SCHOOL OF MUSIC

School of Music Faculty

CYNDI BETTS, Grand String Orchestra (Adult), holds a degree in violin performance and music education from the University of Michigan. She currently teaches strings for the Grand Rapids Christian Schools. An accomplished performer, she is the concertmaster of the Kent Philharmonic and has held that position since 1991.

DR. PAUL BREWER, Jazz Band, director of instrumental music at Aquinas College, holds a doctorate of arts in music composition and jazz pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado. Paul was on the jazz faculty at Interlochen Arts Camp for 22 summers and continues to direct the Aquinas College Jazz Camp every June. His method book, The Jazz Trombone Soloist: Studies in Interpretation and Improvisation, was developed over the past 20 years of teaching jazz improvisation. Dr. Brewer is also often called upon to adjudicate jazz festivals and to perform as a guest soloist in school jazz band concerts. While jazz is his main endeavor, he has played in everything from classical to rock and roll bands. He has appeared with over 50 major artists, including Mel Torme, Max Roach, Urbie Green, Lena Horne, Bob Hope, The Temptations, Leon Russell, and Mickey Rooney. His own jazz groups and arrangements have received much critical acclaim.

DR. ROBIN CONNELL, Jazz Combo, is a jazz pianist-vocalist with a doctorate of arts in music theory and composition from the University of Northern Colorado. Her career as a performing musician, composer and educator, is an alternating kaleidoscope of jazz and classical endeavors. Teaching at Aquinas and Grand Rapids Community College since 2001, her educator credits also include teaching jazz studies at the Aquinas Jazz Camp, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and 20 summers at Interlochen Arts Camp. She’s traveled extensively as guest artist, clinician/adjudicator and performer at jazz festivals, music education conferences, and colleges. In addition to teaching, Robin continues to lead her own jazz groups and perform as a ‘side woman’ locally and afar.

ERIN DEYOUNG, Sinfonia, holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music education from Calvin College. She performs as a violinist and violist with a local string quartet, and has performed with the Calvin College Community Symphony as well as for other orchestras and events. Erin directed the orchestras at Calvin Christian High School for nine years and currently teaches in the Rockford Public Schools where she founded the district’s orchestra program in 2014.  

PAUL KEEN, Grand Band, had his start as a professional musician in 1962, playing for social events, festivals and country club activities in the Philadelphia suburbs while still in high school. He played his first studio recording session for Hanna Barbera Studios a few years later while attending college in Los Angeles. This launched a career that has spanned nearly 50 years as a performing musician, composer and conductor, including over 150 motion pictures, 1200 cartoon episodes, record transcriptions, live television, commercials and live performances. Paul played with the big bands of Louis Bellson, Buddy Rich, Don Ellis and the Stan Kenton Neophonic Orchestra. He also performed with numerous symphony orchestras, including the Reno Philharmonic and Fresno Philharmonic orchestras, Burbank and Highland Park Symphonies, and substituted for the tubist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. He toured as the traveling musical conductor for Holiday on Ice and wrote arrangements for the shows. While on tour, he conducted seminars, symposiums and master classes on college campuses and music camps throughout the United States and Canada. After leaving the tour with Holiday on Ice, Paul settled in the Reno/Tahoe area where he played and conducted for numerous big name performers, including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Barry Manilow, George Burns, Dean Martin, Robert Goulet, Nancy Wilson and others. Paul now regularly plays with the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, River Rogues Jazz Band, Hark Up Horns, Antiphon Brass and Flat River Big Band, as well as playing in the pit for Grand Rapids Civic Theater and as a member of the Cathedral Brass at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. He is an adjunct professor of music at Cornerstone University, where he teaches low brass, advanced instrumental conducting, brass methods and applied students of trombone, euphonium and tuba. He directs the Cornerstone Brass and Symphonic Winds.

CULLEN MCCARTHY, Concert Band, has been the Director of Bands at North Rockford Middle School since the fall of 2000.  His responsibilities include teaching Sixth Grade Beginning Band, Concert Band and Symphonic Band.  In addition to his middle school responsibilities, Mr. McCarthy also directs the Rockford High School Jazz Band and has a private saxophone studio.  Bands under the direction of Mr. McCarthy have consistently received superior ratings at District and State Band Festivals.  The North Rockford Middle School Symphonic Band has been selected to perform for the Michigan Music Conference in 2005, 2008, 2013 and 2017.  Mr. McCarthy was recently nominated for the first-ever Music Educators GRAMMY award.

DAN SCOTT, Philharmonic, holds a bachelor of music degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in technology education from Grand Valley State University. As a cellist he has performed with the West Shore Symphony, Signature String Quartet and numerous other orchestras and for special events. Dan is the orchestra director for Jenison High School. MSBOA named him Orchestra Teacher of the Year in 2014 and MASTA awarded him String Teacher of the Year in 2015.  

PATRICIA WUNDER, Concert Orchestra, holds Bachelors degrees in Music Education and Violin Performance and a Master of Music Degree in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota. She currently teaches in the Grand Rapids Public Schools – teaching Kindergarten through 5th grade students violin as part of their general music class as well as directing middle school orchestras. Mrs. Wunder has been a music educator for many years, teaching at MacPhail Center for Music, the Minneapolis Public Schools and as an Adjunct Violin Professor at Calvin College. She performs with the Simply Strings Quartet and the Holland Symphony. She has also performed at the Baroque on Beaver Music Festival on Beaver Island and with the Rochester Orchestra in Minnesota. She has taught many summers at the Knollcrest Music Camp at Calvin College.

MARILYN BRANNEN, Strings to Schools Outreach conductor, began playing violin in elementary school and continued through college. During her school years, she was involved in St. Cecilia Music Center programs, participated in advanced string quartets and master classes through Grand Rapids Public Schools Educational Park String Program, attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and was a member of The Grand Rapids Youth Symphony for four years. She received her Suzuki Violin certification at The Interlochen Center for the Arts. After graduating from Calvin College with a degree in elementary education she began teaching Suzuki violin for Grand Rapids Public Schools Educational Park String Program and later for the Arts Outreach Program at Grand Rapids Community College. She has been a member of the Kent Philharmonic Orchestra since 1982, currently serving as assistant principal in the 2nd violin section. After teaching for 32 years with GRPS she retired at the end of the 2013-14 academic year and is thrilled to be teaching for the Strings To Schools Outreach Program through St. Cecilia.