MCS instructors consist of full-time and adjunct instructors who enjoy a reputation in both teaching and performance excellence.
MCS conducts a state and national criminal background check on all instructors and staff.
Karin Wedemeyer - Executive director
Mrs. Wedemeyer, a graduate student from UCLA, has studied voice and opera for over 20 years. She has performed in Germany, Italy, France, Japan and the United States as a dramatic soprano. Aside from performing, Mrs. Wedemeyer has taught voice for many years in her private studio in Los Angeles and in Germany. She has also studied Music Therapy at Chapman University. Mrs. Wedemeyer and Mrs. Klinginsmith started the Music Conservatory in 2009 to nurture and guide the local talent in the Pacific Northwest.
Email Karin Wedemeyer
Sam Minker - Cello
Music runs in Sam Minker’s blood. Coming from a musical family, he obtained a passion for classical music before ever picking up an instrument. By the time he left high school, he was proficient at several instruments, including the piano, violin, cello, guitar, and bass guitar. He studied Music Performance for the cello at Washington State University (2003-2007) with professors Ruth Boden, Christopher Von Baeyer, and Eugene Zenzen. He has performed with the Washington-Idaho Symphony, and is currently playing with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Sam regularly performs locally, and with the Sandpoint Festival Orchestra. He has been teaching cello, piano, and guitar since 2004, and is excited to be a part of the Music Conservatory in Sandpoint.
Keely Gray-Community Programs Director, Theater instructor
Keely graduated from the University of Idaho in 2011 with a degree in Theatre arts with a minor in Musical Theatre and an emphasis in Music. She has studied voice and acting for over 10 years and has acted in many local productions including: Macbeth in 2015 and Mary Mary in 2014, Keely has also been the assistant director for Growing Dreams production of Little Mermaid and director of Growing Dreams fundraiser production of the Madrigal Feaste. Miss Gray is so excited to be a part of the MCS family and looks forward to bringing more theatre to the community she loves so much.
Ruth Klinginsmith-Advanced violin
Ruth Klinginsmith has played the violin for over 17 years after studying violin performance through the Royal Conservatory of Music. Ms. Klinginsmith studied voice privately for over 5 years and has sung in various choirs. She also took string pedagogy classes and vocal studies at the Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Ruth has been teaching violin for 10 years and has played in several orchestras and ensembles, including performing with Pacific Lutheran University (PLLD) in Tacoma, Washington. She taught music classes at Sky is the Limit Montessori in Edgewood and after having created her own private studio, has become a co-founder of the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint.
Email Ruth Klinginsmith
Caren Reiner was born under the piano, as she often states, and started taking lessons from her mother at an early age. Mrs. Reiner attended the University of Southern California and San Francisco State where she received her Bachelor of Music in Piano. She later received a Masters of Arts in piano performance from Sacramento State. Mrs. Reiner has always loved teaching and had her first job as a teacher when she was only 14. Mrs. Reiner also plays the cello, conducts a woman’s choir and has performed as a vocal soloist in many performances throughout the Pacific Northwest. Mrs. Reiner has been with the Conservatory for over 5 years.
Email Caren Reiner
Mrs. Janet Peterson relocated to the Sandpoint area from Olympia, WA. where she played violin in the Olympia Symphony for nearly thirty years. Janet is a professional Suzuki trained violin instructor. Janet's passion is helping children experience the benefits of creating music. Mrs. Peterson contributes her expertise to our Music Matters! after school outreach program as well as providing individual and repertoire instruction.
Marj Cooke-Piano & Mandolin Orchestra
Instruments played: Pipe organ, piano, viola, folk harp, carillon, mandolin family, Dobro, recorders, and other miscellaneous instruments.
Education: BA degree in Music and French, Master’s in Music Theory and Composition.
Work Experience: Elementary School classroom teacher for 33 years; taught music for entire grade level or entire school before Music Specialists were hired; was Technology Teacher in school for last 5 years prior to retirement.
Musical organizations: Professional Carillonneur member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America; member Classical Mandolin Society of America; violist with Sandpoint New Horizons Orchestra and Pend Oreille Chamber Orchestra.
- Began piano lessons at age 3 with mother who was a piano teacher.
- Studied violin for 5 years as a child.
- Participated in various choral groups through school and beyond.
- Studied Classical Pipe Organ for 6 years.
- Worked as Church Organist for many years for various denominations.
- Studied Carillon in graduate school passing professional exam in 1969.
- Enjoys arranging and composing music.
Sarah Caruso-Voice & piano
A Sandpoint native and graduate of Sandpoint High School, Sarah spent the majority of her childhood on stage singing, dancing and acting with the Unicorn Theater Players. At the age of 16, she was hired by Rossi Entertainment to perform professional theater, cabaret shows and murder mysteries throughout the Northwest. She received extensive training in the Rossi curriculum and later taught performing arts to children in Coeur D'Alene. Most recently, Sarah has joined forces with the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint to start a Theater Department. She also has extensive, classical training in the vocal arts and served as Music/Vocal Director for the local summer musical "Music Man."
