Terry Muir has been teaching at CAM for the past few years. A truly versatile musician and teacher, Terry enjoys teaching children as well as adults. Not only has he performed with celebrities such as Elton John and Sheryl Crow, he has also recorded for many independent and Hollywood movies. At CAM, we are offering free cello rentals for new students who will study with Terry this year! What a great opportunity! We recently interviewed him about his experiences – read on to find out more!


1. When and why did you start playing the cello?
I started playing the trumpet when I was 9 but I was never very good at it. When I was 12, I slipped in the shower and smashed out my front tooth. I couldn’t play the trumpet anymore and the music director at my school told me that they needed a cello player. Playing the cello was a completely different experience for me and I knew within the year that I would do it for the rest of my life. It was meant to be!

2. What are some of the fond memories you have from your vast performing experience?
I still remember most of the performances I did as a student and how much I loved being part of concerts. I knew it was something really important for my development as a player and a person, and because I wanted to share it with other people. Since becoming a professional, I’ve especially loved starting chamber music series in Seattle, WA and Boise, ID, playing in experimental jazz and dance performances in Austin, sharing the stage across the country with musicians as varied as Pavarotti and Elton John, and many others I can’t remember off the top of my head. I keep a diary with all the performances my cello and I have done.


3. What is the role of music in your life now/what else do you do other than teaching at CAM?
I play regularly with the Charleston Symphony, which is a great orchestra and a source of much satisfaction. I’m also beginning to play more chamber music in Charleston. Come hear my colleagues and I at CAM perform the Brahms Clarinet Trio at the Rush Hour Mini Concert on April 29! 


4. What brought you to Charleston and CAM?
DeAnna, my wife, was hired at MUSC and I decided to come along. (CAM: We are so thankful for that!)

5. What are some of the benefits for a child studying the cello?
The cello is the best instrument there is, so one can’t help but benefit from studying it. People will also think that you’re the sensitive artistic type if you play the cello, which will also be true. And all the general neurosciencey stuff, that my wife studies.

6. What is your teaching philosophy?
I try to get as much technique as possible into a student so that they can do whatever they like musically. I love to explore all types of music with my students. Studying the cello also helps one learn how to learn, which is helpful in just about everything in life. Discipline is fun!




Valeria Diaz was a faculty at CAM from 2006 – 2010, when she left for the University of Florida to pursue a Masters Degree in Piano. She is returning to Charleston for a couple of recitals in November! We asked her a couple of questions about her story, students, and CAM. Read more about it below, and come watch her concerts!


1. Tell us a little about your background.
I am orginally from Peru, I started playing piano at age of 9. Since then I was enrolled in the Conservatory of Music in Lima until I got the opportunity to  moved to US  to study Music at College of Charleston. I am really thankful for that opportunity I had of coming to Charleston. I lived here (Charleston) for more than 4 years and I have met such great people.
2. What have you been doing since you left Charleston?
I was in Gainesville for two years. I got my Master’s Degree at University of Florida. There, I also got more involved in playing Chamber Music. I belonged to the Graduate Chamber Music Quartet of University of Florida. Right now I am working in my DMA in Music in Lubbock, Texas.
3. What is your fondest memory of teaching at CAM?
Teaching beginners of 5 to 7 years old and watching them so excited after they learn their first song while singing along. At CAM I had my first studio recital. It was very special to me to have all my students perform their best.
4. What are your plans for the future?
After I finish my DMA, my plan is getting a teaching college job which will allow me to work with students that are decided to dedicated their life to music. Besides teaching I want to organize series of Solo and Chamber Music recitals.
5. What is the role of music in your life?
Music is my life, I cannot see myself doing anything else. Even though I have tried I always go back to music.  Music makes me happy, the fact that can bring joy to audiences is priceless. 
6. Do you have any advice for current students at CAM?
To always think we should serve to music. Let’s focus always on what the music demands of ourselves to better serve it and that way we will become better musicians.
Saturday, November 16, 4pm, Bishop Gadsden Chapel, James Island (Free Admission)
Sunday, November 17, 3pm, French Huguenot Church, $10 
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I enjoyed a delightful half hour of music Tuesday, Oct. 22 featuring Philip Lipton on clarinet and Chee-Hang See on piano.  The program opened with the Prelude, Carol and Fughetta from Five Bagatelles, Op. 23 by 20th century composer Gerald Finzi. Next was Three
 Fantasy Pieces by Robert Schumann. These difficult, dramatic, and passionate pieces showed off the talent of both performers. The last one was especially demanding. The audience was fascinated watching Chee-Hang and Philip deliver the brilliant passages.
The program ended with an exciting piece with a Spanish flair called “The Last Night at the Home of the Flamenco” by contemporary American composer Kenji Bunch. It had elements of Spain and jazz, including a passage where Chee-Hang left his seat at the piano to play “percussion” on the side of the piano. It was a great crowd pleaser and a wonderful way to end the afternoon.
It was interesting to watch Chee-Hang read the music on his iPad and turn pages by tapping a device on the floor with his foot instead of having to using his hand or another person to turn pages.
These free informal concerts are drawing students, musicians and music lovers of all ages.  I am looking forward to hearing pianist Amy Tan at the next concert on November 5.
Written by Sharon Hinnant


