Current Graduate Students in Music


 Syneva Colle
Syneva Colle pic
Syneva Colle is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Tulsa, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano and Cello Performance. Since 2010, she has worked as a collaborative pianist with Nashville professionals and Belmont University students. As a cellist, she does frequent session work and is a founding member of the Corwin Trio (

Syneva is an accomplished arranger and composer, published through Sheet Music Press. She has taught private music lessons for over 15 years, and has led seminars and classes on music history and appreciation. One of her greatest interests is promoting a more widespread understanding of classical music.

Syneva studies cello with Dr. Christine Kim and is pursuing an M.M. in Cello Performance. She is a proud resident of East Nashville.


David Crosslin
David CrosslinDavid Crosslin began learning guitar at age 11 and was self taught prior to college, he is currently pursuing his M. M. in Guitar Performance with Dr. William Yelverton. He graduated from MTSU in 2016 with his B. M. in Guitar Performance where he also performed in the MTSU Band of Blue (Saxophone), Guitar Ensembles, and Concert Orchestra (Double Bass). He has performed in master classes with guitarists Jorge Caballero and Matt Palmer, maintained an active concert performance schedule, teaches privately, and composes. David is from Tullahoma, Tennessee, where he also participated in Marching Band, Wind Band, Concert Band, and Jazz Ensemble as a saxophonist growing up. When not doing anything music related, David works at Walker Library Technology Services and enjoys playing ping pong, reading, and fishing.


Michaela Cundari
CundariMichaela Cundari is currently pursuing her M.M. in Clarinet Performance. She studies with Dr. Todd Waldecker and is a graduate teaching assistant for the clarinet studio. Michaela grew up in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She graduated summa cum laude from Tennessee Technological University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. While at Tennessee Tech, Michaela won the 2016 Derryberry Concerto Competition; this gave her the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Bryan Symphony Orchestra. Michaela is a current member of the 572nd Air Force Band- the Air National Guard Band of the South.



Amber Den Exter
Den ExterAmber began training as a cellist aged 6 in Australia with Anthea Scott-Mitchell (Newcastle Conservatorium) and later Susan Blake (Sydney Conservatorium). After moving to New Zealand in 2006, Amber won places in the Christchurch National Concerto Competition, the Mazda Foundation National Young Performer of the Year Competition and the Chamber Music New Zealand National Chamber Music Contest.

In 2008 she successfully auditioned for a place at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Germany, studying with Professor Christoph Henkel in the Bachelor of Music program. Whilst studying in Germany, Amber performed as Associate Section Leader with the Hochschule Kammerorchester, directed by Prof. Wolfram Christ (Berliner Philharmonika). She also performed solos in studio concerts and other Hochschule events.   In 2011 Amber returned to NZ and obtained her degree from the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington.

Amber has recently performed in masterclasses for such International artists as Joseph Lin, Josef Luptak and Alisa Weilerstein. Whist studying in Wellington, Amber also performed in the NZ premier of Steve Reich’s ’Different Trains’ for string quartet with backing tape.\

In 2016 Amber began her Masters degree in cello performance studying with Dr Christine Kim at Middle Tennessee State University. Amber is also a Graduate Assistant with the string department.

Ke Ding
DingKe Ding is currently pursuing the Master of Music degree specializing in Music Education under Dr. Jamila L. McWhirter. Her hometown is Henan province China. 

She began playing flute at the age of nine and received her Bachelor’s Degree in music performance at Jiangxi Agriculture University. During her undergraduate study, she participated in symphony orchestra for four years and assisted with the music director Wei Yang in Symphony band. Before attending MTSU she worked in the Léman International School, which is a premier international school operated by Nord Anglia Education under the approval of the Ministry of Education of China.

In her spare time, she enjoys songwriting and is fond of learning different musical instruments.



