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Private Music Instructors: String Instruments

Learn about our talented string instruments private instructors:

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Cory Biggerstaff (Double Bass) received a Bachelors degree in Music Education from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. After teaching in Lincoln Public Schools for a year, he moved to Chicago to attend DePaul University where he received a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance in 2004. He studied with many DePaul faculty members including bassist, Kelly Sill, pianist, Larry Novak and guitarist, Bob Palmeri. In addition to Harper College, Cory teaches privately at the Laughlin School and is the bass instructor at Harold Washington College. He performs with jazz, classical, and contemporary bands covering a wide variety of musical styles and also performs as a freelance musician on both acoustic and electric basses around the Chicago area.


Edgar Gabriel (Violin, Viola) is equally comfortable performing and teaching classical, jazz, fiddle and rock music. He has performed with such diverse groups as Mannheim Steamroller, Chicago Opera and Steppenwolf Theaters. Edgar’s expertise has won him positions with the world renowned Cirque du Soleil. He can be heard on numerous recordings including Rachel Barton Pine’s Storming the Citadel. His publication STRING GROOVE teaches improvisation, fiddling and other styles outside of traditional violin repertoire. You can see him perform with his group STRINGFUSION. Edgar Gabriel holds an undergraduate degree in music from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from DePaul University.


Leah Hagel-Kahmann (Cello) Originally from Connecticut, cellist Leah Hagel-Kahmann most recently hails from Kentucky where she completed her DMA with Benjamin Karp at the University of Kentucky as a recipient of a Kentucky Opportunity Fellowship. Dr. Hagel-Kahmann began her studies at the University of Michigan as a Rogel Scholar before transferring to the University of Wisconsin to study with Uri Vardi. She completed her MM at Boston University where she served as Assistant to the String Department under Michael Reynolds. An avid teacher as well as performer, Dr. Hagel-Kahmann has taught at the University of Kentucky, Centre college, and at Grand Valley State University where she has been a guest lecturer. Additionally, while maintaining a large private studio in Kentucky, she served on the faculty of the Central Music Academy and as Director of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras’ “Friends in Music”, an after-school string mentoring opportunity reaching students in at-risk populations. Dr. Hagel-Kahmann also worked with CKYO’s Preparatory String Orchestra as the Assistant Conductor. She has coached chamber music at the University of Wisconsin, for the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, and for CKYO. Since arriving in Illinois, Dr. Hagel-Kahmann has enjoyed playing in many of the great local orchestras while welcoming her new son into the world. As she starts her first year teaching in the Continuing Education division at Harper College, she looks forward to meeting new students and helping them find their path with music and cello practice.

Chia-Ying Hsu (Violin, Viola) holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Viola performance from University of Illinois, a Master of Music from Freiburg Conservatory of Music in Freiburg, Germany, and a Performer’s Diploma from University of Music & Arts in Vienna/Graz, Austria. Dr. Hsu has received numerous international and statewide honors. She won several First Places from Taiwan National Music Competitions, and the Fourth Place from Italy Padova International Music Competition. Her live performance was broadcast on Italian Web Radio TEM (Taukay Edizioni Musicali). Locally, she was awarded the Exemplary Performance from IMEA (Illinois Music Educators Association). She has performed on WFMT 98.7 (Chicago’s Fine Arts and Classical Radio Station) and Chicago Cable Channel 25. In 2005, Suzuki Music School invited her to perform at Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall. She has served as a judge for IMEA annual orchestra auditions, Merit School of Music String Contests, and Lyons Concerto & Instrumental Solo and Ensemble Festival Competitions.The music schools Dr. Hsu has taught include Saint Xavier University, DePaul University, Merit School of Music, and Lake Forest Symphony Music School. In 2014, she founded Chicago Tzu-Chi String Orchestra, and currently serves as the conductor and instructor. Her string orchestra has performed for many charity and community fundraising events. Dr. Hsu’s students have been the 1st place winners of various music competitions, college scholarships and orchestra auditions.

William (Tony) Porter (Cello) earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Cello Performance from Illinois State University. Mr. Porter has studied with Ko Iwasaki, Kim Scholes, and Susan Phillips. Porter is currently principal cellist with the Harper Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonic Pops Orchestra of Chicago and the Navy Pier Pops Orchestra. He also performs regularly with the Fox Valley Symphony, the Evanston Symphony and the Kenosha Symphony. In addition to teaching at Harper College, Mr. Porter teaches in Waukegan at the Jack Benny Center for the Arts. During the summer, Mr. Porter teaches at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp where he teaches cello and conducting.


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