ImageShannon performing with Hilton Head Symphony in 2012

Honors Program student Shannon Fitzhenry has been making waves through Charleston! Winner of the Youth Orchestra of the Lowcountry Concerto Competition and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra Youth Concerto Competitions, Shannon has soloed with the Charleston and Hilton Head Symphonies, and performed all over the Lowcountry as soloist and also a chamber musician. She will be performing a recital very soon, and we recently talked to her about her musical journey so far. Read her interview below!

Tell us a little about your background and where you are now.
I have grown up in Charleston, and my family has always been involved in music.  As the fourth of five children, I grew up watching my older siblings practicing violin and piano, sitting in on their lessons, and listening to classical music.  At two years of age, out of a desire to be like my older sisters and brother, I begged my mom to let me begin violin.  Shortly afterwards, I did begin, starting with a wonderful lady who specialized in teaching young children.  Since then I have studied with about four different teachers, all of whom have contributed so much to my musical experiences.  For the past seven years I have studied with Yuriy Bekker.  I have been homeschooled my whole life, and I’m currently in my senior year of high school.
What brought you to CAM and with whom did you study?
I started studying through CAM about seven years ago.  It provided multiple opportunities of learning, all in one venue, something that Charleston had not before offered.  In addition to taking wonderfully valuable private lessons from Yuriy, I also took theory classes, had chamber music coachings, and was provided with wonderful performing opportunities.
What are some of your experiences and memories while at CAM?
Some of the most valuable memories that I have are simply the opportunities to perform solo and chamber music works at various CAM concerts and recitals.  Having the chance to perform in public, especially at a young age, was invaluable to my confidence, stage presence, and motivation.
What is the role of music in your life now?
In addition to lessons and concentrated practice on solo repertoire, I am currently associate concertmaster of the College of Charleston Orchestra.  I am also a member of Coastal Chamber Musicians, our family owned event business, in which my siblings and I play for weddings, corporate events, and parties.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently in the midst of deciding the best fit for me in music conservatory.  During the next couple of months I will be applying to several schools.  My top choices are currently Peabody Institute of Music, Juilliard School of Music, and Curtis Institute of Music.  In early spring I will hopefully be traveling to these schools to audition.  I am excited to see where my journey in music will take me, and I am thankful for all of the wonderful people in Charleston and beyond, who have encouraged me and helped me along the way!
1239398_716192711740633_1543242281_nShannon will be performing a free recital on Sunday Oct 6, at 4:00p.m. at the Redeemer Presbyterian Church (43 Wentworth St.)

Some of our teachers and students recently went up to Laconia, NH to visit recently retired violin faculty Kay Wheeler. We asked Kay to write something to all of her friends in Charleston, and here it is!

ImageImageImageGreetings from the far North….Laconia, NH.  We have had a wonderful cool summer and have had to use the air conditioning for only about 5 days.  There is no Costco or Sam’s or Talbots or Saks here but we do have the Kittery Trading Post, L.L. Bean, Beans and Greens,  etc.  I have had non-stop company and it has been wonderful.  I think everyone has been checking up on us to make sure we are happy…..and, we are.  But, it hasn’t snowed yet.  I did buy a beautiful snow shovel at a yard sale last week!

I am volunteering a violin class at the Boys and Girls Club and the kids seem to be really enthusiastic.  There are no other violin teachers in our town but some in surrounding towns.  Benjamin Halford came up for a visit and he helped me organize a program for the Boys and Girls Club to introduce them to the violin.  My grand daughter, Ryan, helped too.

