Academy of Fine Music

Brenda Likness, Owner, Director, Head  Instructor
Brenda has been studying piano for over 20 years.  In those years, she has competed in numerous piano competitions and won numerous awards.  Brenda has also performed in several recitals, musical programs and church and community programs.  She has also accompanied for many vocalists and instrumental competitions and programs.  While going to college at Northern State College and Minnesota State University-Mankato, Brenda continued her piano education with private lessons with professors and piano sessions.  Brenda teaches piano by not only lesson books; but, focusing on note reading, technique, scales, repertoire, classical, exploring different genres of music and composers and popular music students wish to learn.  Brenda teaches the classical influences that other genres of music today use so students learn to hear and know classical music and composers.  She uses visualization to encourage students to turn their songs into music with musical expression. Brenda is also a certified and licensed Kindermusik teacher. Kindermusik is a music and movement program taught to promote child development, prepare them for school and private music.

Mikayla Trenhail, Vocal and Piano Instructor
 Mikayla's information is coming

Alex Schmer, Lead Guitar, Ukelele and Double Bass Instructor
Alex started studying Double Bass and Guitar while growing up in Omaha, Nebraska.  He moved to this area to pursue a B.M.  in Musical Performance at the University of South Dakota.  He continues to study guitar and Double Bass with music professors at USD.  Along with his private lessons, Alex  has also been involved and performed in numerous ensembles such as the Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Band and Jazz Band.  Alex also has worked with the Recording Department and the Vermillion Children's Choir.  Alex studies the musical styles and techniques of Flamenco, Folk, Blues, Funk and Rock Guitar but teaches all genres of music.  Alex is the lead Guitar Teacher at The Academy of Fine Music, teaching Acoustic, Electric and Bass Guitar and Ukulele.  Alex teaches private lessons but also group Guitar lessons to teach students how to play in a band. Alex will also be teaching the Double Bass in our Strings Department.

Kevin Phillips, Vocal , Music Writing and Piano Instructor, Music Tutor
Kevin is a music education and vocal performance double major at the University of South Dakota.  He started studying vocal music in 5th grade and piano shortly after and has continued until presently taking private piano and voice lessons at USD.  In 2015, Kevin competed and won 1st place in The Glenn Miller National Music Competition.  This is a high competition as it is a National Competition. Kevin participates in the USD Chamber Singers and Concert Choir as well as USD Operas. In addition to Voice and Piano, Kevin also studies flute at USD, and has participated in USD’s Symphonic and Marching band. Kevin teaches Voice, Piano, Music Writing and is a Music Tutor at The Academy.

Ellie Hemmingsen, Lead Violin Instructor
Ellie has been studying violin for over 7 years.  Ellie has performed at numerous programs, recitals and church programs as violin solo and along with other instruments.  Ellie teaches violin using the Suzuki method which involves private lessons and ensemble work when students are prepared.  She also teaches Music Theory and the concepts of them applied to Violin so it's easier for students and gives them a well rounded musical education to make them classically trained in Violin.  Ellie teaches all ages of Violin at the Academy.

 Kelly Ferner, Vocal and Piano Instructor
Kelly studied piano for 17 years, flute for 10 and voice for 8 years. In those years, she competed in numerous piano, flute and vocal competitions and won numerous awards.  Kelly was the recipient of the Berggren Music Scholarship at Northern State College where she studied piano, voice and flute.  She also played keyboard, flute and was vocalist for a band throughout college which was very popular all over the Midwest in addition to singing and playing for different churches.  Kelly has experience teaching music lessons as well as being the Director of a Children's Choir.

Aaron Likness, Guitar and Ukelele Instructor
Aaron has studied guitar for numerous years.  He is proficient in technic, theory, scale work, finger picking and strum patterns as well as song instruction. Aaron also added ukulele to his strings studies and is proficient to that as well.  Aaron teaches beginner through intermediate levels.



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