Sue Gillio, Owner & Flute

Me headshot 2014Owner of Music Suite 408, instructor of flute and director of the Illinois Valley Flute Choir, is a graduate of LaSalle-Peru High School. She attended Western Illinois University and received a Bachelor of Arts (Magna Cum Laude) and Master of Arts with emphasis in flute performance where she studied with Gerald Carey. She has performed in masterclasses of Alexander Murray, Eric Hoover, Robin Fellows, Wissam Boustany and further studied with the celebrated Trevor Wye.  She is Principal flute of the Illinois Valley Symphony and has performed in the Quad City Symphony, Heartland Philharmonic, Knox-Galesburg Symphony, and Peoria Symphony. She has been a featured soloist with the Northwest Indiana Youth Symphony, Illinois Valley Youth Symphony, Mendota High School Band and Illinois Valley Community College Wind Ensemble. Ms. Gillio was a featured soloist with the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra in 2006 and again in 2014.  Internationally, Ms. Gillio traveled to Italy (1998, 2004) as part of the Rome Festival Orchestra, Opera and Ballet.  She is on faculty at Illinois Valley Community College. She was a guest clinician at the Western Illinois University “Living Legacy” tribute to Gerald Carey (2006) presenting a lecture on “Developing a Successful Music Studio” and has been published in Flute Talk Magazine. She serves on the North Central Illinois ARTworks executive board. She is a member of the Chicago Flute Club, Quad City Flute Association, Rockford Flute Club and National Flute Association where she has performed for the National Conventions in Columbus, OH (2000) and Dallas, TX (2001).  In 1999, she founded the Annual Summer Flute Retreat and is on the faculty at flute camps in San Diego and at Westminster Choir Conservatory in Princeton, New Jersey.  She was awarded the 2014 “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Illinois Valley Small Business Association at Illinois Valley Community College.

  • Her students’ achievements include:
    • First chair ranking at ILMEA at both the Junior and Senior levels
    • Chicago Flute Club Competition Participants and Finalists
    • IHSA (Illinois High School Assn) Solo & Ensemble contest – SUPERIOR RATINGS
    • Winners at the IVYSO and IVSO concerto competitions
    • Members of the Illinois Valley Youth Symphony, Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra
    • NCIC Festival; Bradley Honor Band; Augustana Honor Band; Big XII Conference
    • ILMEA ALL-STATE Participants
    • Chicago Youth Symphony Chamber Program
    • Chicago Flute Club Masterclasses with Carol Meves, Jim Walker, Bonita Boyd, Virginia Broffitt, Gerald Carey, Jonathan Keeble, John Barcellona and Patricia George.
    • Participants at flute camps including Western Illinois University, University of Illinois, Illinois Wesleyan, University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, Oberlin (studying with Michel Debost and Kathy Chastain) and Wildacres Flute Retreat (Studying with William Bennett).
    • National Flute Association: High School Flute Choir Competitions ~ performed at NFA Conventions in Columbus, OH; Las Vegas, NV; Nashville, TN.

Shanna Aiken, Protography…

Shanna is a full-time photographer and owner of Photography by Shanna. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Illinois University. She began studying photography in 1998, and opened her business in 2012. Having worked as a social worker for more than 15 years, Shanna remains involved in helping others with a portrait project working with victims of sexual abuse & assault. Shanna is also the LaSalle-Peru Tuesdays Together leader for the Rising Tide Society, which promotes community over competition among small business owners and creative entrepreneurs.


Jen Antkowiak Etscheid, Flute






Serena Armstrong, Illinois Valley Youth Show Choir

Serena Armstrong is local to LaSalle County and has recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education. Her college focal study was musical theatre, and she has participated in four Engle Lane Community Theatre productions in Streator, and she most recently portrayed Barbra Streisand’s Fanny Brice in Funny Girl last summer at Stage 212 in LaSalle.  Miss Armstrong spent her four years at Columbia College performing in XCEND Show Choir. Her junior and senior year she became the President and Music Director of the choir while student teaching and gaining field experience for her teaching degree.  Serena’s career goals are to become an educator in a school where her arts background, creativity, calming spirit, and positive energy are flourished within her students and classroom.  As an advocate for the arts, Miss Armstrong hopes to start a youth show choir and show choir workshop series. To promote the essential show choir performance skills through music and movement with all children, she plans to make her program affordable for all families to have the option to enroll their children in an arts and performance program.

