Our Faculty and Staff
Guitar & Ukulele Teacher
Adam Chisman grew up in Oregon WI, and graduated from Oregon High School in 2009. Adam began his study of guitar with the late John Bauman in 2004. From 2006 through 2008, he studied the Berklee method of guitar under Sims Delaney-Potthoff. Adam also studied Music Theory and Music Composition. In 2007, Adam attended Guitar Sessions at Berklee College of Music and went on to major in Guitar Performance at Berklee. After college, Adam spent six months traveling in New Zealand and participating in the WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) program. Adam also worked as a Library Assistant at the Oregon Public Library from 2009 through 2016. Adam joined Academy of Sound as a guitar teacher in 2011. He began working as a Managing Director in 2016. Adam currently lives abroad and continues to teach online.
Erin Chisman began teaching piano in 1997. In 2003, she opened Erin's Piano Studio, which became Academy of Sound in 2007 in Oregon, WI. Erin studied piano with Margaret McKay, Stoughton. Erin has also been in numerous choirs, and has studied violin, flute, and voice. Erin competed in the National Piano-Playing Auditions through the American College of Musicians at the district and national levels 1996-1999, and was awarded the Director's Service Award at Oregon High School in 1999. She earned her Category A Piano Teacher Certification from the Mayron Cole Music Conservatory, Austin TX in 2006. Erin has contributed to the community through extensive volunteer work, including co-founding the Oregon Youth Center, four years as a board member of the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce including roles as Secretary, Vice President, and President. Erin was named one of InBusiness Magazine's "40 Under 40" in 2014. Erin maintains a travel hacking YouTube channel boasting 78,000+ views. Erin currently lives abroad, and also owns the business consulting & accounting firm Elevated Business Services. More info
Viola, Violin, & Cello Teacher
Emma Cifrino is a violist and violinist currently pursuing her DMA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Emma began her studies with Betsy Kobayashi at the Pineland Suzuki School in Augusta, ME. She holds a B.Mus from Lawrence University, and an M.Mus from Bowling Green State University. At Bowling Green she was a member of the Graduate String Quartet and served as principal viola in the Bowling Green Philharmonia. Emma has almost a decade of experience teaching students of all ages and levels. She believes that her primary duty as a music educator is to produce students who are respectful of the art of music-making. This means instilling students with good practice habits, encouraging participation in chamber ensembles, and modeling a scholarly – but enthusiastic – approach to performance. Emma joined Academy of Sound in 2017.
Nancy Cox has studied piano since the age of 6, with 50+ years of music, piano, and vocal study. Nancy has performed in many local theater productions at Oregon High School and with Oregon Straw Hat Players, as pianist and backup keyboard accompanist. She has taught piano since 2005 both in Stoughton and Oregon, with prior piano teaching experience in Minnesota. She has accompanied choirs and soloists at Oregon High School under two former choral directors: Tom Mielke and Candie Douglas. She has accompanied church choirs at First Presbyterian of Oregon and Unity Church of Madison for over 20 years, and is presently employed by First Presbyterian Church as a Pianist & Organist. Nancy has sung in many choirs, most recently in the Stoughton Festival Choir. Past vocal experience includes private study with Genevieve Gersbach of Madison, and 15 years singing with the First Unitarian Society choir under Ellsworth Snyder. Nancy's degrees include a Bachelor of Arts from University of Minnesota, major in English, minor in humanities, with coursework in music; and Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Nancy joined Academy of Sound in 2006.
Viola & Violin Teacher
Esther Delamater is a violist and violinist, originally from Southern California. She began her musical studies in the Suzuki strings program at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music where she was inspired by her teacher, Rachel Fabulich, to pursue music in college. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance from Northern Illinois University, where she studied with Anthony Devroye and the Avalon String Quartet. While at NIU, she performed in the NIU Philharmonic, the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the NIU Chinese Music Ensemble, and various chamber music groups. She also taught music lessons at the NIU Community School of the Arts. Esther went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Music Performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied with Sally Chisholm and performed in the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra. Esther has studied Suzuki pedagogy with Ann Montzka-Smelser at NIU and the American Suzuki Institute, as well as with Liz Arbus at the Los Angeles Suzuki Institute. She also studied String Pedagogy with Eugene Purdue and the Feldenkrais Method with Uri and Hagit Vardi while at U.W. Madison. Esther currently enjoys teaching her wonderful students at the Academy of Sound and performing as a frequent sub in the viola section of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra. Esther is passionate about teaching and inspiring her students to create beautiful music. She joined Academy of Sound in 2020.
