Current Graduate Students in Music


Patrick Atwater
AtwaterPatrick Atwater is a jazz studies student with an emphasis in jazz bass & composition. He is also serving as a graduate assistant under the direction of professor Jamey Simmons.

Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Patrick attended the University of Georgia, Athens where he graduated in 2009 with a bachelor of science in Mathematics as well as a degree certificate in Music Business. After being an active member of the thriving music community in Athens, GA for several years, Patrick relocated to Northern Colorado in 2011 to attend the University of Northern Colorado and pursue a Bachelor of Music, jazz studies emphasis. He graduated in May 2014.

While in Colorado, Patrick maintained an active performing calendar as well as a private teaching studio. He also worked with educational organizations such as the Jazz Education Network and the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts. Patrick is currently a member of the Colorado based jazz ensemble The Cairn Project, who released their first recorded album in fall 2015.

Currently, Patrick lives in the Nashville area and maintains active performing schedule in addition to his studies at Middle Tennessee State University.

Michaela Cundari
CundariMichaela Cundari is currently pursuing her M.M. in Clarinet Performance. She studies with Dr. Todd Waldecker and is a graduate teaching assistant for the clarinet studio. Michaela grew up in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She graduated summa cum laude from Tennessee Technological University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. While at Tennessee Tech, Michaela won the 2016 Derryberry Concerto Competition; this gave her the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Bryan Symphony Orchestra. Michaela is a current member of the 572nd Air Force Band- the Air National Guard Band of the South.



Amber Den Exter
Den ExterAmber began training as a cellist aged 6 in Australia with Anthea Scott-Mitchell (Newcastle Conservatorium) and later Susan Blake (Sydney Conservatorium). After moving to New Zealand in 2006, Amber won places in the Christchurch National Concerto Competition, the Mazda Foundation National Young Performer of the Year Competition and the Chamber Music New Zealand National Chamber Music Contest.

In 2008 she successfully auditioned for a place at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Germany, studying with Professor Christoph Henkel in the Bachelor of Music program. Whilst studying in Germany, Amber performed as Associate Section Leader with the Hochschule Kammerorchester, directed by Prof. Wolfram Christ (Berliner Philharmonika). She also performed solos in studio concerts and other Hochschule events.   In 2011 Amber returned to NZ and obtained her degree from the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington.

Amber has recently performed in masterclasses for such International artists as Joseph Lin, Josef Luptak and Alisa Weilerstein. Whist studying in Wellington, Amber also performed in the NZ premier of Steve Reich’s ’Different Trains’ for string quartet with backing tape.\

In 2016 Amber began her Masters degree in cello performance studying with Dr Christine Kim at Middle Tennessee State University. Amber is also a Graduate Assistant with the string department.

Ke Ding
DingKe Ding is currently pursuing the Master of Music degree specializing in Music Education under Dr. Jamila L. McWhirter. Her hometown is Henan province China. 

She began playing flute at the age of nine and received her Bachelor’s Degree in music performance at Jiangxi Agriculture University. During her undergraduate study, she participated in symphony orchestra for four years and assisted with the music director Wei Yang in Symphony band. Before attending MTSU she worked in the Léman International School, which is a premier international school operated by Nord Anglia Education under the approval of the Ministry of Education of China.

In her spare time, she enjoys songwriting and is fond of learning different musical instruments.


Linda Edmister
EdmisterLinda was born in Germany into an Army family giving her a rich appreciation of world cultures as she grew up in Texas, Japan and ultimately Kentucky. There she graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Music degree in General Music and Business. That training set her up for dual careers in music and administration as an active duty/reserve Army officer. Wherever the Army took her (Germany, Maryland, Louisiana, Washington, Australia) she was involved in chapel music programs as choir director, pianist, youth/children’s choir director and/or handbell director. She also taught piano lessons off and on at various postings. On the admin side, she served as a Community Adjutant, Detachment Commander, Brigade Personnel Officer, Garrison Public Affairs Officer, and even did a stint with the U.S. State Department as Community Liaison Officer of the American Embassy in Canberra. After her husband’s Army retirement the couple settled in Kentucky where Linda was a full-time Director of Music Ministries at St. Luke United Methodist Church. They moved to Hendersonville, TN two years ago to be nearer their daughter who had recently moved to Nashville, so Linda is finally realizing the goal of studying music at the graduate level. Her heart has always been in pursuing excellence and creativity in church music and to that end she is studying choral conducting with Dr. Raphael Bundage. She is also following her other musical passion – bagpipes, and is currently a novice piper with Nashville Pipe and Drums.

