Nell Jorgensen Buchman

Nell Jorgensen Buchman is a well-known Fox Valley accompanist, performer, teacher and adjudicator. Since receiving her Masters of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma in 1994, Ms. Buchman has pursued an active teaching, performing and adjudicating career at Lawrence University, Lawrence Academy of Music, and throughout Wisconsin. She has a private studio, teaches class piano, and coordinated Lawrence Academy of Music’s Piano Festival for several years. A native of North Carolina, she has played with the Raleigh Symphony, the Cimmaron Opera Company and with the Brevard Music Center Orchestra and was a guest on North Carolina Public Radio’s lunchtime concert series. She served as piano department coordinator at the Academy of Music and taught theory and summer chamber music during her tenure at Lawrence and served as music director for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Waupaca. As a member of the Wisconsin Music Teachers’ Association, Ms. Buchman has adjudicated throughout the state for WMTA and other piano organizations.

Teaching style and philosophy: I believe anyone can learn how to play the piano and enjoy achieving success with a combination of sound learning/practice strategies, relaxed piano technique and positive reinforcement.  I expect commitment to lessons, practice, and communication from students and their parents while striving to provide a nurturing learning atmosphere full of growth potential on many levels.

Anna Reiser

Anna Reiser is an active collaborative pianist and presenter.   She is trained in the Taubman Approach to piano playing and she is passionate about helping pianists find ways to play comfortably and effectively.  Ms. Reiser strives to give each student a unique and meaningful experience at the piano.  She believes it is important to honor each student’s individuality while offering a wide range of musical experiences.

Ms. Reiser’s primary teachers include Teresa Dybvig, Martha Fisher, Catherine Kautsky, Jessica Johnson and Mary Van De Loo.  She studied harpsichord with Kathrine Handford and John Chappell Stowe.  Additional teachers and masterclass teachers include Gilbert Kalish, Aleck Karis, Dmitri Novgorodsky, Susan Nowicki and Mikhail Yanovitsky.  Ms. Reiser holds a bachelor’s degree, with honors, in piano performance with an emphasis in pedagogy from Lawrence University and a master’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Michael Rivers

Michael Rivers has been a member of the faculty at Lawrence Academy of Music since 1999. A native of Geneva, Illinois, he received his B.M. in Piano Performance from DePaul University and his M.M. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Northwestern University.  He is an accompanist for studio of Joanne Bozeman at Lawrence Conservatory of Music and a member of WMTA. He lives in Appleton with his wife and three cats and is an avid gamer.

Teaching style and philosophy: I have a casual but focused teaching style. Parents are welcome, but not required to sit in on lessons. Students have a voice in choosing in repertoire. Reading is taught mostly by interval. Students are encouraged to perform as often as possible.

Larisa Topolkaraeva

Larisa Topolkaraeva has been a member of the faculty at Lawrence Academy of Music since 1994. A native of Tbilisi, Georgia, Ms. Topolkaraeva began her piano studies at the age of five with her mother - a pianist. After receiving her B.A. in piano performance from the Tbilisi State Conservatory she moved to Moscow, where she earned her Masters' degree (with highest honor) and Ph.D in piano performance and pedagogy from the Russian State Academy of Music (formerly Gnesin's Institute) in Moscow. Prior to her move to Appleton, she taught piano at the numerous music academies in Tbilisi and Moscow.

Mary Van De Loo

Mary Van De Loo teaches piano pedagogy and coordinates the keyboard skills program at the Lawrence Conservatory, as well as maintaining a studio of pre-college students. A member of MTNA, she is a sought-after workshop clinician and adjudicator, and she has had articles published in Clavier and Keyboard Companion magazines. Prior to her position at Lawrence, Ms. Van De Loo was Director of the Division of Preparatory Music at Indiana State University, where she taught piano and coordinated all activities for the pre-college piano program. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in piano from Lawrence University and a Master of Music degree in piano and piano pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma. She has studied piano with Theodore Rehl and Digby Bell and pedagogy with Kathleen Murray, Jane Magrath and E.L. Lancaster.


Catherine Walby

Catherine Walby has been teaching at Lawrence Academy of Music since 2000. In addition, she teaches class piano and secondary piano lessons at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. She has run the week-long Academy Piano Odyssey camp each summer since 2003 and has served as theory teacher and keyboard department coordinator in the past.

Ms. Walby received a B.M. in piano performance with a pedagogy emphasis and a B.A. in biology from Lawrence University. Her primary teacher was Kathleen Murray for both piano and pedagogy. She received a M.M. in piano performance and pedagogy in 2000 from the University of Oklahoma, studying under Jane Magrath, Andrew Cooperstock and Howard Lubin.

As a member of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), Ms. Walby has served as Appleton district auditions chair since 2001 and served as state Badger keyboard chair from 2005-2009. She has served as state president of WMTA since October of 2009. She also served as state secretary for several years and has been actively involved in the local Fox Valley MTA.

Ms. Walby continues to play actively, collaborating with colleagues, college students and Academy students on recitals and juries. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and baking with friends, reading, traveling and gardening.

Teaching style and philosophy: I would describe myself as a traditional piano teacher.  This means that I begin students in a method book that takes them to a late elementary/early intermediate level.  At that point, we begin (or continue) exploring standard piano repertoire such as Bach and Mozart.  We focus on the classics while also exploring other areas that interest the student.  I encourage students to participate in recitals and festivals, including a concerto competition once they reach 6th grade.  All students study theory as well as music history.  While I have had students go on to study music, my primary goal is to create lifelong musicians who support and understand the arts for themselves and the broader community.

The institution will comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and DPI's Nondiscrimination Provision for all students.

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