Director Hazel Ketchum

Hazel Ketchum Hazel Ketchum Hazel is the director of the Mountain School of Strings in Brevard, NC which offers classes to all Transylvania County schools and at the Brevard Music Center.
Earning a Masters of Music from the University of Southern California, she studied classical guitar, lute and voice. Hazel plays guitar, lute, banjo, piano, drums and sings. Since her debut as a drummer and singer at age 14, she has had a lively performing, recording and teaching career.
She is the Music Director at The Cooper School and teaches at Oak Grove Montessori in Charleston. Hazel is a sought after summer music festival teacher and taught at Appalachian State University, Oberlin Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, Berkeley School of Music and more. An active performer, she is a member of Columbia Baroque, Corde Cantanti, The Marshgrass Mamas and The Harrows. Hazel curates the popular Women & series at the Charleston Music Hall where she performed the music of Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Neil Young and The Rolling Stones.
Hazel published her own music and movement curriculum Ms. Hazel's Music and has children's CDs, Big as the World, Say Darlin' Say and Science Songs Rock. In addition Hazel has a recording of solo lute and self-accompanied songs titled When to Her Lute She Sings and a recording of Irish traditional music with Banna de Dha, Band of Two.
As an artist in residence Hazel spent summers at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Green River Preserve and the Charlotte Children's Theater. Hazel taught at the Sorrento Guitarfest in Sorrento, Italy and was Storyteller in Residence at the Cairo American College in Cairo, Egypt. She performed traditional American music for concerts sponsored by the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

Norm Malenke

Norm Malenke Norm Malenke is the Mountain Laurel Strings teacher and cello techniques instructor at Mountain School of Strings. He also offers private lessons in cello and violin.

Madelyn Ilana

Madelyn Ilana Madelyn Ilana Madelyn Ilana is an Asheville-based violinist, guitarist, and singer/songwriter.
With over ten years of teaching experience, she has taught with many organizations over the years, such as MusicWorks!, Next Step Educators music after school program, the Florida Herbal Conference and the Southeast Wise Women's Herbal Conference, Pickards Mountain Eco Institute, Farm & Wilderness summer camps, Girls Rock Camps, the Young Women Leaders mentorship program, and she co-created a Young Herbalists home schooling program in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
For Madelyn, music is a vital means of expression of the dynamics of life. As a teacher, Madelyn aims to provide her students with the skills to access music as a means for creative expression. Our class time is both an exploration of possibility, as well as a time of refinement of necessary techniques and skills.

Bob Culver

Bob Culver Bob Culver teaches fiddle, guitar, mandolin, piano and accordion. He has been performing with numerous groups for nearly 40 years. His current project is playing with The Harrows. In addition to teaching for the Mountain School of Strings, Bob teaches music, guitar and choir at the Cooper School and offers private lessons. In his spare time, Bob practices law as a solo practitioner.

Owen Grooms

Owen Grooms Owen Grooms is an instructor who has been playing roots music on stringed instruments for the last twenty years and teaching individuals and ensembles for the last eight. Owen has his Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from Warren Wilson College, where he took classes in the well-respected Appalachian Studies and Traditional Music departments, and first learned to play claw hammer banjo. Soon after graduating from college, Owen helped to start the band Pretty Little Goat, and also began teaching in the Transylvania County JAM Program. Owen has played with other great musicians in the area including The Queen Family, Barrett Davis, and The Grit Lickers. Owen continues to place in banjo and string band competitions in the region. In 2018, he released an album of old-time banjo music entitled “Plunk.” Owen offers private lessons on mandolin and banjo, and a class on World Music.

Bruce Threlkeld

Bruce Threlkeld Bruce Threlkeld Bruce offers instruction on Scruggs-style 5-string banjo, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, bass, and percussion. He has extensive experience working with children at summer camps and in public and private school systems and has taught many adults as well.
Being a multi-instrumentalist, he enjoys explaining to his students the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic elements of songs, to present the full musical picture of what is making a particular song sound the way it does. This has proven to be particularly useful for intermediate to advanced players wanting to make the next “jump” in their playing but is also helpful for beginners because it leads to an appreciation of the basic elements of music, regardless of which genre one wishes to eventually pursue.
A self-described journeyman musician, Bruce has spent time in Texas, Georgia, Montana, and Florida teaching thousands of hours and performing and recording with dozens of bands. These experiences have helped him to develop a teaching style that is personalized, adaptable, practical, and fun!

