Why take private lessons?
Private lessons are designed to benefit all band students. Private study is designed to assist students further themselves in their musical ability. Students already performing will gain great strength from the advanced pace and more challenging material the lesson instructor can provide. Students receive weekly “one-on-one” attention that is not always possible in a large band class.
Students gain a deeper understanding about their instrument, are pushed forward, and tend to gain immense self-confidence from the lesson experience. There is no better way for your musician to help themselves and the Sunnyvale Band than by consistently participating in weekly private lessons. Lessons occur once per week; the SISD approved rate for private lessons is $25 per half class period.
When do private lessons happen?
We strive to make private lessons as convenient as possible for both parents and students. Many of our teachers come during class time, or directly before or after school. Our teachers work to coordinate these lesson times so that students can receive the maximum amount of help possible. Please work with your private teacher to find what is best for you!
Meet OUr Staff
Flute - Christie Conaway
Christie Conaway is a Sunnyvale native that has been teaching flute for over 25 years. She has a Bachelor of Music from Stephen F. Austin State University with an All Level Teaching Certification. She is a prior Elementary Music Specialist and is a member of the Texas Music Educator Association. Christie opened a Kindermusik Studio in Forney in 2006 and has enjoyed making music with little ones and their families ever since. She lives in Historic Downtown Forney with her husband, Mark, and their twin 17 year old boys, Grant and Preston who are members of the Raider Pride Band. Christie serves as Performing Arts Director for the Forney Arts Council and hosts Singer/Songwriter House Concerts in her historic home that was built 1895. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, gardening and spending time with family and friends.
Clarinet - Rachel Hartgrove
Mrs. Rachel Hartgrove received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Hardin-Simmons University in 2003 and is a certified Music Teacher (Pre-k -12th). Mrs. Hartgrove has performed with various bands and orchestras, including the Abilene Collegiate Orchestra, the Rockwall Summer Musicals, and the Rockwall Community Band. She has been playing the clarinet for 29 years. In addition to teaching clarinet privately, she has taught early childhood music classes in DFW, and is currently a Performing Arts Teacher at Wylie Preparatory Academy. She also enjoys spending time with her family; husband Matt, and children, Hannah (14), Elizabeth (11), and Luke (5). Mrs. Hartgrove has been teaching in the public school system for almost 17 years.
Rafael Powell is a candidate for a Doctor of Musical Arts, in Saxophone Performance, at Texas Tech University where he studies with Professor David Dees. Rafael’s accomplishments include performances at the Biennial NASA Conference, NASA Region IV Conference, CMS South Central Conference, SCI Conference, and Mana Saxophone Institute. Outside of performing, Mr. Powell has taught woodwinds since 2010. Among teaching at various schools in Central Arkansas, East Texas, and West Texas, Rafael has also been a clinician at the Texas A&M University-Commerce Clarinet Colloquium.
Rafael is a graduate of Henderson State University, and Texas A&M University-Commerce, where hereceived his Bachelor of Music Performance, and Masters of Music in Woodwinds respectively. Powell’s primary teachers are Dr. Jennifer Amox, Dr. Chris Beaty, Dr. Steve Becraft, Dr. Mary Druhan, and Dr. Julee Walker.
Trumpet - Dr. Orlando Ruiz
After concluding his studies at K.U. Dr. Ruiz put into practice the pedagogical concepts acquired over time as founding trumpet teacher at the system of youth orchestras of Puerto Rico, where he taught trumpet and served as orchestra and wind ensemble conductor for three years. After those years, he went to work for Houston I.S.D. as a band and orchestra conductor, where 14 of his students made the Houston All-City Youth Band under his advice. In Houston, Orlando performed with the Houston Heights Orchestra, the Galveston Symphony, and the Houston Brass Quintet. He served as principal trumpet of the Houston Sinfonietta, where he performed Alexander Arutunian's Trumpet Concerto, as a soloist. In 2015 Dr. Ruiz became a Teaching Assistant at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where he taught trumpet lessons and taught advanced trumpet techniques to future band directors. He has performed with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, their Educational brass quintet, and the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale. Dr. Ruiz graduated from Texas Tech with a Doctor of Musical Arts in 2020, where he published: An Analysis of Roberto Sierra's Rapsodia for Solo Trumpet and Wind Ensemble. In this publication, Dr. Ruiz explored the piece's origin through interviews and post-tonal theory analysis techniques.
Horn - Dr. Cheng
Dr. Cheng is a native of Tainan, Taiwan. She holds the Doctor of Musical Arts in Horn Performance from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Low Brass - Dr. Joyce Hsu
Dr. Joyce Hsu is an in-demand trombonist, clinician, and teacher in the DFW area. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from Texas Tech University, a master’s degree in Trombone Performance and Pedagogy from Oklahoma State University. A native of Taiwan, she also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the oldest and most prestigious art college in her country, National Taiwan University of Arts.
Dr. Hsu is currently a freelance trombonist and teacher. She is currently serving as the principal trombonist for the Dallas Asian Wind Ensemble, as well as the Online Journal Manager for the International Trombone Association since 2018, and one of the Chinese Ambassadors of 2021 International Trombone Festival. Dr. Hsu is active with various online forums to better serve the trombone community, she is also a strong advocate for diversity and equality in the music industry. Her students often range from elementary school through university, where she maintains competitive piano and trombone studios. Dr. Hsu’s students are consistently ranked among the most proficient of their peers; they are performance scholarship recipients and are active participants in TMEA All-Region bands and State Solo and Ensemble Contests.