CJ Donoho was introduced to music at an early age, which inspired her to join her elementary strings program on violin. It was her time in ensembles that made fall in love with the language of music, inspiring her to pursue a career in music. Although she grew up in the small town of Big Bear, CJ has participated in a few different orchestras over the years, including the Mountaintop Strings of California. With this ensemble, she had the privilege of performing in beautiful cathedrals and other incredible venues in different parts of Italy, such as Rome, Tuscany, and Lucca. She also had the great honor of playing in Carnegie Hall with Mountaintop Strings, where she had the position of co-concertmaster. In addition to her orchestral work, she has participated in multiple chamber groups and has been a counselor at a chamber music camp in Portland. She has also performed with the Piano Guys twice and, with Mountaintop Strings, opened for cover bands such as Uptown Funk, Led Zepagain, and Desperado.
CJ earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from Azusa Pacific University, where she studied under Dr. Alex Russell. During her undergraduate career, she was able to teach privately through the Azusa Conservatory of Music and coach string groups in Big Bear. CJ is in the process of getting her single subject teaching credential in music from APU with the goal of teaching middle school orchestra. She wants to be able to share her love and passion for music with those around her and show students how powerful the musical language can be. CJ is also the current teacher of the Enrichment Orchestra program at Foothill Country Day School in Claremont.
Huang has appeared as a soloist with the Boston Pops, the Concord Symphony Orchestra and others. She has participated as an American representative in the Respighi Festival in Citta de Castello, Italy as well as on scholarships to the Aspen and Tanglewood Music Festivals. She has been featured on radio broadcasts from WQXR-FM in New York, WGBH-FM in Boston, and on both South and North Carolina public television and radio networks. Her teachers include Dorothy DeLay, Robert Koff and the late Ivan Galamian. Dr. Huang holds degrees from Harvard University and the State University of New York Stony Brook. She formerly served as violin professor for Converse College and the University of North Carolina at Greens
Olga Meisel started her musical pursuit at the age of seven on violin and piano. She has been a violin teacher for 37 years to students of all ages and was nominated as Teacher of the Year, Togliatti, Russia in 1999. She gives local music-school masterclasses. Her students have won city, regional and country competitions in Russia, and she has had many students go on to professional careers in music over the years.
Bachelor of Music, Commercial & Media Composition, California State University, Northridge
Kristin Simpson is a composer, orchestrator and violinist. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Commercial & Media Composition from California State University, Northridge, where she studied with composer and conductor Elizabeth Sellers. With orchestral music at the foreground of her inspiration during her music studies, Simpson enjoyed two academic seasons with the CSUN Symphony; a season with the Pomona College Orchestra; and a year participating in UC Irvine's chamber music ensembles. She studied violin with Kira Blumberg, Lorenz Gamma and Benjamin Jacobson.
A bold advocate for music programs in schools, Simpson feels especially at home teaching string players one-on-one and in ensembles. Her top priority is to ensure the student succeeds in connecting deeply with the music: something that she believes can be achieved through close-listening and other ear-training exercises. She assists with the Prelude Symphonic Ensemble (PSE) and conducted the orchestra for its premiere of her original piece, Summer Skies, in June 2023.
Simpson orchestrates for major composers in the music industry and writes music for film and other audiovisual media. Her compositions and arrangements have been performed locally in various venues — including Pomona College's Bridges Hall of Music — and have traveled as far as Budapest, Hungary for professional orchestral recordings. She is honored to teach both media composition and violin at the Claremont Community School of Music.
Graduate Work in Musicology, California State University, Los Angeles
Bachelor of Arts, CA Teaching Credential in Music
Suzuki Long-Term Training, Books 1-10 with Shannon Hawes (Grön), Elizabeth Mills, William Starr, Louise Behrend, Dr. Shin’ichi Suzuki, among others
Ms. Tajima has held several positions at CCSM, including, but not limited to, being String Chair, Ensemble Coordinator, and Co-Recital Coordinator with Carol Hendrixson. Ms. Tajima presented groups for the City of Claremont’s Concerts in the Park, Fourth of July Celebration, and the Village Venture Street Fair.
One of Ms. Tajima’s great passions includes developing special programs for students. The Summer Ensemble Institutes, first held at Cal Poly Pomona and continuing at Scripps College (1998-2003), introduced many students to chamber music. As a result of her teaching instrumental music in the Pasadena Unified School District for five years, Ms. Tajima developed and served as Program Coordinator of the After-School Instrumental Music Program for the Claremont Unified School District (1994-2004). There she organized instrumental music classes at all of the elementary schools for grades 4-8, serving about 400 students annually.
About 10 to 15 students from Ms. Tajima’s studio participate in two annual evaluations (NFMC’s Jr. Music Festival & MTAC’s Certificate of Merit Program), and receive very high marks, whether it is in performance (JMF) or performance, technique, sight reading, theory, and ear training (CM)! Several have performed at the annual MTAC Conventions over the years and JMF Gold Cup/Superior Recitals. One of the programs, STEM [String Theory/ Ensemble/Master Class], was developed to aid students in their performance ability, further studying of theory as it applies to string instruments, and focus on performances dealing with nervousness. Beginning students (Suzuki Volumes 1 & 2) participate in the "Watch Us Grow!" Combined Repertoire and Performance Workshops, which are invaluable for the students.
Another passion that Ms. Tajima shares with her students and others is chamber music! She feels quite strongly that students who participate in small ensembles learn how to work together and form an amazing bond. She currently coaches two piano trios, the Gypsy Trio & Trio con Brio, and a violin quartet. It is such a thrill to see the groups excel year after year!
Other joys include performing solo and chamber music, learning as much as possible about others, striving for high levels of achievement, and helping others when possible. She truly enjoys attending concerts, master classes, and spending time with family and friends. Professional organizations with whom Tajima is affiliated are MTAC, NFMC, and SAA.
Instrument: Violin, Master Teacher
Master of Music, Violin Performance, New England Conservatory of Music
Bachelor of Music, Violin Performance, Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology, Oberlin College
Wendy Waggener earned degrees in Violin Performance from Oberlin Conservatory and New England Conservatory. She maintains a large private studio, in addition to coaching three youth symphonies and freelance performing. Wendy completed her Alexander Technique training with the Contemporary Alexander School with Robyn Avalon in Santa Fe and Midori Shinkai in Kyoto, and has worked with musicians at Meadowmount School of Music, Montecito International Music Festival, Oberlin Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, La Sierra University, and the Colburn School.