concerts & masterclasses

teaching days & weekly schedule

youtube & photos

string day for non UMass students
audition info
contact & links


what past students are saying and doing


Melinda Packer started studying with Kathryn Lockwood at UMass Amherst in the fall of 2010 and completed two Bachelors degree programs and a Masters program, graduating for the last time in 2017. During her two years of graduate study, Melinda served as a music department TA as well as being the Viola studio TA in her second year. While at UMass, Melinda was very active in music department ensembles as well as a cappella ensembles on the greater UMass campus. Currently, Melinda lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is an active educator and performer. As an educator, Melinda teaches orchestra and band full time at the high school and elementary school level, maintains a small private studio, and teaches group classes at a local young artists conservatory. As a performer, Melinda is an active freelancer and member of several regional symphony orchestras, including the Solano Symphony and Symphony Napa Valley. 


Being a part of the UMass Music Department was an extremely enriching experience. The faculty are not only incredibly talented and inspirational performers but they're also patient and thoughtful pedagogues. I always felt supported and challenged as a member of the music department and was given many opportunities to grow as a musician and person. Being a part of a small department within a large school provides the perfect balance of individualized attention while also reaping the benefits of a top rate large public institution. I can't recommend the UMass music department enough.


Every experience I had a UMass Amherst helped me become the educator I am today and I am extremely grateful for the education I received. The music department has wonderful professors that are extraordinarily supportive and go above and beyond to help you in every way to be successful. I not only gained knowledge through my education and my experiences, but I gained confidence as an educator and a violist.


After graduating in May 2015, I got a job working for the New York City Department of Education at an Elementary/Middle school in Queens. Currently I am teaching general music classes for prek - 3rd grade classes, and after school violin program for 4th-6th graders.  There are two programs called Nest, and Horizon which are specifically for students on the Autism Spectrum. I have at least one Horizon class in each grade and get to teach general music to those classes two times a week. On top of working with students on the Autism Spectrum, we have many other students with Special Needs and a large population of English Language Learners.  When I started last year, I started building the lower grade music program and curriculum from the ground up. We have many programs that we utilize at the school such as Little Kids Rock. As our program is growing and getting stronger, I am excited to see where we will be in five years!


I am so grateful for the education I received at UMass. The high caliber of teaching, the endless performance opportunities, and the personal attention given to each student make it a wonderful place to learn. As a Master's student in performance, I was able to completely devote myself to my instrument, and through lessons, ensemble rehearsals, as well as theory and history classes, I received an extremely well-rounded music education.

van der swaagh

Hannah van der Swaagh received her Masters of Music degree at University of Massachusetts Amherst where she held a Teacher's Assistantship and studied with Kathryn Lockwood. Hannah has her Bachelor of Arts in Viola Performance from Hillsdale College in Michigan, where she studied with Dr. Melissa Knecht. While in Michigan, Hannah played part-time with the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, and was a three-time concerto competition winner with the Hillsdale College Symphony Orchestra. Hannah is a founding member of the Bahn String Quartet and has played with the Lark String Quartet, members of the UMass Faculty, and the Lighthouse Chamber Players. Hannah currently lives in New York City and teaches violin at the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls in the South Bronx.


Amelia Clingman graduated from UMass Amherst with a BM in violin performance in 2006, and in 2008 she completed her Master’s degree in viola performance at the New England Conservatory. She has been a participant in the Killington, Musicorda, Heifetz, and Kneisel Hall music festivals, and served as a viola fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center from 2007-2009. During her time in Boston, she performed with various groups including the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and as a substitute with the New World Symphony. Amelia currently lives in New Orleans and has been a member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra since September 2008. Teachers include James Buswell, Marylou Speaker Churchill, Ed Gazouleas, Kathryn Lockwood, Carol Rodland, and Elizabeth Chang.


One of UMass's greatest strengths is its size and breadth of available areas of study. To have that, combined with the personal guidance I was given within the music department, was a perfect way to focus on my music while still having access to other classes and exposure to other students. The music department has a dedicated faculty who really want the best for all of the students, and I felt that very strongly while I was there. It's a small and tightly knit community, so each student has wonderful access to mentorship both from their private teacher and the rest of the faculty in their area.

"I participated in UMass' new Professional Performance Certificate program in viola. Working with the faculty was a joy. My lessons with Kathryn Lockwood, the viola professor, were instructive and energizing. I found myself improving rapidly within a concentrated period of time. I also played in the Opus One Chamber orchestra, which put on performances of Bela Bartok's "Divertimento" and Arnold Schoenberg's "Verklärte Nacht" while I was at UMass. Opus One not only provided me an opportunity to work on difficult and engaging repertoire, but also lent me valuable experience in the trials and triumphs of rehearsing a large unconducted ensemble--all within a friendly environment with active faculty participation. Most important, it was clear to me that the performance faculty at UMass looked out for the welfare of their students--academically, emotionally, intellectually--with great commitment."


Russell O’Rourke is a graduate of Princeton University, where he studied music composition with Paul Lansky and Dmitri Tymoczko, and viola with Nicholas Cords. After graduating college, Russell studied viola with Kathryn Lockwood at the University of Massachusetts through the school’s new Professional Performance Certificate program. He is currently applying to graduate programs in musicology. A Northampton, MA native, Russell has spent the last ten summers attending and working at Greenwood Music Camp inCummington, where he developed his love of chamber music.


Vanessa Buttolph graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May of 2011 with a BA in Music. There she spent four years studying viola with Kathryn Lockwood of the Lark Quartet. Other teachers include Wendi Melnik, Carol Hutter, Karen Ritscher, and currently Lila Brown. She was recently accepted into the Masters Program at Boston Conservatory but has declined and opted to continue studying privately and pursue teaching opportunities.

She has participated in master classes with Michelle LaCourse, Micheal Tree, Roger Tapping, Bela Keyes, Rhonda Rider, and the Borremeo and Chiara String Quartets. She has attended Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Music From Salem, and the Lake George Music Festival. She has performed with the Boston String Players, Opus One, and the choral groups at MIT and Mt. Holyoke College.


I found the music school at the University of Massachusetts to be a wonderful experience. It was ideal to be part of a small community within such a large University. The support of the other students and the close relationships with the entire faculty helped me to grow and develop as a musician and a person. Being part of a large school also allowed me the opportunities to participate in course work outside of music and learn from incredible professors who are leading researchers and teachers.


I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a graduate student at UMass Amherst. The music program provided me with freedom to express my many interests, while fostering a nurturing, yet challenging, learning environment in which I grew as a musician, student, and teacher.


Sarah Bleichfeld received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in viola performance from the Crane School of Music and the University of Massachusetts, respectively. In addition to her strong background in chamber music, Sarah has performed at numerous summer music festivals, and with many orchestras nationally, as well as internationally, including a performance internship with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica. She is currently the Co-Artistic Director of the Chiron Chamber Orchestra, and is working as the Communications and Visitor Services Assistant at the Yiddish Book Center.