Kristen Burk is passionate about Suzuki method instruction, and has been teaching violin with this approach for 15 years. Dr. Suzuki said "“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” It is Kristen's goal to nurture each student to develop musical sensitivity, and a beautiful heart. She keeps her lessons fresh and fun, and her high-energy group classes are well-received by both students and parents. It is Kristen's goal to foster positive relationships in the music world, and a highlight of her work is to take advanced level students on music tours to meet other student and professional musicians. Her groups have toured in Europe to Germany and Austria, and all over the US, including performances at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (OH), Kleinhans Music Hall (NY), University of Madison (WI), Historic RCA Studio B (TN), and the Country Music Hall of Fame (TN).
Students of Kristen have been accepted to perform at the National Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference (Minneapolis, MN), the Suzuki Convention of the Americas (Mexico), ILMEA Conference Honors Orchestra, and at Carnagie Hall (through the Honors Performance Series). Her students have won concertmaster chairs and/or solo competitions in local youth orchestras such as the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra program, Fox Valley Youth Orchestra program, as well as school orchestra programs. Students of Kristen have been selected into both Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Youth Symphony's top group, as well as Symphonic Core, an elite chamber ensemble comprised of the top student musicians in Chicago, which is selected from CYSO's Symphony Orchestra. Her students have traveled the country to attend Suzuki Institutes, and some have been selected to perform at honors recitals. Some of her students have gone on to pursue music degrees in college, and most students have continued music-making in some capacity in their adult years.
Kristen has authored "The Twinkler's Music Workbook", a series of four books which serves as supplemental material for Books 1-4 of the Suzuki Method.
Kristen is an active musician in the Chicagoland area. She has been a member of the DuPage Symphony Orchestra for 12 years, and has occasionally been featured as a soloist. She is also a member of the Sunrise Quartet, a group that performs at area weddings and special events.
Kristen grew up in Buffalo, NY where she was a participant in the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra program from 1998-2003. She won orchestra chairs at the county, district, and state levels. In 2002 she was accepted into the School for Strings program where she was able to work with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra in studio, masterclass, and orchestral settings. In 2004 Kristen attended the Bravo International Chamber Music Festival as principal violinist in a string quartet. Kristen has studied under Dr. Lee Joiner, Dr. Paul Vanderwerf, Ansgarius Aylward, Karen Soffer, and Ann Kiefer. She has been selected to work with Phillipe Quint, Joseph Lanza, William DePasquale, Igor Gefter, Roman Mekinulov, and David Zafer in coachings and masterclasses. Kristen graduated from the Wheaton Conservatory magna cum laude with a degree in music education and a minor in theology. She holds certifications in Suzuki Violin Books 1-10, Suzuki Viola Books 1-4, and the Suzuki Principals in Action course. She also holds certification on Books 1-2 of the O'Connor Method.
Heather Hempel began taking violin lessons at age 6 with Jane Kohnke from theChrist Church of Oak Brook School of Talent Education. In high school (2000-2004) she took from Tom Wermuth of the Western Springs School of Talent Education. She was in the violin ensemble, Chicago Consort, that is lead by Tom Wermuth and in the summer of2003, she went with the group as a soloist to London and Paris. She was a member in the West Suburban Youth Symphony Orchestra (1999-2003) and served as concertmistress under the two conductors, Edward Bell and Colin Holman. She was a member in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (2003-2004) with Alan Tinkham, conductor and she was also in the Merit School of Music Tuition Free Conservatory in Chicago (2002-2004) and served as concertmistress in the orchestra(2003-2004). She had the experience of being a soloist with orchestra when she won the WestSuburban Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition three times (2001-2003). She won the Merit Concerto Competition in the senior division, and then was the overall winner of the senior division (2003). Other competitions she has won include the Sigma Alpha Iota string competition she won twice (2000, 2002) and the McDowall Young Artist Competition (2004).For her first year of college she went to Lawrence University in Appleton, WI studying with Anton Miller (2004-2005). When he decided to leave the school she transferred to DePaul University to study with Robert Waters. She graduated with a bachelor’s and Master’s degree in violin performance at DePaul (2005-2010). She was a member in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago conducted by Cliff Colnot for five years (2008-2011). She is currently a member in Camarata Chicago Orchestra conducted by Drostan Hall, who is also her violin teacher (2011- present). The orchestra went on tour in the summer of 2014 to Prague, Paris, and Milan.Heather started teaching Suzuki violin when she was a junior in high school. She is certified to teach Suzuki books one through seven and currently has 45 students. She teaches with Kristen Burk at the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale and at the Lyons Evangelical Free Church. She also teaches two days a week at Hauser Jr. High in Riverside as a violin specialist and one day a week at the Seton Montessori School in Clarendon Hills.