder

Pineland Fiddlers director

Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Fiddling classes

Violin and fiddle lessons

Group classes

Ellen is a fiddler, specializing in the musical styles from the State of Maine, which includes: Scots/Irish, French Canadian, and Maritime traditions. Her music has taken far and wide with several groups, including travel and perform with family. Ellen has been a Suzuki teacher since 1986 and is dedicated to the ways that Suzuki method and fiddling intersect and benefit each other. Ellen is a founding member and top youth instructor of Maine Fiddle Camp.

Betsy Kobayashi and Ellen co-founded the Pineland Suzuki School together in 1993 by combining their programs and creating group classes. Their long, rich experience together through all the bumps and celebrated moments, has included dreaming up every aspect of the school and all its functions. Ellen created the fiddling branch of the school, recording on 3 occasions, and inspiring the students by taking trips to thriving fiddling places: Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, Ireland, Turkmenistan, and most recently, Shetland. Ellen says, “PSS was formative for my family and set my 3 girls on a beautiful path of music making. They have come away with a belief in themselves that anything is possible that they got in no small part from the Suzuki method.”

Betsy Kobayashi

Co-founder
Chamber music

Violin and viola lessons Beginning cello

Group classes

Betsy has been teaching violin and viola lessons, coaching chamber music, conducting orchestras on occasion since 1976, and freelancing on violin and viola.

After studying with Dr. Suzuki in Matsumoto, Japan for 2 years, Betsy got married to ‘the wonderful guy’ Naoto, and lived in Tokyo for another 5 years immersed in the culture of the Suzuki Method in Japan. When they moved to Maine, Ellen Gawler and she got their students together for group classes and Pineland Suzuki School was born! Her three children studied in PSS. Even though they do not play music now, they have a great love and respect for people and music, hard work, beauty, discipline and detail.

Maisie Newell

Intermediate Fiddle class

As long as she can remember Maisie Newell has played the fiddle! Her musical experiences have run the gamut from playing in a bicycling circus band touring through Greece to playing in the orchestra for the World Ballet in Charlotte N.C. Maisie grew up with fiddling and Maine's rich traditional music at the contradances. She studied the Suzuki method with Betsy Koboyashi at Pineland Suzuki School's beginnings and then went on to study at USM and the Hayes Conservatory in N.C. She then had a good long adventure around the country and working on organic farms, sharing traditional music and good food and exploring many exciting musical styles from southern old time to Romanian Roma fiddling and had many amazing performance opportunities with family bands, orchestras, string bands, dance bands and various pit bands for performance art and circus along the way. Maisie soon realized she couldn't beat Maine and moved to Montville where she now lives with her husband and kids. She farms and teaches. She especially still loves playing with her family (and friends and students) for contradances. The Suzuki method helps nurture not only fine musicians but fine people. Thank you to Betsy and Ellen for all the inspiration and to Pineland Suzuki School teachers and students for all the hard work and beautiful music!

Judy Pagon

Chamber music
Alexander Technique
Allegro Orchestra conductor

Judy began teaching at Pineland Suzuki School in September 2022. She began playing viola with Midcoast Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2019, shortly after she moved to Westport Island, ME from NJ. Prior to the move, she worked as a freelance musician in the PA-NJ-DE area for many years, performing with orchestras including the Philly Pops, Delaware Symphony, Reading Symphony, Kennett Square Symphony and Bay-Atlantic Symphony. She was part of back-up bands for shows in Atlantic City casinos for many years and performed with Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Natalie Cole among others.She has also had extensive experience performing and coaching chamber music.

Judy also directed middle school and high school orchestra programs in the Washington Township, NJ school district for 25 years. She retired in June 2018.

In addition to playing and teaching music, Judy has also taught the Alexander Technique for over 30 years. She has helped many people, musicians and non-musicians alike, learn to move with greater ease, freedom and flexibility.

Lori Scheck

Violin lessons
Group classes

Lori grew up in Endicott, New York, and began playing violin at the age of 8. After her first year of lessons in public school, she began taking private lessons and studied the Suzuki method until the age of 18. She was also a member of the Binghamton Junior Symphony in Junior High and served as concert mistress in her 8th grade year. In High School she joined the Binghamton Youth Symphony Senior orchestra. She was a member of her high school orchestra and second violinist in her high school quartet. She competed yearly in the New York State music festival as a chamber group member, orchestra member, and in solo performance.