Martin Gaines
GainesMartin Gaines is from Dell, Arkansas, and is pursuing the Master of Music degree specializing in Wind Band Conducting under the guidance of Dr. Reed Thomas. He also holds a graduate teaching assistantship for which he assists with the Chamber Winds Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, and the “Band of Blue” Marching Band. In 2001, he received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the historic VanderCook College of Music in Chicago where he studied conducting with Dr. Charles Menghini and Dr. Peter Jermihov. He also notably studied with Dr. John M. Long, Dr. Gordon Brock, Ralph Ford, and Robert W. Smith; he has also be privileged to have conducted in a symposium with Frank Ticheli. Prior to this appointment and for fifteen years, Mr. Gaines taught middle and high school Bands and Orchestra in Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, and most recently in Florida. His Bands have consistently received top marks from adjudicators. While at Orange Park High School (FL), his Wind Symphony was selected to perform at the Southeastern United States Band Clinic and Conference at Troy Universiy (2001). His most recent position at Oakleaf High School (FL) began a five year tenure building a new program from 50 students to nearly 250, conducting three concert bands, two jazz ensembles, chamber winds, and the “Golden Regiment” Marching Band. His final three years were particularly marked with symphonic successes having earned straight superior ratings at the Florida Bandmaster’s Association State Music Performance Assessment culminating in the Kraushaar Award for the Oakleaf Wind Symphony in 2015, a first in the history of the school. Mr. Gaines was also named Teacher of the Year in 2014-2015 for Oakleaf High School.

Gerard Gobert
GobertGerard Gobert is studying guitar performance under William Yelverton. He has studied with guitarists Carlos Castilla and Robert Thompson. Hes has had masterclass with Stanley Yates, Jesus Serrano, and Guido Sanchez. He is also a graduate assistant in the French Department. A child of the world and dual-citizen, Gerard grew up overseas in the Middle East and then lived in his father's native country of Belgium for six years before coming to MTSU. Before attending MTSU he was self-taught and performed at various venues. When he isn't teaching, performing or working, he enjoys motorcycling.




Rubén Darío Gómez
GomezRubén Darío Gómez was born in Zapatoca (Colombia) in 1973. He received a bachelor in pedagogy from U.I.S (Universidad Industrial de Santander) in Bucaramanga (Colombia) where he was the founder and conductor during three years of the Students Symphonic Band. He has made a widespread job as a conductor, composer pedagogue, teacher and arranger. In 2010 he earned the Bicentenary Scholarship “Gobernación de Santander” and in 2012 he was awarded with the National Competition Prize in Composition given by the Ministry of Culture of Colombia. Also many of his pieces and arrangements has been played, awarded and published in Colombia and outside.

As member of the National Program of Bands in Colombia he has been advisor in areas such as music theory, pedagogy, arrangements, and conducting. In addition he has made a prolific pedagogy labor in his own music school “Mochila Cantora” and at U.N.A.B (Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga) during the last 13 years.

Rubén was the founder of U.N.A.B Wind Band and has been guest conductor of Symphonic Band Network of Schools of Music in Medellín, Funza Symphonic Band and U.NA.B. Symphony orchestra.

He is currently studying his specialization in Wind Band Conducting at MTSU under the guidance of Dr. Reed Thomas and Professor Allen Kennedy. In addition, he was awarded with a graduate assistantship and he assists the band program, specially the “Band of Blue”.

Sandra Hamilton
HamiltonSandra is a Dickson, TN native pursuing a Master of Music degree specializing in Music Education. She currently teaches K-8 music and chorus in Wilson County. She completed her first Bachelor’s degree in Music Business at Belmont University and her second Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Austin Peay State University where she received the Mabry Music Scholarship for voice and graduated summa cum laude. Sandra has been performing on stage since the age of nine particularly within the genres of Rock, R&B, Country, and Funk. She has been a part of many singing groups including collegiate choirs and a cappella vocal ensembles. Her musical interests also include guitar, songwriting, and percussion, but her passion for music is rooted in commercial voice and music education.



