Stephanie Schall-Brazee – Artistic Director, Director of Intermezzo
Stephanie Schall-Brazee is an elementary general music teacher for the Traverse City Area Public Schools where she also directs the select Women’s Choir, Bella Voce. As a choral director, Stephanie’s choirs have consistently earned first degree ratings at festivals, and have been invited to sing at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to her public school teaching, Stephanie is on the faculty of the Northwest Michigan College Children’s Choirs where she directs the Lyric Prelude and Overture Choirs. Stephanie’s training includes a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Central Michigan University, and a Master of Music Education from The Hartt School, where she was a graduate assistant to Dr. John Feierabend, a leading expert in early childhood music. In addition to her teaching, Stephanie has served as a clinician and teacher trainer presenting courses and sessions on “Singing Development in Young Children”, “First Steps in Music”, “Music and Movement in Preschool” and “Conversational Solfege“. Recently, Stephanie co-authored a chapter in the newly published textbook, Feierabend Fundamentals.
Ashley Larimer-Kelly – Director of Cantus
Ashley Larimer-Kelly has been teaching general music and choir in northern Michigan schools for 14 years. This is her sixth year directing with NMC Children's Choir. Ashley also directs at First Congregational Church, sings with the Grand Traverse Area Festival Chorus, and tours overseas with the choir. Ashley earned her Bachelor of the Arts in Music Education from Albion College. She is a Traverse City native and a proud graduate of the TCAPS band and choir programs. In her free time, she enjoys getting outside in beautiful northern lower Michigan with her husband, their daughters, and giant dog. Ashley is delighted to share her love of choral music with the young musicians in the NMC Children's Choirs!
Joanna Aldridge – Director of Bel Canto
Joanna Heiman Aldridge is the Elementary Vocal and General Music Specialist for Leland Public School, an International Baccalaureate School, where she also serves as the Middle Years Program Coordinator. Joanna received both her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, English, and French and her Master of Arts in Music Education from the University of Michigan. Joanna has spent time in Ghana studying children’s songs, games, and dances and loves to bring that sense of global-mindedness into her classroom, as a part of inquiry-based teaching and learning. Joanna lives in Traverse City with her husband, Eric, and their two daughters, Eliza and Clara.
Jamie Moreland – Director of Prelude and Dolce
Jamie Moreland joins the NMCCC team this year as the director of Overture. Jamie taught elementary music for the Traverse City Area Public Schools as a K-12 certified music educator from 2012-2019. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education with Choral emphasis from Central Michigan University. Jamie maintains a small private piano and voice studio and has been the director of the TCAPS All-City Girls Choir since 2015. She routinely sings and plays at several local churches in addition to helping with the children’s programs. When she is not teaching in the evenings, Jamie works as a singing stay-at-home mom and nanny extraordinaire. She lives in Maple City with her husband, two daughters and large flower garden.
Jeffrey Cobb – Managing Director
Jeffrey Cobb holds a M.M. in Choral Conducting from Oakland University and a B.M. in Music Education from Western Michigan University. Jeffrey is currently the Director of Music Programs at Northwestern Michigan College and the Director of Music at T.C. Central United Methodist Church. Choirs under his direction have received invitations to perform at state and national conferences including the Michigan Music Conference, the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, the ACDA Michigan Conference, and the ACDA National Convention. In addition to his work as a conductor, Jeffrey is also a regularly commissioned composer. His award-winning choral works are published through G. Schirmer, Santa Barbara Music, Walton Music, Colla Voce, and Roger Dean Publishing. Jeffrey is also a sought after composer and arranger in other genres. His music can be heard on several television series, radio spots, and in television advertisements.
