Summer Piano Ensemble Camp (2019)

A2 Vivace Ensemble Camp:


JUNE 17-22, 2019

9:00 AM – 1:30 PM on weekdays & 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Saturday



Why have a camp?

  • The primary objective of the camp is to provide an opportunity for middle and high school students to learn, develop and practice skills necessary to play in small chamber groups including the piano.
  • The social aspect of this program and the unique skills for ensemble playing that students will learn provide a way of engaging students at a time when they may otherwise lose interest in solo playing. We hope to help them discover how rewarding it is to play music with friends, siblings or parents.
  • To further these newly acquired skills, we will offer these students opportunities to participate in master classes and performances throughout the next academic year.

What are the requirements?

  • Pianists and instrumentalists, ages 10 to 17, currently taking lessons with a private instructor.
  • Pianists must be able to play – at minimum – a Sonatina or repertoire of similar level of difficulty with fluency.
  • Students can only register at the invitation of their teachers who will need to accurately describe their proficiency level.
  • Students must be responsive to others in social settings.
  • Previous ensemble experience is not necessary, but students must be diligent and open to trying new pieces and new ways of playing.
  • Students must prepare the assigned repertoire with their teachers.
  • Students must know their music well on the very first day of camp.

What will we play?

  • The repertoire is carefully selected to match the proficiency level of each student, and, as much as possible, their personality and age group.
  • Each student will participate in three different chamber groups.
  • Exemple of groups we had in the past: piano duets, piano 6-hands, two pianos 8-hands, string trios and quintets with piano, piano duets with strings, flute or clarinet.
  • Exemple of composers: Leclair, Haendel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Williams, Kabalevsky, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Vandall, Norton, McMichael and many more.
  • Students will be assigned repertoire between 6 to 8 weeks.

What will we do during camp and what is new? 

Large group activities: 

  • The first hour is focused on deepening listening and building team work through mindfulness technique, theater games and movements.
  • An underlying theme helps shaping group activities: last year, it was Irish folk songs and we learned to improvise on an Irish tune, play the “whistle” and dance the gig. This year, we will be looking at Spain and South America for inspiration.
  • Masterclasses/demonstration led by professionals in the area and beyond.
  • Camp celebration of works in progress on Saturday where campers will play for faculty and family pieces they have been working on.

Small group activities:

  • Group coaching, Sight reading, Improvisation, Supervised practice.

How is the camp possible?

  • The summer piano ensemble camp is a program created and run by the Ann Arbor Area Piano Teachers Guild with support from the Piano Faber Institute, the AAAPTG Foundation and the Michigan Music Teachers Association.
  • The camp would not be possible without the support of each member of the camp faculty, who not only will coach ensembles during the week but also have dedicated many volunteer hours to various aspects of the planning.
  • The AAAPTG is extremely thankful to the Faber Piano Institute for donating the use of their wonderful space. We very much appreciate the support we get from all the FPI staff as well. 

For information contact AVEC @

Béatrice Ellis (Camp Founder and Director), received a musical and piano performance training both from the Conservatoire Régional de Lyon in France and the Conservatoire Supérieur de Genève in Switzerland. Following graduation, she enjoyed a free-lance career as a teacher, chamber musician, and vocal accompanist mainly through the Lyon Opéra. In 1987, she was offered an assistantship by the Hartt School of Music (Hartford, CT) and later on received a grant from the French Ministry of Culture to pursue a Masters degree in Piano Performance at this institution.

After receiving her degree, she moved to New York City where she worked for two companies specializing in classical music production, before being hired by the French Embassy Cultural Services where she served in various capacities from 1991 to 2000. In 1997, she accepted the post of Cultural Attachée in charge of the arts. Since 2000, she has settled in Ann Arbor after her husband John accepted a post at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance. In order to deepen her pedagogical approach, she has taken many courses in psychology and social sciences at Washtenaw Community College. She has been teaching piano privately from her home since 2003 and is currently on the board of the Ann Arbor Area Piano Teachers Guild as SAT Chair, and of the Michigan Music Teachers Association as Vice-President.



Amber Kao is the Director of the Faber Piano Institute, and enjoys teaching all ages from the young beginner to advanced piano students. She began her artistic studies as a pianist, and graduated with highest honors from the University of Michigan, under the tutelage of Dr. Logan Skelton. Throughout her undergraduate training, she also studied violin with Aaron Berofsky and performed with the University of Michigan Philharmonic. Ms. Kao received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and has presented her choreography and collaborated with artists both locally and internationally in Italy, Portugal, Taiwan, Singapore, and New York. She was most recently awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct research in dance and music in Taipei, Taiwan at Taipei National University of the Arts and with Cloud Gate Dance Theater. Ms. Kao enjoys interdisciplinary collaboration across all art genres, and at present, uses her background as a musician and dancer to explore points of intersection between these disciplines.

Veena Kulkarni: Lead Instructor at the Faber Piano Institute in Ann Arbor, Veena delights in teaching piano students of all ages from the earliest years of study through advanced concert repertoire. Having led worship at the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church for over 12 years, Veena is at home both in the worship band and on the concert stage. Active as a solo and chamber musician, Veena performs regularly in the Midwest. In the 2011 Liszt-Garrison International Piano Competition, Veena won Best Liszt Interpretation, and gave the East Coast Premieres both of Frank Felice’s Echolocator Jennifer Blaire Furr’s Of Iron and Silicon.

