Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area

SAGWA Board of Directors

About the Board

Members of the Board of Directors are elected by SAGWA's voting membership. SAGWA's Board of Directors is comprised of nine individuals, of whom at least five must be active teachers using the Suzuki approach. Among the teachers there must be at least one teacher from each SAGWA instrument division (a Division Chair). At least two board members must be lay-parents of students receiving musical instruction from teachers using the Suzuki approach.

The Board terms are two years in length and include eight or nine meetings per year, typically on Sunday afternoons. Board members are responsible for membership, finance, marketing, fundraising, website, newsletter and operational aspects as an umbrella organization for the various institutes and divisions.

SAGWA Board Members for 2014-15

Active Board Members

Marissa Murphy, Chair

Marissa Murphy, a native of Buffalo, NY, is the Founder and Director of Washington Suzuki Strings, and serves as Principal Second Violin of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Murphy is the newly elected Chair of the Board of Directors for the Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area- SAGWA. Ms. Murphy’s Advanced Ensemble has performed at the White House on three occasions, for Vice President Biden at his residence, for the Ambassadors of Zambia and Norway at their respective embassies, soloed with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, and performed at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Her students have been prizewinners in the Marlin-Engel Competition, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, and have achieved “A Levels” in their American String Teachers Association Exams. Ms. Murphy received a B.M. in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Double M.M. in violin performance and pedagogy from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Her major teachers include Martin Beaver, Linda Cerone, Ronda Cole, Mary Cay Neal, and David Russell. Ms. Murphy has performed on NPR’s “All Things Considered” as part of a tribute to Mozart, and has also performed at the National Repertory Orchestra, Encore, Spoleto, and Bowdoin festivals. She has soloed on multiple occasions with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and the Clarence Symphony. Ms. Murphy has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, New World Symphony, the National Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Annapolis, Clarence, and Alexandria Symphonies, and is the former Second Violinist of the New Music Associates Quartet in residence at Cleveland State University. She has given recitals for President Jimmy Carter to honor his Nobel Prize, and at the Cleveland Museum of Art and St. Paul’s Cathedral Recital Series, and is on the faculty of the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute and the Buffalo Suzuki Strings Summer Workshop. Ms. Murphy is the former Associate Chair Suzuki Strings and Violin Faculty at the Levine School of Music and has been published in the Suzuki Association of the Americas National Journal and the American String Teachers Association Journal. She currently serves on the American String Teachers Association Board of Directors for the MD/DC Chapter. Ms. Murphy is registered with the Suzuki Association of the Americas- SAA having completed all levels 1-10 of Suzuki teacher training with Ronda Cole and Mary Cay Neal.

Danielle Dotson, Treasurer

Danielle Dotson, from Sydney, Australia, has been a Suzuki student for many years. She learned piano and violin, accompanied,  attended the Matsumoto summer schools in 1984, performed in Pan-Pacific and International conferences, and started teaching in 1989. 
Danielle has completed the Associate and Licentiate of Music certifications with the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB). She completed an MA (International Education) at the University of Georgetown in 2008. Danielle has 3 young children and currently teaches privately in Arlington, VA, and in Cheverly, MD.

She has served on the SAGWA Board since 2007 as website liaison, marketing director and as board chair from late 2012.

Maria Baker

Maria F. Baker has been a Suzuki parent for 3 years. Her daughter studies violin and attended the Suzuki Strings Festival and the Institute. “It was at the Institute this year that I became much more aware of what SAGWA seeks to achieve for students and teachers, and, as a result, I became convinced that I would like to be of help. I learned that SAGWA may have need for additional assistance particularly in the area of developing the content of its website and visual presence.”

Ms. Baker is a freelance translator and interpreter for the International Center for Language Studies and the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Her professional experience includes co-founder and managing director of the German Language Center in Bloomfield Hills, MI; lecturer at the University of Michigan, and the Founder and Director of CultureSpan, Worldwide Business Services. She has travelled extensively throughout Europe, United States, South-East Asia and East Africa. Ms. Baker’s education includes studies in law at the University of Cologne, Germany. Her languages include German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

Sarah Drexler


Martha Ethington

M. Science, Oxford University; BA, University of Utah; studied with Mr. Toshio Takahashi, Talent Education Institute (Matsumoto, Japan). Certified Teacher, Suzuki Flute Method levels 1A-12 and has been teaching Suzuki Method for 20 years. Co-developed and introduced K-6 materials for use in Utah's public schools. Former humanitarian aid administrator in Mali, Africa.

Naomi Kusano

Naomi Kusano, who has served on the SAGWA Piano Committee since 2007, began studying the piano with her mother when she was two. Naomi was introduced to the Suzuki Method in the early 70’s while studying the violin in Japan. After graduating with a degree in piano from the Conservatorio Statale di Musica “L.Cherubini” di Firenze in Italy, Naomi completed the fifth and last level of European Suzuki teacher training at the British Suzuki Institute (BSI), England, obtaining a diploma from the European Suzuki Association (Dip.ESA). Additional Suzuki training includes study with Dr. Suzuki, Dr. Kataoka and Mr. Takahashi at the Talent Education Research Institute (TERI). A former faculty member at the Levine School of Music, Naomi has maintained a Suzuki piano studio in Chevy Chase MD since 2007. Naomi, who is committed to life-long learning, has taught Suzuki piano and Music Mind Games at workshops and institutes in Italy, Holland, England, Iceland, Canada and US.

Chris Sanchez

A native of the Washington D.C. region, violinist Chris Sanchez began his musical studies at age seven, completing the Suzuki curriculum within five years and continuing his childhood studies with David Salness at the University of Maryland and at the Meadowmount School in New York. He has earned performance degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park (BM) and the University of Georgia (MM). His major teachers have included Ronda Cole, Sally Thomas, David Salness, Dr. Levon Ambartsumian, Charles Castleman, and Arnold Steinhardt and John Dalley of the Guarneri String Quartet.

Mr. Sanchez has held numerous orchestral leadership positions throughout his career, currently serving as Principal 2nd Violin of the Apollo Chamber Orchestra and the Opera Camerata of Washington. He has made numerous appearances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Lyceum, and Constitution Hall, and has cut several important recordings with the Ambartsumian Russian Chamber Orchestra. Currently, he serves as one of the principal conductors of the Frederick Regional Youth Orchestra.

Mr. Sanchez invests his pedagogical skills wholeheartedly in his Suzuki studio, Sanchez Suzuki Strings, LLC, for which he teaches in Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Columbia, MD.

Roger Taylor

Roger Taylor is a registered Suzuki guitar instructor teaching in Arlington, Virginia. He has a long career as a musician and guitar instructor beginning in the 80's. Roger began teaching Suzuki after a positive introduction to the method when he sought violin lessons for his daughter and, with his son wanting to play guitar, found there were no instructors in the area. He now has a studio of about twenty students, and has been teaching Suzuki guitar for four years. Roger also has a jazz trio, Anita's Jazz Hat, and can be heard playing from time to time at local venues.

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