Loi Eberle began playing cello at age 8, soon becoming a member of the Minneapolis Youth Symphony and the Minnesota All-State Orchestra. She studied cello for 4 years with one of Pablo Casals’ students, and was accepted in Northwestern University’s School of Music at in Evanston, Ill, where she studied music performance and played in the Northwestern University Symphony for one year. She then expanded her studies to include educational media, graduating Northwestern University with a BS in Communications. She co-founded the Amazingrace Collective, and for three years helped them produce small and large venue musical performances with local and nationally acclaimed musical groups on and off campus at Northwestern. She received her Master of Arts in Education at the University of Minnesota, studied cello with the assoc/principal cellist of Minneapolis Symphony for 3 years, performed with the Minnesota Civic Orchestra, then the St. Cloud community Orchestra. She began her doctoral studies in Educational Psychology at Indiana University, where she completed 45 credits. Loi has studied cello with the assoc/principal cellist of Spokane Symphony since 1990, is the principal cellist in the Pend Orielle Chorale and & Chamber Orchestra in Sandpoint, Idaho, and in the Panhandle Symphony in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
John Fitzgerald-Music Director, Conductor of Youth Orchestra, Voice and Piano
John Fitzgerald, Lyric Baritone-John is from Monterey California, but he grew up in Scranton Pennsylvania. Before moving to Sandpoint Idaho, he received his Bachelors of Music from Westminster Choir College and his Master of Arts in Teaching from Rider University. John has performed extensively with choirs in both New York and professional recordings in Philadelphia. John has been an artistic director and instructor in numerous programs in the North East Pennsylvania area.
John has sung with several opera houses across PA including PA Lryic Opera, Amici Opera, and Seabrook Opera, and he performed the roles of the Major General in Pirates of Penzance, Pish-Tush in The Mikado, Baron Zeta in the Merry Widow,Silvo in Pagliacci, Masetto in Don Giovanni, and more over the years.
John has experienced much success conducting choral groups in concert halls from New York to Philadelphia. He has sung various repertoire including Mahler's Eighth Symphony to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. He has sung with notable conductors such as Peirre Boulez, Kurt Masur, Mariss Jansons, Christopher Eschenbach, Alan Gilert, Gilbert Kaplan, Michael Tilson Thomas, James Jordon, Joe Miller and Ton Koopman.
MiChelle Handy-Early Childhood Music Program, Youth Choir Conductor
Michelle received her Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. She has worked extensively under great educators including Sharon Morrow. Michelle’s resume includes collaborating with many different walks of life, including students with learning differences and the incarcerated population. Her unique experiences frame her teaching style. Michelle’s main instrument of choice is her voice, however she has a passion for the piano, with over twenty years of playing experience. Her classes at the Conservatory are composed of Little Mozart and the Carousel classes, the capstone classes in our Early Childhood Curriculum. She also conducts the MCS Youth Choirs & MCS Youth Ensemble Choir. Michelle loves working with childrenand young adults. Michelle is currently pursuing her MA in Musical Therapy.
Melody Puller earned her Master of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Idaho, studying with Jay Mauchley. She lived in Burlington, Vermont from 2002-2015 where she taught piano students of all levels and abilities. She performed regularly for the Cathedral Arts Series in Burlington, Vermont and served as concert coordinator from 2014-2015. She has recently returned to her home in the Northwest where she grew up, so that she could be closer to her extended family.
Nathan Baker-Bass, guitar, &Jazz Ensemble
Mr. Nathan Baker is excited to join the faculty of the Music Conservatory to put some of his experience as a professional jazz, bluegrass, and classical musician to use as a teacher. He is conducting the Public Program's children’s choir which meets at Farmin Stidwell this year, as well as offering electric bass guitar and upright acoustic bass lessons at the conservatory.
Mrs. Rutledge holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Colorado State University where she was trained in classical vocal literature. She has lived in Northern Idaho for 15 years and has sung opera, choral music, solos, led church music and taught voice off and on while homeschooling her 3 children. She has always been passionate about singing and is so pleased to now be with the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint as of January 2015.
KATIE SKIDMORE - VOICE
Mrs. Skidmore studied Vocal Performance at Wichita State University in Kansas. Mrs. Skidmore has performed in various supporting roles in WSU opera productions and has also sung as a soloist for The St. John's Episcopalian Church and Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita. Mrs. Skidmore moved to Northern Idaho with her husband in 2015 and is excited to have joined the Music Conservatory's voice department in Spring 2017.
Denis Zwang - Saxophone
Denis Zwang has been teaching Saxophone, flute and Clarinet for many decades. Aside from teaching, Mr. Zwang has been an active performer with orchestras, recording studios and National Artists. Mr. Zwang is currently teaching Saxophone at the Music Conservatory.
Jennifer Slaughter - flute
Jennifer Slaughter is an active flute performer and music educator throughout the Inland Northwest. Jennifer currently holds the Third Flute position with the Spokane Symphony and has been teaching flute to students of all ages for over 10 years. She is an instructor of flute and children/family music programs throughout Spokane, WA; Coeur d’Alene, ID; and Sandpoint, ID.
Jennifer began playing flute at the age of 10 and participated in many competitions and All-State ensembles in her home state of Iowa. Following high school, Jennifer pursued and completed her BM degree in Flute Performance from the University of Denver under Pamela Endsley. Following that, she received her MM degree--also in Flute Performance--from Boise State University studying under Dr. Nicole Molumby. Previous flute instructors have included Jeffrey Barker, Barbara Gisler-Haase, and Sandra Moore Wacha.
In 2014 Jennifer was chosen as a winner in the National Flute Association’s Masterclass Competition, and she also won the Boise State University Concerto Competition the spring of 2015. She has also played in masterclasses for several renowned flutists, including William Bennett, Mimi Stillman, Amy Porter, Angeleita Floyd, Jill Felber, Claudia Anderson, Marianne Gedigian, and Alison Brown-Sincoff.