Veena was also the pianist for Eero Trio, whose CD Wolf Glen was released in 2010 and features the premiere recording of Christopher Dietz’s Fumeux fume, for clarinet, cello & piano. She has also taught at Madonna University and the University of Windsor.

Veena completed her doctorate in Piano Performance and Pedagogy under Logan Skelton and John Ellis at the University of Michigan. Prior to that, she studied at Indiana University with Emile Naoumoff and Professors Brancart, Auer, Gulli and Tocco and at the Royal Academy of Music with Hamish Milne. Currently, she studies with Joel Schoenhals.

Renee Robbins has been a piano teacher since 1966 and has taught Suzuki piano lessons since 1974. She taught her first piano student while in VISTA on the Navajo Nation. She holds a BA in music from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, New York; and MA in piano accompaniment from Eastern Michigan University; and an MSW in social treatment from the University of Michigan. Her major piano teachers have been José Échaniz and Joseph Gurt. Further training has come from the Dorothy Taubman School of Piano in Amherst, Massachusetts; at chamber music camps at Interlochen, Michigan and Adamant, Vermont; and at numerous Suzuki workshops in Tennessee, New York, Wisconsin, Ohio and Matsumoto, Japan. She has taught at Suzuki workshops around the United States and internationally. She is nationally certified as a Suzuki teacher trainer, is past president of the Ann Arbor Area Piano Teachers Guild, and is an active collaborative pianist and gardener.

Gaye ThomasGaye Thomas (piano): Gaye Thomas is a recent transplant from Portland, Oregon. She received her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance/Pedagogy from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Music from State University of New York at Albany. While at Northwestern she studied with Elvina Pearce, a long time student of the influential pedagogue, Frances Clark, and became well acquainted with her teachings.

After graduating from Northwestern, Gaye moved to the Boston area where she taught piano at Brookline Music School and also became musical director for a long established children’s theatre company, Act/Tunes, in Concord, Massachusetts.

She moved to Portland, Oregon in 1989, and became active in the Oregon Music Teachers Association where she held several positions, the most recent of which was Chairman of Technology. In 2013 she chaired a panel presentation at the OMTA State Conference titled, Using Technology in the Studio. While in Portland, she also studied Taubman Technique and attended many summer Taubman workshops with Edna Golandski. She continued study with Lisa Marsh, founder of the Coordinate Movement Program at Portland State University. She also attended workshops in improvisation with Forrest Kinney.


Carolyn Lukancic (violin and viola): Carolyn Lukancic is a freelance violinist and violist in Ann Arbor, MI, where she maintains a private violin and viola studio. She performs with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. She recently moved to Michigan from Burlington, Vermont, where she had performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Vermont Chamber Group, the Hanover Chamber Orchestra, the Burlington Choral Society, and was a founding member of The Burlington Chamber Orchestra. Lukancic earned her Bachelors Degree in Music from The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and holds a Masters in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan

Barbara Sturgis-Everett (Violin and Viola): Dr. Sturgis-Everett holds Bachelors and Master of Music degrees from Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University and the Doctor of Musical Arts from The College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati where she was also a member of the faculty of the Preparatory and Continuing Education Division. Among her teachers were Berl Senofsky, Henry Meyer, Christine Dethier, Elaine Richey, and Derry Dean Drinkall. In addition to performing, Dr. Sturgis-Everett maintains an active teaching studio.

Barbara Sturgis-Everett has been a member of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra since 1989 and has served as Principal Second Violin since 1991. Prior to her association with the Symphony, Dr. Sturgis-Everett was an Associate Professor of Music at Eastern Illinois University where she was a member of the string faculty and of The Eastern Trio. She served on the faculty of the Interlochen Arts Camp for 15 summers as well as teaching and performing summers at The Downeast Chamber Music Festival in Maine. In addition to the A2SO, Ms. Sturgis-Everett performs with R4, a 13-piece ensemble specializing in early jazz of the Ragtime era. Other professional activities have included performing in The Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra in Door County, WI, and teaching at The Chapin School for Girls and the Manhattan Conservatory Preparatory in New York.


In her teaching, Ms. Bielak-Hoops loves fostering imagination and creativity in every interaction, leading the student on their own path of discovery, both in sound and technique.  She strives to bring awareness to the connection between the body and the instrument and to the unlimited potential of musical expression.

Katri Ervamaa has picture

Katri Ervamaa, DMA, UofM Residential College Lecturer IV and Finnish-born cellist, is a versatile performer, who specializes in chamber music, new music and creative improvisation. She has performed and given master classes throughout North America, Europe and Taiwan. Her festival appearances include the Orlando, Kuhmo, Bowdoin, Lyckå and Norrtäjle Chamber Music Festivals (with the Finnish Owla String Quartet) as well as the Denison University Tutti! New Music Festival, Poison City Music Festival, Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival and Finnfest, among others.





The Ann Arbor Area Piano Teachers Guild is a professional organization supporting the work of its members on behalf of their students and studios. Funds raised through advertising and other contributions are used solely to support its administration and programs. While we welcome contributions, please be aware that the Guild is classified as a 501 (c) (6). Donations to the Guild are not tax deductible.


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