Dakota Dooley
Dakota Dooley picDakota Dooley is pursuing his M.M. in music education at MTSU. A native of Corinth MS, Dakota started his musical career with trombone at age eleven. Wanting a stronger music education than his school could offer, Dakota pursued private lessons under Bass trombonist  Dr. Jason Beghtol. Through Dr. Beghtol’s mentorship, Dakota discovered a shared passion for bass trombone and this became his primary instrument of choice by the end of his high school career. Dakota continued his education at the university of Mississippi under the direction of Dr. Micah Everett, Mr. David Willson, and Dr. Michael Worthy. At the University of MS, Dakota participated in the wind ensemble as well as, the Missippian’s, the university’s top jazz ensemble. During his time with the Mississippians, they received outstanding performance rewards at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival. Dakota concluded his undergraduate education by student teaching at Booneville High school, a consistently superior performing ensemble, and one the best in Mississippi. Dakota  is now the  graduate assistant for all orchestras at MTSU under the direction of Dr. Carol Nies.  During Dakota’s free time, he enjoys composing and arranging and performing with MTSU’s Jazz ensemble.

 Kyle Etges
Kyle Etges picKyle Etges is a Jazz Studies student with a saxophone and composition emphasis, as well as the graduate assistant for professor James Simmons.

Kyle grew up in Denver, CO, and was an active member of the jazz community there for several years. In 2012, Kyle graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor's degree in Music Education and Jazz Studies. Before relocating to Tennessee, Kyle was a member of the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, Denver's premeire big band. He was a member of Bop Skizzum, who placed 2nd worldwide in Hard Rock Cafe's 2013 International Battle of the Bands. He also taught woodwinds and violin with El Sistema Colorado, a nonprofit orchestra program for at-risk youth. Kyle is also an orchestra musician for Celebrity Cruises.

As a composer, Kyle has won multiple contests through the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts. In 2011, his arrangement of John Coltrane's "Resolution" was selected to be performed at the UNC Jazz Festival with Jeff Coffin and Donny McCaslin. Kyle currently resides with his fiance outside of Nashville, where he hopes to continue his writing and performing career.

Sarah Hoff
Sarah HoffSarah Hoff is currently pursuing her Masters in Flute Performance. She grew up in Middle TN and studied Music Education at Tennessee Technological University. While there she studied under Dr. Roger Martin and attended master classes with flutist such as Rhonda Larson, Brad Garner, and John McMurtery. Sarah is currently the graduate assistant for the flute studio under Dr. Deanna Little, and teaches private lessons at the Music and Art Center.




H.A. Hoffman
Henry HoffmanH.A. Hoffman is pursuing his M.M. in Horn Performance. He is a graduate assistant for the Brass area, studying with Prof. Angela DeBoer. H.A. is from Salisbury, North Carolina, and graduated from Western Carolina University in 2016 with a B.S. in Music Education and a B.M. in Instrumental Music. While attending WCU, he participated regularly in the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Marching Band, and Artist in Residence Orchestra, in collaboration with the Asheville Symphony. H.A. was also a member of the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps from 2014-2015. Apart from his studies, H.A. is an active music arranger and brass technician for marching band programs in both North Carolina and Tennessee. 





Sandra Hamilton

HamiltonSandra is a Dickson, TN native pursuing a Master of Music degree specializing in Music Education. She currently teaches K-8 music and chorus in Wilson County. She completed her first Bachelor’s degree in Music Business at Belmont University and her second Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Austin Peay State University where she received the Mabry Music Scholarship for voice and graduated summa cum laude. Sandra has been performing on stage since the age of nine particularly within the genres of Rock, R&B, Country, and Funk. She has been a part of many singing groups including collegiate choirs and a cappella vocal ensembles. Her musical interests also include guitar, songwriting, and percussion, but her passion for music is rooted in commercial voice and music education.



Chris Lowry

Chris LowreyChris Lowry is currently pursing the Master of Music degree in Conducting. He completed his undergraduate work in Music Education from MTSU, and served for 3 years as a band director at LaVergne and Smyrna Middle Schools before returning to MTSU. He is a Graduate Assistant with the MTSU Bands. Originally a native of Morristown, TN, Chris now resides in Smyrna.

