Tina Bertram – Piano and Suzuki Piano
Cindy Browne – Violin
Griffin Browne – Cello
Diane Dickerson – Harp, Piano and Flute
Judith Doxtater – Suzuki Piano and Music Together
Amy Haymond – Violin
Christian Johnson – Guitar, Mandolin, Fiddle, and Electric Bass
Dan Kohnstamm – Piano
Niki MacLean– Music Together
Don Rees – Guitar and Five String Banjo
Donny Rifkin – Piano
Jenanne Solberg – Piano, Viola and Violin
Sandra Vasquez – Music Lingua Instructor
The North Valley Music School takes pride in its highly trained, experienced teachers. A majority of our faculty have music and/or music education degrees from accredited institutions, with a major in their principal subject taught. The remainder have equivalent professional experience to their credit.
Deidre was on the NVMS Board of Directors for the three years and transitioned to the Executive Director in the fall of 2016. She has her Bachelor’s of Music Education from the University of Montana with a focus in Voice. She also teaches beginner piano and guitar. Outside of NVMS she is a singer/songwriter and performs with the band Engine 99. She lives in Whitefish with her husband, Tim and two children, Cody and Sienna Pearl.
Jennifer has been either a teacher, administrator or Board member since 1998 when the school started in the basement of the old Methodist Church which is now the Independent High School. She is a trained Suzuki Piano Teacher, plays the guitar, and flute, as well. Her mother, Betty Lou Wambeke, started the school with her friend Betsy Kohnstamm and she is thrilled to be involved with their dream come true. She’s cheerful, sweet, and ready to help you in the office with anything she can.
Piano and Suzuki Piano
At NVMS since 2004, Tina has been teaching piano for 17 years. She has a Masters in Organ and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University and has completed her Suzuki Piano Book 1 training. She is the piano half of a local violin/piano duo, and particularly enjoys accompanying soloists and ensembles. In addition to keyboard instruments, Tina plays clawhammer banjo. She has 5 children and lives in Fortine.
Cindy Browne has an enthusiasm for music and art that began very early in life. After several years of playing the piano, she began violin at age 11 with Joan Renne. She finished High School at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, then received her Bachelors of Music in violin performance at the University of Memphis under the instruction of Soh-Hyun Altineo. She has played with various orchestras and summer festivals including the Glacier Symphony, Jackson Symphony, MasterWorks Festival and was part of an orchestra tour in China. Inspired by life in the mountains of Montana where she grew up, Cindy also studied and worked with professional artists such as Kathy Hawbaker, Carol Grende and Kalon Baughan. She enjoys working with many mediums in art from oil painting to bronze sculptures. Besides music and art, Cindy has a passion for healthy living, hiking and spending time with family and friends. She has recently returned to live in the Flathead Valley with her husband, Dr. Griffin Browne and their two young sons.
Cellist Griffin Browne is active as an orchestral musician, private teacher and free-lance musician. He currently plays with the Glacier Symphony and Chorale in Kalispell, MT. Recently a section member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and principal cellist with the Jackson Symphony, Dr. Browne has appeared as soloist with several orchestras in the mid-south area. These include the Jackson Symphony, Starkville Symphony, Dyersburg Symphony and the University of Memphis Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. With Leonardo Altino, David Bjella and Grace Bahng as his primary instructors, he received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in cello performance from the University of Memphis and has a Bachelor of Music degree from Stetson University. In 2013, Dr. Browne completed an edition of M.H. Graul’s Cello Concerto, an unpublished work he found in the Sing-Akademie Archive and he enjoys playing music of many different genres – from classical to pop and jazz. Dr. Browne currently resides in Kila, MT with his wife, two children and father in law.
Harp, Piano and Flute
Diane has been a professional harpist (playing grand pedal harp) for 35 years, living in Dallas (& Oklahoma) performing around the U.S. for varied audiences including dignitaries and presidents. She plays “pop” songs, Broadway selections, folk tunes, classical pieces, holiday music AND sings. She has performed as a soloist, in a harp duo, in a piano/harp duo, in a piano duo, and in numerous orchestras. She has taught (lever & pedal) harp & piano for NVMS since fall of 2006 and performs on her harp(s) for events in the area. Diane received her Bachelor of Music in Applied Performance Harp from North Texas State University, Denton, (now University of North Texas). At NTSU she studied harp with Mr. Charles Kleinstuber, who learned from world renowned master harpist, Carlos Salzedo.