sarah_arterSarah Arter, Irish Fiddle, Violin, Voice







Aamber-backusmber Backus, Clarinet/Piano

Amber Backus has been teaching music for nearly 13 years and performing from a very young age. She teaches piano to students of all ages as well as clarinet to students who are beginners through high school age, and has a wonderful way with young students.  She graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio with a Bachelor of Music Education with Instrumental Concentration.  Amber is currently the band and choir director at Waltham Schools in Utica and has previously taught in Spring Valley, Grand Ridge, and DePue. She has also accompanied several children’s musicals for the Prairie Arts Center in Princeton, IL.  In addition to teaching and accompanying, Amber is also an active member of area ensembles, performing with the Spring Valley and DePue City Bands, Illinois Valley Community College’s Wind Ensemble, and the DeKalb Municipal Band.  Amber can be reached by emailing her at, or calling the studio.


Anne Badger, Piano, received her Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College in Music and English and a Master of Arts from Yale University. She studied organ with Richard Litterst, piano with Donald Walker, Minka Roustcheva, and Wilbur Price.  Anne was a freelance pianist and specialist in early music in New Haven, Connecticut and the New York metropolitan area. She served as the Professor of English at Bucknell University, with a field specialization in eighteenth-century British literature, and with particular interests in the interrelations between the arts.  She currently holds the position as the organist at the First Congregational Church UCC in Ottawa and maintains a private piano and organ studio.  She is working on a book in the field of architectural history titled “Alexander J. Davis, American Architect” based on the David historical archives in New York City, to be published by Mount Ida Press.


Sharlene Bentley, Early childhood music classes, Clarinet/Piano, began piano lessons at the age of five and has studied clarinet and voice. She was an active participant in IMEA choral events in high school and received the John Phillips Sousa Award for band.  Sharlene received an Associate in Arts degree from IVCC where she performed in choir, madrigals and the wind ensemble. In addition to music, Ms. Bentley was enrolled in child care and education classes.  She was the music teacher at the Children’s Montessori School in Peru for many years. Recently Sharlene received training for Music Together® in Chicago.  Sharlene lives in Mendota with her husband and three children.

Michelle Black, Lego Club facilitor

Kim Codokim-codo-photo, Guitar, Bass & Ukulele

Kim Codo is a graduate of Ottawa High School.  He attended Illinois Valley Community College and Illinois State University where he majored in Music Theory and Composition and studied with Roque Cordero.  He has worked as a professional musician with various bands from 1966 through 1993. and has taught guitar since 1970. Additionally, he has studied with Frank Longary (SSA approved teacher trainer) for registration as a Suzuki ® Guitar Instructor.  Mr. Codo is on the music faculty at Illinois Valley Community College and maintains private studios in Princeton and Music Suite 408.

Ben Crosby, Oboe

Ben Crosby is an active oboe player in the region, and holds a Bachelor degree in oboe performance from Northern Illinois University.  He has been an oboist with the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra since 2002 and has played with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. He teaches oboe at Music Suite 408, the Community School of the arts at Northern Illinois University and in his hometown of Oregon, IL.


Darrell Data, Guitar

Darrell Data is a local vocal dynamo with a following as large and diverse as his 500+ play list (40’s-Current Blues, Rock, Jazz, Country).  He’s played with the likes of Charlie Daniels, The Marshall Tucker Band, and The Amazing Atlantic Rhythm Aces, and has two major record label CD’s to his credit.  Darrell is uncompromising in his passion for creativity, entertainment, and professional integrity, and he continues to be respected and connected in the Seattle area music scene. His versatility allows him to play a room of any size, from solo acoustic to large ensemble, from George Strait to Marvin Gaye.  Phone: 253-279-2276 email:


Constance L. Deal, Registered Suzuki Instructor: Violin, Viola & Pre Twinkle


Ms. Deal’s musical training began in Hickory North Carolina, where she studied with Varton Manoogian (1974-76). Her summers were spent in study at Brevard Music Camp, Brevard, North Carolina and later at the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan.  In 1981, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Violin Performance from Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina. While there she studied with Dr. Jeri Lucktenburg. After college, she taught private lessons in Dunwoody, Georgia. Currently, she teaches violin privately in the Geneseo, Annawan and at Music Suite 408.  Since moving to Annawan, Illinois in 1992, Ms. Deal is active in teaching violin to all ages and performing in many community activities. Some of these activities are Knox Galesburg Symphony Orchestra, 2004 Quad Cities Music Guild’s performance of Jekyl and Hyde, Bureau Valley High School’s annual musical, Kewanee Community Palm Sunday Concert and Christmas Concert, and guest soloist at many local churches. Ms. Deal is a member of Music to Remember, which provides music for weddings and special occasions. She is a registered member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas (thru Book 6). Past performing opportunities include the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra, Geneseo String Ensemble, and Geneseo Music Club.

