Our Faculty and Staff
Electric & Upright Bass Teacher
Grant Blaschka is an upright and electric bass player from Oregon, Wisconsin, and an Academy of Sound alumnus. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater with a degree in Upright Bass performance. He went on to receive his Masters of Music in Upright Bass Performance From the University of Hartford - Hartt School, where he studied under world-renowned bassist Robert Black. Grant has been playing bass since 2001 and teaching since 2011. While attending music school, he specialized in classical, jazz, and experimental electroacoustic music. He has a particular interest in improvisation, phenomenology, and extended just intonation practices. As a teacher, he takes great care in specializing his training for the individual needs of students, with the intent of helping them achieve their personal goals and desires. Grant performs regularly in Madison Wisconsin as a soloist and with local Indie-rock band The Earthlings as well as modern African-rock band Kikeh Mato. Grant joined the Academy of Sound faculty in 2021.
Guitar & Ukulele Teacher
Adam Chisman is a native of Oregon, and graduated from Oregon High School. In 2004, he began his study of guitar with the late John Bauman. From 2006 through 2008, he studied under Sims Delaney-Potthoff of Harmonious Wail, learning the Berklee method of guitar instruction. 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 worked at the Oregon Public Library from 2009 through 2016. Adam joined Academy of Sound as a guitar teacher in 2011. He was promoted to Managing Director in December 2016.
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 at the Madison School of Music. She earned her Category A Piano Teacher Certification from the Mayron Cole Music Conservatory, Austin TX in 2006. 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. Erin has contributed to the community through extensive volunteer work. Erin was named one of InBusiness Magazine's "40 Under 40" in 2014. Erin maintains a travel hacking YouTube channel boasting 76,000+ views. Erin travels extensively, and also owns the business consulting & accounting firm Elevated Business Services, LLC.
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, currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Music Performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is originally from Southern California, where she began her musical studies in the Suzuki strings program at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance from Northern Illinois University, where she studied with Anthony Devroye and the Avalon String Quartet. Esther has also studied Suzuki pedagogy with Ann Montzka-Smelser at NIU and the American Suzuki Institute. While at NIU, she performed with 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 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.
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 at Madison 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.
Chris Telfer comes to us with a BA in Vocal, General & Instrumental Music from the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. He also holds a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Marian College, and has a Doctoral Degree-in-progress at Edgewood College in Educational Leadership. Chris has worked as a Choral Director, Vocal/General Music Director, and Instrumental Director at multiple schools and grade levels. He is currently working in the Mount Horeb School District teaching 6th Grade General Music and Choir. Chris teaches brass instruments such as trombone, trumpet, euphonium, tuba, and the baritone, woodwind instruments, as well as piano, drums, and voice, and originally joined Academy of Sound in 2012.