Jill Farnham Etter has taught voice and piano for 25 years, both in Missouri and Tennessee. She currently teaches voice at three Independence studios: Music Arts Institute, MCC-Blue River, and Steinway Studio in her home. Mrs. Etter has sung in oratorio choirs, such as Handel’s Messiah, both as a soprano soloist and choir member, in Missouri as well as Tennessee. Mrs. Etter has enjoyed vocal coaching for numerous musicals.
Mrs. Etter graduated from Truman High School in Independence, after receiving numerous awards in music, including one ratings (voice and piano) in District and State contests, and participation in District and State Choirs. She won the Missouri Music Teachers Association State Audition in piano.
She completed a Bachelors of Vocal Performance Summa Cum Laude at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Mrs. Etter also completed an MA (vocal pedagogy and literature emphasis) through the UMKC Conservatory of Music in Kansas City. She studied with soprano Dr. Rebecca Sherburn at the Conservatory, as well as worked with Coach/Accompanists Professor John Mueter, Professor Richard Williams, and Dr. Natalia Rivera.
Mrs. Etter has attended Jacob’s Schools of Music (Indiana University) workshops, “Teaching Sopranos” and “Teaching Men”. She is a member of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing), as well as a former member of the Metropolitan Chorale of Kansas City. Mrs. Etter was a member of Ancora, led by Kristopher Taylor, when they launched their CD, “Blessed Assurance”. In the summer of 2016, Mrs. Etter went to the NATS biennial conference in Chicago. Through these amazing experiences, her teaching has been enhanced and deepened by new understandings of vocal pedagogy. Her personal library of vocal pedagogy books and autobiographies has expanded. Her circle of colleagues has grown to include not only well-known singers and teachers in the Kansas City area, but throughout the United States.
Mrs. Etter’s students have earned high ratings in contests such as District, State, Festival MAI, NATS (high school and college), Job’s Daughters, and Classical Singer. Students have attended music camps such as Lyric Opera Camp, GCB, Simpson College and Torggler Institute. Her students have sung in District Choir, State Choir, State Show Choir, and enjoyed lead roles in their high school musicals. Many students have majored in college with Vocal Performance, Musical Theater, and/or pursued music careers in Kansas City and New York.
Mrs. Etter organizes vocal group classes in Repertoire, Diction, and Drama, as well as Master Classes and Recitals for her students. She accompanies her students on the piano in most if not all of their solo events.
In Mrs. Etter’s studios, she emphasizes a thorough knowledge of the Italian appoggio singing and vowel placement which is vital for voice agility and longevity. Second, a thorough understanding of the song’s precise diction, text, composer, and time period (Baroque, Classical, Romantic or Modern) enhance the performance. Exploring the character (answering the questions who, what, where, when, how and why) breathes life into the song.
Mrs. Etter lives in Blue Springs, MO with her husband of 31 years, Mark, her daughter, Rosemary, and their three furry dogs. Her deep love and respect for her students has given her hours of creativity and joy!
Noel Fulkerson comes to MAI with a stellar resume spanning many years of experience in the vocal and choral fields. He was selected to the Missouri Music Educators Hall of Fame as well as being the recipient of the Luther T. Spayde Award, Music Alumni of the Year (CMSU) and Teacher of the Year Award (Raytown). He led in the founding of the Missouri All-State Choir and the MCDA Summer Convention. Noel has served as President of the Missouri Music Educators Association, Missouri Choral Directors Association and Southwestern Division of the ACDA as well.
His choral groups at Raytown High Schools have been invited to present concerts for members of the SWACDA, MMEA and Music Educator’s National Convention. He has also directed All-State ensembles in Kansas and Iowa and served as a clinician and adjudicator in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
With a Bachelor of Music Education (Vocal and Instrumental) and Master of Arts (Music History) from Central Missouri State College, Mr. Fulkerson currently serves as a vocal instructor and director of the Raytown Community Choir and the Kansas City Metro Men’s Chorus. His studio voice students have gone on to professional singing careers and have enjoyed success in collegiate NATS competitions and MSHSAA district and state festivals. Over 40 of his voice students have been chosen to be in the Missouri All-State Choir.
Noel Fulkerson brings a high level of quality and expertise to the voice faculty at MAI. In addition to teaching private voice lessons, he has assisted in adjudicating the clinics to prepare students for District and All-State Honors Choir and is also directing a high school chamber choir for MAI on Thursday evenings.
Dustin Griffin, tenor, is a native of Independence and an alumnus of the Music Arts Institute, studying voice under Elizabeth Scholes and was also a member of the Young MAIster Singers. Dustin received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal Music in December 2015 from Northwest Missouri State University, where he studied voice under Dr. Stephen Town. While at NWMSU, Dustin had the opportunity to perform with the Northwest Tower Choir, Madraliers, and Celebration Show Choir. During his time in college, he had the privilege of performing in the Kansas City Music Hall, the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Tan-Tar-A Resort, and Walt Disney World Resort.
Dustin performed as a tenor soloist for performances of Bach’s Magnificat at NWMSU and John Stainer’s The Crucifixion at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Maryville, MO. He has also performed works by Handel, Mozart, Mahler, Poulenc, Britten, Howells, Finzi, along with many others. Though classically trained, Dustin has a passion for musical theater repertoire and styles.
Dustin has worked as the graduate assistant for the George Caleb Bingham Academy of the Arts and also assistant directed the children’s musical at Noland Road Baptist Church. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education. He is currently working on a Master of Arts in Teaching degree at the University of Central Missouri with emphasis in K-12 Vocal Music and is also a member of the Ancora Chorale.
