Music Blocks

Providing Access to Music Literacy to Underserved Children

Providing Access to Music Literacy to Underserved Children

Providing Access to Music Literacy to Underserved ChildrenProviding Access to Music Literacy to Underserved Children

Founder, President & Teacher

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Mary Anne Block

Mary Anne Block received her Bachelor of Music degree in 1983 from the University of Michigan School of Music (Music History/Musicology with a piano principal) and received her Juris Doctor in 1987 from DePaul University School of Law.  After practicing law for 14 years, Mary Anne returned to her first love, music.  She started working with her own children studying Suzuki violin, cello and piano and served as President of the Barrington Suzuki Strings organization.  Mary Anne returned to her own piano studies in 2004. She completed courses at Harper College in piano pedagogy with Dr. Cathy Albergo and resumed her private piano studies as well as piano ensemble classes, both with Dr. Albergo and Dr. Janice Razaq.  During the 2005-2006 school year Mary Anne taught a Sing and Play Class at St. Marks Day School in Barrington and has been teaching students from age 5 to adult in her private studio since January of 2005.  Mary Anne is certified through and a member of the Music Teachers National Association. She is also a member of the Illinois State Music Teachers Association and Northwest Suburban Music Teachers Association, where she has served in various officer and committee chair positions throughout the past several years. Mary Anne enjoys teaching students of all ages and abilities and seeks to inspire in every child, a lifelong love and appreciation for music and offer to them the opportunity to enjoy the many benefit of music study.

Program Manager & Teacher

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Helen Chang

 Helen Chang earned her Masters of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana in piano performance and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in piano performance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her principle teachers were William Heiles, Theodore Edel, and Reid Alexander (Piano Pedagogy). In addition, she participated in chamber coachings from the Pacifica Quartet, master class with John O’Connor, and served as teaching intern at the University of Illinois Piano Laboratory Program. Helen was the recipient of the Chicago Bar Association Award scholarship for piano, as well as the Steinway of Chicago Music Educator Grant.  Helen has been on the faculties of McHenry County Music Center, Adler Music and Arts Center and Harper College Community Music Center where she currently teaches individual piano lessons, group lessons and theory classes for all ages. In addition to teaching, she enjoys performing on various solo and collaborative recitals. Helen has been an active member of Music Teachers National Association as well as serving as Co-chair for the NWSMTA Achievement in Music Program. Her students have been scholarship recipients, prizewinners at the Grandquist Memorial Contest, IMA State Olympic Contest, NWSMTA Sonata-Sonatina Festival, and participants of the Chicago Symphony Young Artists Auditions. Helen has a passion for developing and working with students to establish a solid foundation of music reading, music appreciation and to spark a life-long love for music. She recognizes peer learning as a source of motivation and affirmation, and brings a positive and encouraging attitude to her classes so that every student can succeed.

Additional Teachers

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Janet Tsai

  

Janet received her Doctoral of Musical Arts in Organ Performance from the University of Cincinnati and her Master of Music, Organ Performance from the University of Louisville. She was Valedictorian of her class at the Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, Taipei, Taiwan, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Keyboard Church Music. Janet has served as Music Director for the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Greater Chicago, the Taiwanese School Choir and the Chicago Musica Chorus Ensemble in addition to assuming many different piano and organ accompanist roles with various churches in the United States and Taiwan. 


Since 2011 Janet has been teaching private piano lessons in her home studio and enjoys incorporating music theory and rhythmic games and activities in addition to music history to establish a greater understanding and appreciation for music.    

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Suyi Su

Suyi  is a full-time piano instructor and accompanist. She received her bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from the National Taiwan Normal University, where she studied piano performance, composition, and organ. Ever since she was in high school , Suyi  has been teaching private piano lessons to students of all age groups. She has taught beginner, intermediate as well as expert skills levels.  


Aside from teaching, Suyi  holds a position as an accompanist. She has performed with the Harper Symphony Orchestra for Ravel’s Mother- Goose Suits in 2015 and for Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suits in 2017.  Recently, she accompanied the Hoffman Estates High School Orchestra for their musical “Once On This Island”. 


Currently, Suyi  is the organist at the Libertyville Covenant Church, and the accompanist at the Community Music and Arts Center at Harper College. She is also a member of the Northwest Suburban Music Teacher Association. 


Suyi  currently studies under the teachings of Dr. Razaq, the director of keyboard studies at Harper College. She is also an active participant in the piano ensemble class at Harper College, which hosts performances twice a year. Suyi  loves playing, as well as teaching the piano and would be ecstatic to share her passion with others.  


Board of Directors

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Pamela Conroy, Board Chair   Pam is a dedicated business professional, community volunteer, and mom. She currently serves as a professional independent trustee on the board of an  exchange-traded investment fund complex, and as a volunteer on the boards of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and Music Blocks. Her professional career began in the mid-1980s where she worked in the trust and investment areas of the Northern Trust for 10 years, and then 14 years as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Institutional Capital Corporation, an employee-owned investment management firm in Chicago. Pam received her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.


Jennifer Bellini, Secretary: Jennifer lives in Barrington Hills with her husband and their two children. Prior to moving to the area, she was an in-house attorney at GMAC-RFC, a financial services subsidiary of General Motors. While there, she was asked to become the first Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and Communications Director of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, a large, national nonprofit founded to support homeowners facing financial crisis. Jennifer looks forward to contributing to the success of Music Blocks because she believes strongly in the benefits of music education. 


Jacqueline Lew, Treasurer Jackie left her public accounting firm after 20 years to raise her children, during which time she volunteered in various capacities. She served as President of the Elgin Academy Parent Association, where her children attended school until their move to Barrington in 2014. She currently runs and manages a personal accounting business while continuing to volunteer as Treasurer of several non-profits, including the Barrington Soccer Boosters. Jackie has her BA and MBA, both from Loyola University Chicago. Having studied violin, piano and flute briefly when growing up and encouraging her own children to pursue piano lessons for several years, Jackie appreciates and believes in the benefits of music education and is excited to offer her financial skills to support the efforts of Music Blocks.  


Gina Koertner, Director: Gina Koertner has been volunteering in the community since she moved here over 6 years.  She has been PTO President and committee head for the Barrington Junior Women's League. She has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and spent over 15 years in the food industry as a research scientist for Kraft Foods and Pepsico.  In her free time, she enjoys training for triathlons and marathons.  Gina lives in Barrington, IL with her husband and two daughters.

 

Gary Schmitz, Director.   Gary has been a part of the Barrington Community for over 25 years, during which time he has contributed his marketing and communications experience to various non-profit organizations including, Barrington Cultural Commission, Barrington White House restoration, Barrington Area Development Council, Barrington 220 Educational Foundation, and Barrington’s Citizens for Conservation. Gary has worked for Public Relations and Advertising agencies in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston; and has directed internal and external marketing and communications efforts worldwide for Motorola, Zurich Insurance and Abbvie. He holds a B.A. degree in Journalism from Purdue University and an M.S. degree from Boston University. He is married with two children, loves all types of music and has played the piano since he was 10 years old.