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Madison Academy
of Music
Private Lessons
Green Thumb
Music, LLC
Location and
Contact Information

Private Lessons

Madison Academy of Music offers private lessons for children and adults in piano, guitar, and strings.  Our dedicated and experienced teachers make learning an instrument fun. Not only do we teach a particular instrument, but our lessons include music theory and performance fundamentals.

We tailor our lessons for the serious student, for students who want to learn an instrument for their own enjoyment, or for anyone in between.

For more information about private lessons, contact us at 608-467-2556, or via e-mail at: greenthumbmusic88@gmail.com.


List of Instructors and Instruments

Browse through the list of instructors, or select from the following:

Guitar: Christopher Cramer Jeff Larsen  
Electric Guitar: Jeff Larsen    
Piano: Brian Widder Kriss Hamilton Ryan Grippo
Violin: Stacey Binder    
Viola: Stacey Binder    
Cello: Ben Therrell    
Theory/Composition: Jeff Larsen    

Meet our Instructors

Brian Widder:  Owner and Piano Instructor
Brian Widder received a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from the UW-Platteville, and has a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the UW-Madison. He has been teaching piano privately for over 35 years. He is also an active performer in the Madison area for weddings, receptions, dinner parties, & other special events.

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Stacey Binder:  Violin and Viola Instructor
Stacey Binder received the Master of Music degree in violin performance from the UW-Madison, where she was a student of Vartan Manoogian. In addition to teaching private lessons for 14 years, Stacey was an Upper Strings Sectional Coach and a chamber music coach for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO). She also has served as a judge for WYSO and for WSMA's Solo and Ensemble Festivals. Stacey has been a substitute violinist for the Madison Symphony Orchestra and has performed in productions by the Four Seasons Theatre. Stacey has an interest in teaching the violin to the visually impaired. Her article "Rewards and Challenges of Teaching Blind String Students" was published in the February 2002 issue of the American String Teacher.

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Christopher Cramer:  Guitar Instructor
Classical guitarist Christopher Cramer began his music studies at the UW-Manitowoc, where he won a number of awards including the UW-Manitowoc County Fine Arts Award in the Area of Music. He went on to complete his undergraduate training at the UW-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where he won first place in the annual WCM scholarship competition in classical guitar. Continuing his studies at the UW-Madison, Dr. Cramer earned both his masters and doctorate degrees in music performance under the direction of renowned guitarist Javier Calderon.

While at the UW-Madison, Dr. Cramer undertook an intensive study of instrumental conducting with respected conductor and pedagogue David E. Becker, ultimately leading to a doctoral minor in the discipline and the opportunity to work with the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra.

From college campuses to performing arts centers, Dr. Cramer has performed in the United States, Canada, and Taiwan. In addition to performing as a solo recitalist and as a soloist with orchestra, Dr. Cramer is also an active chamber musician collaborating with various instrumentalists and singers. In the fall of 2008, Dr. Cramer joined the faculty at Beloit College where he teaches studio guitar lessons and directs the guitar ensemble program. He also teaches guitar related courses at the UW-Madison and the UW-Rock County. Former faculty engagements have included Edgewood College and the UW-Manitowoc.

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Ryan Grippo:  Piano Instructor
Ryan Grippo has taught piano to students with a variety of skill sets and ages over the past eight years. His goal is to provide a creative and low anxiety environment where students can tackle challenges without fear of judgment or failure. He received his Bachelors in Piano Performance from the University of Colorado and his Masters in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma.  Within the realm of piano, Ryan is most interested in teaching and composition. Aside from music, he enjoys hiking and computer programming.

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Kriss Hamilton:  Piano Instructor
Kriss Hamilton was born and raised in Wisconsin. She received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the UW-Eau Claire and a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the Wichita State University. She has taught private music lessons in a wide variety of settings, including homes, music stores, and schools.

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Jeff Larsen:  Guitar, Electric Guitar, Music Theory/Composition Instructor
Jeff Larsen has been performing with bands and doing solo guitar concerts for over thirty years, and has been teaching students for over twenty years. He plays most styles of music, and specializes in jazz, progressive rock, classical, and fingerstyle solo guitar. He has released three CDs, including Spirits of St. Paul -- the score to a musical play he composed; Threads -- a jazz-rock mixture of covers and originals; and most recently, Jeff Larsen plays Emerson, Lake, and Palmer -- solo fingerstyle arrangements of ELP's best. He won a 2009 MAMA (Madison Area Music Award) for Best Classical Piece of the Year, Suite for Two Guitars. Having written over 100 pieces of music, he is able to help guitarists become composers as well as players.

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Ben Therrell:  Cello Instructor
Ben Therrell is a Suzuki-Certified instructor who has taught private and group classes for over a decade, along with coaching school and all-state orchestra sectionals. He is a Doctoral Fellow studying Cello Performance with a minor in Music Education at the University of Wisconsin Mead Witter School of Music and the resident cellist of the Rabin String Quartet. While working on a Masterís Degree at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Ben was faculty at the UNCSA Community Music School and the cellist for the Giannini String Quartet. He holds a Bachelorís Degree in Cello Performance and String Pedagogy from the University of New Mexico. He has held a chair in the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and has performed with many major orchestras in North Carolina, New Mexico, and Colorado including the Winston-Salem Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, Boulder Symphony, and others. For more info about Ben, please visit therrellcello.com

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