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 string ensemble director and cello techniques instructor at Mountain School of Strings and also offers private lessons in his studio.
He earned a Master of Music degree at St. Cloud State University and has been playing professionally and teaching ever since. Norm taught elementary and junior high school students to play strings in Rochester (MN) Public Schools and played cello throughout his professional career in a number of orchestras in Minnesota, Arkansas,Indiana and Iowa.
Norm was recently named to the board of the Associated Chamber Music Players (ACMP) based in New York City. He continues to play today in various string quartets, piano trios, and other miscellaneous musical small ensembles in both performance and rehearsal settings.

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.

Judith Morris

Judith Morris Judith Morris is an assistant instructor who believes playing and enjoying music is especially important today, transcending the divisive factors operating in our communities.
She enjoyed playing violin in her high school orchestra. Then further education, marriage, a career and raising a family took her focus elsewhere. Upon moving to these magical mountains, Judith met Ellen Lee when a grandchild was wanting violin lessons. Ellen inspired Judith to pick up her violin, assist with beginner classes and help with the organization. Ellen introduced her to fiddling and playing by ear.
Today, Judith plays classical music in an ensemble as well as fiddling, improvisation and even composing some simple tunes. She greatly enjoys the involvement with young people and seeing our students grow with music.

Rhonda Amato

Rhonda Amato Rhonda Amato is an instructor who began her own violin lessons at the early age of 68!
She well understands the frustrations and difficulties faced by every beginner as they are fresh in her mind. She easily relates to all beginners of any age. She loves to share with students the elation of finally producing that sweet, but elusive violin tone.

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.

Josh Carter

Josh Carter Josh Carter Born in the mountains, Josh Carter grew up around traditional stringband music of the Southern Appalachians. He learned guitar, piano and banjo from a young age, and later took up many other instruments, mandolin being his main passion. Josh has been actively playing with bands since 2007 and has been teaching music since 2010. "My experience with music early on has led to a rich and fulfilled life. I want to give that to the next generation, and that's why I teach" says Josh.

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.