Born and raised in central Iowa, baritone Ayron Hyatt is a recent recipient of a Master’s degree in Voice Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied voice with Timothy Noble. Before arriving at IU, he attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, where he received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and studied with Dr. Donald Simonson.
Between work on his two degrees, Ayron was the head of Choral Activities at Anamosa High School in Anamosa, IA, where he led two concert choirs, a show choir and various small groups, and also taught lessons and an independent study Music Theory course.
Roles performed for IU Opera include Betto di Signa in Gianni Schicchi, Count Paris in Roméo et Juliette and John Brooke in Little Women. Other previous roles include Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro and Bad Bart in Ruddigore. Ayron has also been a featured soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s St. John Passion, and Orff’s Carmina Burana, as well as the musical revue Side by Side by Sondheim. In 2008, he received an Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Ayron has participated in voice and acting masterclasses with Nico and Carol Castel, Ward Holmquist, Richard Boldrey, Simon Estes, Nic Muni, and James Marvel, and was a recent performer in Carol Vaness’ Opera Workshop at IU.
Church music has also been a large part of Ayron’s life, as he has been a section leader and soloist for 10 years, including 5 years at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ames, IA.
Sariah Pinick, Instructor of Voice, has been teaching at Music/Arts Institute® since 2000. She has also taught at Blue River Community College, one of the Metropolitan Community Colleges, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Northland Cathedral School of Music and the University of Missouri Community Music Program.
Sariah completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance Magna Cum Laude in 2000 from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master of Arts in Music from the Conservatory at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2003. While at the Conservatory, she focused her studies on Voice Pedagogy and focused her thesis on the transformation of Expressionism during World War I through Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck. Sariah has studied with Jo Ella Todd and Un Chong Christopher and has performed in master classes for Richard Miller, Evelyn Lear and Paul Kiesgen.
Sariah is active in the National Association of Teachers of Singing as the current Kansas City Chapter Treasurer and Missouri Music Educator’s Association. She is an active member of the Kansas City Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, a professional music fraternity for women, and has served as Vice-President of Membership and Chairwoman of Alumnae Projects.
The vocal technique taught in Sariah’s voice studio is based on the Italian technique of appoggio breathing and the bel canto ideal, or what she prefers to define as healthy singing. This, coupled with the balance of breathing technique, diction and musicality assures the student longevity, flexibility and beauty of the voice. Her students have earned superior ratings at competitions at the district and state level and many have gone on to earn music scholarships at the collegiate level. They have been featured in numerous musical theatre and opera productions in the Kansas City Metro area.
Ms. Pinick has adjudicated various vocal competitions for the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Sigma Alpha Iota, American Kids, Inc. and the Independence Music Club. Sariah has been a Semi-Finalist for the Center for Contemporary Opera Opera Singers Competition in New York, NY. She has been the featured soprano soloist in W. A. Mozart’s Coronation Mass at Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Master Works Concert and recently performed the role of Anna Leonowens in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I with City Theatre of Independence. Sariah has sung with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus under the direction of Maestro Charles Bruffy for the past three seasons, including the inaugural season of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in the Helzberg Hall. She is thrilled to sing with the Kansas City Ballet for the fall 2012 production of Carmina Burana. Sariah enjoys singing at church services throughout the Kansas City Metro area.
Christina Ray, mezzo soprano is finally home in Kansas City with her husband Tenor, Jonathan Ray. Christina is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma in Vocal Performance at University of Missouri-Kansas City with Dr. Aidan Soder.
She will make her debut with UMKC Opera as Hänsel the fall production of Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel. Mrs. Ray returns to the Midwest after living in Baton Rouge, LA where she completed a Master of Music in Vocal Performance with Dr. Lori Bade at Louisiana State University. Along with an extensive performance background, Mrs. Ray has maintained a highly successful private voice studio of students of all ages and levels. Students of Mrs. Ray have gone to pursue degrees in Vocal Performance at top music schools in the nation, placed in NATS competitions, and been accepted to prestigious summer opera programs.
Mrs. Ray’s research interests include training young voices, developing shame resistance in the private voice studio, and discovering critical kinesthetic awareness to inform healthy vocal technique. Mrs. Ray also holds a Bachelor of Music from University of Missouri, where she studied under Ann Harrell.
Rising tenor, Jonathan Ray, recently completed his doctoral studies in Vocal Performance and Choral Conducting from LSU, where he studied with internationally renowned tenors Robert Grayson and Paul Groves. He holds the MM in Vocal Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (2014) and the BME from Arkansas Tech University (2010).
Dr. Ray has made appearances with such companies as the Kansas City Lyric Opera, the Missouri Symphony, Opera in the Rock, the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Opera in Florida, Opera in the Ozarks, and Greensboro Opera. His numerous operatic highlights include the principle roles in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, La Traviata, L’italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola, Béatrice et Bénédict, Don Giovanni, L’elisir d’amore, Die Zauberflöte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Albert Herring, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Gianni Schicchi. Operetta highlights include leading roles in The Gondoliers, Pirates of Penzance, Trial by Jury, and Candide. His musical theater credits include leading roles in Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, Assassins, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, South Pacific, Oklahoma!, and multiple roles in A Little Night Music.
Currently, Dr. Ray performs with Vox Nova based in Columbia, he maintains a private voice studio at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, and is the tenor Apprentice Artist with the Kansas City Lyric Opera.