Chris is an Innovative Percussion Artist; he is a member of NAfME, TMEA, and is the current webmaster for MTSBOA.




Taylor Meyers
MeyersTaylor Meyers was born in Okinawa, Japan, and was raised in Springfield, Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. In high school, Taylor studied with Mrs. Lois Wynn, and was a finalist in her school's senior concerto competition in 2012, having the opportunity to perform The Carnival of Venice with the Lake Braddock Secondary School Symphony Orchestra. 

She moved to Morgantown, West Virginia to earn her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Performance at West Virginia University with a talent-and-merit-based tuition waiver, studying with Professor Nina Assimakopoulos. While at WVU, Taylor participated in the Pride of West Virginia marching band and performed in Wind Symphony, flute choir, and a woodwind quintet. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi for two years. Taylor was a semifinalist in the school's 2015 Young Artist Concerto Competition, and was an active performer as both a soloist and a quintet member in many recitals.

Taylor is studying flute performance under Dr. Deanna Little, pursuing the Master of Music degree in Music Performance. She is a graduate assistant with the flute studio, as well as a member of MTSU's graduate woodwind trio for a portion of her assistantship duties. Taylor is also a member of the MTSU Wind Ensemble.

 Nelson Moore
MooreA native of Gallatin Tennessee, Nelson Moore is currently pursuing a Master of Music in performance specializing in classical saxophone. He is serving as a graduate assistant for the band department for which he is responsible for maintaining and repairing instruments owned by the university. Nelson earned his Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance from MTSU where he studied with Don Aliquo and Dr. Paula Van-Goes. Upon graduation in 2014, Nelson accepted a staff position at MTSU as an Instrument Repair Technician and founded his instrument repair business Moore Music Repair. Since its conception in 2014 Moore Music Repair has developed into a leading instrument repair source for the Murfreesboro community and is proud to act as the band repair department for Concert Musical Supply in downtown Murfreesboro. Apart from his work with instrument repair Nelson is also an active educator and performer. He maintains a private studio composed of students of all ages, and works with multiple public schools as saxophone and woodwind instructor. He can be seen performing with the Tennessee Valley Winds Community Band, Music City Swing, and the Murfreesboro Symphony. Nelson is an active member of the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) and the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT).

Nicole Neeley
NeeleyNicole Neeley is originally from Murfreesboro, TN and is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in performance with a specialization in bassoon with the help of a graduate teaching assistantship. Her undergraduate degree in music performance was obtained from the University of Memphis. Professionally she holds the principal bassoon position in the Corinth Symphony and performs with the Grace Chamber Players. She is also a recurring guest artist with the Jackson Symphony, the Balmoral Chamber Orchestra, the Memphis Repertory Orchestra and many other organizations in the Mid-South. She has released several recordings with different organizations within the past few years and has been awarded several recognitions including First place in Bach Festival in 2010 and 2011, and Honorable Mention in the MTNA competition in 2009.



 Jon Ortiz
Jon OrtizJon Ortiz is a Music Performance student specializing in Percussion under the direction of Lalo Davila. He is a Graduate Teaching Assistant and works with the Band of Blue Drumline and assists with any other needs of the Percussion Studio.

Jon grew up in Odessa, Texas and studied percussion with Mr. Jimmy Olague. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Music Education from Texas Tech University in 2016. While at Texas Tech, he studied with Alan Shinn, Lisa Rogers, David Becker, and Sarah Mckoin. He is a member of the national music honor society, Pi Kappa Lambda, and received the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Collegiate Music Educator award. He worked as an ambassador and student recruiter for the Texas Tech College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Under the direction of Dr. Lisa Rogers, Jon travelled to Canada and Scotland to perform with the Steel Band, Apocalypso Now. He was also a member of the Goin’ Band from Raiderland, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, and Opera productions. While receiving his degree, he performed with the Lubbock Symphony, and with artists Joshua Bell, Liam Teague, Victor Provost, Mike Mixtacki, Fausto Cuevas, Andres Forero, and Lalo Davila.