Piano and Music Together
At NVMS since 2006, Judy retired after 25 years as a
kindergarten, 2nd grade and music education teacher in Kalispell District 5. During her career teaching school she has maintained a small private piano studio teaching all levels of students in Kalispell. Previously, she had a piano studio in Havre and taught piano at Northern Montana College. She has been a church choir director in Havre, Missoula and Kalispell, and is a previous President of the Montana Federation of Music Teachers. Judy received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Montana and completed her Music Together training in 2007.
Dan Kohnstamm is a life-long pianist who attended Juilliard Preparatory in NYC as a teenager and graduated with a B.A. in piano and organ performance from Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. He has had extensive experience coaching high school band, orchestra and choir students at Whitefish High School for regional District and State music festivals. He has accompanied both the Crown of the Continent and Glacier Symphony Chorale in performance and composed music for five Whitefish Theatre Company children’s theater shows. Mr. Kohnstamm is pleased to join the staff of NVMS.
Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Mandolin, Fiddle, Violin, Ukulele and Bass
Christian has been a professional musician for over 45 years and a Music Teacher in his own studio and at the North Valley Music School for the last 10 years. He an original member of the iconic Mission Mountain Wood Band. Christian is a certified Luthier and a certified Audio Engineer. He currently manages and performs with several popular bands. In addition, he mentors several young local artists.
Christian Johnson’s Student’s Page.
Check Christian out at:Christian Johnson Live
Guitar and Five String BanjoDon has taught guitar and banjo at the North Valley Music School and played in the Flathead, since the fall of 2002. He has been a teacher/trainer for thirty years, working as an adjunct teacher and training coordinator at Flathead Valley Community College for seven years and as a member of a U.S. Forest Service training cadre from 1985 until 2001.
Here at NVMS, he teaches reading music and music theory for guitar, fingerpicking styles for guitar and flatpicking in a variety of genres focusing on bluegrass, Celtic and traditional American folk. He also instructs the five string banjo in Scruggs and melodic style. His students range from 7 to 75 years of age.
Don Rees Student’s Page
Donny Rifkin is an accomplished pianist, composer, and dedicated piano instructor. Born and raised in Chicago, Donny started his classical piano training at age 5. At 13, Donny took first place at the Illinois Music Association State Competition for classical piano performance. Donny’s deep passion for the piano was cultivated at The University of Kansas, where he was introduced to jazz, rock, soul, bluegrass, and all things music. Since then, Donny has played music all over the country with his bands and has shared the stage with such musical greats as soul icon Al Green and blues legend Robben Ford. Donny has played countless solo piano performances, national festivals, weddings, corporate events, and fundraisers. For the past 10 years, Donny has been teaching piano full time in the Chicago area, with a studio of over 60 students per week. His passion in life is to instill the love of music into the students he teaches. Donny Rifkin is revered by both peers and fans for his ability to write and perform in a mosaic of styles, from rock to classical, ragtime to pop. Donny just recently relocated back to Whitefish, with his wife, Jenny, their son Cash, and their dog Sloop Jones. Donny sings and plays the acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond organ, clavinet, synthesizer, accordion and melodica.
Piano, Viola and Violin
At NVMS since 2002, Jenanne teaches 5th and 6th grade general music and orchestra, 7th and 8th grade choir and orchestra at Whitefish Middle School, and conducts the Whitefish High School Orchestra. She has performed extensively and served as the principal viola of the Billings, Casper and Bozeman Symphonies as well as the Montana Summer Symphony. She currently is principal viola of the Glacier Symphony and String Quartet, and performs with the Great Falls Symphony and the String Orchestra of the Rockies. Jenanne is a founding member of the Yellowstone Chamber Players and has been a faculty member of the Montana Music Institute since 1985. She is a versatile composer and has completed commissioned works for piano solo, chamber music and string orchestra. In 2009, Jenanne was named one of 50 Distinguished Music Educators in the United States by Yale University. Jenanne serves as the director for the Whitefish Community Orchestra, is the Artistic Director of Camp Festival Amadeus, and is past state president of the American String Teachers’ Association. Jenanne holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Montana in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, with String Pedagogy and Choral Conducting.
Jenanne’s Student Page
Music Linqua Instructor
Sandra is a Spanish native speaker. She was born in Mexico City and studied International Relations at the National Autonomous University of Mexico UNAM. While in college, she discovered her passion for languages and music. Sandra is a mother of two young children who understands the importance of acquiring a foreign language at an early age. “It is amazing to see my own kids excelling in areas like math, art, and logic just because they have been exposed to a second language since…birth!” She enjoys living in Montana and loves having outdoor adventures with her husband and kids. Inspired by numerous requests of teaching Spanish in Whitefish, MT, she is excited to finally offer the Spanish Music Lingua program at NVMS.