With our faculty of experienced arts educators, the Fine Arts Center of Easley provides expert instruction to our students. Our team of instructors are motivated by their love of their art and the passion to transfer their knowledge and skills to others so their creativity and talent can shine.
Mike Retzer (All Band Instruments) is a certified instrumental educator with 30 years of experience with middle and high school bands. Mike is a member of The National Association for Music Education, the National Band Association, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). "Music has been a driving force in my life for as far back as I can remember. It has always been a joy for me to help young people realize their best potential as young musicians!"
Don Foster(guitar, bass guitar, banjo, violin/fiddle, mandolin, dobro guitar, ukulele) is an accomplished musician, songwriter, live performer and music teacher who lives in Easley, SC. Picking up his first instrument at age 3, he grew passionate about playing music, especially his first love - the guitar - and has been playing for more than 40 years. Don has been teaching since 1987.
Jamie Wright (Vocal Coaching) received her formal training at the NC School of Performing Arts, and has performed with Opera Ebony in New York. Jamie has studied and performed in a variety of genres including, opera, musical theatre, jazz, R&B, soul and Neo-soul, Funk and Gospel. Jamie performs locally with her band, the Jamie Wright Project, and has recently released a demo album with plans for an album in the works in the near future.
Russ Chapman(Drums, Bass, Guitar, Rock Academy Director) began his musical career in middle school band. He has been performing live and doing session work ever since high school. Russ has played with Russ Lee (Newsong) and Chris Sligh, toured and recorded with Corey Crowder, and is a full-time member of the Hired Help, the Mark Webb and Katlin Owen Bands. Russ has been teaching for over 15 years. "I love to teach. I feel called to pass on the gift and love of music that I have been given." Along with traditional music, Russ also reads and teaches the Nashville number system.
Stacy Means (Piano, Harp) is a graudate of Bob Jones University (Elementary Education/Music) and Furman University (Reading Specialist). After teaching in the public schools for 4 years, Stacy began teaching piano and harp lessons at her home in 2004. She has also taught piano lessons at Christian Home Educators of Easley (2011-2017) and Artios (2018-present). Stacy has a passion for music, studying several instruments in college, establishing an orchestra in her church and starting a music ministry in a local senior-living community.
Renee Gillespie (Art Classes) holds a BA in Studio Art from Washington College in Chestertown, MD. Renee has been teaching students how to achieve their goals for 20 years, and has experience starting art programs in schools and museums. Renee and her husband, David are frequent Historic Art Interpreters at historic sites such as Mount Vernon, Charles Town Landing and Middleton Place Plantation.
Elizabeth Johnson (violin, viola, cello) studied cello at North Greenville University and has 5 years experience teaching stringed instruments. Her experience working with children and her knowledge of the instruments of the string family qualify her as an excellent choice for beginning violin and viola players and beginning to advanced cello players.
Ryan Kouvolo (saxophone) has been playing the saxophone for over 30 years, and instructing students at the Fine Arts Center of Easley for the past 7 years. A 1999 graduate of Clemson University, Ryan was a member and featured soloist with the University Jazz Ensemble, and has been involved with the school's alumni jazz group, the Jungaleers. He has performed locally with Hot as a Pepper, RazzMaJazz, Rendition, and even appeared on stage with Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon. In addition to the above, Ryan has been part of the stage band for Happy Days the Musical at the Foothills Playhouse in Easley, as well as Smokey Joe’s Café and Groovin’: Hits of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s at the Youths Centre for the Performing Arts in Ftn.Inn.
April Nurmi (Vocal Coaching), is a graduate of The College for Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL, where she received her Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance. April has performed with the Atlanta Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre and completed Young Artist Programs in Chicago and San Francisco. She is an avid music lover and enjoys all genres of music. She believes that art is the breath of life and an avenue for ones passion.
Eryn Chickey-Tillery (Theatre Classes, Summer Acting Camps) Eryn is a graduate of the College of Charleston with a degree in Theatre and is the drama teacher at Camperdown Academy in Greenville. Eryn has appeared in numerous community theatre productions throughout the Upstate and loves sharing her passion for acting with her students. Eryn teaches our acting classes for children and teens, and directs our Encore Theatre Co. productions.