QiWen Han
HanQiWen Han was born in an art family in MuDanJiang city, HeiLongJiang, province in China. She grew up in this beautiful city which name is MuDanJiang. It is a basin and a big forest around her hometown. Her father is a violinist, her mother is a vocal professor in university, her grandfather is a director and her grandmother is a dancer. Therefore, Qiwen's father taught her how to play the violin since she was six years old. Also, her hometown gave her a lot of inspiration. Overtime, Qiwen took several competitions and got some accomplishments. In 2002, I won the DanDeLion Violin Competition gold medal. In this meantime, I also won the HeiLongJiang Violin Competition gold medal. When she was 16 years old, her father and she held a concert which was for remembering Mozart 250th birthday. It was a very meaningful concert for her. Subsequently, she was accepted by ShenYang Conservatory of Music University for her bachelor degree in 2009. She still studied violin as my major. To have a personal concert is a violin performer’s dream. Then, her dream came true. She held my personal concert in 2013 before she graduated. Everything is worthy. After that, She wanted to improve myself continuously. Therefore, she applied Middle Tennessee State University for her master degree. Her dream is to be a music teacher, to let more and more people to know and learn music. Music is an international language, no boundaries.


Jacob Hendley
HendleyJacob began playing guitar in his hometown of Madison, MS at the age of 13 and began lessons on the classical guitar with Jimmy Turner. He attended Mississippi State University to study classical guitar under Dr. Michael Patilla, participating in the MSU guitar ensemble and MSU State Singers. He left Starkville to pursue his M.M. at MTSU, studying under Dr. William Yelverton with a Graduate Assistantship.





Eric Luminais
LuminaisEric Luminais graduated as a flute performance major from Eastern Illinois University in 2015 who originally grew up in the Chicago area. Most notably, he performed Otar Gordeli’s Concertino for Flute and Orchestra with the Eastern Symphonic Orchestra in addition along with various other successful competitions through the NFA. He performed with the Eastern Wind Symphony and Eastern Symphonic Orchestra throughout his time at EIU. He was an active member, and vice president, of the Xi Upsilon Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha as well as a member of the National Flute Association. Additionally, he had the privilege of studying in Salzburg, Austria for one semester. He is currently a Flute Performance graduate student at MTSU and serves as an orchestral graduate assistant.



Taylor Meyers
MeyersTaylor Meyers was born in Okinawa, Japan, and was raised in Springfield, Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. In high school, Taylor studied with Mrs. Lois Wynn, and was a finalist in her school's senior concerto competition in 2012, having the opportunity to perform The Carnival of Venice with the Lake Braddock Secondary School Symphony Orchestra. 

She moved to Morgantown, West Virginia to earn her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Performance at West Virginia University with a talent-and-merit-based tuition waiver, studying with Professor Nina Assimakopoulos. While at WVU, Taylor participated in the Pride of West Virginia marching band and performed in Wind Symphony, flute choir, and a woodwind quintet. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi for two years. Taylor was a semifinalist in the school's 2015 Young Artist Concerto Competition, and was an active performer as both a soloist and a quintet member in many recitals.

Taylor is studying flute performance under Dr. Deanna Little, pursuing the Master of Music degree in Music Performance. She is a graduate assistant with the flute studio, as well as a member of MTSU's graduate woodwind trio for a portion of her assistantship duties. Taylor is also a member of the MTSU Wind Ensemble.

Manuel Monge Mata
MataManuel grew up in Paraíso, Costa Rica, since he was a child; he started his musical studies in violin with several music teachers. During high school he started to study classical guitar. He received his bachelor degree in Music Education at the University of Costa Rica, where he studied at the same time, french horn and composition. In Costa Rica he worked as instrument teacher, string orchestra conductor, professor of chamber ensembles, choral conductor and arranger for several music academies and Costa Rican folk dancers groups. At MTSU, he is studying with Dr. Reed Thomas a specialization in conducting and has a graduate teaching assistantship in the Band area under the supervision of Dr. Thomas.



Nelson Moore
MooreA native of Gallatin Tennessee, Nelson Moore is currently pursuing a Master of Music in performance specializing in classical saxophone. He is serving as a graduate assistant for the band department for which he is responsible for maintaining and repairing instruments owned by the university. Nelson earned his Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance from MTSU where he studied with Don Aliquo and Dr. Paula Van-Goes. Upon graduation in 2014, Nelson accepted a staff position at MTSU as an Instrument Repair Technician and founded his instrument repair business Moore Music Repair. Since its conception in 2014 Moore Music Repair has developed into a leading instrument repair source for the Murfreesboro community and is proud to act as the band repair department for Concert Musical Supply in downtown Murfreesboro. Apart from his work with instrument repair Nelson is also an active educator and performer. He maintains a private studio composed of students of all ages, and works with multiple public schools as saxophone and woodwind instructor. He can be seen performing with the Tennessee Valley Winds Community Band, Music City Swing, and the Murfreesboro Symphony. Nelson is an active member of the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) and the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT).

