Area Resources

Private Teachers


Ms. Gail (Lilja) Kirkeeng - Violin/Viola

phone: 847.909.GAIL (4245)

Gail (Lilja) Kirkeeng is a violinist who brings a vast level of experience to her teaching. She has performed with nearly every musical organization in Chicago such as the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Grant Park Symphony and various chamber music groups. As a freelancer, she has accompanied many legendary artists from Luciano Pavarotti to Tony Bennett, Isaac Stern, Ray Charles, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Judy Collins, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, Richard Marx and more. Throughout her professional performing experiences, she has also always cared very much about developing her students’ potential. Over the years she has taught literally hundreds of violin students. Every student of hers that has auditioned for a college music scholarship has successfully received one. Other students have gone on to become professional players. Gail (Lilja) Kirkeeng graduated from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. with a Bachelor’s Degree in Violin Performance. While at NIU she was a private student of world class violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi and the Vermeer String Quartet. She is also a certified Suzuki teacher. Gail (Lilja) Kirkeeng teaches excellence in violin playing to students of all ages and all levels of playing from beginners to advanced college level. Please call to inquire as to her current availability and rates.

Ms. Dana Zapata

Dana began her violin studies at the age of 4 in the Suzuki violin studio of Jane Kohnke. The violin was such a positive influence on her life, that she made it her goal to give the gift of music to others through teaching. Dana studied music performance at Illinois Wesleyan University with Vadim Mazo and graduated in 2010.

Dana began teaching in 2010 and has experience with students of all ages, from beginner to advanced. She has developed her own teaching method through the years, that is highly adaptable to the needs of each student. Dana combines elements of the Suzuki method with traditional teaching. Dana aims to make lessons fun and informative. She believes that proper technique is tool to promote beautiful and expressive playing. Dana is a certified Suzuki violin and viola teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

Dana is also an active orchestral performer. She is a member of Symphony847, and has played with Kenosha Symphony and Lake County Symphony Orchestra. She enjoys playing in chamber ensembles as well.

Ms. Iordanka Kissiova - Violin/Viola

phone: 847.370.0037

Ms. Kissiova offers private violin and viola instruction; solo, chamber, and orchestral performances; extensive repertoire for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Iordanka Kissiova received her musical training at the Bulgarian National Academy of Music where she was a student of Professor George Bliznev and George Monov (performing artist coming from the finest Russian tradition in violin playing, associated with Professor Eidlin and David Oistrakh). As a member of the Lady’s Chamber Orchestra in Bulgaria (R. Batalova, music director), Mrs. Kissiova performed throughout Italy, Spain, France, and Germany. While being a member of the National State Theatre of Music Orchestra, she was also a string instructor and co-founder of the New Youth Philharmonic in Sofia, Bulgaria. In the United States, she has performed with New Philharmonic, Elmhurst, Fox Valley, Lake Shore, Northwest Indiana symphony orchestras and was assistant concert master of the Chicago Classical Symphony. Mrs. Kissiova has appeared as soloist with Chicago Businessmen’s Orchestra, performing the violin concerto by D. Kabalevsky. August 2004, she performed at the World Premiere of Violin Concerto #2 by Michael Karasis with Chicago Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Paul Vermel, which she also performed with St. Vincent Orchestra, and Northwest Symphony Orchestra. She performed at the premier of the double violin concerto (dedicated to herself and husband, Mr. Peter Blagoev) and then at the premiere of "Dialogue" for voice and violin by Dr. Karasis with the Chicago Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra. Currently, she is the principal second violin for the Northwest Symphony Orchestra under Paul Vermel and a member of Illinois Symphony Orchestra in Springfield, Danville Symphony, R.F.&O.P. Symphony Orchestra. She is also a member of the New Budapest Orpheum Society with which she performs throughout the Chicago area, the Y.I.V.O. Festival in New York, Europe's Vienna and Berlin, and she participated in the recording of their second CD "Jewish Cabaret in Exile." under Cedille Records label by the Chicago Classical Recording Foundation. As a chamber musician, she has collaborated extensively with her husband, Peter Blagoev, with whom she has performed for numerous recordings and live broadcasts. Mrs. Kissiova is a resident of Des Plaines, Illinois and very active as a private violin and viola teacher in addition to her performing career.

Ms. Elizabeth Ortiz - Violin/Viola

phone: 847.639.0997

Ms. Ortiz is a registered Suzuki teacher through the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Orchestra Studies from Roosevelt University. Ms. Ortiz has been involed in extensive private studies and chamber music coaching. In addition, she has completed master classes with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She has ten years experience teaching ages 3 through adult, all levels. Ms. Ortiz offers her students thorough musical training with an emphasis on developing good technique, listening, tone perfection, and at home practice habits; development of focus, sensitivity, coordination, and confidence; comprehensive instruction in music reading, sight-reading, theory, and ear training; performance opportunities; advice on buying, renting, and caring for instruments.

Ms. Donna Curry - Violin/Viola

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 847.721.1860


Studio Locations: Gorton Community Center, Lake Forest and Winnetka, Il. Ms. Curry is an accomplished violinist and Master Teacher in the Lake Forest, New Trier/ North Shore Districts. She is a Teacher Trainer of the Suzuki Method and teaches all ages in both Suzuki and Traditional Methods. Donna established and developed the successful Suzuki Program, repertoire groups and orchestras at the Music Institute of Chicago in Winnetka. Donna was invited faculty at the International Suzuki Convention in Banff, Canada and other Institutes nationwide. Her students hold Principal positions in several major area orchestras. Donna’s teaching is goal driven with a gentle, fun approach that focuses on the fundamentals. Nurturing students to their full potential is her dedication. Ms. Curry is a former faculty member at Northwestern University school of Music, Music Institute of Chicago and the Winnetka Public Schools. She teaches violin to all ages and levels at Classic Violins' Kenosha location.

Andre Rivera - Violin

phone: 224.338.8058

Andre Rivera is a multi-instrumentalist who graduated from Augustana College with a Bachelor of the Arts in music education and minor in jazz studies. At Augustana he was principal trumpet in the Augustana Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra and Jazz Combos. Andre Alfonso Music is located in Lake Villa, IL and teaches music lessons on all instruments in English or Spanish.