Guitar & Ukulele Teacher
Alex Frissell started playing the guitar and bass when he was 13, growing up amid communities of jazz and classical music in Cleveland, Ohio. He continued to study classical guitar technique and jazz improvisation throughout high school, and spent a dedicated year in the Jazz Studies Program at Cuyahoga Community College with his guitar teacher, Lee Bush. At the University of Rochester he studied English Literature and Music, taking private lessons at the Eastman School of Music with Bob Sneider (jazz guitar) and David Plylar (composition). After graduating in 2007, he lived and worked in New York City, Ireland, England, and Scotland, teaching classroom English and private music lessons. These experiences sparked the passion for teaching that has shaped his life and work ever since, and since 2011 he has been teaching college courses in Humanities and the Arts and College English at Marquette University, Lake Erie College, and Lakeland Community College. He loves working with all ages and all skill levels, and finds particular joy in helping each individual discover how to make music practice and performance enriching and rewarding. He is currently the guitarist for the Edgewood College Jazz Band, as well as other groups and venues in Madison and Milwaukee. Alex joined Academy of Sound in 2020.
Piano Teacher & Receptionist
Charlotte Hendrickson has been studying piano at Academy of Sound since the age of five. She is a serious and dedicated piano student, earning a perfect score at the Fall Piano Festival in 2013, which was just her second year of piano studies. She has continued to compete whenever possible, always with excellent scores, including the Sonatina Festival, and WSMA Solo & Ensemble Festival. Charlotte is currently a student at Oregon High School. She was a percussionist in band for three years, and sang in chorus for a year. Charlotte is the Class of 2024 Representative on the OHS Student Council, and is a part of the OHS Multicultural Student Union. She has been playing lacrosse since 2015, among many other sports throughout her childhood. Charlotte volunteers with her grandmother at an American Girl doll sale where all of the proceeds go to charity. After high school, Charlotte plans to work toward a bachelor's degree in biology, and go on to medical school. Charlotte joined the Academy of Sound faculty in 2021.
Chrissy Hicks is a cellist currently pursuing her M.A. in historical musicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She began studying cello in the 8th grade and now holds a bachelor of music in cello performance from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. At Furman, Chrissy was a member of the Hartness String Quartet and served as principal cellist in the Furman Symphony Orchestra. While in Greenville, she also helped organize and performed in a biannual Women in Music Concert. Chrissy loves working with students of all ages and skill levels. Her primary goals as a teacher are to help students develop sustainable practice habits and discover music that inspires them. Chrissy joined Academy of Sound in 2022.
Piano, Ukulele Teacher, Musical Director
Elisa Kaether joined the Academy of Sound staff in 2013 as a receptionist. Having grown up around the studios all her life, she chose violin and drums as her primary instruments, while also studying piano, voice and ukulele. Elisa has had roles in several productions, including The Wizard of Oz, Jack and the Beanstalk, A Toy Shop Christmas, Aladdin Jr., The Matchmaker, Spaghetti Island, Once Upon a Mattress, The Pirates of Penzance, You Can't Take it With you, and Hairspray. Elisa started and led the Oregon Youth Center Dance Crew for three years, and founded and led the female a cappella choir at Oregon High School. She has helped with several children's musicals through Oregon Community Ed. Inducted into the International Thespian Society in 2017, Elisa studies music at Edgewood College, and plans to become a choir teacher.
Director of Education
Ally Kurihara is from Lancaster, Wisconsin. She began taking piano lessons when she was 8 years old, and continued through high school. She also plays the saxophone, which she began playing when she was 12 years old, and continued to study seriously through college. Ally studied at Lawrence University where she earned her degree in music education. During her time at Lawrence, she discovered her passion for both teaching and traveling. Ally has taught music in Jamaica, Haiti, and New Zealand. Ally has also taken on an apprenticeship in order to learn how to repair, tune, and care for pianos. Ally has been enjoying fostering her love of music by teaching at Academy of Sound. She joined the Academy of Sound faculty in 2019 and moved into the role of Director of Education in 2021.
Guitar & Piano Teacher
Adam Pakalske is originally from Oakfield, Wisconsin. He started performing regularly in venues with several local bands when he was fifteen. In 1998, Adam was awarded scholarships from the Fond du Lac Music Association and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Business with an emphasis in Piano Performance in 2005. During his time at UW-Platteville, Adam was a member of several university performing groups including Jazz I, Wind Ensemble, Pioneer Singers, Vocal Jazz, and Marching Band. He was head engineer of Pioneer Studio at UW-Platteville, and promoted local music by hosting a show on WSUP 91.5 FM (UW-P Campus Radio). Adam was also the student advisor for ALT ARTS, a community, student, and faculty organization promoting performance arts in Southwestern Wisconsin. After college, Adam moved to Madison, and has been teaching piano and guitar since 2005. In addition to teaching, you can see him perform in Martini Three (jazz/pop standards), The Benders (classic rock), and Killarney Blarney (Irish/Celtic). Adam believes that music is an important part of enriching communities. Adam joined Academy of Sound in 2019.