Kaleena Dotson

Kaleena Dotson Kaleena Dotson is a classically trained violinist with 13 years of chamber, orchestral and solo performance experience. She was a member of the Hendersonville Youth Symphony, Mountain School of Strings, and The Loose Pegs chamber group. Kaleena is engaged in the arts and has professional experience in makeup application, fashion and art shows, modeling, performance stage management, and musical composition. She enjoys working for the Brevard Music Center with world famous musicians and volunteering in her community. She has volunteered her skills in music and art therapy at the Transylvania Hospital, the Brian Center Nursing and Rehab, Blue Ridge Health and Rehab, and Brevard's "A Night to Shine" prom event.

Beth Kramer

Beth Kramer Beth Kramer is a violist and violinist whose string teaching experience includes private lessons, group classes, sectionals and coaching in public school systems, and two university teaching assistantships. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Missouri State University, Master of Music and Graduate Artist Certificate from the University of North Texas, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Beth has participated in summer programs including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, and Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute. She previously served as the Executive Manager of the orchestra Sinfonia da Camera in Illinois and is now the Director of Admissions & Student Services for the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute & Festival.

Ray Adams

Ray Adams In rural Mississippi, at the young age of four, Ray Adams' mother began teaching him to sing traditional songs and hymns. His musical journey through childhood included learning classical piano, trombone, and tuba. He joined his church choir when he was sixteen and performed with the Jazz Vocal Ensemble as a college student at Appalachia State University. Now a seasoned all-around old-time musician and singer known for performing songs of historical relevance to southern Appalachia, Ray performs "Old-time" and "Early Country" music at numerous public and private events, parties, and festivals throughout the year. He is a multi-instrumentalist playing fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitar. He also leads weekly old-time jam sessions year-round and shares his knowledge through old-time music workshops.

Amber Svetik

Ray Adams Amber Svetik recently earned her Masters in Music Education from UNC Greensboro where she had an assistantship teaching and co-coordinating the Lillian Rauch Beginning Strings Program for fourth and fifth grade low-income students.
She was a lead instructor for Winston-Salem Symphony’s El Sistema inspired PLAY music program.
Growing up in Florida, Amber studied violin with Sarasota Orchestra musicians and performed in the Sarasota Youth Orchestras. She began studying Music Education at Florida State as a Gaston Dufresne Scholarship recipient where she studied string pedagogy under Dr. Kasia Bugaj and violin under Dr. Benjamin Sung. She was presented with the undergraduate Presser Scholar Award and graduated as a Garnet and Gold scholar.
Amber served as the Orchestra Director at Electa Arcotte Lee Magnet Middle School in Bradenton and conducted ensembles for the Sarasota Youth Orchestras and Summer Camps. Inspired having restricted access to string instruction in her youth, Amber began her own program, Violin Project Sarasota. Amber performed as a section violinist with the Venice Symphony, various regional orchestras, and local theaters.
She is now looking forward to building upon her career and interacting with the community here in Brevard, NC.

Lillie Syracuse

Lillie Lillie Syracuse is a Brevard-based guitarist, singer, songwriter, recording artist, and performer with 20-years experience in the musical and performing arts. Lillie worked professionally as a musician for a decade in Nashville where she wrote and released her debut album, Coming Up Diamonds, in 2020 with producer and Grammy-nominated drummer Mike Marsh (The Avett Brothers, Dashboard Confessional). Lillie continues to perform and record as a solo artist and with various music groups.
Lillie enjoyed many years volunteering in her community as a music therapist, song circle leader, and assistant for children's creativity workshops. She knows that music is a vital ingredient for a vibrant experience of the world. She loves to help her students explore their gifts while building a life long relationship with music.
Lillie offers private guitar, piano, songwriting and voice lessons, along with creativity development sessions.

Founder Ellen Ray Lee

Ellen Ray Lee Ellen Ray Lee is the founder of Transylvania Youth Strings, which has since evolved into the Mountain School of Strings. It is through her passion for music and teaching children that Mountain School of Strings has grown and flourished. Though no longer teaching classes, she is still involved, inspiring our students and supporters.

Our Group

MSOS Instructors