Arica DeArcos, Certified Gemologist, “Chain, Link & Gemstone”

Pam Engels, Piano


Pam Engels received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Illinois State University.  She passed the CPA exam and worked as an accountant until leaving the field to be a full-time mother to her daughter and son who have since grown to be adults.  She studied piano with Dr. Carlyn Morenus, Dr. Patricia Whikehart, Myrtle Lawrence and Richard Snow.  She returned to Illinois State University for continuing education and completed a piano pedagogue class in the 2013 Spring Semester.  Pam is employed part-time by LaSalle-Peru Township High School as a choral accompanist and St. John’s Lutheran Church as a church pianist/organist and accompanist.  She has accompanied numerous musicals, solo and ensemble contests, and weddings.  She served two terms as treasurer for the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra. She lives in Peru with her husband, Rich and her dog, Trixie.

Emily Gallagher, Clarinet & Saxophone


Received her BM of Music Education from Western Illinois University.  Emily is a graduate of Mendota High School and began playing clarinet and piano at the age of 10, studied privately all throughout grade school and college.  This will be her 5th year teaching – currently the Band and Choir Director and General Music teacher at Bureau Valley CUSD #340.  She has performed in the IVYSO, Stage 212, Mendota Community Theatre Productions, IVCC Wind Ensemble and the Manhattan KS Municipal Band.  She has taught private lessons on Clarinet, Piano, and Saxophone for 10 years.  Emily has previously taught in Grand Ridge, IL, Manhattan, KS, and Chapman, KS.  Emily can be reached at or 815-343-2144


Ben Gibson, Piano

A native of the Illinois Valley, Ben Gibson shares more than 25 years of piano experience with his students. At the ripe age of six, Ben began taking piano lessons. His older brother was also taking piano lessons, but was considerably farther ahead than Ben due to his age. Ben quickly learned that he had a innate ear for music. He could listen to the more advanced music his brother was playing, and play it himself—without looking at a note. And this began Ben’s love of playing piano. Lessons continued and talent grew. After serving his country in the Marine Corps, Ben felt he was being called to use his musical talent to positively impact the lives of others. Today, Ben is a career musician. A day of work for him includes performing, teaching, and even tuning pianos. Ben currently performs as a pianist and back-up vocalist for several musical groups, as well as entertaining weekly at a piano bar. He has experience performing many genres of music from jazz to heavy metal, country to classical, and blues to rock ‘n roll. Piano lessons with Ben will surely not be boring. He keeps students engaged and is able to cater to the differing needs of each student. A lesson with Ben will be grounded in music theory. It will include learning to read music, as well as ear training. It will include technical aspects of playing piano, as well as musical aspects. It will include learning many different genres of music and gaining performance experience. The icing of the cake, is that Ben makes this process fun. So, for all you aspiring pianists out there, Ben is excited to meet you and help you become the best pianist and performer you can be

John Gillio, Elementary & Junior High Math Tutor, Fly tying classes


John Gillio recently retired as the math and science educator at Deer Park School.  He was a member of the faculty for 36 years.  Mr. Gillio received a bachelor of science from Illinois State University.  He is an avid fly fisherman and rod builder.



Brady Hughes, Spanish/Voice

Brady Hughes, Spanish/Voice educator is a native of Mendota, IL.  Brady graduated from Mendota High School before attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he graduated with honors with a double major in Global Studies and Spanish. He spent the last semester of his college career living abroad in Granada, Spain. He has experience teaching Spanish in both individual and small-group settings. Brady spends his free time immersing himself in the local arts. He has experience with direction for plays and musicals with Mendota Community Theatre, Mendota High School, and St. Bede Academy, and he has also worked as a pianist/organist with Mendota High School, Stage 212, and various local churches. Brady recently appeared onstage as Tony in the Bloomington Community Players Theatre production of “West Side Story”, as well as Lumiere in the 3M production of Beauty and the Beast in Mendota

Mary Janusick, Director of the Art Program/Art educator


Kevin Kramer, Guitar, Drums


Kevin Kramer is a graduate of La Salle-Peru High School. He received and Associate in Arts from Illinois Valley Community College and graduated cum laude from Columbia College in Chicago in 2011 which a Bachelor of Arts degree in music composition.  He received the Woody Herman Jazz Award and the Jerry Shannon Memorial Service Award at La Salle-Peru High School in 2004.  Kevin has performed as a vocalist, guitarist, and drummer with various bands in the Illinois Valley and in Chicago.  Kevin can be reached by email at