Nicole Neeley
NeeleyNicole Neeley is originally from Murfreesboro, TN and is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in performance with a specialization in bassoon with the help of a graduate teaching assistantship. Her undergraduate degree in music performance was obtained from the University of Memphis. Professionally she holds the principal bassoon position in the Corinth Symphony and performs with the Grace Chamber Players. She is also a recurring guest artist with the Jackson Symphony, the Balmoral Chamber Orchestra, the Memphis Repertory Orchestra and many other organizations in the Mid-South. She has released several recordings with different organizations within the past few years and has been awarded several recognitions including First place in Bach Festival in 2010 and 2011, and Honorable Mention in the MTNA competition in 2009.


Hong Liang Ng
NgHong Liang Ng is born and grew up in Malaysia, he is specializing in collaborative piano, studying and working under Dr. Arunesh Nadgir as a graduate assistant in accompanying. Hong Liang received his Bachelor of Music (Honors) degree from UCSI University, Kuala Lumpur and studied under Dr. Nicholas Ong. He has obtained his LTCL (Trinity College) diploma and has performed in various concerts as a pianist, accompanist, and also as a member of the UCSI concert choir. During his studies, he is active as a co-curriculum student, as he has joined several associations and held important positions such as president and representative. Hong Liang is awarded with several prizes in joining various international piano competitions and attended masterclasses with various international piano professors such as Prof. Michiko Shoji and Prof. Ja Young Jeong at the 2012 ASIA International Piano Academy & Festival with Competition. Aside from performing, he has taught piano privately and in several music schools in Kuala Lumpur before coming to the United States.



Christopher Pfeifer
PfeiferChris Pfeifer is a graduate teaching assistant in musicology, studying under the direction of Dr. Stephen Shearon and Dr. Joseph Morgan. Chris grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and worked as a mechanical designer until 2011, at which point he moved to Lynchburg, VA to pursue a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar at Liberty University. Upon graduating summa cum laude in 2014, he returned to mechanical design while working as a church music director prior to beginning his master’s degree program at MTSU in 2016. 




Yuhai Qin
QinYuhai Qin is specializing in classical saxophone performance. His home town is Ning Xia province China. He has a very colorful family which his father is a guitar player, his mother is a dancer, and his brother is a trumpet player, it is such artistic family.

He graduated from ShenYang Conservatory of Music with high achievement in 2013 and got his bachelor’s degree. During his undergraduate studying, he have taken not only three outstanding students concert, but also participated the symphony orchestra and quartet of saxophone.

In 2015, he came to the America and started school at Middle Tennessee State University with saxophone professor Don Aliquo to study and improve his saxophone skills and performance.

Johnathan Richeson
RichesonJohnny Richeson is a Jazz Studies student specializing in drum set and percussion. He is a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Percussion Department under the direction of Lalo Davila. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance (Percussion) from Coastal Carolina University.

Born in Woodbridge, Virginia, Johnny moved to Pawleys Island, South Carolina in 2005, and began teaching himself to play the drums. By the age of 16, he was an active member of the live music scene in the Myrtle Beach area.

While at CCU, Johnny performed in a variety of ensembles including: World Percussion (winner of the 2015 Percussive Arts Society World Percussion Ensemble Competition), Percussion Ensemble, Wind Ensembles, Marching Band (front ensemble and drumline), and Jazz After Hours (top big band), in addition to starting his own jazz combo. He was a performer in the South Carolina Intercollegiate Honor Band (2014, cond. Dr. Ray Cramer; 2016, cond. Eugene M. Corporon), and the National Intercollegiate Honor Band (2015, cond. Dr. Ray Cramer), as well as the South Carolina Honors Percussion Ensemble. He was also a member of a collaborative project called A Hushed Thrill: Brookgreen Gardens, which involved the composition, arranging, and recording of musical ideas by Ron Daise of the hit children’s television show Gullah Gullah Island. Some of the artists he has performed with include: Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), Howard Levy, Steve Bailey, Liam Teague, Gregg Bisonnette, Chris Tanner, Scott Kettner, and Lalo Davila.


