Ms. Grimes holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Instrumental Education from the Hartt School of Music, Connecticut and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Catholic University, Washington, DC. Ms. Grimes' primary instruments are violin/viola; she is also proficient on piano, cello and trumpet. She has over 35 years experience in working with young children, the last 25 as Director of the Smiling Strings program. A member of the American String Teacher's Association where she was a 2006 National Conference presenter, her public school orchestras consistently received superior ratings at the CPS Elementary Music Festivals and she has appeared as a guest conductor for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Ms. Grimes was also the Music Director/Co-founder of the Northside Youth Symphony, a non-profit organization comprised of elementary/middle schoolers that rehearsed at Northside College Prep HS from 2000-2015 representing students from approximately 25 North Side schools. She now directs the Smiling Strings Youth Ensembles. Ms. Grimes is a member of the Lake Shore and Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestras. In her free time enjoys world-wide travel and playing with her two young grandsons!


Andrea Nott is currently the cello teacher and administrative assistant in the Smiling Strings program.  She received her Bachelor's degree in cello performance from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and her Master's degree in cello performance from the University of Missouri in Kansas City.  Andrea has performed in the Madison Symphony, the Des Moines Symphony, the Illinois Philharmonic and the Dubuque Symphony.  Currently, Andrea is a member of the Cecilia Trio, Belleisle, and Racine Symphony Orchestra.


Christine Chon graduated in 2014 with her masters degree in Violin Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Mikhail Kopelman. In 2008, she completed her undergraduate studies at the DePaul School of Music in Chicago, where she studied with Robert Waters and Janet Sung. In 2012, Christine was selected as the DePaul University nominee for the Graduate Arts Award supported by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Outside of school, she has also recently finished her term as a section violinist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. In past summers, Christine has participated in many festivals, including Round Top Music Festival, Mimir Chamber Music Festival, and Bowdoin International Music Festival.  


Mr. Elfers graduated from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX in 2006. His main instrument is the viola and he is a member of the Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra and Buckingham Quartet. Mr. Elfers moved to Chicago last summer and is excited about his 3rd year of teaching, both with Smiling Strings and as a rehearsal coach with the Northside Youth Symphony. Before leaving Texas, he taught 6th and 7th grade orchestra in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District.


Ms. Maupin, a lifelong resident of Illinois, began taking suzuki violin lessons at the age of five and has since then attended the 14th Suzuki Method World Convention in Turin, Italy and has performed in China, Austria, and Hungary. In 2013 she received her Master of Music in violin performance from DePaul University under the tutelage of Olga Dubossarskaya Kaler. Having privately taught for over 10 years now, Emma continues to adapt and meld her teaching style to reflect her own Suzuki and classical training. Aside from teaching Ms. Maupin is a freelance performer in the Chicagoland area.


Peter began his studies on violin when he was six years old. He studied with Gerardo Ribeiro at Northwestern University when he began high school. He then went on to attend the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, OH, where he studied with Won-Bin Yim. Peter plays with various quartets and chamber music groups that play throughout the Chicagoland area. He has been a member of the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra for six years and is currently getting certified in music education at Northeastern Illinois University.


Mr. Peterman is a graduate student at Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts and a new faculty member....biography to follow!



Robert Turner is principal harpist with the Northshore Symphony Orchestra and a full-time CPS teacher at DeWitt Elementary School. Also a former assistant principal, Robert holds a BA degree in Education and a Masters in Education Administration and Curriculum and Instruction.


Brandon J. Acker is a highly sought out soloist, collaborator and lecturer on the classical guitar and renaissance lute.  Notable achievements include: 1st Prize in the 2010 Society of American Musician's competition; Performance degrees from both DePaul and Northwestern; An Scotland/England tour with Chamber Opera Chicago; and two classical CDs.  Known for his knowledge in a wide range of styles and on many instruments, Brandon is a highly sought out teacher on Classical/Rock/Folk guitar, electric bass and ukulele.

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Juan A. Garcia is an arranger, performer and teacher of the guitar. Juan has recently finished his Masters of Music in Classical Guitar Performance from Northwestern University. He has done studio work with the Northwestern Cello Ensemble and Endless Waltz (a Los Angeles collective). During his time in Los Angeles he performed as a part of an honors guitar quartet representing California State University, Northridge. This group has performed all over Los Angeles and San Francisco. In Chicago he has arranged and performed for Main Street Opera and Northwestern’s Contemporary Music Ensemble.  Juan also teaches at the People’s Music School.