The JSU Music Academy is backed by the history of the JSU Music Preparatory Program. Opening in 2006, the Preparatory Program offered reasonably-priced private lessons to members of the community on the campus of JSU. Lessons were given in voice, piano and strings, and were taught by music majors with a specific concentration in that area. Director Dr. Wendy Freeland periodically observed the student teachers. These instructors were guided in choosing books and materials and in developing professional skills as music teachers. Semesters culminated in a recital at JSU’s Mason Hall Performance Center and were followed by a reception. Twenty-one teachers and hundreds of students benefited from this program as it ran until 2015.
Now, the JSU Music Academy has reopened its doors for the fall 2017 by offering group music classes in strings and piano with the aim of offering quality and affordable music instruction to the Jacksonville community and surrounding areas.
Dr. Wendy Freeland is a Professor of Music at Jacksonville State University. Hailing from West Virginia, she completed her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in piano performance at the University of South Carolina under the tutelage of John Kenneth Adams. Her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance was received from Florida Atlantic University where she studied with Heather Coltman and Judith Burganger. She completed both the academic and performance honors programs, and was named University Scholar.
She enjoys performing as soloist and collaborative artist. She has performed at the Alabama Music Teachers State Conference, the Alabama Music Educators National Conference, and the National Flute Convention, as well as at universities and other venues throughout the country. She was honored to present and perform at the World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia in 2011, and has performed in Sweden, Italy, and Korea.
Jacksonville State University has granted her the annual “Faculty Research Award” several times in recognition of her performances and presentations. She offers presentations such as “Technique: A Sound Approach,” organizes the annual Foothills Piano Festival on the campus of JSU, and is a Past President of the Alabama Music Teachers Association. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music, a Friend of the Arts in Sigma Alpha Iota, a member of Phi Kappa Lambda, The American Matthay Association, the Music Teachers National Association, and the World Piano Teachers Association.
Diane Chong, sought-after violinist and teacher in the region, brings to the JSU Academy a wealth of knowledge and experience. Originating from South Korea, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Violin Performance from Sook Myung Women’s University in Seoul. She has held the position of First Violinist in the Seoul Symphony Orchestra and the Christian Broadcast Orchestra. She currently is the First Violinist and Assistant Concertmaster for the Gadsden Symphony Orchestra, and the First Violinist and Concertmaster for the JSU Community Orchestra. Ms. Chong received her Master of Arts in Music at JSU in 2015, and has been teaching students in the region through the Gadsden Cultural Art Center, the Cheaha Creative Art Center, The Donoho School and Faith Christian School. A highly sought-after teacher, she was awarded the American String Teachers Association Strings Teacher of the Year in 2010, and received the Benjamin Johnson Jr. Award for Distinguished Service to the Etowah Youth Orchestra in 2017.
Estefanía Cuevas Wilcox serves as music lecturer at Jacksonville State University, teaching Intro to Music courses and group piano. During her musical training as an undergraduate student in voice at JSU, Mrs. Estefanía became interested in piano pedagogy as a way to explore creative ways to deliver music instruction to young students and older beginners as a basis for sound musicianship. She obtained her Masters of Music in vocal performance from the University of New Mexico, where she served as group piano instructor through the UNM Music Prep School and as rehearsal accompanist for The Farolito Singers. Mrs. Estefanía has performed several leading operatic roles during her training as a classical singer and is interested in Latin American music research as a result of her Colombian roots and her work as the Latin American Music Fellow through the Center for Southwest Research in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She also enjoys teaching her private voice and piano students through the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School and The Donoho School, singing classical and sacred music, and spending time with her growing family. She is a current member of the Alabama Music Teachers Association.
Mrs. Alicia Probst has been sharing the joy of music-making all over the world, with kids aged 2 – 82 since she was 18 years old. A native of Alamo, Georgia, she earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Berry College in 1999. After college, she served for two years with the International Mission Board, working with teens in South Africa. Thinking a career in missionary work was in her future, she went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2007, only to discover that loving kids through music was her true calling. She has taught music in elementary, middle, high schools and on the college level in the USA, Mexico, Canada, Romania, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Specifically as a band director, Mrs. Probst is now in her tenth year, having taught in both Georgia and Alabama. She is currently the Director of Bands at Rainbow Middle School in Rainbow City, Alabama, where she was named 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year. Her students consistently perform with excellence and enthusiasm, and last year, the Rainbow Middle School Brass Quintet performed here at Alabama Music Educators Association Annual In-Service Convention.
She is married to Dr. Chris Probst, trumpet professor at Jacksonville State University, and they are expecting their first child, Isabelle this October!
Mr. Eric Wilcox is an adjunct lecturer of voice and music appreciation at Jacksonville State University. He holds a masters in vocal performance from the University of New Mexico and a BA in music from Jacksonville State University. He is a current member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Mr. Wilcox’s music training include performing major roles with University of New Mexico Opera Theater, The Ars Nova School of Music, and Jacksonville Opera Theatre. Mr. Wilcox has also enjoyed chorus roles in Opera Birmingham’s productions of La Bohème and La Traviata, in addition to the cover roles of the Herald and Player King in Opera Southwest’s premier of Franco Faccio’s Amleto. Some of Mr.Wilcox’s most prized roles include Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Romeo in Romeo et Juliette, Camille de Rosillion in The Merry Widow, Ferrando in Cosi Fan Tutte, and Samuel in Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters. His oratorio solo performances include Handel’s Messiah, Randal Thompson’s Nativity, Schubert’s Mass in G, and Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes di Confessore.
Mr. Wilcox’s students have been recognized at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Vocal Competition and many have earned music scholarships to undergraduate music programs around the country. Apart from singing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son and being a Maltese exhibitor at AKC dog shows.