Christopher Pfeifer
PfeiferChris Pfeifer is a graduate teaching assistant in musicology, studying under the direction of Dr. Stephen Shearon and Dr. Joseph Morgan. Chris grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and worked as a mechanical designer until 2011, at which point he moved to Lynchburg, VA to pursue a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar at Liberty University. Upon graduating summa cum laude in 2014, he returned to mechanical design while working as a church music director prior to beginning his master’s degree program at MTSU in 2016. 




 Johnathan Richeson
RichesonJohnny Richeson is a Jazz Studies student specializing in drum set and percussion. He is a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Percussion Department under the direction of Lalo Davila. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance (Percussion) from Coastal Carolina University.

Born in Woodbridge, Virginia, Johnny moved to Pawleys Island, South Carolina in 2005, and began teaching himself to play the drums. By the age of 16, he was an active member of the live music scene in the Myrtle Beach area.

While at CCU, Johnny performed in a variety of ensembles including: World Percussion (winner of the 2015 Percussive Arts Society World Percussion Ensemble Competition), Percussion Ensemble, Wind Ensembles, Marching Band (front ensemble and drumline), and Jazz After Hours (top big band), in addition to starting his own jazz combo. He was a performer in the South Carolina Intercollegiate Honor Band (2014, cond. Dr. Ray Cramer; 2016, cond. Eugene M. Corporon), and the National Intercollegiate Honor Band (2015, cond. Dr. Ray Cramer), as well as the South Carolina Honors Percussion Ensemble. He was also a member of a collaborative project called A Hushed Thrill: Brookgreen Gardens, which involved the composition, arranging, and recording of musical ideas by Ron Daise of the hit children’s television show Gullah Gullah Island. Some of the artists he has performed with include: Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), Howard Levy, Steve Bailey, Liam Teague, Gregg Bisonnette, Chris Tanner, Scott Kettner, and Lalo Davila.


Robin Winkowski
WinkowskiRobin Winkowski is pursuing an MM in Orchestral Conducting. She received her BM (Instrumental Music Education) from MTSU in 2004. Ms. Winkowski has been the director of bands at Wright Middle Prep and assistant director at Glencliff High School in Nashville since 2005. Under her direction ensembles from Wright have performed at the MTSBOA Concert Performance Assessment and the Annual Music Advocacy Concert sponsored by the Blair School of Music. Ms. Winkowski has been the Related Arts team leader, yearbook sponsor and the assistant director of the 2015 production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland at Wright Middle.

Ms. Winkowski has performed as a member of the French horn section with the Rome Festival Orchestra (Italy), the MTSU Symphony, the Curb Youth Symphony, the Nashville Summer Orchestral Institute and Tennessee Valley Winds. She currently serves as the orchestral GA, studying conducting with Dr. Carol Nies. Ms. Winkowski teaches 5th grade music at Wright Middle, is the assistant director of the Glencliff High School Band, the assistant conductor of the Curb Youth Symphony, the assistant conductor of the Philharmonia, substitute conductor of the Repertory Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Nashville Summer Orchestral Institute.

Shan Zheng
Shan ZhengShan Zheng is from Hangzhou, China. She starts learning music when she was six years old. The first Chinese instrument that she learned was Guzheng and then she starts learning other Chinese instrument called Qin when she was in middle school until now. Shan graduated in spring 2017 from MTSU with a bachelor degree in Music. Her major is Music Industry in Vocal. Shan is currently pursuing her M.M degree in Music Education under Dr. Jamila L. McWhirter. Also, she is working at the Center for Chinese Music and Culture as a graduate teaching assistant. She is helping Dr. Mei Han to teach Guzheng at the center. Shan has many experiences on the Guzheng. She received a level ten Guzheng certificate once she was an elementary student meaning the highest award given. Shan continued on showing her best skills on playing the Guzheng and Qin. She performed in China's prestigious concert of West Lake Expo in Hangzhou.