The newspaper took a picture and we ended up on the front page.  I also have 4 private lessons a week for some children and my 5th student is an 80 year old man.  He started violin about 3 years ago and he loves it.  We are working on “Alice Blue Gown” right now and then we will begin to learn his favorite Christmas carols.  He has 11 grand children and they gather around him and sing while he plays.

Of course, we miss Charleston and all our friends but our families are keeping us very busy.  Whew, I made dinner for 10 last night.  I just quadruple that Cherry Chicken recipe and that does it.

                                                  Love to all, keep practicing!    Kay W


Kay & violin student, Erick Won

1. Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in Colorado and began playing in my school orchestra in the 2nd grade.  At 12 I was asked to be a member of our city symphony.  The first rehearsal changed my life.  The orchestra was playing Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet.”  It was while sight reading that piece when I decided I would spend the rest of my life with my violin.  There was always a symphony to play in but I loved shows.  Evita was my favorite.  I loved the waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier, Puccini, La Valse by Ravel, the Bach Chaconne, the Mozart Requiem, Fritz Kreisler, blue grass, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, the Diamonds, Salsa, Philip Glass, Klezmer and Gypsy music.  Not to mention……oops, this is supposed to be brief.  My list of favorite music and composers is a mile long.

2. What is your teaching philosophy?

Don’t talk down to children.  A 4 year old probably has a more open mind than most adults.  Listen to them.  Be aware that not all children like all the pieces.  Figure out what music works for each child.  Don’t say, “That’s wrong”.  Try to say, “You can do better.”

3. What is your fondest memory of teaching at CAM?

It is always special when a child discovers how wonderful music is.  The look;  I love it.  My colleagues at CAM are so professional and so easy to be with.  I care for all of them.   My husband and I have loved Music Café and all our wonderful friends there.  I owe all my student parents gratitude for being so dear and supportive to me and my husband during our recent loss.  There isn’t anything about my students or their parents or CAM or Charleston that we won’t miss when we leave.

4. What are your plans for the future?

We are moving back to New Hampshire.  We have been in Charleston since 1987.  We will spend our last chapters near our children and grandchildren.  Incidently, on June 2, my children will be 46, 47, 48 and 50 and my step-sons will be 48, 52 and 55.   Oh yes, I will teach some violin too.

5. Do you have any wishes or advice for your current students?

Never limit your options.  Always do your best.  Be polite.  Practice regularly.  Get good grades in school.  Make your best sincere effort every minute of your life.  There is always work to be completed or a good deed you can do.  Don’t waste your study or practice time by not using all your brain.  Turn off the TV so you can think or read and take off the ear phones so you can hear the birds sing.

Photos from Kay’s Studio Recital, April 2013


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1.  Tell us a little about your background and where you are now.

I began studying violin at the age of six at Ashley River Elementary. I started studying privately in third grade, and became Yuriy Bekker’s student at the age of twelve. After completing five years of music theory under Irina Pevzner, I started taking composition privately with Yiorgos Vassilandonakis at the College of Charleston, and I have been studying under him for more than two years. I’m currently a senior vocal major at School of the Arts in North Charleston.

2.  What brought you to CAM and with whom did you study?

I was introduced to CAM by Yuriy Bekker in 2007, and I received a partial scholarship to be in the Honors Program.

3.  Any significant/memorable experiences while at CAM?

I can’t really pinpoint one memory during my time at CAM. It really has been a joy to watch it grow from a little office on Meeting Street to such an amazing school for music that has touched so many students. I still remember the old building on Meeting Street, as well as having to attend theory classes and ensemble rehearsals at Ashley Hall.

4.  What is the role of music in your life now?

As a performer and a composer, music serves as its own inspiration. I’ve noticed that playing violin and composing feed off of each other. For example, I’m currently learning the Korngold Violin Concerto, which has its harmonic roots in the music of 1940s Hollywood. This is a soundworld that is extremely lush, and studying the works of Korngold and his contemporaries helps me to learn how they are able to create certain sounds. Looking at this from another angle, studying the way that Korngold builds the sounds he utilizes helps me as a performer to better emphasize and phrase melodic passages.

5.  What are your plans for the future?

I’m going to attend the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, double-majoring in Violin Performance and Composition in the studios of Herbert Greenberg and Kevin Puts.