After moving to Maine in her early 20’s she took a 14 year hiatus from playing the violin. After some child rearing and other major life changes, she resumed playing violin in late 2001. She has studied privately with Steve Kecskemethy, principal violinist of the Portland String Quartet.

Lori attended Suzuki teacher training classes for Suzuki instruction at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, Hart Music School in Hartford, Connecticut, and Stanford University in Paolo Alto, California. Lori is an active board member of the Maine Suzuki Association and is a certified Music Together teacher. She teaches group classes with the Pineland Suzuki School based in Manchester, Maine. She is an assistant organizer of the Capital Strings advanced performance group. She currently has a studio of 26 private students, ranging in age from 3-17. She is the orchestra manager and mentor of the Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony Orchestras in Augusta, Maine. She is also a member of the Colby College Symphony Orchestra in Waterville, ME. Occasionally, she plays piano trios and string quartets with other area musicians. In her spare time, Lori enjoys playing violin and cello duets with her husband for public events and just for fun.

Marcine Sopko

Movement/Music Mind Games

Marcine is delighted to teach movement and music mind games to the Book 1 and 2 Pineland students.

She holds a BFA in vocal performance and spent 10 years working professionally in musical theater. Favorite roles included Elsa in The Sound of Music, Maritza in Countess Maritza, and Agnes in I Do! I Do! Another performance highlight was entertaining onboard a cruise ship, sailing from Anchorage, Alaska all the way to Rio de Janeiro. Returning to the stage recently, Marcine worked with Maine State Music Theater in their 2022 production of The Sound of Music. She is also currently singing with the Colby Kennebec Chorale.

While raising her 3 children, Marcine enrolled them each in the Music Together program, where she learned more about the importance of early childhood music, eventually training to be a teacher herself. That, coupled with 10 years as an assistant preschool teacher, led her to work in this fun and engaging field.

A recent transplant to Maine from New York City, Marcine and her husband George are taking full advantage of all aspects of their new home, from climbing Mt. Katahdin and exploring the outdoors to enjoying the many museums and cultural destinations.

Colin Wheatley

Chamber music
Capital Strings director
Viola teacher

Colin has been teaching violin and viola to students of all ages for 15 years and is thrilled to be teaching in Maine. He is currently the Orchestra Director for the Waterville Public Schools. Colin previously taught at East Lyme Middle School in Connecticut and the Rhode Island Philharmonic School. A native of Bellingham Washington, Colin earned his BM in Viola Performance at Oberlin Conservatory studying with Peter Slowik, his MM in Viola Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he was a student of Atar Arad, and his graduate degree in teaching from Oberlin Conservatory. An avid chamber musician, Colin plays with Halcyon String Quartet and has performed for members of the Emerson, Pacifica, Cleveland, Concord, and Takas quartets and for Yo Yo Ma. He has collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Robert Spano, Menahem Pressler, and Jeremy Denk. Colin’s teaching is influenced by his work with Mimi Zweig at the Indiana University String Academy, Suzuki Teacher training, and the many musical and pedagogical mentors that have shaped his approach to sharing music with young people. When not performing and teaching, Colin enjoys spending time outdoors, running marathons, beekeeping, and gardening.

Brendan Wilson

Piano accompanist

Brendan was born in Ivins, Utah, and started playing piano at the age of five. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Vermont.

Brendan has worked in summer camps as a Music Specialist and Accompanist for camp Broadway shows, including Seussical, Rock of Ages, James and the Giant Peach, Hello Dolly and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown! He has worked on a variety of music projects

such as music composition and fine arts collaborations, the development of music engagement activities and improvisationa piano works. Currently, he teaches private lessons at Snow Pond Center for the Arts, has released a piano album and serves as the Piano Accompanist at Hall-Dale Schools, the Pineland Suzuki Strings program, Penney Memorial Baptist Church, and the CODA Chorus.