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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maureen Sieger, Secretary: Maureen has lived in Barrington for over 30 years, raising three children. She was a 30 year member of St. Anne Women's Club, a past president, member/fundraising chair of many District 220 fundraisers, a member and fundraising chair for the fine arts boosters at BHS, and has served on the athletic boosters for BHS and St. Viator. Maureen continues to be a tireless advocate for the mentally disabled, working with Special Olympics, Special Gifts Theater, NISRA, job vocation programs and district 220's work transition program. More recently Maureen served on the board for the Parker Playhouse (currently the Parker Players) and serves on the cultural committee for programming for Barrington’s White House, where she is also a volunteer coordinator. Professionally, Maureen has worked at the College of Lake County for over 20 years, teaching marketing, advertising and various business courses and more recently joined Bataille Academie of the Danse, working to coordinate communications with clients and helping to coordinate many studio sponsored community events, including BACOA's Dancing With the Stars. When not working or volunteering, Maureen enjoys travel, gardening and spending time with family.
Julie Smith, Treasurer: Julie and her husband, Tim, have lived in the Barrington area since 1995 where they raised two children, and all have been involved in various music programs. Julie has been active in the community and served as Treasurer for Barrington Suzuki Strings for three years (2004-2007). She also served on the St. Anne’s Catholic School Board for 5 years (2004-2009) and subsequently served on the St. Anne’s Catholic Church Finance Council for three years (2010-2013). Julie received her B.S. in Accounting from Illinois State University, and her MBA from the University of Chicago. Since 2003, Julie has worked as an independent accountant and prior to that she worked in finance at Motorola for 11 years and in audit at KPMG for 5 years. Her hobbies include painting and photography, hiking, and traveling. Julie is looking forward to serving on the Music Blocks board.
Michele Phillips, Director: Michele is a mother of three and a former early education teacher. She has spent most of her adult life working with or supporting children. Raised in Royal Oak, Michigan, Michele graduated from Albion College where she majored in English Literature and attended graduate school at Merrill Palmer Institute in Detroit with a degree in Child Development. After several years of travel due to her husband’s work and educational pursuits, Michele settled in Northbrook and then Barrington. In the subsequent years, in addition to being very active in her children’s lives, she worked for St. Mark’s Day School and Little Angel’s Preschool. At St. Mark’s, Michele was a teacher and spearheaded curriculum development, leading several teacher workshops. After taking a break to raise her third child, Michele became active at Little Angel’s Preschool where she provided educational consulting and assisted the preschool in gaining their NAEYC accreditation. She was also the acting Chairperson for the preschool board. Over the past 30+ years in Barrington, Michele has been active in many nonprofit organizations. She chaired the board of Barrington Suzuki Strings, participated in bringing a prominent music group in for students of the McHenry County Youth Orchestra, and became active in the children’s Irish Music organization, Murphy Roche. In conjunction with renowned Irish fiddler, Maurice Lennon, the group was not only crowned the champion US Irish music group but became one of the few American groups to win the World Championship in Ireland. Michele was also active in Anam Mor Irish Dance School, where she was treasurer for the board and spearheaded fundraising efforts. Currently, Michele is the Faith and Community Outreach Lead for Barrington Moms Demand Action, helping to broaden awareness and involvement across faith communities and increasing gun safety awareness. She also serves on the St. Michael’s Episcopal Church Vestry. Michele looks forward to being a part of the Music Blocks board.
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.
Jack Schaefer, Director: Jack and his wife, Carolyn, moved to the Village of Barrington 45 years ago where they subsequently raised their two sons. With an interest in environmental issues Jack served as board member for Citizens for Conservation, The Natural History Society of Barrington and The Stillman Nature Center. Governmental involvement includes having served on the Barrington Zoning Board of Appeals for ten years and the Village of Barrington Board of Trustees for four years. Currently he is a member of the BACOG Water Resource Committee and is a Board Member and Past President of the Barrington Area Development Council. Jack is an initial member of the Barrington Cultural Commission and has served on the Barrington’s White House Advisory Board since it’s inception in 2015. He received his BBA in Business from the University of Iowa and his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. After military service from 1969-1971 he worked in the financial services industry in Chicago for 36 years. Jack enjoys music of all kinds looks forward to contributing to the success of Music Blocks.
Laura Ornelas, Director: Laura is a Music Blocks parent, with two of her children enrolled at Sunny Hill Elementary and actively participating in the Music Blocks Piano program. Both children joined in the initial weeks of the pilot Music Blocks program. Laura currently works as a human resources specialist at CUSD 300 and has served as a volunteer on many school related organizations, including past President of Sunny Hill PTO.