Our Faculty and Staff
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 the Academy of Sound faculty as a guitar teacher in 2011. He was promoted to Managing Director in December 2016.
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 the Academy of Sound faculty in 2017.
Nancy Cox has studied piano since the age of 6, with 40+ years of music, piano, and vocal study. Her most recent piano teacher is Brian Schultz, former student of the late Ellsworth Snyder of Madison. 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.
Keith Hampton is originally from Lake Mills, WI and studied voice performance and French literature at Boston University. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music and a Master's Degree in Counseling. He is a professional performer, composer, arranger, and producer, with five solo recordings released on the Boston-based Brave Records label. Keith co-wrote an SATB choral work, "I am in love with the world," based on the life of children's author Maurice Sendak, which was featured on National Public Radio. He has sung leading roles in area productions of Annie, Side By Side By Sondheim, and Into the Woods, and performed Lysander in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. His primary teacher is former Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Claudia Catania. Favorite composers and influences include Brahms, Chopin, Sondheim, and Joni Mitchell. Keith originally joined the Academy of Sound faculty in 2013.
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 currently leads the female a cappella choir at Oregon High School. She has helped with several children's musicals through Community Ed. Inducted into the International Thespian Society in 2017, Elisa studies at Oregon High School and plans to major in Music Education in college.
Ally Kurihara is a native of Wisconsin, and graduated from Lawrence University. She began taking piano lessons when she was 8 years old, and continued through high school. She began saxophone when she was 12 years old, and continued to study it seriously through college where she majored in music education. At Lawrence University, Ally discovered her passion for both teaching and traveling. Ally has taught music in Jamaica, Haiti, and New Zealand. Post-graduation she took a gap year and taught English as a second language in Morocco, where she fell in love with teaching ESL and her now husband Hamza. Ally is looking forward to fostering her love of music by teaching at Academy of Sound. She joined in 2019.
Adam Pakalske has been involved in music from an early age. During his younger years, he performed in the school bands of his hometown of Oakfield, WI. 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. Adam earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Business with an emphasis in Piano Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville 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 for the last sixteen years. In addition to teaching, he also is active as a performer. 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, and looks forward to producing teaching, performing and, promoting music in the Madison area. Adam joined Academy of Sound in 2019.
Olivia Podnar began working as a receptionist at Academy of Sound in September 2013. Olivia has studied piano with Erin Chisman since 2004. She participated in choir in the Oregon School District, as well as viola. Olivia has had roles in A Toy Shop Christmas with Academy of Sound, Strega Nona with Children's Theater of Madison, The Emperor's New Clothes, Still Life With Iris with Oregon Straw Hat Players, The Trial of Goldilocks, Madrigal Dinner at Oregon Middle School, and The Drowsy Chaperone with Oregon High School. Olivia received a first rating at solo and ensemble on piano. Olivia has also been competitively figure skating since 2009. Olivia currently studies at UW-Madison, and has been teaching piano at Academy of Sound since 2014.
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, as well as piano, drums, and voice, and originally joined our faculty in 2012.
Melanie Wulfekuhle brings nine years of experience as a high school band director. She holds a Bachelor's of Music Education from Wartburg College, and is licensed in K-12 music by the State of Iowa. Melanie works as the Contemporary Worship Music Director at All Saints Lutheran Church, Fitchburg, WI, and previously worked as a piano sales specialist at Heid Music, as well as an End User Trainer for Epic Systems in Verona. In addition to Melanie's work as a band director, she also taught piano and clarinet privately from 2005-2016, and worked as Band Camp Staff at Wartburg College from 2004-2013. Melanie began work at Academy of Sound in 2019.
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 taken lessons in 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 65,000+ views. Erin travels extensively, and also works as a business consultant, a digital content creator for Credit Cards 101, and a virtual office manager for several national companies.