Dr. J. Michael Dennis
Dr. J. Michael Dennis is a respected soloist, composer, and leader in the field of Christian music. His career includes performances on national television and international radio, conducting national and international choirs, solos with symphony orchestras, appearances with internationally known vocalists, teaching university courses in music, and service in the local church. He holds a Doctorate in Worship Studies from the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies, Master’s Degree in Church Music from Lee University, and a Bachelor of Performance in Music from the University of Montevallo.
Guitar, Woodwinds, & Brass Teacher
Sarah Grant began her career as a music educator over 20 years ago. During that time she has served as Director of Bands and General Music Specialist in Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Since arriving in Valdosta, Ms. Grant has taught music at Pine Grove Elementary, worked as the Assistant Band Director with Lowndes County Schools, and currently serves as the Music Specialist at Sallas Mahone Elementary. In addition to her public school teaching, Ms. Grant has taught private lessons for 25 years on woodwind instruments (flute, clarinet, saxophone), beginner piano and beginner guitar. She remains a performer on her primary instrument, flute, as a soloist and with local instrumental ensembles.
Ms. Grant earned her Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Louisville. She is currently pursuing a degree in Arts Administration from Florida State University. Teaching certifications include Orff Level I and National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She is a member of the Georgia Music Educators Association and the National Association for Music Educators.
Analine Hellman is originally from Brazil. She began studying classical piano at the age of 11. Mrs. Hellman received her Bachelor's Degree in Piano Performance at Universidade Sagrado Coração in Brazil. In 2013 she received an assistantship to study at Valdosta State University and in 2015 received her Master's in Piano Performance under Dr. Lyle Indergaard. Analine has numerous years of experience in private and group piano instruction within various schools around Brazil and in the USA. Since an early age Analine has participated in many music festivals in Brazil, Chile, Argentina and the US. In addition, Mrs. Hellman has played for several choirs in Brazil as well as the US, and has also accompanied several instruments and ensembles.
Dr. Mark McQuade
Dr. Mark McQuade serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Voice Area Chair at Valdosta
State University, teaching private voice and vocal pedagogy. Along with his deep-rooted
passion for the art of singing he brings nearly 20 years of experience as a performer and director of opera and musical theatre. His voice students have been featured in principal and supporting roles with university, community, and professional opera and musical theater companies, and they are regular award winners, finalists, and semi-finalists at state, regional, and national voice competitions.
As a performer, McQuade has appeared in opera, musical theater, concert, and recitals
throughout the United States and Canada. His operatic performances have included singing
leading roles such as Horace Tabor in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte,
Belcore in L'elisir d'amore, Mr. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera, Bob in The Old Maid and
the Thief, the title role in Tartuffe, and Ko-Ko in The Mikado. Other professional credits include
appearances as Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale with the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in
Fairbanks, Alaska; the roles of Marco in Gianni Schicchi and Sciarrone in Tosca, as well as the
Baker and Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods Jr., all with the Natchez Festival of Music in
Natchez, Mississippi; and the roles of Marco in Gianni Schicchi and Fiorello in Il barbiere di
Siviglia as well as being a featured soloist for “Opera on the River” with the Como Opera Guild.
Recent operatic and musical theatre directing projects have included Rigoletto, Die Zauberflöte,
Susannah, Suor Angelica, Street Scene, Fortune’s Favorites, Passion in the Principal’s Office, Le
nozze di Figaro, Le Mariage aux Lanternes, The Tender Land, Hairspray, Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Godspell. His production of Street Scene earned a top
honor in the 2013 National Opera Association Production Competition. McQuade also served as
the General Director of the Western Plains Opera Company from 2015-2017.
McQuade is an active researcher and published author. His article, "Second Formant Tuning in
Males Above the Secondo Passaggio" was published in the Journal of Singing, Nov/Dec 2014
and his co-authored article, “Cinderella Meets Cendrillion: Musical Theatre and Opera Living
Under the Same Roof” is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Singing in late 2018. His
work, "Richard Miller: A Retrospective" was presented at the 2013 International Congress of
Voice Teachers in Brisbane, Australia. In addition, McQuade has presented poster presentations
and lectures on formant tuning at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Brisbane,
Australia (2013) and Georgia Music Educators Association (2018).
McQuade received the Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Oberlin
Conservatory of Music where he studied voice and worked in the Otto B. Schoepfle Vocal Arts
Center with renowned vocal pedagogue Richard Miller. McQuade also earned a Master of
Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Oklahoma and Doctor of Arts in
Vocal Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Mississippi. McQuade is an active
member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), where he has served as the
Texoma Region Governor, the Oklahoma District Governor, North Dakota District Governor, a
National Board Member, and was the recipient of the NATS Emerging Leader Award. He is
also an active member of the National Opera Association and the College Music Society.
Violin and Viola Teacher
Paola Morales is originally from Bogota, Colombia, and began her musical studies at the age of 12 at the Colombian National Conservatory. In 2014, she earned her Bachelor of Music in Viola from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Before pursuing post-graduate studies, Paola was involved in music education and taught Viola and Violin for several years in Colombia.
In 2018, Mrs. Morales received a graduate assistantship award at Valdosta State University. During her time at VSU she was a graduate teaching assistant for the South Georgia String Project and served as Dr. Laurel Yu’s teaching assistant to Viola majors. She received her Master’s in Viola Performance in 2020.
Paola has played for multiple orchestras in Colombia, South America and in the US. She was a member of the Colombian Youth Philharmonic, Ibero-American Bicentennial Youth Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra, and Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. She has participated in workshops and conferences, including the Suzuki Colombia Association Workshop on Teaching Techniques for Violin and Viola and American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference.
Having taught Violin and Viola in many music schools and orchestra programs, Mrs. Morales has a high level of expertise in private instruction. She loves helping students of all ages grow in their love and understanding of music!
Rebeca Sierra started playing piano as a hobby when she was 8 years old At age 12, she enrolled in music school with french horn as her primary instrument. She continued playing piano on her own for several years before returning to it as her focus. While at first the change proved difficult for various reasons, as time passed she found a great passion for making music with other people through playing piano and french horn with an orchestra. In addition, she accompanies her classmates at Valdosta State University where she studies as a piano performance major. This has changed her perspective and desire to study piano more deeply and to be a better accompanist.
Prior to teaching for VAPA, Rebeca taught in her mother's music studio. From working with her mother, she has learned that every student needs a different approach. Rebeca is a patient teacher and knows how to organize activities to accomplish the goal of each lesson. Rebeca is also bilingual, so her students also benefit from learning some music terminology in Spanish.