Kelly Ward (piano) graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano Performance from Azusa Pacific University in California. Kelly has had a diverse experience in the Arts with over 15 years experience as a musician, composer and teacher. Kelly has composed music for a variety of productions at local theatres and has 2 full-length CDs available on iTunes and Amazon. She has also performed her original compositions in the Greenville and Asheville areas.
Andrew Farmer (Piano, Guitar, Dulcimer, Ukulele) Andrew studied Music Composition and Computer Music at Prairie Bible College in Alberta, Canada, from which he graduated with a degree in Religion. He has been a private music instructor since the year 2000, teaching guitar, piano, dulcimer, mandolin and music theory. He has authored 3 dulcimer instructional books and 1 Guitar method book. Andrew is currently the Music Minister at Maranatha Baptist Church in Seneca, SC.
Gregbo Watson (Comic Art & Cartooning) - is a professional illustrator and comic book artist. Gregbo has Associate degrees from the Visual Arts Institute at Greenville Tech and the Greenville Museum School of Art. Gregbo has done illustration work for Marvel Comics, Upper Deck, Zenescope Entertainment, and many more. Gregbo makes frequent appearances at Comic-cons and comic books stores around the country. He also does private commissions and freelance projects.
Gloria Little (Young Voices) is a graduate of Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, where she received a degree in theology. Gloria has taught pre-school and children's music classes for many years, utilizing the Hungarian (Kodaly) method, teaching folk songs, singing games and basic musicianship. Gloria also assists in the FACE office on Tuesday evenings.
Kristen Batson (piano/voice) holds a Bachelors of Music Education degree (piano, voice) from Berry College, as well as a Masters of Education in Music Education from Auburn University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 20 years of classroom experience. Kristen is currently the Choral Director at Wren Middle School, and has been the church pianist at Glenwood Baptist in Easley for over 10 years.
Danielle Martin (violin, viola) Danielle completed her B.M. in violin performance at Stetson University and studied violin performance and Suzuki Pedagogy at East Carolina University. She has performed professionally with the Clemson University Symphony, Toccoa Symphony and GLOW Lyric Theatre. She has taught violin, viola and cello since 1995, and maintains a very busy teaching schedule in the upstate.
Scott Fortner (guitar) grew up in Easley SC. He has been playing guitar as his main instrument for 25 years. He has written, recorded and performed various styles of music with several different groups over the years. He has taught guitar lessons and basic music theory since 2014. Scott is very thankful for the role music has played in his life, and enjoys helping other people reach their musical goals.
Robbie Chambers (Guitar, Bass Guitar, Slide Guitar) began his musical journey 35 years ago. In addition to songwriting and studio work, Robbie has been a member of numerous bands in the area over the years. He has played various genres of music from gospel , blues, and rock to jazz and heavy metal. His passion is sharing the gift of music with others and he tailors lesson plans for each individual student. He has been teaching for 7 years.
Ford Smith (Adult Acting) is a professional actor, both AEA and SAG, from Seneca, SC.who studied theatre at Anderson University, improv at iOWest, Second City, Groundlings, and UCB in Los Angeles. Working Union actor that has been involved in various film, TV, and theatre productions such as The Purge, Father Pete’s Corner, Beauty and the Beast (Southern California), just to name a few. Private coaching also available. Resume: http://resumes.actorsaccess.com/fordsmith
Dr. Rebecca Ashe (Flute, Piano) has over twenty-five years of experience teaching flute, piano, and music theory. She loves to provide students the chance to share their passion and talent with others. Collaborations are also highly encouraged, and students have enjoyed playing duets and small ensembles together. She has degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She also studied with Trevor Wye at his prestigious studio in Hastingleigh, Kent, England. She has performed worldwide, and is featured on albums by Jorge Sosa (Plastic Time), and Mauricio Salguero (Quirk). To learn more, please, visit www.iplayflute.com.