Dave Sartor
SartorDave Sartor is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Trevecca Nazarene University and Founder and Music Director of Nashville’s Parthenon Chamber Orchestra. He received his BM from the University of Tennessee.
Dave’s compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the Cincinnati, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Brevard, Kiev and Czech Symphony Orchestras, the Burlington, Nexus and Mission Chamber Orchestras, the Cathedral Choral Society at the Washington (D.C.) National Cathedral, the Minneapolis Vocal Consort, the Chestnut Brass, bassist John Deak, soprano Cheryl Studer, organist Peter Fyfe, the Indiana Wind Symphony, and the "President's Own" United States Marine Corps Concert Band in Washington, D.C. He has received the prestigious Ostwald Award from the American Bandmasters Association, the National Fine Arts Award, and more than three dozen awards from New Music for Young Ensembles, Meet The Composer, Delta Omicron and ASCAP, among others. Dave received double honors in Composition in both the 2012 and 2013 American Prizes, national awards celebrating American excellence in the arts and, after having received triple honors in 2014, was one of only five composers nationwide named as an Honored Artist of the American Prize in recognition of “sustained excellence” over a number of seasons in the national competitions.

A respected and in-demand guest conductor, Dave was inducted as a National Patron of Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity in 2009 in recognition of his composing and conducting accomplishments. His works are recorded on the ERM label, published by E.C. Schirmer, Shawnee Press, and Metamorphic Music, and distributed worldwide by J. W. Pepper Corporation.

Dave is currently pursuing an MM in Composition. For more information, please visit his website at

Spencer Stevens
StevensSpencer Stevens is a saxophonist from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. Spencer is specializing in Jazz Studies in saxophone and doubling on flute and clarinet, and is working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant under Don Aliquo. Along with being a student, Spencer is the Orchestra Director at Nashville First Church of the Nazarene and teaches Elementary through High School Band part time at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville.







Derek Volkmann
VolkmannDerek is currently pursuing a Master’s of Music degree in Jazz Studies at the Middle Tennessee State University School of Music, and is specializing as a guitarist under the tutelage of Chip Henderson. He grew up in New Franklin, MO, and he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education with honors from Central Methodist University in May 2014. During his time at Central Methodist University, Derek received many honors, recognitions, and awards for outstanding musicianship, excellence in teaching, and exceptional academic performance. Derek was heavily involved with many ensembles at Central Methodist University, which included marching, concert, and jazz bands, accompanying choral ensembles, and participating in summer opera productions. While pursuing his education, Derek also maintained an active schedule in private musical instruction, recording sessions and performing live music in the mid-Missouri area. Derek is currently a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa and Sigma Epsilon Pi Honors Fraternities. He is looking forward to his studies at the MTSU School of Music.

Robin Winkowski
WinkowskiRobin Winkowski is pursuing an MM in Orchestral Conducting. She received her BM (Instrumental Music Education) from MTSU in 2004. Ms. Winkowski has been the director of bands at Wright Middle Prep and assistant director at Glencliff High School in Nashville since 2005. Under her direction ensembles from Wright have performed at the MTSBOA Concert Performance Assessment and the Annual Music Advocacy Concert sponsored by the Blair School of Music. Ms. Winkowski has been the Related Arts team leader, yearbook sponsor and the assistant director of the 2015 production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland at Wright Middle.

Ms. Winkowski has performed as a member of the French horn section with the Rome Festival Orchestra (Italy), the MTSU Symphony, the Curb Youth Symphony, the Nashville Summer Orchestral Institute and Tennessee Valley Winds. She currently serves as the orchestral GA, studying conducting with Dr. Carol Nies. Ms. Winkowski teaches 5th grade music at Wright Middle, is the assistant director of the Glencliff High School Band, the assistant conductor of the Curb Youth Symphony, the assistant conductor of the Philharmonia, substitute conductor of the Repertory Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Nashville Summer Orchestral Institute.

Chenguang Zhou
ZhouZhou Chenguang is specializing in vocal performance. He grew up in China. In 2011, he graduated from Xinghai Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in art. Now, he is studying vocal music with Professor H. Stephen Smith at MTSU. Chenguang has been learning vocal music for more than 10 years. Although he met many difficulties about singing during these years, nothing can change his love in music. He believes that his future will be good.