Mark and Barbara Puchala – Founders of the NMCCC
Mark and Barbara Puchala grew up on the East and West side of Detroit respectively. They met at Central Michigan University and graduated with degrees in Choral Music Education. They married in 1973 and moved to Traverse City to accept teaching positions in the Traverse City Area Public School District in 1974. Barbara served TCAPS as an elementary music specialist until her retirement. Mark served TCAPS as a choral director for fourteen years and retired Professor Emeritus from his teaching career at Northwestern Michigan College as choral director and Music Department Chair. They started the regional Northwestern Michigan Children’s Choir thirty years ago to fill a need for children wanting to be in a choir but didn’t have opportunities in their respective schools. The choir grew into choirs with enrollments approaching 200 children grades 2-9. The Cantus Choir made numerous appearances at state and regional conventions under their direction. They continue to live in Traverse City with their two dogs, Feebey and Lulu and enjoy their four-year old twin grandchildren Jack and Rowan.
Mary Parrish – Director Emeritus
Mary Parrish recently retired from NMCCC after 25 years of teaching and accompanying the beginning choirs. Mary and her late husband, Dave Parrish, were an integral part of the NMCCC's early success. Dave was much beloved in the Traverse City community, and he and Mary remain an important part of the NMCCC family. Mary feels that one of the highlights of her fifty-three years of being involved in education in Traverse City was her involvement with the staff, parents and students in the NMCCC program!
David Husser – Accompanist for Cantus
David Husser is a pianist and teacher living in Traverse City, Michigan, where he maintains a large independent studio. He collaborates as a pianist with numerous area soloists and ensembles, including the choirs of Traverse City West Senior High School and the Northwestern Michigan College Children's Choirs and Canticum Novum. He also teaches group and applied piano at both NMC and Interlochen Arts Camp. Mr. Husser's compositions have been performed by pianists and choral ensembles in multiple states. His articles have been published by American Music Teacher, and he has served as a presenter and panelist at a variety of national conferences. He holds a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois.
Margie Hunter – Accompanist for Intermezzo and Dolce
Margie Hunter recently retired from Traverse City Area Public Schools, having been a K - 12 music educator in the area for several years. Margie earned both her Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education degrees from Central Michigan University. She has conducted, accompanied and sung in church, school, and community choirs in the Grand Traverse area for the past 25 years.
Julie Gaubatz – Accompanist for Bel Canto
Julie studied piano and organ throughout her childhood which was continued at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. There, she earned her degree in Elementary Education, with a minor in music. She taught Kindergarten for five glorious years and then "semi-retired" shortly before the birth of her first child. However, she has continued her musical experience as a church organist and choir accompanist for the past 20 years, playing in a variety of churches and schools throughout Michigan. Julie has enjoyed each and every experience - whether it be accompanying school concerts, high school musicals, or the Leelanau Community Choir. She currently serves as organist for two congregations in the TC area, as well as substituting as far as Leland and Glen Arbor. Three years ago, she discovered the NMC Children's Choir for her daughter Morgan, who currently sings with Cantus. Julie is thrilled to be back behind the piano and to be given the opportunity to accompany Bel Canto this year!
Liz Williams – Program Assistant
Liz Williams has been an active volunteer in and around the TC Community for over 18 years. She has served on numerous PTO’s and has worked extensively with the TCAPS Music Department. Her volunteer work has also lead her to share her organizational skills, enthusiasm, and love of all kinds of kids, with organizations such as: TAGS, TC Thunder Softball, American Legion Baseball, TBAYS, Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, and the National Cherry Festival. In the midst of this, Liz also found time to work as a para-pro at various TCAPS elementary schools. Liz has also been a proud NMCCC parent since 2012. Liz knows this program is the "Gold Standard" for youth choirs across the United States - she’ll tell you all about it!
Ann Isola – Box Office Manager
The daughter of a music teacher, Ann has been a musician all of her life. That musical experience and her job by day as a Paraplanner/Office Manager has prepared her well to be the Box Office Manager for NMC's music programs. She currently resides on Torch Lake with her husband Dan where she enjoys singing, gardening, outdoor activities, visiting with friends and travel, especially to see their children and grandchildren!