Justin Marxman, Brass

Justin Marxman graduated from Illinois State University where he received his Bachelor of Music Education (Magna Cum Laude). While at ISU he performed in the wind symphony, jazz band, trombone choir, and served as drum major in the marching band. Justin is a music educator and active performer around the Illinois Valley. He is principal trombone in the Illinois Valley Orchestra and a member of the Illinois Valley Community College Wind Ensemble. Justin is currently the band director at Shepherd Middle School in Ottawa beginning his third year of instruction. Contact Information: or (708) 821-2195

Jenilyn Roether, Voice


Jeni has many years of experience instructing boys, girls, men and women of all ages and abilities in the vocal arts. She is a native of the Illinois Valley and a graduate of LaSalle-Peru High School.  Mrs. Roether holds a Bachelor of Music Education, specializing in voice, from Illinois Wesleyan University where she studied under Bridget Rose. Mrs. Roether also holds a Master of Music Education from Northern Illinois University where she studied voice with Myron Myers and conducting with Dr. Eric Johnson.  Currently, Mrs. Roether directs the Illinois Valley Youth Choir, the area’s top children’s choir. She also sings professionally with Cor Cantiamo and Canterbury Singers.  Contact directly at or by phone: 815-252-5582.


Michael Templeton, Banjo…


Michael Templeton, self taught banjoist and instrumentalist /harmony singer for The Templetons, has been playing his instrument for eight years. He has proficient knowledge in Scruggs, Melodic, and Clawhammer styles of playing banjo, all three of which he enjoys performing and teaching.  His masterful playing can be heard in both of The Templetons CDs, entitled THAT EVENING TRAIN and CHERRY MINE. He is the 2nd place winner of the 2014 Illinois State Banjo Contest and 1st place winner of the East Troy Bluegrass Festival Banjo Contest in Wisconsin for the years 2013 and 2014. Playing music has been part of Michael’s life since he was seven years old, when as part of a homeschool curriculum he began to learn basic piano and music theory along with the harmonica. He has experience in playing the bass, cajon, harmonica, and some guitar. Michael loves listening to many different types and artists in music including Bluegrass, Classical, Cajun, Celtic, Old Time, Folk, Alternative, and Electronic genres, and enjoys the challenge of applying the artistic elements of all of these to his own music.  He is now attending college at Illinois Valley Community College, and is working on his Associates in Arts in pursuit of a degree in English, while also building his career in music. He lives in Lostant IL, and his social profile can be found on Facebook (Michael Templeton II) and on The Templeton’s website for their band (



Delle (Peterson) Vercimak, Cello & Piano

Delle Vercimak received her BM in Music Education and her Illinois State Teachers Certificate at Western Illinois University. Her primary teachers include Dr. Charlotte Williams Muir, Michael Pecherek and Dr. Moises Molina. Additionally, she has studied with Dr. Adriana de la Rose, Dr. Nina Gordon, Tony Arnone, Dr. William Cernota and Dr. Thomas Landshoot.  She has been on faculty at the Quincy Summer Music Festival in Quincy, IL and French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts in Hancock, New York.  She is on the faculty at IVCC and is the business manager of the Illinois Valley Youth Symphony.  Ms. Vercimak is a member of the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, she toured in Germany performing “The Magic Flute” with the Lausitzer Opernsommer.  She resides near Mendota and teaches cello and piano.


Natalie Verucchi, World Music Mini Camp

Natalie Verucchi is a native to the Illinois Valley.  After graduating from SIUC in Music Education, she spent several years in Chicago singing and studying improv at The Second City Conservatory. Post Chicago, she backpacked Central/South America for several years immersing in the culture and exploring. Now back in the area, she performs in local theater, frequents drum circles, teaches General Music in the schools and advocates the importance of arts and culture in the Illinois Valley.  She is currently teaches choir at Parkside Middle School in Peru.

Nicole Warren, Art & Voice

James Younger, Brass…

James is a graduate of Mendota High School.  He received is Bachelor’s in Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he performed in the Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Trombone Quartet.  He has taught private students for 23 years and been a school band director for the last 21 years.  He is currently the band director for Northbrook Middle School in Mendota.
James has played trombone with the Class Act Big Band, the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra and was a soloist with the Mendota High School Band.
James can be contacted at or 815-910-0020.