Jessica McNamara is the founder and director of the Ridgefield Suzuki School. Having been a Suzuki student as a child herself, Jessica always had dreams of starting a Suzuki School in a community that could benefit from this wonderful philosophy and method. Jessica began violin at the age of 6 in an introductory Suzuki program that was being offered in her elementary school in Queens, NY. She quickly fell in love with the violin and her mother decided to pursue the violin for Jessica through the Suzuki method. It was through the Suzuki method that Jessica developed excellent technique, proficiency on her instrument, and a true enjoyment of making music. Jessica continued to play violin throughout high school, playing in local youth symphonies, regional festivals and summer camps. She went to Providence College on a full scholarship and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Music Education. Jessica also holds a Masters Degree in Music Education from the Hartt School of Music. Jessica has done Suzuki training with Ed Kreitman, Susan Baer, James Hutchins and other notable teacher trainers.
Jessica taught middle school orchestra in the Westport public schools for 11 years while also maintaining a private studio. Since 2009, Jessica has been conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra at the prestigious Norwalk Youth Symphony. Jessica also conducts with the Fairfield County Summer String Orchestra, a summer program she and her husband founded in 2009. Beginning with just one level and 50 students, the program has developed to a four-tiered organization for students in 3rd to 12th grades, with over 200 students participating.
Jessica and her colleagues at Ridgefield Suzuki School enjoy inspiring children as young as 3 years old to begin playing violin, viola, cello or piano and continue to make music an important part of their lives as they grow into adults.
Mallory Mercier holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music with a concentration in String Pedagogy from the University of New Mexico. Mallory completed long term Teacher Training, books 1-10, in the Suzuki violin method with Susan Kempter, a registered teacher trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Mallory has taught Suzuki violin at the University of New Mexico lab school and the New Mexico Music School. She has also taught violin and piano at various other music schools in the New Mexico area. Mallory teaches violin and piano to the students at Ridgefield Suzuki School.
Hannah Gebhard is a Cellist and Suzuki Teacher based in Connecticut. Originally from Saratoga Springs, NY, she started her musical journey on piano at age 6, picking up cello in the 4th grade. Ms. Gebhard attended SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music, where she studied with Dr. Brian Carter and Professor Emeritus Dr. Mathias Wexler. Ms. Gebhard graduated Cum Laude in 2015 from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam with a degree in Music Performance.
Ms. Gebhard moved to Hartford in 2016 to pursue her Masters at the Hartt school of music, graduating in may 2018, with a degree in Cello Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy. She studied cello with Professor Mihai Tetel and Grammy Nominated Cellist Terry King. She is certified in Suzuki Cello Books 1-7, receiving her training from Nancy Hair.
While earning her masters at Hartt, Ms. Gebhard maintained a thriving private lesson studio, teaching Violin, Viola and Cello lessons to a diverse group of students. Ms. Gebhard’s teaching philosophy is heavily based in the Suzuki Method and she enjoys adapting the method to the individual needs of her students. She is very interested in the method of Alexander Technique, practicing it herself for years and she recently gave a lecture recital on the combination of Alexander Technique and the Suzuki Method for the final performance of her masters.
Ms. Gebhard has performed with many ensembles, but her favorite avenue of performance is playing in musical theater and opera pits. In her spare time, Ms. Gebhard enjoys knitting, cuddling with her cat Panda and exploring all the parts of Connecticut she has yet to see! She is extremely excited to being a part of the Ridgefield Suzuki School and is looking forward to the twinkles and beyond!